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While new Rakuten members have been able to elect to earn Membership Rewards points since February this year it’s only now that existing members have the option to earn Amex’s valuable currency too, so here are the seven steps you need to take if you want to ensure that all your future Rakuten/eBates earnings are paid out in the form of Membership Rewards Points.
Earn Membership Rewards Points With Rakuten
Step 1 – Open up the Rakuten.com website and click on your name/Rakuten account balance in the top right corner of the page.
If you haven’t logged in for a while, if you’re using a computer other than your own or if you’ve cleared your cookies recently the top of the page may look like this:
If this is the case simply click on “Sign in” and then click on on your name/Rakuten account balance in the top right corner of the page
Step 2 – In the drop-down menu which should now have appeared click on “Account Settings”
Click this link.
Step 4 – Clicking the “switch to Membership Rewards points” link will open up a pop-up window asking you to confirm that you’d like to earn Membership Rewards points going forward.
Click “continue” in this pop-up window.
Step 5 – A new pop-up window will now appear asking you to input your American Express Membership Rewards account login details (the login details you use to access your Amex account) so that your Rakuten and Amex accounts can be linked.
Enter your details and then click on “log in”
Step 6 – After you submit your Amex login details you’ll see a third pop-up box appear asking you to verify your account
Rakuten will now send an email to the email address associated with your Rakuten account with a 6-digit confirmation code (the email can take a few minutes to arrive).
Enter this confirmation code in the pop-up box.
Step 7 – With your Rakuten and Amex accounts linked and your details confirmed you’ll be taken back to your Rakuten account page where you should see two things have changed:
- Your preferred payment method should now show as being American Express Membership Rewards points.
- Your account balance in the top right corner of the screen will show a zero points balance.
Any outstanding cashback balance that you had in your account will still be paid out in cash when the next payment run is made as it’s only future transactions that will now earn you Membership Rewards points.
Things To Know
You’ll see cashback but you’ll earn points
All the deals you’ll see on Rakuten will show as cashback deals (e.g. earn 5% back at GAP) but as Rakuten will remind you, you’ll still earn Membership Rewards points instead of cash if you’ve followed the steps above.
How cashback translates into points
This couldn’t be simpler – for every 1% (1 cent) of cashback earned you’ll now earn 1 Membership Rewards point.
What this means is that the next time we see another great 10% cashback deal for bookings made with IHG or Marriott (we should be due one of these soon) anyone who has elected to earn Membership Rewards points will earn 10 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent.
I value Membership Rewards points at a conservative 1.5 cents each so every 1% of cashback I earn through Rakuten will actually translate to an effective rebate of 1.5% – that’s just easy money.
What Makes This Even Better
When you click through to one of the hoteliers (IHG, Marriott, etc…) from the Rakuten website you’ll be making a booking directly with that hotelier so you’ll be entitled to earn whatever loyalty points that particular hotelier offers as well as being entitled to make the most of whatever status you hold with that hotelier.
By clicking through Rakuten before making a hotel booking you can now earn miles/points in 3 different ways:
- Membership Rewards points from Rakuten
- Hotel loyalty points for booking directly with a hotel/hotel chain
- Miles/points from whatever credit card you choose to use to make your booking
What Credit Card To Use
If you’re making a hotel booking you’ll almost certainly be better off by using one of the many hotel co-branded credit cards like the Marriott, Hyatt, and IHG cards from Chase or the Marriott and Hilton cards from American Express (I hold the Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express which I’m particularly fond of).
If, however, you’re just doing some regular shopping (e.g through a department store’s website) it’s likely that you’ll be spending in a category for which most credit cards don’t offer a bonus and that’s when a good cashback card comes into its own.
You could also use a card like the Blue Business Plus Card from American Express which earns 2 Membership Rewards points per dollar on the first $50,000 in purchases per year (terms apply).
American Express Membership Rewards Points are one of my favorite currencies to earn so the recent move by Rakuten (formerly eBates) to finally allow existing members to earn Membership Rewards points instead of cashback is one of the best pieces of news I’ve seen in the past few weeks.
While shopping through the various airline and hotel portals has been the way I’ve boosted my balances up until now, the ability to earn Membership Rewards points (which I value higher than most airline/hotel currencies) means that I’ll be clicking through Rakuten a lot more going forward.