Rakuten Cash Back Visa Signature Credit Card Review

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The Rakuten Cash Back Visa Signature Credit Card, issued by Synchrony Bank, is aimed at savvy shoppers who want to save money and earn a few bucks doing what they love—buying things online. You’ll earn above-average rewards when you use the card to make purchases on the Rakuten website.

Rakuten Cash Back Visa® Signature Credit Card

Overall Rating
3.1
Rakuten Cash Back Visa® Signature Credit Card
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 19.99% - 24.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn an extra 3% cash back on qualifying purchases made through Rakuten.com or through in store offer. Ean 1% cash back everywhere else Visa credit cards are accepted.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 3%
Ratings Breakdown
for Interest
1.9
for Fees
3.2
for Rewards
2.7
for Credit
3.7

Who Is This Credit Card Best For?

  • Avatar for Deal Seeker Persona
    Diligently searches for the best products and delights in a good bargain See more cards
    Deal Seeker
  • Avatar for Savvy Saver Persona
    Prioritizes sticking to their budget while buying what they want and need See more cards
    Savvy Saver

The Rakuten Cash Back Visa Signature Credit Card is for serious online shoppers and deal-seekers who love earning cash back. 

If you’re one of the 12 million users already maximizing Rakuten’s “shop and earn” approach, getting the credit card extends your rewards-earning power an extra 3% on top of discounts you already earn from more than 2,500 online retailers.

Pros
  • Stacking your Rakuten cash back

  • Visa Signature benefits

Cons
  • Long wait for rewards

  • Limited rewards earning potential

  • Cumbersome rewards activation

Pros Explained

  • Stacking your Rakuten cash back: If a department store like Kohl’s is giving 6% back through Rakuten and you use your card to pay, you’ll get 9% back in total. You’ll also get 1% on other non-Rakuten purchases, so you can still earn every time you swipe.
  • Visa Signature benefits: The card’s suite of shopper-focused benefits like extended warranties and purchase protection are standout features among store-branded credit cards (more on this later).

If you spend mostly on groceries, gas, or store brands not associated with Rakuten, you may ultimately get more value from a different rewards card. Either way, it still pays to sign up for a free Rakuten account and start your online shopping sessions there for easy cash back on top of whatever your card earnings are.

Cons Explained

  • Long wait for rewards: Because your Rakuten Cash Back Visa earnings accumulate in your main Rakuten account, you’ll get your cash four times per year in the form of a “Big Fat Check” that’s mailed to you, or as a credit to your PayPal account. Many other rewards cards allow you to cash in whenever you’d like, or when you reach a certain threshold.
  • Limited rewards-earning potential: While 3% isn’t too shabby, you’re limited to the retailers and brands that are Rakuten partners. If you do enough online shopping to make the card worthwhile, the rewards work to your advantage. Otherwise, you might be better off with either a rewards credit card that has rotating categories where you can earn as much as 5% on some purchases or a flat-rate 1.5% cash back.
  • Cumbersome rewards activation: All of the 3% cash-back opportunities need to be activated by visiting Rakuten before you shop. If you’re not someone who will take the time to do this extra step, you might be better suited with a cash-back card that’s easier to use.

Synchrony may approve you for a Visa Platinum version of the Rakuten card, which has a higher APR.

Rakuten Cash Back Visa Signature Credit Card Bonus for New Cardholders 

The bonus is in the form of a one-time $10 reward after you make your first purchase. The bonus doesn’t compare to other cash-back cards, which can offer as much as a $150 bonus if you can spend at least $500 in the first three months. Even other store cards offer more substantial welcome bonuses. For example, the Kohl's Credit Card provides a 35% discount off your first purchase.

Earning Points & Rewards

The good news is that the amount of cash back you can earn with your Rakuten Cash Back Visa Signature card is unlimited. In addition to the 3% back on purchases made through the Rakuten portal, you’ll also get the same rate on travel bookings made via Rakuten partners. Rakuten also offers in-store cash back for some retailers, but you’ll have to link those offers to your card via the Rakuten website or app.

For all other purchases you make that are not through Rakuten, you’ll earn 1% cash back.

The card’s rewards rate is mediocre for store-branded credit cards and cash-rewards cards may prove more profitable if you shop at Rakuten occasionally rather than frequently.

If you have an American Express credit card that earns Membership Rewards, you may be able to link your Membership Rewards account to Rakuten and earn those rewards instead of cash back.

Redeeming Rewards

All Cash Back that you earn, whether by shopping through Rakuten or by using your Rakuten Credit Card, will be credited to your Rakuten Cash Back account. You’ll automatically receive your cash back in your Rakuten account four times per year in the form of either a check that’s mailed to you, or a deposit into your PayPal account. Other cash-back cards allow you to redeem as little as one penny’s worth of rewards at any time.

How to Get the Most Out of This Card

Be sure to start your online shopping sessions at Rakuten so you can make sure you earn the maximum cash back available. Store rewards on Rakuten can exceed 10%, so stacking your 3% on top of that can provide significant cash-back totals. Plus, even when shopping in person, pull up your Rakuten app to see if there are any in-store cash-back offers.

Add the Rakuten Button as a browser extension to help you remember to activate cash back offers when you shop.

Finally, don’t forget about your Visa Signature benefits should you have any issues with your online purchases. The benefits can prove valuable should you lose or damage a purchase or have trouble returning an item that you’re not satisfied with.

Excellent Perks 

Most credit cards come with added benefits for cardholders, but some stand out for their exceptional value. The Rakuten Cash Back Visa Signature card offers one such “excellent perk”:

  • Travel accident insurance: Get up to $250,000 in coverage for accidental death or dismemberment while on a trip paid for with this card.

Other Features 

  • Rental car collision insurance (secondary to your own policy)
  • Extended warranties
  • Refund when merchant won’t accept returned item
  • Insurance for stolen or damaged purchases
  • Travel and emergency hotline

Customer Experience

Synchrony does not have a great reputation for customer service. The bank ranked 10th out of 11 national issuers in J.D. Power’s 2019 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study.

Cardholders have access to customer service support by phone, chat, and email through Synchrony Bank. 

Security Features 

The Rakuten Cash Back Visa Signature Credit Card has industry standard security features including zero liability for fraudulent purchases.

Fees

Rakuten Cash Back Visa Signature Credit Card doesn’t have an annual fee, and late fees are comparable to most credit cards. It does have a foreign transaction fee of 3%, however, so it’s not the best card to bring when travelling abroad.

Next Steps
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CURRENT CARD
Rakuten Cash Back Visa® Signature Credit Card
overall rating
3.1
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 19.99% - 24.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn an extra 3% cash back on qualifying purchases made through Rakuten.com or through in store offer. Ean 1% cash back everywhere else Visa credit cards are accepted.
Our Methodology
At The Balance, we are dedicated to giving you unbiased, comprehensive credit card reviews. To do this, we collect data on hundreds of cards and score more than 55 features that affect your finances.
  • Our Reviews Are Always Impartial: No one can influence which cards we review, the way we present them to you, or the ratings they receive. The scores and reviews come directly from the data we collect and our editorial expertise, and we focus on three areas:
  • How Much Does It Cost? With credit card debt at an all-time high, we believe you should know the cost of carrying a balance. Because of that, we give regular purchase APRs significant weight in overall scores, and cards receive low marks if they have an array of pricey fees.
  • What Are the Rewards Worth? Cards accumulate rewards in different currencies—points, miles, cash back—and their values vary widely. To simplify the problem, we built a system that fairly compares rewards and gives them a dollar value. We do this by looking at the ways you can earn and use rewards, which includes evaluating Americans’ typical spending habits and analyzing common travel patterns.
  • Does It Make Your Life Easier? Our scoring system favors cards that accept a wide range of credit profiles and offer simple solutions for things like checking your credit score or contacting customer service. Finally, we give preference to credit cards that have several tools for dealing with fraudulent charges.
  • For every review on The Balance, we hold the credit cards to these standards, and we set the bar high. While we recognize the appeal of splashy features like six-digit sign-up bonuses, our approach ensures that credit cards with the best combination of value, affordability, and accessibility receive the highest scores. See our full methodology for more details.

Article Sources

The Balance requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
  1. Rakuten. "Online Stores - Outlet Stores and Coupons - 2020." Accessed Aug. 11, 2020.

  2. Rakuten. "About Our Company." Accessed Aug. 11, 2020.

  3. Synchrony Bank. "Rates and Fees Table." Accessed Aug. 11, 2020.

  4. Kohl's. "My Kohl's Charge Card." Accessed Aug. 11, 2020.

  5. Rakuten. "What Is the Rakuten Visa Cash Back Credit Card?" Accessed Aug. 11, 2020.

  6. Rakuten Visa Card. "Guide to Benefit." Accessed Aug. 11, 2020.

  7. J. D. Power. "2019 U. S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study." Accessed Aug. 11, 2020.