TopCashBack vs. Rakuten – NerdWallet

TopCashBack and Rakuten are companies that will give you cash back and other perks for making purchases from certain retailers.

Basically, you can use TopCashBack and Rakuten to earn money and other benefits by logging into either site, searching stores where you plan to make an online purchase, following links provided and making your purchase.

TopCashBack versus Rakuten — you might be wondering which one is right for you? Let us help you.

Below, we’ll dive deep into both companies — including which one offers better frequent flyer perks — so you can decide which is the best option for making money off your purchases.

Advantages and disadvantages of TopCashBack

To help you decide if TopCashBack is right for you, here is a list of the pros and cons of using TopCashBack to earn money for your online purchases.


More wins: TopCashBack often offers more cash back than Rakuten. At the time of writing, below are some of the cashback rates offered between the two companies (but keep in mind that exact cashback rates will vary):

Bonus gift card: Can receive up to 5% extra cash back by choosing to be paid as a gift card, with options like Walmart,, Target, or even a Visa prepaid credit card.

Low minimums: All you need to do is earn a minimum of 1 cent cash back to get paid via PayPal or ACH transfer to your bank account.

The inconvenients

Long payment terms: The payment date can vary significantly by retailer, with some retailers taking longer than 12 weeks after purchase to send the refund.

Manual transfers: Rather than having cashback automatically sent to you once earned, you must log in to and manually transfer the cashback to your selected payment method.

Account expiration: If you do not log in to your TopCashBack account for six months, your account is considered inactive and you will lose the cash back you earned but failed to transfer.

Slow customer support: Customer support is slow to respond to issues you have with earned cashback (like not receiving the correct amount of cashback or having a purchase not tracked at all).

Minimum referral bonuses: Referral bonuses are often lower than those offered by Rakuten.

Now that you know the pros and cons of using TopCashBack, let’s look at the pros and cons of using Rakuten.


Earn AmEx Points: You have the option of being paid with American Express Membership Rewards points, instead of cash.

Ease of credit card synchronization: You can link a credit card and get cashback for in-store purchases.

Tax-deductible donations: Rakuten gives you the option to donate your cash back, and donations may be tax deductible.

Higher referral bonuses: Rakuten often offers higher referral bonuses than TopCashBack (at the time of writing, Rakuten offers a referral bonus of $30, compared to $10 with TopCashBack).

Set payment schedules: Once you’ve earned at least $5.01 in cash back, you’ll receive the earnings on a set schedule (for example, for purchases made between April 1 and June 30, you should receive payment by April 15 august).

The inconvenients

Minimum income required: You must earn at least $5.01 in cash back for your winnings to be paid out.

Lower payouts: The cashbacks are often lower than those offered on TopCashBack.

No gift card option: Unlike TopCashBack, Rakuten does not offer customers the opportunity to earn additional cash back by converting cash back into gift cards.

TopCashBack vs. Rakuten: Which is Best for Travelers?

If you are a frequent traveler, TopCashBack has a number of features that make it better than Rakuten, including:

  • TopCashBack generally pays more cash back for travel-related purchases than Rakuten. Although the exact amounts may vary, TopCashBack generally pays out more money than Rakuten for purchases on travel-related websites. At the time of writing, this includes payment by TopCashBack:

    • 4.2% more at Qatar Airways.

  • TopCashBack pays an additional 5% cash back if you are paid with a gift card. Once you have cash back payable, TopCashBack gives you the option to select payment via a gift card where you will receive a 5% bonus (so if you have earned $200 in cash back you can choose to get a $210 gift card .com gift card instead).

  • TopCashBack generally pays out more cash back than Rakuten. Since TopCashBack will generally pay more in cash than Rakuten, this makes TopCashBack a better option for travelers trying to earn money to spend on travel.

While Rakuten’s ability to win American Express Membership Rewards Instead of cash being attractive to travelers who appreciate and know how to redeem these points for significant value with an American Express travel partner (such as British Airways, Delta or Hilton), the opportunity to earn rewards from American Express membership with Rakuten is offset by TopCashBack’s higher earning rates – making TopCashBack the best choice for travelers

Are TopCashBack or Rakuten better overall?

Whether TopCashBack or Rakuten is better for you depends on how you use each site and what benefits you enjoy.

TopCashBack is better for you if:

  • You want to maximize the amount of cash back you earn.

  • You don’t mind having to manually transfer money to your bank account or a gift card, or having to check the website at least once every 6 months.

Rakuten is better for you if:

  • Earning American Express Membership Rewards points is important to you.

  • Much of your shopping is done in-store rather than online.

  • You plan to use the site often because you need to earn at least $5.01 in cash before you receive a payout.

  • You like to have a set timeline for when you will receive payment.

  • You enjoy higher referral bonuses.

While TopCashBack and Rakuten both have a number of unique advantages and disadvantages, if your primary goal is to earn as much cash back as possible, we recommend using TopCashBack on Rakuten, as the payout rates on TopCashBack are often higher than on Rakuten.

However, Rakuten is probably the best choice for you if you’re okay with sacrificing extra cashback in exchange for automatic transfers of earned cashback, generally higher referral bonuses, and the ability to earn American Points. Express Membership Rewards and cash back for in-store purchases.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023including those best suited for:

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