Silver Lining: Why the Death of the Rakuten Visa Card Is Good News

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Rakuten Visa Card Discontinuation

Rakuten Visa Card Discontinuation

Later this month, Synchrony is burying the Rakuten Visa card for good.  My wife and I have had a wild ride holding the cards.  Here are just a few highlights: excellent online earning at scale years ago, the ugly demise of that play, 3x rewards for normal spending, occasionally great targeted offers, and a close to immediate death after reopening the card.  That last one left us shaking our heads a few weeks ago.  But since the news of the Rakuten Visa card discontinuation, I, and maybe some of you, have noticed an interesting development.  Here’s why the the death of the Rakuten Visa may be good news for many of us.

Source: Rakuten.

Since the Announcement

After most of us read the news online, not very helpful snail mail arrived from Synchrony telling us stuff we already knew.  Remarkably, the letter was noncommittal on what would happen to our individual accounts.  Would we be product changed to a different Synchrony card, or would Synchrony just close our accounts?  This letter gave us nothing to go on, and I wasn’t willing to have a potentially-long phone call looking for an answer that may not come.  But a bit of patience brought a resolution.

A Surprisingly Good Product Change

In mid August, I (and some of you) received an email from Synchrony advising that my Rakuten Visa card account would be product changed to a Synchrony Premier World Mastercard.  I don’t think I’d ever heard of this card previously, but if I had, I’d forgotten it.  Regardless, Synchrony has my attention now.

The Synchrony Premier World Mastercard earns 2% cash back everywhere, uncapped.  Synchrony applies the rewards automatically as a statement credit within the two subsequent billing periods after the purchases.

Rakuten Visa Card Discontinuation

A Product Change Welcome Offer?!

Perhaps something I never thought would exist, Synchrony is offering a $100 cash bonus to those product changed to the Premier.  Specifically, account holders who activate their card by 4 November and spend $1k within the first three months of account opening will receive a $100 cash bonus in the form of a statement credit.  Easy money.

Good News from the Rakuten Visa Card Discontinuation

Based on the death of other significant online plays and Amex’s Schwab cashout devaluation not too long ago, I view the Rakuten Visa discontinuation and product change to the Premier as a net-positive in our situation.  Let me explain.

Since those two significant events I just mentioned, the Rakuten Visa has turned into a 3.3% cash back card for normal spending via the Rakuten portal or in store offers.  These purchases are an extremely small portion of our overall spending – a few hundred bucks a year at this point.  And often, other cards earn better than 3.3% with their bonus spend categories, anyway.

Instead, we’ll pick up yet another 2% cash back card.  I highly value 2% cash back credit cards, especially those from “obscure” banks, for our spending behavior.  We’ll earn plenty more in rewards on the Premier than we are giving up from the Rakuten Visa card.  Plus, Synchrony is giving us a free $100 right off the bat.

Conclusion

There’s a catch for us.  My wife hasn’t received any confirmation that she’ll be product changed to the Premier.  Alas, we’re resigned to the outcome that her new Rakuten Visa card account was all for nothing.  But with how significantly we value my product change to the Premier, we don’t mind.  It’s a net win for our situation. With a bit of patience, things worked out alright.  I can’t say I expected that with the Rakuten Visa card discontinuation, but I’ll take it.  And surprises are part of what makes our hobby interesting.  I look forward to what else is around the corner.  What do you think of the Rakuten Visa card product change news?

Benjy Harmon
Benjy is a fan of points, miles, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently focuses on roaming throughout the USA for close to free. He enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

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3 COMMENTS

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3 COMMENTS

  1. There’s just too many 2% cash back card out there to get excited by yet another one.

    I mean, there’s nothing wrong with another 2% cash back card but certainly not something that will be creating buzz around this hobby either.

    I won’t miss the Rakuten card in the short term because like most in this hobby, I’m flush with MR points. However I will probably start to miss it the most whenever Amex gets around to turning off (and at some point they will) the printing press of MR points.

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