PSA: Rakuten Owns Cartera (Which Runs Airline Shopping Portals)


In not-so-breaking news, Rakuten owns Cartera – the company which runs most airline shopping portals such as those for American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Delta, United, Southwest and more.

Rakuten Cartera

It turns out that this is actually old news as Doctor of Credit reported this almost four years ago to the day, back when Rakuten was Ebates. We’d all missed the news and so only just discovered it when Greg saw this press release regarding Bumped using Rakuten’s network for their latest offering.

We therefore figured it would be worth covering it here in case you’d also missed the news. The reason it’s notable is because it can affect the ability to stack deals.

For online shopping purposes it doesn’t really matter, because even if Cartera wasn’t owned by Rakuten it wouldn’t be possible to stack the two as you can only earn cashback/points/miles from one online shopping portal at a time.

It’s the overlap for in-store offers which is affected. Rakuten’s shopping portal has card-linked offers for in-store purchases at a wide range of retailers. Both the Alaska Airlines and United shopping portals have in-store offers as well, so the fact that those run on the Rakuten Card Linked Offer Network means you can’t double up on earnings from one of the airline portals and Rakuten’s own portal.

This sadly means there’s an increasingly long list of card-linked programs using the Rakuten Card Linked Offer Network. The Bumped app changed their card-linked program a few months ago, transforming it from being something unique and somewhat compelling to being a replica of Rakuten’s shopping portal but only offering about 1/3 of the value that Rakuten does. Even the newly relaunched Google Pay app uses Rakuten for its card-linked element for tracking purchases, as does Swagbucks according to DoC’s comprehensive resource of card-linked programs.

Thankfully there are still some card-linked programs which do offer stacking potential. Many of those run on the Empyr network, while Dosh seems to use its own tracking system. With the Rakuten Card Linked Offer Network expanding recently (by adding Bumped and Google Pay), it’ll be interesting to see if other companies start using their network.

American Express has been using Drop to track some Amex Offers in recent months. It’s a little surprising that they chose Drop rather than Rakuten given their partnership which enables Rakuten portal users to earn Membership Rewards rather than cashback. Still, the more card-linked options the better from a stacking perspective.

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