American Express is supporting small businesses with its Shop Small promotion, which could save cardholders up to $50. Read on to find out how to enroll, find participating businesses and get the most cash back.
In the U.S., all American Express consumer and business cards are eligible, along with registered Serve and Bluebird cards. You must enroll in the offer before July 26 by logging into your American Express account and selecting the Shop Small offer listed among your Amex Offers, or by clicking the offer tab on the Amex mobile app.
You then need to use that same enrolled American Express card to make a purchase of at least $10 (after taxes) in a single transaction at an eligible small merchant either in-store or online (until Sept. 20).
After meeting those criteria, you will receive a $5 statement credit. The offer can be redeemed up to 10 times, so you can earn up to $50 back in statement credits. If you have more than one Amex card, you need to choose just one for this offer.
See related: Guide to card-linked offer programs
How to find Shop Small merchants
It’s easy to find participating merchants using the Shop Small Map. I typed in my ZIP Code and found plenty of local restaurants that are eligible for the promotion, along with other establishments like bookstores, liquor stores, a car wash, a cheese shop and a movie theater.
You can search by a specific merchant’s name, too. American Express added a million U.S. merchant locations to its network last year and is now accepted by 99% of the U.S. merchants that take credit cards, so there’s a very good chance you’ll find the small business you’re looking for.
How to earn the most from Shop Small
While Amex and the merchants surely hope you will spend as much as possible, the best way to game the promotion is to make a series of smaller transactions. If you take it to the extreme, you’ll earn a 50% rebate on 10 different $10 transactions – $50 off $100 – plus whatever rewards your card normally gives on those purchases.
For larger expenditures, you’ll want to factor in your other cards and run the numbers to see if your Amex card offers the best overall return.
This promotion is a good example of a couple of trends. One is American Express’s ongoing commitment to small businesses, which is headlined by its Small Business Saturday initiative that encourages local holiday shopping two days after Thanksgiving.
The other is how American Express and other credit card issuers continue to make smart adaptations amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, finding new ways to bring value to cardholders and meet them where they’re currently spending.
See related: How I’m spending differently in the pandemic
A potential ‘win-win-win’
It has obviously been a brutal spring and early summer for many small businesses. Amex recently surveyed small business owners and 62% said they won’t make it through this extremely challenging year unless consumer spending rebounds. Exactly zero of the restaurant and bar owners they surveyed believe their businesses will survive if conditions stay the same.
On a more uplifting note, 56% of small business owners say they’re invigorated by how their communities are rallying to support them. And virtually all consumers that Amex surveyed (95%) believe small businesses bring value to their community beyond the goods and services they provide. It wouldn’t feel like home without them, according to 85% of respondents.
The Shop Small deal is a potential win-win-win for American Express, small businesses and cardholders.
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