American Express has started to reinvigorate its annual Small Business campaign, which runs in the fall. When it first launched you could get a $25 credit with each Amex credit card or charge card by shopping at qualifying small businesses. You could even limit your purchase to $25 and essentially get the entire amount refunded. And then you could do it with every card you had, including additional cards issued to authorized users. Ka-ching!
But since then Amex has diluted the offer each year. In 2015 I didn’t even bother. It didn’t help that Small Business Saturday was usually scheduled during a small window when I was out of town.
Now Amex is taking a page from the playbook of other major card issuers, turning “Shop Small” into a weeks’ long promotion between now and December 31. Perhaps by getting rid of the one-day shopping spree more people will be able and interested in participating.
In addition, they’re changing the promotion from a dollar-denominated statement credit to simply offering double points on all purchases at eligible small businesses. I’d guess this is much more affordable and gets around some of the totally free purchases that many people were racking up before. You’ll still need to register before using your Amex card, and you can also use the page to find more information about which businesses in your area will qualify.
What exactly does double points mean? Like in past years you can use just about any American Express credit card or charge card to participate. “Double” points means that Amex will double the base miles or points you’d earn for ordinary, non-bonused spend — even if you are making your purchase from a merchant that normally qualifies for a category bonus. For example, you could use your Premier Rewards Gold card to pay for dry cleaning and get 1 + 1 = 2 points per dollar.
But if you went to the grocery store, which normally earns 2 points already, you’d get 2 + 1 = 3 points per dollar. Amex is not doubling the existing category bonus. Rewards are also capped at the first $100,000 in purchases on personal cards and $250,000 in purchases on business cards.
American Express’s PR firm has supplied the following chart explaining the bonus rewards:
Blue Cash EveryDay & Blue Cash Preferred Card: Earn an additional 1% cash back per dollar of purchases in the form of Blue Cash Reward Dollars, which can be redeemed for statement credits
Blue Sky Points: Earn one additional Blue Sky point per dollar of purchases
Delta SkyMiles®: Earn one additional mile per dollar of purchases
Hilton HHonors™ Points: Earn three additional Hilton HHonors™ Bonus Points per dollar
Lowe’s Business Rewards Points: Earn one additional Lowe’s Business Rewards
point per dollar of purchases
Membership Rewards® program-enrolled Cards: Earn one additional Membership Rewards Point
per dollar of purchases.
Plenti Points: Earn one additional Plenti Point per dollar of purchases
SimplyCash: Earn an additional 1% cash back per dollar of purchases in the form of a statement credit
Schwab Cash Back: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back per dollar of purchases deposited in an eligible Schwab account
Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints®: Earn one additional Starpoint® per dollar of purchases
This year, I might actually participate in Shop Small since the long duration makes it a lot easier to fit into my usual holiday shopping patterns. I can also take advantage of it for daily purchases at other small businesses. But remember that this is still a limited time promotion, and not all points are worth the same. I might still prefer to use my Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve card when paying at local restaurants, since I value double Ultimate Rewards points much more than double Membership Rewards points or double Hilton HHonors points.
Take a close look at which cards in your wallet would be the best to use during this promotion, and don’t forget to switch back after December 31.