How to maximize Amex Small Business Saturday

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American Express is once again bringing back Small Business Saturday on Saturday November 29th.  Once again, this is an opportunity to help out small businesses in your community and to get stuff for free.  Amex will reimburse you for using registered Amex cards at local merchants on that day. As I reported yesterday via my Quick Deals page, this year’s opportunity is better than ever before:

Earn $30 per Amex card
This year, the terms & conditions allow for 3 $10 statement credits per Amex card.  That means it is possible to earn $30 per card!

Enroll Bluebird and Serve
Last year, Serve was included in this promotion, but not Bluebird.  This year, the terms & conditions allow for both Bluebird and Serve.

Small_Business_Saturday

Basics

1. Register each Amex card on November 16

Registration for Small Business Saturday begins on November 16 at 12:00 A.M. MST (“Mountain Standard Time”), and will continue until 11:59 P.M. MST on Nov 29, 2014 unless the registration limit is reached before then (the limit has not been published, to my knowledge).  You must register each Amex card in order to participate in this promotion.  Here are options for registering (from the Amex T&C):

A. By completing the registration form accessible via ShopSmall.com

B. By logging in to your account at americanexpress.com and clicking on the ‘Amex Offers’ tab or ‘Small Business
Saturday’ offer tile in ‘Amex Offers & Benefits’

C. By logging into the American Express App and visiting the ‘Offers For You’ tab in the ‘Membership’ section

D. By adding the offer directly to your connected Card via amex.co/facebook

E. By tweeting #AmexShopSmall to add the offer directly to your connected Card

I highly recommend registering your Amex cards as soon as registration opens to make sure you get in before registration fills up.

2. Find qualifying local merchants

On Small Business Saturday, many local merchants will put up signs showing that they are participating in this promotion.  You can also find participating merchants through this online map.  Unfortunately, Amex doesn’t guarantee that merchants showing up here will actually qualify.  Here is the text from their T&C (bolding is mine):

Qualifying small business locations appear on the Shop Small® Map available at ShopSmall.com. Please note that the
businesses listed on the Shop Small Map may change. In addition, business location and other information provided on the Shop Small Map may contain inaccuracies or errors, including as a result of information provided by third parties.  Transactions with political campaigns or political action committees as well as purchases at gas or service stations do not qualify for the statement credit, regardless of whether they appear on the Shop Small Map.

3. Spend at least $10 per transaction

On Saturday November 29th, each small business purchase of $10 or more will be reimbursed $10 by Amex.  Keep in mind that you must spend at least $10 per transaction to qualify.  Two separate $5 transactions won’t count.  Keep in mind, too, that each Amex card will be reimbursed up to 3 times, but only on separate transactions.  For example: one $30 transaction will result in a single $10 statement credit whereas three $10 transactions will result in three $10 statement credits.  You can ask merchants to split tender and charge you $10 at a time for a single purchase.  When you do this it is best to use separate cards rather than swiping the same card multiple times (since the latter may be flagged as potential fraud).

Maximizing the opportunity

The trick to maximizing this opportunity is to register as many Amex cards as possible and to make sure to get the full $30 per card in statement credits.

More cards

There are several ways to get more qualifying Amex cards:

1. Sign up for new credit and charge cards.  Many cards offer very nice signup bonuses, so this can be a great way to earn miles, points, or cash anyway.  You can find up to date signup offers here.  Amex usually limits people to 4 total credit cards, but does not have a limit to their charge cards (such as the Gold and Platinum cards).

2. Add authorized users. With most Amex cards, you can add authorized users for free.  In those cases, there is no credit inquiry or cost to doing so.  And, even though the authorized user cards are on the same account, they have their own card numbers and are treated as separate cards for the purpose of Small Business Saturday and other Amex offers.

3. Add employee cards.  If you have an Amex small business credit card, you can add additional employee cards, usually for free.  Employee cards have their own card numbers and are treated as separate cards for the purpose of Small Business Saturday and other Amex offers.

Note: Corporate Amex cards do not qualify.

4. Register Bluebird or Serve.  This year, both Bluebird and Serve cards qualify for this promotion.  Each person can only have one or the other.  Make sure to register whichever one you have (and make sure it has at least a $30 balance on Small Business Saturday).

5. Add family accounts / subaccounts to Bluebird or Serve.  Earlier this year, a reader proved that Serve subaccounts are a great way to sign up additional cards with Amex Sync Offers (see “More free cash from Amex via Serve subaccounts”).  While the Small Business Saturday terms and conditions are quiet about subaccounts, I would be very surprised if they do not qualify.  Each Bluebird or Serve card can have four subaccounts (called family accounts with Bluebird).  You do need to have a unique email address and valid phone number for each one, but you do not need to provide an SSN.  Each person added as a subaccount or family account must be at least 13 years old.  Make sure that each subaccount is loaded with at least $30 on Small Business Saturday.

6. Register Amex cards issued by other banks.  Citibank, Fidelity, and others issue Amex credit cards.  These cards can be registered for Small Business Saturday and other Amex promotions.

$30 per card

On Saturday November 29th, each small business purchase of $10 or more will be reimbursed $10 by Amex for each card that you’ve registered for this promotion.

  • Keep in mind that you must spend at least $10 per transaction to qualify.  Two separate $5 transactions won’t count.
  • Keep in mind, too, that each Amex card will be reimbursed up to 3 times, but only on separate transactions.  For example: one $30 transaction will result in only a single $10 statement credit whereas three $10 transactions will result in three $10 statement credits.
  • You can ask merchants to split tender and charge you $10 at a time for a single purchase.  When you do this it is best to use separate cards rather than swiping the same card multiple times (since the latter may be flagged by Amex as potential fraud).

Have fun

The fiscally smart thing to do on Small Business Saturday is to buy gift cards at merchants you shop with regularly anyway.  In this way you’ll truly get the equivalent of free money from American Express.  In my case, I prefer to see it as a fun shopping spree.  Each year my family heads to downtown Ann Arbor with stacks of Amex cards and the goal of maximizing the promotion with each card.  This year, that means spending at least $30 in three separate transactions with each card.  We generally buy presents, toys, food, whatever.  Its truly a free-for-all shopping spree that helps local merchants!  How cool is that?

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