American Express first launched their Local Champion game back in 2013. It allows users of their apps to earn an additional bonus point per $ spent at retailers where they shop the most.
What is Amex Local Champion?
The premise is pretty simple: Amex knows the physical merchants where you use your card the most. Therefore, it is willing to reward you with an additional bonus point per dollar spent at those merchants if you become the ‘Local Champion’ for that specific store.
The range of eligible American Express cards includes Qantas- and Velocity-branded cards. You’ll earn the bonus points into the scheme in which you are enrolled, i.e. American Express Membership Rewards, Qantas Frequent Flyer or Velocity Frequent Flyer.
How Local Champion works
Local Champion status seems to be achieved by having the most transactions (over an unknown time period) of anyone also playing the local champion game.
You can select ten stores from a list Amex presents you in the app to play Local Champion at. It seems that if no one else is playing for status at a given location, then it takes 3-5 transactions in 30 days to become the Local Champion.
For popular locations, the number of transactions could be as high as 10-15. It all depends how much competition there is.
The additional bonus point per dollar is accrued on top of category bonuses for the spend. For example, on the Platinum Edge, you’ll start earning 4 points per $ on your local supermarket spend at a spot where you have become the Local Champion.
How to set up Amex Local Champion
If your Card is eligible, you could earn 1 bonus Membership Rewards point per dollar spent at your favourite places. Here’s how:
- Register by clicking the Membership tab in the app
- Select up to 10 participating places
- Become Local Champion once you’ve used your Card at these places more times than other Card Members in the last 30 days
- Earn 1 bonus point per dollar spent while you hold the title (up to 10,000 bonus points per year)
The app keeps tally of how many transactions you have left to go before gaining Local Champion status. It also contains a neat Places Nearby map view of merchants. This feature shows how many transactions it would take to become the Local Champion with them.
How to play the Local Champion game and rake in the most points
As I mentioned before, the game is based on the number of transactions at a given location in the 30-day period. Then points are awarded based on your dollar spend.
As a result, it’s easy to get involved. If you have two or three transactions a week at your local supermarket, dry cleaner, petrol station or typical work lunch cafe, you could, without trying too hard, become the Local Champion.
However, you can, of course, play this more strategically in a couple of ways.
First, you could go hard and try and get Local Champion status more quickly by adding more transactions to your account for a location you’ve selected to play at, over and above your everyday spend.
Secondly, you could strategically target locations at which you know you’ll want to make a larger transaction at in the future to become Local Champion at. Try making a few transactions on the Amex for low-dollar amounts and gaining Local Champion status first. Then spend up on a big-ticket item like a TV and earn the bonus points on that larger transaction.
Why Local Champion is a great way to earn more points
Local Champion is super-personalised so that you can make it work easily. You can do so by both selecting the right retailers to play at, and then adjusting your behaviour a little to gain the extra points.
I assume that it won’t be hard to gain Local Champion status for most people, as the pool of competition is likely to be low. This is due to:
- The local targeting of specific retailers limits those who you play against to those who shop at the same retailers you do
- Of these customers, they need to be using an American Express-issued personal card to play
- Of those Card Members, they need to have the Amex app installed
- And of those Card Members, they need to know about the Local Champion game, and have opted in to play, and at that specific retailer
Limitations of Local Champion
The first limit is the ten retailers at which you can play Local Champion at one time. This is fine—it’s just a rule of the game you need to know about.
Another is that business cards aren’t eligible for Local Champion—personal cards only. And supplementary Card Members don’t get to play either—transactions need to be made on with the primary card on an account.
Thirdly, note that for franchises, department stores and retail chains, you must select a specific store location.
And, finally, there’s a limit of 10,000 bonus points, that can be earned from playing Local Champion. For those who really use it, that limit can be reached quite quickly.
Cards that work with Local Champion
These are the key cards that now work with Amex Local Champion, and the Point Hacks guides for them:
I’m a big fan of Local Champion as a way to boost points earn.
For your local supermarket, you can pick up 4 points per dollar when using a Platinum Edge, for example. Plus, Qantas- and Velocity-branded American Express cards are also eligible.
Make sure that your card is registered for Local Champion on your mobile Amex app. And remember that supplementary Card Member transactions do not count.
The annual 10,000-point limitation on the game is the most frustrating aspect, as it disincentivises heavy card users and game players from engaging once the points cap is hit.
That said, Amex has been running the game with different iterations and improvements for several years. Therefore, I would hope that it if usage keeps growing, this might be looked at in future.