American Express’ Shop Small deal is back, but this time, it’s a year-long affair. And instead of $5 credits, Amex is pushing something potentially worth much more if you collect points for travel: three bonus points per dollar spent until 31 March 2022, up to 40,000 extra points.
That’s not a mistake. If you have a Qantas, Velocity or Membership Rewards-earning Amex card, you will pocket an extra 3 points per dollar spent at participating small businesses for one year, or until you hit the 40,000-point cap.
For example, if you have the Amex Qantas Ultimate or the Amex Velocity Platinum card, both of which earns 1.25 Qantas or Velocity Points per dollar, respectively, then that gets boosted to 4.25 points per A$1 at participating Shop Small businesses up to a maximum of 40,000 Qantas or Velocity Points. We’ll explore the numbers more below.
Note that if you hold an American Express Membership Rewards (MR) Card, the 40,000 points cap also applies. This means that your maximum effective frequent flyer points earn for the year is 20,000 points, given that 2 MR points usually equals 1 frequent flyer point.
Our full guide to American Express Shop Small promotions is shown below, updated for the details of this offer. American Express is a Point Hacks commercial partner.
A guide to American Express’ Shop Small promotions
American Express runs at least one Shop Small promotion each year, usually in November, to encourage spending at local merchants. Previous promotions have revolved around small credits whenever you shop, but it’s completely different in 2021.
You can register for this year’s promotion on this page. You can also save this offer to your card by navigating to Amex Offers in your account or in the Amex mobile app.
Additional Card Members are not eligible for Shop Small in 2021, unfortunately. That means that only the main card member will be able to take part in earning the three bonus points.
This offer can be used at participating businesses. The range of included retailers is, as usual, very broad — check the map here. You should be able to find somewhere close to you that would fit within your normal spend patterns. Thousands of additional businesses are taking part in this year’s Shop Small, including the many micro-businesses that use Square payment terminals.
This year’s offer can also be used at selected online businesses as well! Browse the list here for more details.
We’ve witnessed first-hand the immense pressure that businesses have been under this year. But our sellers haven’t been defeated: it’s brought out their resilient and entrepreneurial best. We’ve seen barber shops creating merch brands to add a new revenue stream; fish and chip shops giving their customers online ordering options; people that were laid off starting businesses for the very first time.– Colin Birney, Head of Business Development for Square Australia, 1 April 2021
How much are the Amex Shop Small bonus points worth?
That depends, of course. If you like to use your Qantas or Velocity Points for flight upgrades or rewards, chances are you’ll get more value over time with bonus points than a single $5 or $10 credit. There are no restrictions on how many times you can visit a participating merchant for bonus points.
But if you only visit a place once-off and make a relatively small purchase, then you might have been better off with the previous credits system. Amex is hoping to drive repeat customers with this longer-term offer.
Below are some quick sums, assuming 5x $80 spend over a year at your favourite small business (say, a restaurant you love to visit every few months), using some of the highest-earning Amex cards on the market.
- Our Qantas Points valuation: $19.00 per 1,000 points
- Card bonus earn rate through Shop Small: 4.25 points per A$1
- Points earned on 5x $80 spend: 1,700 Qantas Points worth $32.30
- Our Velocity Points valuation: $17.00 per 1,000 points
- Card bonus earn rate through Shop Small: 4.25 points per A$1
- Points earned on 5x $80 spend: 1,700 Velocity Points worth $28.90
- Our Membership Rewards points valuation: $10.00 per 1,000 points
- Card bonus earn rate through Shop Small: 5.25 points per A$1
- Points earned on 5x $80 spend: 2,625 MR Points worth $26.25
As you can see, the return is fairly good if it’s a place you like to visit every few months. You’d be better off now with bonus points rather than the previous system where you’d only earn a single $5 or $10 credit per card.
How do I sign up for Shop Small?
If you already have an American Express online account:
- Log in to your American Express online account
- Scroll down to the section ‘Amex Offers’
- Find the Shop Small offer and click ‘Save to Card’
- You are now enrolled in Shop Small for this year
If you have an American Express card and want to enrol manually:
- Visit the enrolment page for the 2021 Shop Small offer
- Enter your name, email and card details
- Click ‘Save to Card’. You are now enrolled in Shop Small.
Not yet an American Express cardholder?
American Express Card Members have lots of perks, and Shop Small is just the start! There’s bound to be a card suited to you.
The ever-popular American Express Platinum Edge earns up to 3 Membership Rewards points earned per A$1 spent at major supermarkets and petrol stations.
Or check out the American Express Explorer card with lounge access perks and a solid 2 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on just about anything (and don’t forget to add the bonus 3 points per A$1 from Shop Small!).
Both cards also come with complimentary insurances. Plus, if you apply, are approved and receive your card in time, you could still be a part of this year’s Shop Small offer!
Shop Small benefits for small businesses
Now more than ever, it’s important to support our small local businesses whenever it’s safe to do so. American Express says its card members have contributed more than A$6 billion to the Australian small business sector over the last 8 years, solely through the Shop Small initiative.
According to the recent American Express SME Recovery Survey, only 53% of small business operators are optimistic about what the year ahead holds for their business, given the challenges of the last 12 months. Ongoing customer support is vital, especially as more than half of the surveyed businesses relied on JobKeeper to keep things going.
The resilience that Australian small business operators have shown throughout the Covid crisis has been extraordinary. And it’s encouraging to see consumers, big business and government rallying to back the sector, but now is not the time for complacency.
That’s why Shop Small is returning all-year round to remind shoppers that if they want to see these businesses survive, they have to take action and spend with them regularly.– Lisa Belcher, Amex SME VP, 1 April 2021
The small print for Shop Small
The offer is available to all American Express Card Members who register within the promotion period, which is one year from 1 April 2021.
Amex says the bonus points will be credited within five business days, with up to three months as a maximum. Payments through third-party processors or establishments, such as PayPal, AfterPay or Zip are not eligible.
The following cards are also not eligible: American Express Business Travel Accounts, Corporate Cards, Corporate Meeting Cards, Corporate Purchasing Cards, David Jones Storecards Government Cards, Global Travel Cards and Business Cards that are affiliated with a wholesaler partner.
Gift card purchases are ineligible. For full terms, conditions, exclusions and participating small businesses, check the Shop Small website.
- April 2021: 3 bonus points per $1 spent, up to 40,000 points from 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022.
- June 2020: Spend $10, get $5 back up to ten times from 10 June – 31 August 2020
- November 2019: Spend $20, get $10 back up to five times during the full month
- November 2018: Spend $20, get $10 back up to five times during the full month
- November 2017: Spend $20, get $10 back up to five times during the full month
- November 2016: Spend $20, get $10 back up to ten times during the full month
- September 2016: Spend $60, get $30 back up to three times from 16 – 18 September
- May 2016: Spend $60, get $30 back up to three times from 14 – 15 September
- November 2015: Spend $20, get $10 back up to ten times during the full month
- August 2014: Spend $20, get $5 back up to ten times during the full month
- November 2013: Spend $20, get $10 back up to five times from 23 – 30 November
American Express’ Shop Small promotions are a good way for consumers to both earn extra rewards as well as help out small businesses. You can find more information on the Shop Small FAQ page. The full terms and conditions of the offer are found here.
With a Qantas or Velocity card earning the maximum of 4.25 points per dollar at Shop Small businesses, you’d only need to spend $1,883 to earn enough points for a short reward flight in Economy Class.
Of course, this year’s change won’t go down well with everyone. There are people who would prefer cold hard cash(back) rather than the ability to earn bonus points. But overall, this offer has the potential to be more rewarding for those invested in frequent flyer programs.