If you’ll recall, the American Express Shop Small promotion has been up and running in Canada for a few weeks now, and I’m sure we’ve all been to strategizing to make as many $10 purchases as possible at our favourite restaurants and bubble tea shops to trigger those $5 credits.
Soon after the promotion launched in Canada, Amex US launched a similar Shop Small promotion as well, also providing cardholders with up to 10 sets of US$5 credits whenever they spend US$10 with a participating small business, up to a maximum of US$50 in credits.
While I initially didn’t pay much attention to the US promotion, it turns out that the US Shop Small offer makes it significantly easier to cash out all the full set of US$50 credits in one go, with multiple different strategies available to suit your needs.
I’ve just finished unlocking a total of US$150 in Shop Small credits, receiving US$300 (and more!) in value in the meantime, so I thought I’d share my experience here.
Register for Amex US Shop Small
The Amex US Shop Small promotion is valid through September 20, 2020, and you can participate as long as you have a single Amex US credit card.
You’ll see the promotion under your Amex Offers section, and you’ll want to click “Add to Card” to formally register for the offer prior to making your US$10 purchases.
Unlike in Canada, where you can register all of your Amex cards for the Shop Small promotion, the Amex US promotion is supposed to be limited to one card per individual. At first, you’ll see the offer under all of your Amex US cards’ Amex Offers section, but once you register for Shop Small on one of your cards, it’ll disappear from the other ones.
It’s unclear how strict this limitation is. In my case, I had registered under my US Platinum Card and the offer disappeared from my other cards at first, but then a few days later it reappeared on my Hilton Business Card, so I registered that one as well. Then, I was able to add the offer to Jessy’s Bonvoy Brilliant Card too, for a total of three cards to participate with.
While a few other individuals have reported a similar experience, I wouldn’t count on being able to register for multiple cards – it seems that most people can only register on one.
In Canada, the 10 sets of $5 credits on each card must be redeemed at different retailer locations; a second $10 purchase at the same retailer would not trigger the credit. This is different in the US, where you can redeem all 10 credits with the same retailer if you wish, and that gives us a few very easy ways to unlock the full US$50 bonus…
Fluz App: Buy Starbucks Gift Cards You Can Use in Canada
Credit goes to former Prince of Travel summer intern Andrew for discovering that the Fluz app, a US-based shopping app in which you can earn rewards for buying gift cards that you’d use anyway, counts as a participating small business merchant under the Amex US Shop Small promotion.
The beauty of this is that Fluz allows you to purchase Starbucks gift cards; even though these gift cards are sold in the US and denominated in US dollars, they can then be added to a Canadian-domiciled Starbucks Rewards account and spent at Starbucks locations in Canada.
The idea is that you can simply purchase 10 sets of US$10 Starbucks gift cards via Fluz, which will then trigger the 10 sets of US$5 credits on your American Express card.
Then, when you add these Starbucks gift cards to your Starbucks account, you’ll have about $133 (CAD) in Starbucks money that you can easily spend in Canada.
(The gift cards of some other retailers, like Home Depot and Gap, are said to work in a similar cross-border fashion; however, I haven’t tested this myself.)
The Fluz app itself is more complicated than it needs to be, if you ask me. It uses a system of “Vouchers” that rewards you for making purchases by allowing you to earn up to 35% cash-back on any gift cards you buy in the form of Fluz credits. (Without a Voucher, the cash-back rate is much lower, between 0.5–2%.)
Everyone starts off with three Vouchers as long as they sign up through a fellow Fluz user’s invitation link. Here’s mine, if you’re interested; alternatively, enter “PRINCEOFTRAVEL” as the referral code when you’re signing up.
With your three 35% cash-back Vouchers in hand, this means that you’ll actually earn US$3.50 in Fluz credits on the first three US$10 gift cards you buy – for a total of US$10.50. This balance can then be redeemed towards an eleventh US$10 gift card for free!
In total, you’ll have spent a net US$50 in exchange for at least US$110 in value, or almost $150 on your Canadian Starbucks account to fuel your coffee addiction. And that’s only for one Amex US card – if you’re playing the US credit card game in two-player mode, or happen to receive the Shop Small offer on multiple cards, you can easily double your earnings!
After every US$10 purchase you make, you’ll receive an email like this one from American Express US confirming that your Shop Small purchase has been made, and the US$5 credit triggered:
Then, you’ll see the US$5 credits appear on your credit card statement, typically a few days after the purchase posts. If you’ve made more than one purchase in a single day, the US$5 credits are also likely to be lumped together in a larger amount.
24/7 Parcel: Load Up Your Mailbox Credits
If you’d rather not accumulate gift cards for overpriced coffee, another method for redeeming your US Shop Small credits is available to those of you who use 24/7 Parcel as your mail forwarding service in the US, which also counts as a participating small business. (Credit goes to Prince of Travel reader Kevin K. for finding this one.)
Simply head to the 24/7 Parcel website and use the Paypal payment option to reload your account by US$10, which will trigger the email from American Express confirming the purchase:
Load up all 10 sets of US$10, for a total of US$100, and you’ll receive US$50 in credits back on your American Express card – enough to pay for half of your mailbox’s annual fee!
Speaking of 24/7 Parcel, they can also help you cash out the US$20 shipping credits on the Amex US Business Platinum throughout the rest of 2020. Simply purchase around US$20 worth of stamps from USPS.com to be delivered to your 24/7 Parcel address, and they will credit half the amount to your 24/7 Parcel account balance for a win-win. Send the staff at 24/7 Parcel an email if you wish to learn more.
I didn’t think there’d be an easy way to redeem Amex US Shop Small credits when they were first launched, since it’s inadvisable for Canadians to go shopping in the US at the moment.
However, thanks to a bit of ingenuity from the community, cashing out your Amex US Shop Small credits is actually a pretty effortless affair, and you can easily unlock an extra $50–200 in value for the trouble of tapping a few buttons on your phone. Let’s not leave any credits on the table!