Back in the summer, the American Express Business Platinum Card came out with an offer of up to $680 in statement credits in order to entice cardholders to keep using their cards during this challenging period. The $680 was distributed across three types of business spending:
- A one-time $250 statement credit on any $250 purchase from Dell Canada
- A $40 statement credit, up to four times, on Canadian mobile services (for a total of $160)
- A $45 statement credit, up to six times, on shipping purchases made with FedEx Canada (for a total of $270)
While the Dell and mobile phone credits were easy enough to redeem, the FedEx credits have been tougher for most Business Platinum cardholders to use up fully, because not everyone regularly purchases shipping from FedEx in the first place.
With a couple of Business Platinum Cards among my entourage and a paralyzing fear of leaving value on the table, I wanted to share my experience using up my FedEx credits over the past few months and hopefully help some of you burn up your $270 worth of credits before they expire on December 31, 2020.
Shipping Items at the FedEx Store
Each Business Platinum Card can earn a total of six statement credits of $45 each, which are individually triggered upon a single purchase of at least $45 with FedEx online, over the phone, or in-store.
Importantly, a purchase of, say, $90 will not trigger two sets of the $45 credit – as I learned the hard way when I first decided to try shipping something in-person at the FedEx store.
I needed to send a parcel back to my family in Beijing, and whereas a regular Canada Post shipment might’ve sufficed, I decided I may as well use FedEx since I had credits to burn.
The total shipping cost came to $108. Looking back, the wise thing to do would’ve been to ask the FedEx employee to split the payment into two separate payments, but with the mantra of “be the data point you want to see” on my mind, I decided to process a single $108 payment to see if it would trigger multiple credits at once (after all, that’s how the $40 mobile credits worked).
It did not, and so I found myself needlessly out-of-pocket by an extra $60 or so.
Therefore, if you’re shipping items at a FedEx store, make sure to ask the staff member to split any payments in excess of $90 into the correct number of transactions, so that you’ll be able to trigger the maximum number of $45 credits.
Of course, your shipping purchase needs to be a minimum of $45 to qualify for the credit in the first place. If your shipment gets priced out to an amount lower than $45, ask the staff member if you can add-on some extra insurance or perhaps a requirement for in-person signature, so that you can bring the total to $45, trigger the credit, and reduce your out-of-pocket spending to near-zero.
Shipping Items with a FedEx Account
With so many credits to spend, I decided that visiting the FedEx store to ship items wasn’t the most practical course of action. Since Jessy and I were going to be moving from Montreal back to Toronto this fall, I decided to put the FedEx credits to good use by shipping large boxes packed with our belongings back to our place in Toronto.
In order to use the online billing feature and arrange for FedEx pickups at my residence, I needed to set up a FedEx account first, which can be done online at the FedEx website.
For a multinational corporation that plays a key role in global supply chains, FedEx’s website sure is clunky and unintuitive, at best.
In particular, the website wouldn’t allow me to complete the account creation process online as a brand-new FedEx user, since it required me to enter two previous FedEx invoices for “verification”, which I didn’t have on hand as I had never shipped anything with FedEx before.
After a quick phone call to customer service, I was instructed to enter two dummy invoice numbers to complete the process. That left me with a fully operational FedEx account, although I should warn you that there are still a few technical quirks to watch out for, such as having to log-in multiple times during the same session for no apparent reason.
When it’s time to start your shipment, there are two online tools you can use: FedEx Ship Manager Lite and FedEx Ship Manager Advanced.
The former is meant to be more user-friendly, but because of how slow and clunky the FedEx website is, I actually found it to be more challenging to use. I’d recommend going with the Advanced tool, which is more comprehensive and lets you do things like shipping multiple packages at once.
The “From”, “To”, and “Shipment Details” sections are all pretty intuitive to fill in. For the Service Type, I’ve found the cheapest option of FedEx Ground worked well for my needs, and the amount clocked in at about $1/pound of weight shipped – my cardboard boxes, which weighed about 50 pounds, came to about $50 each time.
When it comes to “Billing Details”, this is where you simply select your own account to bill to. FedEx’s billing cycle seems to be bi-monthly (i.e., twice per month), so you’ll receive your invoice within a few weeks’ time.
Then, under “Pickup/Drop-off”, you can select how you’d like to hand-off your package. Since I preferred for FedEx to come pick up the items from my place, I simply designated a pickup window on a certain date (you can book pickups as soon as the next day if you wish), and a FedEx employee would show up like clockwork to pick up the packages.
(Just make sure to print out your shipping labels beforehand, or else they’ll have to come back the next day, and you’ll get charged a fee for their troubles. At least the FedEx credits meant I essentially got off scot-free here!)
In this fashion, I managed to ship no less than eight boxes full of our belongings back to Toronto over the course of a couple of weeks. Each time, I’d receive the online invoice within a couple of weeks – and this is where things get interesting in terms of making a payment.
I first tried paying the invoices both online and in-person at the FedEx store, but in both cases, there wasn’t the option to split up a single invoice into multiple payments, nor was there the ability to combine leftover amounts on invoice with a specific amount on another invoice to reach an exact total of $45.
And having learned my lesson from my first shipment, I wasn’t about to pay a single cent more than I needed to on my FedEx purchases anymore.
It turns out that the best way to handle payments in this situation is to call the FedEx contact centre, where the phone agents do have the ability to split payments into chunks of $45, as well as combine amounts from different invoices to make exactly $45.
Note that the FedEx billing system tends to reject multiple payments from the same card of the same amount in quick succession, so the solution here is to ask the phone agent to make payments of $45.01, $45.02, etc. Okay, so maybe I ended up paying a few cents more than I had to for the shipping…
The FedEx phone payments show up on American Express as “FedEx Mississauga”, and the $45 credits happily showed up the day after the payments posted.
If you plan to use the FedEx online account to make shipments and use up your FedEx credits, make sure to do so well before December if possible, since the invoices can take a few weeks to generate and the FedEx offer ends on December 31.
What If You Have Nothing to Ship?
Since we’re doing less in-person travelling this year, many Canadians might have reasons to ship something to their loved ones in different cities domestically or internationally.
Still, some Business Platinum cardholders may have trouble using up their FedEx credits because they simply don’t have any items to move or ship. In order to avoid leaving the credits on the table, consider whether the following alternative uses might fit your needs:
- Offer to cover any of your friends and family’s shipping needs, whether it’s done in-person at the FedEx store (in which case you’d need to accompany them with your card), or online (in which case they can simply bill the shipment to your account).
- Offer to cover the shipping needs of any business owners in your circles, perhaps agreeing a deal to split the $270 in credits among yourselves.
- If you often pass by a FedEx store and want to do a good deed for others, consider covering the shipping costs for a stranger, as long as the bill comes close to a multiple of $45 – as one good samaritan has done!
- FedEx also collects duties on behalf of CBSA for most items that are purchased from abroad and shipped to Canada; your FedEx credits can be used to pay for these duties, as long as you make payments online or over the phone in chunks of $45.
- What happens if you end up needing to return this item bought from overseas? Well, technically there is a process for requesting a refund of the duties from CBSA, but it seems to be a pretty involved process and it’s not entirely clear how the refund is handled.
While the FedEx credits might not be the easiest perk to use up, $270 is still a fair chunk of value that could go a long way towards offsetting the $499 annual fee on the Amex Business Platinum (on top of the $250 Dell credit and $160 in mobile services credits that you’re also getting), so it could be worth putting in a bit of time to use up your FedEx credits before the year is up.
Since I had these credits to burn, I was able to make my moving process a lot smoother by shipping the majority of my belongings over to my next address. I hope you’ve found my account of the FedEx shipping experience somewhat helpful, and do let me know if you’ve found other creative ways to use up your FedEx credits on the Business Platinum.