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I have jumped on the Amex / Foursquare bandwagon

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I was holding this post back for a couple of days until my credit card statement started reflecting my cashback.  However, there were so many comments about it in other posts that I have pulled it forward to today.

(EDIT: My first cashback has now appeared.  My Harvey Nichols transaction for £26 was dated 26 November and the £25 credit was dated 28 November, although it didn’t show until this morning.)

For the last three weeks, American Express has been running a ‘small shops’ promotion. It offered £5 back when you spent at least £5 in a number of small, mainly independent, stores.

I didn’t post about it because it had little to do with miles and points, and because I didn’t have a smartphone to try it out. I also had a nasty feeling that it would become addictive and that I would spend all day visiting hundreds of shops around London (there are about 10 between my house and the tube alone) picking up freebies!

Anyway, ‘small shops’ will soon be over, as tomorrow is the last day.

I have, however, decided to give Foursquare a go because some of the other American Express promotions are simply too good to miss.

Let’s look at the best offers currently available:

    • Harvey Nichols – spend £25, get £25 back (ends 31/12)
    • Starbucks – spend £10, get £5 back (ends 13/2/13)
    • Tesco – spend £50, get £10 back (ends 31/12)
    • Argos – spend £20, get £5 back (ends 31/12)
    • Fenwick – spend £50, get £10 back (ends 24/12)
    • HMV – spend £20, get £5 back (ends 31/12)
    • House of Fraser – spend £50, get £10 back (ends 31/12)

Whilst you can only do these offers once per Amex card and per Foursquare account, you can set up unlimited Foursquare accounts (using different email addresses).

So .. in our house we have 2 x Lloyds TSB Amex cards (supplementary cards seem to count separately), 2 x Amex Platinum cards and 2 x BA American Express Premium Plus cards.  Experiments on Flyertalk have shown that Lloyds, MBNA and supplementary Amex cards (with a different card number to the main card) all work.

That means I can get – for free – £150 of Harvey Nichols gift cards. I can also get £60 of Starbucks credit for £30. Plus the Argos, Tesco etc deals are there for the taking if I want them.

The key, for me, was realising that I don’t need a smartphone to do this! I downloaded the Foursquare app to my (wi-fi) ipad and was able to ‘check in’ to relevant London stores from the comfort of my house!

So, this is how it works:

1. Download the Foursquare app onto your ipad, iphone, Android device or whatever you carry!

2. Sign up. Make a careful note of the email address you use. Ignore all the screens about linking your Facebook etc accounts.

3. Sync your MBNA, Lloyds or Amex-issued Amex card with the Foursquare account by going to this website. You must use the same email address as in 1.

4. Go back to Foursquare and search for your nearest Starbucks, Tesco, Argos, Harvey Nichols etc branch. You need to click ‘Check In’ and you see a special offer flick up. Click ‘Load to Card’ and the offer is set up directly with Amex.

5. Repeat for each Amex card you have, with a new Foursquare account. It would be sensible to make a note of which Amex card and email address links to each account.

(You can actually carry out steps 1-3 on a desktop PC as well. What you cannot do is Step 4, as the ‘Check In’ box is not active.)

There is nothing to show in the shop when you make your purchases. The shop will never even know you are taking part in the promotion. 3-4 days after making the relevant shop purchase, a credit will hit your Amex account.

What I have been doing

I have been using a different Amex card each day, since I pass Starbucks daily and Harvey Nichols is only a 10 minute diversion. (Harvey Nichols is obviously not so close for most of you, but you could go and buy £25 gift cards from different tills using different Amex cards in the same visit.)

The first time you go to Starbucks or Harvey Nichols, get a new gift card. For subsequent visits, you simply need to top up the card you already have. There is no need to buy numerous separate gift cards for each retailer.

You should also remember that Tesco is currently running its own ‘150 bonus Clubcard points when you spend £50 on gift cards’ promotion. With this deal, you will pay just £40 for £50 of gift cards AND earn 360 Avios (from the 150 Clubcard points) on top!

Do think about buying gift cards if there is nothing you need now – you can then double up on your discount by redeeming in the sales. If you were thinking of House of Fraser gift cards, you are better off going to a big Tesco – you still save £10 off £50 plus there is 150 bonus Clubcard points for spending £50 on gift cards.

An FT poster points out that HMV is currently selling £25 itunes gift cards for £20.  The £5 Foursquare credit means you will only be paying £15, a 40% discount.

If you have any experiences with these Foursquare promos, please comment below.

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Comments (25)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Col A-B (@mkcol) says:

    Useful link, thanks Keith – I’d not seen it before. Makes searching that much easier.

  • Ant says:

    I downloaded the Gap check in special last week and bought something on Monday when the offer was not showing anymore on FS. To my surprise i still got the credit. So maybe if you had already loaded the special you will still receive the credit.

    Yesterday i purchased 2 gift cards of £20 each from HMV and with every purchase and received a “£5 off your next purchase over £50£”, so today i picked up £50 of DVDs , got £5 off and paid £40 with vouchers and £5 cash – total cost £35 after FS credit.

    Using all our Amex credit cards (6) I have made over £500 in small shop offers plus I used FS for Starbucks, HN and HMV.
    Also FS had the same HN offer on in the summer which I had also taken advantage off.

  • Roger says:

    I take the point about registering different cards with separate e-mail addresses. However, I have more AmEx cards than e-mail addresses.

    I remember reading that GMail addresses could be used by adding +1 or +xyz to the main address. They end up in the same GMail inbox but are treated separately by organisations.

    Unfortunately, I can’t remember the formula! Has anybody tried this? For example, is it roger+1@….; 1+roger@…; …, etc? Thanks.

    • Raffles says:

      My understanding is that you can either put a dot somewhere, eg r.affles@g, ra.ffles@ – all of which go to the same place, or add a suffix, eg roger+headforpoints@, roger+waitrose@.

      Send yourself a test email to see if it works first!

      • Roger says:

        Raffles and WW: thanks for the tips on e-mail addresses.

        I’m about to get busy!

  • WW says:

    Make sure you only add these characters before the ‘@’ symbol as modifying the domain ( will prevent the message from reaching your mailbox.

  • Soran says:

    Think instore only as you have to ‘check-in’ at the store and it will probably show up on your amex as Harvey Nic London or something. I was surprised however that they didn’t do gift cards. They only do vouchers!

  • Raffles says:

    Depends how the transaction gets processed by HN. Amex simply pays up when it spots a certain company ID on your statement. Impossible to know without trying.

  • Ant says:

    Has anyone got a notification or seen the credit after using the 4S at House of Fraser in the city? I think there is a problem with this one, because i used 2 cards and did not get any notifications.

    I have been succesful will all others.

    Looks like there are also similar offers at Liberty, Nike and Urban Outfitters

    • Raffles says:

      Liberty, Nike, Urban Outfitters not available on FS for uploading yet.

      Don’t worry about notifications. I have found it hit and miss. Got no email or FS confirmation for my first Harvey Nichols but the £25 appeared. 2nd HN I did get a FS notification. In any event, looking at Flyertalk, Amex is very good at crediting the cash if you send them an email via the Secure Message Centre.

      People also need to remember that EACH Amex card must be activiated and checked-in separately with Four Square!

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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