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.
Want to earn more points from credit cards? – January 2021 update
If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our January 2021 recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus.
British Airways American Express
5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review
British Airways American Express Premium Plus
25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review
The Platinum Card from American Express
30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review
Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard
15,000 points bonus and the most generous non-Amex for day to day spending Read our full review
Earning miles and points from small business cards
If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these:
American Express Business Gold
20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review
American Express Business Platinum
40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review
British Airways Accelerating Business American Express
Earn both Avios and BA On Business points with your business spending Read our full review
Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa
The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review
Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history. By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker. Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.