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IT’S BACK! Save up to £50 with American Express Shop Small UK for Christmas 2020

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Twice in one year?! It must be Christmas!

After American Express launched an out-of-season ‘Shop Small UK’ promotion over the summer we weren’t sure if it would return in time for Christmas.

The good news is that Amex is bringing it back for two weeks, which should hopefully let you save on some Christmas shopping.

American Express Amex Shop Small

What is American Express Shop Small UK?

‘Shop Small’  is designed to encourage you to shop in local independent stores instead of major chains.  It normally appears in the run-up to Christmas, but this year Amex also ran it over the Summer and we weren’t 100% sure it would be back for Christmas.

(‘Shop Small UK’ is, of course, also a way for American Express to persuade more small shops to sign up to accept American Express cards.)

Starting from Saturday 5th December and running until 20th December, you will receive £5 cashback on the first 10 transactions you make for £10 or more at participating ‘Shop Small’ businesses.

There are very few rules apart from the fact that you can only get one £5 cashback per shop per card.  You can, of course, register multiple American Express cards if you have more than one.

As in 2019, cashback is capped at £50 per card. Supplementary cards are treated separately and have their own cap, so you could technically get more than £50 cashback.

How does Shop Small UK work?

It is a simple process:

You MUST register your credit or charge card before making a ‘Shop Small’ purchase:

‘Shop Small’ should appear as a card offer online or in the app from today.  Look under the ‘Offers’ tab on the American Express website for each card you have.

(If you do not have the offer on your card, reach out to Amex customer services who will add it manually for you.)

You can register by going to the American Express website, logging in and looking under ‘My Offers’ on the statement page.

Corporate American Express cards do not quality, but the small business cards usually do.

You can also register a supplementary card (an additional card held by your partner or friend on the same account) as long as it has a different card number to your main card and has its own separate Amex log-in.

You must find a participating ‘Shop Small’ small shop:

The main Shop Small website is here which contains a link to an interactive map where you can find participating shops in your area.  You will also often see a Shop Small sticker in a shop window.

Beware that this map, in previous years, has not been accurate. Often in a good way (some shops not featured give the credit) and often in a bad way (shops on the map are closed or don’t even accept Amex).  Your best option is to use your Amex whenever you can during the Shop Small period and see what hits.

It is worth noting that it is not just sellers of ‘things’ who are taking part. You will find cafes and even the occasional pub taking part, although these are unlikely to be open due to the current lockdown restrictions.

You must make a qualifying purchase of £10 or more:

You can make one purchase per registered card per shop that is taking part in ‘Shop Small’.  

Supplementary cards can get credit at the same shop as a card where the main cardholder has already made a purchase.  You can also get credit for different American Express cards at the same shop.

For example …. Rob and his wife have British Airways, Platinum, supplementary Platinum, Business Platinum and Gold Amex cards between them.  He can earn 5 x £5 cashback payments at the same store over the promotional period, as long as he uses a different registered card each time.

You should receive an email or phone notification soon after making your purchase, although you shouldn’t panic if you don’t – the system is not foolproof.

A £5 credit for every £10 purchase will be added onto your credit card account within a few days of the original charge hitting your statement.

Note that American Express has closed down card accounts before (including some HfP readers) when they believe that ‘Shop Small’ has been abused.  ‘Abuse’ includes asking a retailer to break down a transaction into chunks of £10 and paying each £10 with a different registered American Express card.  This is easy for Amex to spot when transactions are processed within a few seconds of each other.

For clarity …. this promotion is fully funded by American Express as part of its campaign to encourage more small shops to accept the card.  It is not funded by the shop so you shouldn’t feel guilty about taking part!

You can find out more on the American Express website here.

Registration should be available now, but remember that ‘Shop Small’ doesn’t start until Saturday. If you cannot see it in your card offers, reach out to Amex customer services who can add it manually for you.

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

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here.

British Airways American Express card

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

BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

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

Nectar American Express

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

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

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 card

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Amex Platinum Business American Express

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 card

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.

Comments (220)

  • Holam says:

    Live chat are refusing to add the offer to my card citing I’m not ‘eligible’ for the offer. Useless.

    • sigma421 says:

      That’s weird. They added it for me but refused to be drawn on why I wasn’t getting anything.

    • the_real_a says:

      I wonder if there are tiers of support…. i seem to get better service from online chat where they are technically able to action the request. Had the offer added in a couple of minutes, I ask for the retention offer i want and generally get it if its available on the screen.

  • James says:

    Anecdotally, I found during summer any place using iZettle, SumUp, or Square card readers didn’t seem to trigger the £5 cashback. Not sure if others experienced the same?

    • N says:

      They don’t.

      • Jonathan says:

        I had some that did (including our local Thai takeaway that wasn’t on the map) but lots that didn’t which was strange as they all appeared with the sumup/izettle prefix on statement regardless of whether they triggered.

        It’s a real problem now as most small shops seem to be moving away from traditional card readers which kind of defeats the purpose of shop small.

        • Martin says:

          I think in previous years, merchants using iZettle (et al) were specifically excluded in the T&Cs, but that’s been removed now. You may need to go via customer services if it’s on the map and doesn’t trigger automatically though.

    • joe says:


    • Phil says:

      I think it all depends how explicit the business name is in the transaction sent to Amex. Some of the businesses in Edinburgh participating, according to the Shop Small Map, have SumUp prefixed, e.g. SumUp Phone Shop ABC Ltd. I think this is an attempt to help automate the triggering of the statement credits.

    • Pid says:

      I just called up Amex and they were all manually added with no problems.

  • Anuj says:

    After downgrading to free ba card, I have the £20k bonus countdown showing. I have 7k left will I get another companion voucher? Or is this normal to see.

  • bill says:

    Amex chat just manually added it to my Platinum Charge Card and Platinum Credit Card

  • RussellH says:

    Just added Shop Small to four cards.
    One of these is my supp on my partner’s blue BA card, which still has 60 offers on it which are of no interest at all. This card last got used during the summer shop small…
    Far fewer offers on my own cards – again very difficult to find something of relevance.
    Having continuously held Amex cards for five years I would have thought that their algorithms would have marked me as someone who never buys expensive clothes, cosmetics of any kind, or even enters posh shops in London, no matter how much “off” they offer.

    • BuildTheWall says:

      The purpose of offers is to incentivise you to spend on something you havent spent or usually wouldnt. Why would they provide cashback on what you would spend anyway?

      • Rob says:

        Amex wants more small shops to sign up to accept Amex cards. The point of this offer is not that you spend more but that you divert spend from big shops to small shops.

      • RussellH says:

        Sure. But why give me an offer for Waitrose, when they must be able to work out that the nearest Waitrose is 60 miles and 2 hours drive or 3 hours by train from here?
        They know that I have bought clothes at Primark, spending around £10 every six months, so surely they can work out that I would only buy from, say, Mr. Porter, if the promotion brought prices down to the Primark level.

        • Sundar says:

          @Russell – Have you turned on location access to the amex app on your phone and seen oif it makes a difference ?

          • RussellH says:

            Do not have a phone that does “apps” (I do dislike that term).

            And if I had, I would certainly not have location access turned on. And I really do not see what difference that would make anyway.

            If you are thinking Waitrose, they do not operate in this part of the country. Never have. We have a local supermarket chain that is arguably better than Waitrose and they choose not to compete.

  • Tilly says:

    Fabulous. Saved to my cards. I will wait until Saturday to do my usual December shop up the high street.

    • Julian says:

      Is it worth buying lots of extra things you didn’t really need just to have the illusion of having saved £5 at each of these retailers?

      • mark2 says:

        Does anyone do that?

        • Julian says:

          I think Rob seems to have been suggesting that this is exactly what we should do unless I have missed something.

          Apart from the useful hairdressers I got the £5 Shop Small credit on (without knowing in advance they were a Shop Small store) most of the rest in my area are sellers of high priced gift type tat or are expensive pubs (that is ones in the deep countryside who tend to charge £15 for a main course) or restaurants I wouldn’t otherwise have visited.

          So if I spend £30 at a pub to generate a £5 credit I’m not really saving anything am I? If I get a £5 credit for spending £10 in a supermarket then I am genuinely saving on my usual weekly spend…..

          • ken says:

            I have a fishmonger, butcher, flowershop, barbers and Oddbins all within 5 mins walk of my house. Plus loads of eateries.

            It a great offer, just don’t understand people moaning.

          • Tilly says:

            What part of the article is suggesting we spend on extra things we don’t really need?

      • Tilly says:

        I don’t buy lots of extra things I don’t need. There are certain things I have to purchase anyway in December from local independent shops and the shop small helps a little with the cost of that. I was going to buy those things today but will now wait until the weekend for the money back.

  • A.J. says:

    Any idea if a US card registered for the offer and used in the UK would still trigger the cashback?

    • Rob says:

      Doubt it, but you can try tomorrow and if it triggers then you’ve got another 9 days to take advantage.

    • DT says:

      Don’t know about a US card, but I have Aussie Amex cards and none of them trigger shop small, either in the UK shop small period or the Australian one

  • Jody says:

    Yet another one without it on my card (or supp card). Phoned up and was told it would be added, but could take up to 48 hours. For those people who have had it added, have you been able to see it straight away?

    Little bit annoying if it can take 48 hours but starts tomorrow.

    • Pete says:

      Yup, was immediate, but the agent spoke to someone who could do that whilst on the phone to me.

    • Rum says:

      Yep same here. Called this morning, got told the usual that it would go to back office and may take more than a week. I thought it already got escalated to them last time I called. And isn’t the whole promotion over in ten days?
      Anyway it’s still not showing for me. All the various banners and in-app adverts are showing. But clicking those just takes me to my pathetic offers page with no shop small added or even showing. Feeling quite gutted.
      Have fired off a complaint to Amex and will start cancelling cards starting with my supplementary cards from next week. Enough is enough.
      Very happy with HSBC. Will happily take my business to them.