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CONFIRMED: American Express Shop Small to return in June

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American Express has confirmed that it is bringing back its ‘Shop Small’ promotion in June. Regular readers will know that we had this news as an exclusive story last month.

‘Shop Small’ is an established Amex offer which incentivises you to shop at small independent retailers. In turn, of course, it encourages small independent retailers to accept American Express in order to participate.

It typically runs in November but American Express has been running more restrictive versions in Summer in recent years.

It will return for Summer 2021, but with a tweak. Look at the logo:

American Express Shop Small Summer 2021

The Winter version of ‘Shop Small’ gives you £5 back for every £10 purchase you make at a participating independent retailer.

You are limited to one £5 payment per retailer per American Express card you register and for Christmas 2020 there was a £50 cap per card.

As you can see above, the Summer 2021 version of ‘Shop Small’ will give you £5 back on a £15 transaction.

How will Shop Small Summer 2021 work?

  • The promotion is now confirmed to run from 5th to 25th June
  • You must register in advance via the ‘Offers’ section of the American Express app or website. Each card, and each supplementary card, must be registered separately. Registration opens on Monday 17th May.
  • You will be restricted to £25 cashback per American Express card you register
  • The standard rule of one payment per retailer per card will remain

Now is a good time to add a supplementary card

One thing worth remembering about Shop Small is that you can register supplementary cards separately. This allows you to earn cashback at the same store on both your main card and your supplementary cards.

Do note, however, that American Express takes a dim view of people who ‘abuse’ Shop Small. It has closed down accounts of HfP readers in the past. ‘Abuse’ would include splitting a large transaction into chunks of £15, using a different card each time.

If you had been thinking about adding a supplementary card to your American Express account, you may want to make sure it is in place by 5th June.

American Express Shop Small Summer 2021

Special bonuses are currently available for adding supplementary cards

Remember that American Express is currently offering special bonuses if you add a supplementary card to your Marriott Bonvoy, American Express Rewards, Harrods or Nectar American Express card. There are usually no incentives for adding supplementary cards on these products.

Until 31st July, you will receive:

These are valuable incentives, given that the supplementary card is free:

  • 3,000 Marriott Bonvoy points are worth £15 using HfP valuations
  • 3,000 Nectar points are worth 1,875 Avios, which are worth £18.75 using HfP valuations (or use them for £15 of Sainsbury’s shopping)
  • 2,000 Membership Rewards points are worth 2,000 Avios (£20 on our valuations) if you choose to use them for that
  • 1,000 Harrods Rewards points are worth £10

This HfP article has more details about the special Amex supplementary card bonuses.


Don’t forget to register for Shop Small Summer 2021 from next Monday.

For clarity, American Express funds 100% of the cashback. Your local shops are not paying to participate.

Want to earn more points from credit cards? – June 2021 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our June 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. Here are the other top current deals:

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 offers.

Amex 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

Comments (117)

  • John says:

    So first it was spend £5 get £5 back (unlimited), then spend £10 get £5 back (£50 limit) now it’s spend £15 get £5 back (£25 limit). What will it be next year? Spend £20 get £5 back (£20 limit)? Hardly worth it.

    I was one of those who absolutely abused this offer to the max (free pub crawl anyone?) and Amex had no problem with that. In fact they encouraged it when I spoke to them on the phone and told me they’d happily credit me with £5 for reporting any retailer that wouldn’t accept Amex that were advertised as participating in Shop Small. They don’t do that any more either. The good times are over as far as I’m concerned.

    • lumma says:

      Contacted them last year regarding my local who I’ve spent hundreds at over the years including getting Shop Small credits no longer accepting AMEX, despite “we say yes to American Express” stickers in the window.

      Just told they’ll look to update the map and remove it.

      • John says:

        I found Indian restaurants to be the worst. Amex shop small sticker in the window, Amex branded leather folder with the bill. “Oh sorry we don’t accept Amex here, sir.” More often than not they do but they just don’t want to. Little trick an Amex CSA taught me to get around that is to add your amex to Google / Apple Pay and just tap your phone against the card machine. If they truly don’t accept Amex it won’t go through and they won’t realise you’ve paid via Amex until it’s too late 🙂

        • NFH says:

          I always use Apple Pay, and it does indeed annoy a small minority of merchants when the receipt comes out showing that I paid successfully with Amex. They say things like “We don’t accept Amex“, to which I reply “But you just have accepted Amex“.

          One Thai restaurant wanted to reverse the transaction and for me to pay with another card, which I refused. When the rest of my table subsequently paid their share of the bill, the waitress insisted on seeing each card before processing the payment.

          When they present the bill in an Amex leather folder and then refuse to accept Amex, I offer to return the folder to Amex for them.

          • Lady London says:

            Is the difference to the restaurant so great for them to indulge in this tacky behaviour if they dont want you to pay by Amex?

            If they’re going to be that tacky I think I’d make a big scene out of photographing the Amex- logo’d folder they presented the bill to me in with the bill on top of it. Then the front door with the Amex sticker in the window.

        • Doug M says:

          Depending on machine configuration google pay won’t always work. Definitely the case at two McDonald’s drive-thru’s I know. Amex card fine, same card linked to google pay always fails.

          • Nick says:

            Drive thru is not supposed to allow Apple Pay at all, as it’s technically illegal to use a phone while in control of a motor vehicle (which you are at that point). McDs promised to enforce a restriction, interesting to see that they haven’t been…

          • NFH says:

            Drive-throughs can accept Apple Pay. For example, the driver can pay with an Apple Watch, or a passenger can pay with any supported iOS device.

      • Adder says:

        As a small retailer who accepts AmEx, we really struggle to get people to pay with it! Signs up everywhere, even right by the till, and still most people get out a (non-earning) Visa/MC despite having an AmEx in full view in their wallet. Whenever I point out to people that we accept it, the response is invariably “ooh, didn’t think you would”!

        Even worse are the London tourists down (we’re in Devon) for a holiday who seem to think that we wouldn’t even take card payments at all…

        • Nick says:

          Hardly surprising they have that attitude though, given it’s shops like that (obviously not yours!) that are generally the only hold-outs. Literally the only time I ever use cash is when I go back up north, where there’s a few shops who won’t move with the times. In small towns it can be hard to vote with your feet so I just suck it up and whinge under my breath.

    • BuildBackBetter says:

      “Amex had no problem with that.”
      More like the CSO had no problem. At some point it had to stop.
      Stop complaining about free money.

      • John says:

        Hardly free money now though is it?

        • DT says:

          It is if you get the £5 back on places you go to instead of going to places only because they’re on shop small.

          • Char Char says:

            The whole point of the promotion is to encourage you to go places, if they sign is up, and on the map then they need to credit you the £5 as it was advertised as such.

        • James says:

          Hoew else would you describe it, John?

    • Jordan D says:

      So you the max the system and are surprised when the system is changed to work against you?

      This is why we can’t have nice things.

      • John says:

        Not surprised in the slightest. Just highlighting that it’s not worth my while trying to spend money in independent shops anymore which is what Amex were supposed to be encouraging people to do. Maybe they should change it to “Small medium” before someone reports them to the ASA.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          You also missed out the long stage where it was spend £10 get £5 (unlimited)

        • illuminatus says:

          +1, it encouraged me to try out new small independent shops and eateries, will not be the case this year – when they need it most.

        • Alex Sm says:

          I think it’s rather “small purchase” than “small store”, so as long as 10-15 pounds IS a small transaction, no need to report to ASA

    • Johnny Tabasco says:

      Can you not see It’s because of people like you that we lose these benefits ?

      Boasting about abusing the benefit is one thing but then moaning about it changing for the worst is plain silly.

      • Aliks says:


        These offers are monitored very closely by Amex and they are well aware of the use/abuse.

        Don’t forget its a marketing exercise aimed at the smaller retailers to encourage them to accept Amex, so any usage is good usage. All that has changed is the amount of money that Amex want to spend on the exercise.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          What do you mean by “nonsense”?

          It’s exactly because they are monitoring and they were abused that they’ve been changing it over the years

          • Genghis says:

            But it’s these companies that set the rules. If it’s unlimited then it’s it’s unlimited. If it’s £50 max, it’s £50. Amex can choose a level that they’re happy with.

          • Steve says:

            The point is that if everyone used it within reason we’d probably all still have unlimited. A few filled their boots early and now we all have the £25 cap.

          • Aliks says:

            Sorry, I should have said that Amex are well capable of **forecasting** the level of takeup, whether this is new usage, “abuse” or whatever. They set the levels of benefit in line with their targets, and are unlikely to be alarmed by the tiny number of people who visit a zillion shops.

        • illuminatus says:

          What ‘John’ described is not abuse.

          • Patrick Cold says:

            It amazes me that people can into an argument about a free fiver.

    • Char Char says:

      I’ve reported many places each year and they still don’t remove them, useless

  • mark2 says:

    Watch out for map/list. It shows all merchants who accept Amex and you only get the rebate if there is a ShopSmall logo against the name.
    You cannot assume that a merchant where you earned in previous years will be included automatically.

    • lumma says:

      There’s an option on the map filter to just display shop small venues. I think one of the issues in the past was that googling “shop small map” would just take you to the generic merchant map.

      • mark2 says:

        I don’t use Google.
        I went to shops that had paid out six months earlier, but the logo has vanished. I just had a look at the latest version and they seem to have put a lot of the logos back.
        But I shall only make one purchase until I see the statement credit.

        • Mike says:

          +1 – for don’t use google – I don’t see the appeal

  • Toddy says:

    For me, I’d never complain about ‘free money’ but new offer changes the dynamics.
    Previously, I’d have searched the Map to find participating retailers… now it’ll just be a case of shopping in my normal places and if I get a £5 bonus, then great.
    My behaviour will have changed, probably to the detriment of the small retailers…

    • Mark says:

      +1. I used to seek out small retailers actively but won’t bother now. If I trigger it inadvertently then great but won’t go out of my way to use it

    • BuildBackBetter says:

      Mission accomplished for Amex. They don’t want one off spenders, instead regular spenders who now know they can use Amex.

  • Claire says:

    Oh yeah, I can’t wait! She said sarcastically .. bloody hate shop small .. wasn’t too bad until they stopped giving you £5 credits every time it went wrong.

    • Crafty says:

      Which is 30+% of the time! Agree with all the above. This used to be good fun. But kind of pointless now.

    • Andrew says:

      Agree, I checked out of being excited about SS a while ago – think I only used it a couple do times last year.

    • ankomonkey says:


  • Bagoly says:

    13th May first paragraph:
    We rarely cover the benefits of American Express Additional Cards (previously called Supplementary Cards) on Head for Points, which is something I intend to rectify.

    Have Amex abandoned the renaming within two days?! 🙂

  • E says:

    I added a supplementary to my Bonvoy Amex at the end of April. First supp on that card but the bonus points still haven’t appeared. Amex said they will investigate but I need to wait 90 days. One of the agents I spoke to said she thought it was a targeted offer so not sure if anyone else has had this issue.

  • KrysJaackoo says:

    What if the independent retailer has a website, can you order and avail of the offer via an online order or do you have to go in store ?

    • Rob says:

      Cardholder Not Present transactions are blocked.

    • Pid says:

      They are not all blocked as I have received the cash back on online purchases with a number of retailers. Still only small business though.

  • Aliks says:

    The other problem is the small retailer who uses a credit card aggregator like iZettle. They definitely take Amex cards, but don’t show up as Amex transactions so no £5.

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