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CONFIRMED: American Express Shop Small to return in December

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American Express has confirmed that it is bringing back its ‘Shop Small’ promotion in December.

‘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 before Christmas but American Express has also run it over the Summer for the past two years which suggests it may now be a bi-annual event.

It will return for December 2021 with the same, slightly less lucrative, offer from June:

The 2020 version of ‘Shop Small’ gave you £5 back for every £10 purchase you make at a participating independent retailer.

The Winter 2021 version of ‘Shop Small’ will give you £5 back on a £15 transaction.

You are limited to one £5 payment per retailer per American Express card you register.

How will Shop Small Winter 2021 work?

  • The promotion is now confirmed to run from 4th to 15th December.
  • 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 is not yet open.
  • You will be restricted to £25 cashback per American Express card you register (last Christmas the limit was £50 per card)
  • The standard rule of one payment per retailer per card will remain
American Express Amex Shop Small

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 4th December.

This page of the American Express website offers bonus Membership Rewards points or bonus Avios for adding your first supplementary card to an account.


We will remind you when registration opens for Shop Small Winter 2021 – it is likely to be soon.

For clarity, American Express funds 100% of the cashback. Your local independent shops are not paying to participate so don’t feel guilty about joining in.

Want to earn more points from credit cards? – June 2023 update

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You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

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You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 13th June, the sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card is doubled to 60,000 Membership Rewards points – and you get £200 to spend at Amex Travel too! Apply here.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 13th June, the sign-up bonus on the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ card is doubled to 30,000 Virgin Points. Apply here.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

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American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

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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:

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

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Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

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For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.

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1% cashback and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (85)

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

  • Tom says:

    What a terrible promotion. I used to love this promotion and didn’t even bother to participate this summer, and doubt I will in December either. I’ve been trying to decide whether or not to cancel my Gold card and now I know there isn’t much worth keeping it for I’ll go ahead and cancel!

    • Rui N. says:

      Yes, free money, so terrible.

      • VerdantBacon says:

        By participate he probably means topping up travel cards at a small retailer with 10 amex cards, in that sense yes it’s now a terrible promotion. For the rest of us normal people, free £25 per card is still free £25.

    • FCP says:

      Why would you not participate?
      I will register and spend as normal. If i happen to spend in a shop that is participating i get 5 pounds back.

    • Frank says:

      Tom you must be thinking about getting a pro rota refund for your first year(!)

    • Dominic says:

      I totally understand the rationale that you would have kept the card to save £50 a year on Shop Small, which definitely made the £150 annual fee worth paying.

      No value in the card now it is spend £15


  • Cheshire Pete says:

    Well, now it’s so watered down you can only use it 5 times anyhow, means splitting a bill across 6 cards for 2 people hardly seems worth the hassle anymore…..! I’d exhaust this offer by 5th December just on a local pub crawl. But hey £25, not gonna change the world for an individuals credit control, but I guess the Amex gesture is a corporate PR win whatever the case.

  • Crafty says:

    The part about abusing the promotion made me laugh, given that with the new £25 limit it is practically unabuseable anyway.

    • Rui N. says:

      The abuse is not that. The £25 limit is irrelevant for that: you can’t use each card more than once in each retailer, so the overall limit doesn’t matter. The abuse is splinting a purchase across many different cards (say, £150 across 10 cards).

      • Crafty says:

        The point is that all this effort to police “abuse” is wrongheaded when they have progressively gutted the core promo.

        • Rui N. says:

          How do you know the level of effot they put in to police abuse? If they put any effort it’s likely an algorithm that has been developed many eons ago and doesn’t cost them anything to keep using.

          • J says:

            The point was that they shouldn’t (likely won’t) be bothering to police it at all if their max cost is capped at £25 per card however much ‘abuse’ takes place.

      • Polly says:

        Remembering a certain poster on here years ago, getting his Xmas butcher’s order broken down over 10 cards, hilarious. And his pub visits. Know he stills posts here, but worked well for them. And everyone gained, including their local independent butcher. Ours does similar with a 😃

  • Mattb says:

    Think I’ll struggle to use it again, the only places near me are always pubs and coffee shops so hard to spend £15 without getting things I don’t really want.

    • Mattb says:

      And it’s a week shorter if I’m not mistaken

    • John says:

      Since 2018 I’ve only been able to use it at a local takeaway that at full price is on the high side.

      Most of their dishes used to be £6.xx which was great when it was a straight £5 off

      When the spend became £10 it was still a decent discount if we got 2 dishes

      They’ve now raised prices so the most expensive regular dish is now £7.40! Which makes Amex completely useless now

  • Jonathon says:

    Sadly this is an offer that I’ll add to my card just in case, but won’t actively use. Previously I genuinely used to hunt down some local cafe/restaurant/bar pretty much every day for the week or so it ran, spent £10 and got £5 back (I’m sure there never used to be an overall limit?) and other colleagues did too. It really was useful to push us to discover new places we might otherwise not have.

    • Aston100 says:

      Won’t change my spending habits. Will see it as a bonus if a shop small triggers at a place I haven’t gone out of my way to shop at.

  • grex9101 says:

    Death by a thousand cuts.
    Woeful customer service.
    A map designed by a particularly disturbed sloth with a pronounced aversion to detail.

    This promo doesn’t do Amex any favours.

    • G Flyer says:

      Haha this post is spot on. Like others have said: all the fun and excitement has been cut from this offer. Such a shame, I loved the original promotion back in 2015(?) I must have referred 6 or 7 friends after telling them how better/different AMEX was compared to standard credit cards. Fast forward a few years, and I’ve not referred anyone recently, as I can no longer put my hand on my heart and say the same.

      • James says:

        Seriously though – why IS the offers map so terrible? It’s not very hard to overlay google maps etc.

  • Brighton Belle says:

    What? Higher fees and less benefits? The card offers are pretty stale and unattractive recently. Card prune from 4 to 1 for 2022. Small Shop has had a good run but Amex has taken the promotional buzz out of it by shrinking the reward.

    • Harrier25 says:

      I agree. The offers have been mainly useless for months now. I’ve been seeing better, more useful offers recently on my Virgin Atlantic card!

  • Frenske says:

    Offer is not as good as it used to be, but at any rate it is 100% better than any offers from VISA or MasterCard.

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

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