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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.

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Comments (85)

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

  • Paul says:

    Totally useless now. Amex really gone down the pan in recent years. Poor customer service and continual watering down of this offer.

    • Babyg says:

      free money is not totally useless – but its less useful i agree… its been watered down because people as usual take the p1ss, topping up hundreds of travel passes, paying bills across dozens of cards and hundreds of stores… this is why we cant have nice things…

    • Aston100 says:

      Not so sure about poor customer service.
      I would say the overseas call agents are pretty bad, especially on live chat.
      However, in my opinion the Brighton people are amongst the best customer service representatives out there, especially on the phone.

      • A says:

        Absolutely – they are superb, ….but try getting through to them instead of Manilla.

  • Andrew says:

    Lots of whining…

    But I will happily stock up with tea & coffee, chocolates, pies, have a new watch battery fitted at my local independents in Oxford as well as get £5 off my check-up at the dentist.

    BA Blue Amex costs me nothing, a £25 rebate is better than nothing.

  • UCBerkeley says:

    A few years ago I received over £4,500 in Amex refunds (from 35 cards). Rimowa luggage is a good deal at ½ price.

  • Cheshire Pete says:

    In pure statistics I suspect it will the usual first 60,000 card registrations. So this year Amex are funding up to£1.5m on the offer. When it was £50 limit it was £3m. When it was unlimited I guess they couldn’t control that burn. Not sure how £1.5m is in context to the amount of money Amex makes on a daily basis, is is peanuts money to them?

    • Rob says:

      It’s cheap marketing. What’s better at signing up new shops to Amex? 15 sales people on £100k packages or a £1.5m spent on this?

  • Thywillbedone says:

    Still puzzled why Amex excludes small, independent online retailers from this promo – would greatly enhance its usefulness.

    • RussellH says:

      I got a £5 Shop Small credit last summer from an online purchase.
      In this case, though, it almost got lost in the noise given that there was 50% off from a newspaper promotion and 15% refund from Amex too.

      • Spurs drive me mad says:

        Yes me to from online jewellery shop. I was most surprised but £5 is still £5 plus I went thru the site that cannot be named for £16 back.

      • Rob says:

        Worth noting that Shop Small works fine in Gibraltar if you fancy a weekend break in December! I got a couple of credits when I was there over the Summer including from the cable car.

  • JC says:

    I guess the difference is now that as opposed to hunting out these places and deliberately shopping there, the relatively small reward to cost ratio means I’ll just save this to my card and if I so happen to spend at a particular retailer that has it, then so be it. It’s not encouraging anyone really to “Shop Small” anymore – it’s just a lame PR stunt

  • Paul says:

    Still a good offer, but certainly not what it was! I got in the year after it was £5 back from a £5+ spend, sorry I missed that.

    • Polly says:

      Yes, it was very nice that one. Combined with EOTHO August 2020 , it was boom time, having bought gift vouchers for our 5 fav restaurants locally. Bought lots anyway to support them, as we had takeaways throughout the year..
      Will still buy a few in this promo as it just about covers their tips, and might as well get the odd 5 bk fm Amex. Every little helps, as Mr T says…

  • RussellH says:

    There seems to be a sense of entitlement here on the part of some.
    The last few times it has run we have had a number of lunches out with the bill coming to between £30 and £40.
    Split that between two Amex cards (one each and that is betwen 25% and 33% off.
    I call that a very good deal.

    • Jonathon says:

      I don’t see entitlement, but it’s hard to suggest the offer has got anything but worse. If the aim is to get people to seek out smaller, local shops then this is decreasing the number of people doing this.

      I don’t think simply commenting that an offer has degraded over time is somehow being entitled.

      If it’s a matter of cost, make it half the number of people eligible or something, to keep the encouragement to “try out” shops you otherwise wouldn’t have usually.

      • Rui N. says:

        Yes, making half of amex customers ineligible for shop small surely would improve things…

        • Jonathon says:

          And I said “or something” – that was clearly not the only solution.

          • Rui N. says:

            And I was not commenting the “or something”, I was commenting the proposed solution of stop making shop small universal. If I wanted to comment the “or something” I would have done so.

    • Polly says:

      Our local fav, will usually accept 3 or 4 cards split from us, as they never have offers anyway, so happy to help out again, with a smile. And we will buy gift cards from them, as it’s a regular treat for us especially their Blanc themed cheese soufflé…so l guess 1/3 off a meal, not bad.

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