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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

If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

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

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review

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

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

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

60,000 points AND a £200 Amex Travel voucher until 13th June! Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

30,000 points bonus (to 13th June) and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend 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:

American Express Business Platinum

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

American Express Business Gold

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

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

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.

Barclaycard Select Cashback credit card

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.

  • Travel Strong says:

    I’ve lost confidence in amex offers a little since I have 1 x Avis and 2 x Morrisons credit due for almost a month now, and no sign.

    Surely something has gone wrong at amex, with all these delays happening across different processes. IT system ‘upgrade’ perhaps?!

  • Nick_M says:

    Agree with the above comments – this is unlikely to change my shopping behaviour and any refunds will be a pleasant surprise, whereas when it was £5 off a £10 spend I would have been actively seeking opportunities to use it – and Christmas shopping would be geared around local independents…

  • Swifty says:

    We moaned in the summer, we moaned in the winter, but everyone still went and had a pint/sauv blanc or two and said cheerfully, I’ll get this round my lovelies!

    • meta says:

      Not everyone. I haven’t had a single credit from Shop Small since 2018. After having to fight for months on end for credits, I am not actively seeking shops to save. If I happen to get a credit, then fine. It’s one thing that for me personally Amex does really badly.

  • rams1981 says:

    I get decent use out of this even now. Not as good as before obviously but still good moony back on stuff I would otherwise buy (e.g. butcher, tennis balls, pub/restaurants)

  • Terry says:

    Like so many marketing mix, this one started well but really now probably is not worth bothering with. Hard to imagine anybody holding an AMEX card chasing such small rewards.

    • Peter K says:

      Depends. This summer I did very well on this. I was away and several places near where I went to were on the list. I looked in advance for shops involved and made the most of it.

  • Laura says:

    I definitely be using it for some pints and lunches!

    A free £25 (well £50 with my supp) isn’t to be sniffed at!

    • Louise K says:

      Me too, we make a day of it in our local village –

      Dog christmas presents from the pet shop
      Pre lunch drinks in a local bar
      lunch and bottle of wine in another restaurant (split the bill)
      Takeaway in the evening if we’re still hungry.

  • Mzungu says:

    I’ll use this offer, but I have to agree about the “service” from Manila 🙁
    A month ago, I called and asked how close to triggering the 10k Avios for £5k spend we were on my wife’s BAPP. The person in Manila checked, and confirmed that we had spent £4.5k since the offer was saved. So we spent another £600 and switched to my card.
    Today, I called to see why we hadn’t had confirmation of the bonus, to be told that we had only spent £3.8k now. After 20+ mins with the Phillipino girl repeating herself and getting more excitable and harder to understand, I asked to be transferred to Brighton.
    Now speaking to a very helpful guy, we eventually found the cause of the discrepancy. However, the misinformation a month ago now makes it difficult to hit the target, having re-routed spend onto my card.

  • Sean C says:

    Some of the comments here are truly mind blowing. No it’s not as good as it used to be, yes it’s still free money. Is the map is still going to be rubbish, that’s the biggest problem normally!

    • mark2 says:

      I think that we can be pretty sure that the map will be rubbish, but I just use the same merchants every time.

      • sloth says:

        even that doesn’t work now as a few merchants that I have used every year shop small has run didn’t participate in the summer, and even though I still spent in them regardless I didn’t get the credit (expected)

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

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