Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

STARTS TODAY: Save up to £25 with American Express Shop Small for Christmas 2021

Links on Head for Points may support the site by paying a commission.  See here for all partner links.

American Express Shop Small returns today, Saturday 4th.

Whilst Amex has been chipping away at the attractiveness of Shop Small over the last couple of years, it still remains a decent way to save on some Christmas shopping.

Despite the cap of £25 cashback, there is a separate limit for every Amex card you hold – with a further separate limit for supplementary cards – so it is still possible to do well.

American Express Amex Shop Small

What is American Express Shop Small?

‘Shop Small’ is designed to encourage you to shop in local independent stores instead of major chains.

(‘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 today and running until 15th December, you will receive £5 cashback on the first FIVE transactions you make for £15 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.

Cashback is capped at £25 per card. Supplementary cards are treated separately and have their own cap, so you could technically get more than £25 cashback.

You get a separate £25 cashback limit for each American Express card you hold.

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.  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. 

You can even get credits when you are not expecting them – during the Summer 2021 ‘Shop Small’ offer, Rob found that purchases he made in Gibraltar were triggering cashback

You must make a qualifying purchase of £15 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 six American Express cards, including supplementary cards, between them.  They can earn 6 x £5 cashback payments at the same store over the promotional period, as long as they use a different registered card each time.

American Express appears to have stopped sending email confirmations after a cashback transaction is made, so don’t expect to receive any notifications.  A £5 credit for every £15 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 £15 and paying each £15 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.

best travel rewards credit cards

Want to earn more points from credit cards? – July 2024 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.

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

20,000 points for signing up and 15 elite night credits each year 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

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

30,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points AND (to 27th August) £400 to spend at Amex Travel Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

18,000 bonus points 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 sign-up bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit 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

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 Business Credit Card

1% cashback uncapped* on all your business spending (T&C apply) Read our full review

Comments (54)

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

  • Mark says:

    …and another major rule: it’s IN-STORE ONLY

  • nick says:

    On My Amex account it states the promotion runs from the 4th Dec to 15TH DEC not the 20th Dec that you have indicated

  • Mike says:

    Mine also runs until 15 Dec – is there a special Version for southern England that runs until 20 Dec !

    • AJA says:

      No, not special dates for southern England. Londoner here and dates are 4 to 15th for me too.

  • The Original Nick says:

    I think Rhys may of done a copy and paste from a previous year. Mine is also the 15th.

    • AJA says:

      I think that’s called shrinkflation, 🤔 not only more expensive but for less time. Ho ho ho.

      • HBommie says:

        Its like the size of Wagon Wheels, they were massive when I was a kid!

    • Rob says:

      My fault. I cut and pasted an old article Rhys wrote. No point reinventing the wheel.

  • Aliks says:

    I’ve given up on ShopSmall as the effort is barely worth the reward. I think it is a laudable aim to support small businesses, but the biggest issue is that many will use an aggregator like IZettle to process Amex.

    This means that the merchant name received by Amex will not match up to the merchant name in ShopSmall and Amex will not pay out.

    Also, round our way, a lot of small corner shops will have the Amex ShopSmall logo in their window, but when it comes time to pay, will deny they accept Amex, or say their card machine is broken.

    • Track says:

      I’ve a very simple policy: AMEX sign and not accepting = no purchase. It’s just lazy not to accept AMEX.

      But yes, ask before getting seated.

      In London though, most stuff from local restaurants can have via Uber Eats with 20-30% discount and delivered, making Shop Small promotion irrelevant.

    • Andrew says:

      +1. Totally agree. And Amex won’t enter into any discussion about missing credits. But I’m not making further comment as I got shouted down a few weeks ago by those who love Shop Small and is the highlight of their Advent – I guess different people have different experiences so good luck to them.

      • Polly says:

        We definitely used it to support local restaurants through lockdown buying loads of gift vouchers, even at 15/5.
        One pub near us offers 30% off if you are seated before 6pm. Fine with a 5yo grandchild and his parents. So will buy the max amount of 15/5 gift vouchers for that place only, this time, sadly. Otherwise it’s just not worth the effort.
        Stamps are also worth buying at the local newsagents. Not a bad discount. 1/3 off a few books. And l buy my lottery tkts from him for those couple of weeks..

      • John says:

        I’ve saved it but I fully expect to get £0 from this, just like the last 3 times

        • Alex Sm says:

          I expect to get £15-25 on each card, like last time, it’s a very good initiative by Amex

      • VerdantBacon says:

        Doubt many actually love shop small in its current iteration, most just save it and if it triggers during normal day to day spend, that’s £5 off, if it doesn’t, you don’t lose anything.

      • Alex Sm says:

        Yes, not making any further comments is a good decision. No need to rain on people’s parade

    • M says:

      How is this iZettle mess not sorted yet.

    • flyforfun says:

      I walked out of a Subway shop that had an Amex sign up and then said their Amex machine wasn’t working. Even though she’d made the sub up, I walked out saying I’d get cash. She’d annoyed me with being so stingy with the toppings that even when I asked for more she barely put anything on. Don’t think I’ve used Subway since! I think I went in only because the other options nearby weren’t good.

  • Doris says:

    New to Amex. It seems the shop small offer is not available to the British Airways card. Is this because your already earning Avios points for your purchases? 🤔

    • E says:

      Doris, contact Amex and get it added. It is available on the BA Amex.

    • MD says:

      It’s certainly on my BAPP and supplementary, should be available to everyone.

      If your Amex is so new that you aren’t getting any offers yet (normally takes 1-2 weeks of spending on a new card before offers start appearing), then Shop Small may not have appeared yet either. In any case, contact Amex and they will add it for you. Add it separately to your supplementary card too, if you have one.

      • Liz says:

        I did 3 transactions this morning and no emails received.

        • B Brooks says:

          I think AMEX have stopped sending email confirmations, but the credit should appear on your statement.

  • Chris says:

    Seatfrog (train seat upgrade to 1st class via auction) qualified last summer for shop small

  • Graeme says:

    My pre-match pub is on there = free pint!

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

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.