A complete guide to ShopRunner: How to get free shipping with your credit card

Apr 5, 2020

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When it comes to shopping online, we want things to be easy. That includes quick, free delivery and a seamless process to handle returns. In the past, you may have had to add more items into your cart to unlock free shipping or wait endlessly for your package of goods to arrive.

What happens when you actually have to pay for shipping? Sure, it might not be the end of the world, but as consumers, we increasingly expect free shipping. In fact, a 2019 National Retail Federation study found that 75% of people surveyed expected shipping to be free on online orders less than $50.

Thankfully, there are memberships out there — like ShopRunner — that include free, two-day delivery with over 100+ merchants. Although the service comes with an annual fee, many credit cards actually include ShopRunner membership as a free benefit.

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What is ShopRunner?

(Photo by filadendron/Getty Images)
(Photo by filadendron/Getty Images)

Simply put, ShopRunner is a membership program that offers free two-day shipping, free returns and members-only deals at dozens of merchants online. Typically, there is an annual fee of $79 to become a member. However, as we’ll explain, it’s fairly straightforward to get free ShopRunner membership for you and up to four members of your household if you carry certain credit cards.

Related Reading: Best credit cards to use for online shopping 

How can I get ShopRunner free?

You can get ShopRunner for free with a participating credit card. As mentioned, ShopRunner usually costs $79 per year but that’s waived if you hold one of the following cards:

The information for the Amex EveryDay and Amex EveryDay Preferred has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

If you have one of these cards, follow these steps to activate and start using your ShopRunner benefit.

  1. Enroll at www.americanexpress.com/shoprunner
  2. Shop at ShopRunner participating stores (and don’t forget to use an online shopping portal and check for Amex and Chase Offers)
  3. Select ShopRunner eligible items.
  4. Choose ShopRunner at checkout.

Another way to get ShopRunner free is by signing up for a complimentary three-month trial. Select Yahoo and PayPal members also get free access.

Which businesses participate in ShopRunner?

(Photo by John Greim/LightRocket/Getty Images)
(Photo by John Greim/LightRocket/Getty Images)

Over 100+ retailers are part of the ShopRunner network. This includes a ton of essential and nonessential items, from contacts to coffee and flowers to fashion. Several bigger-name brands include Neiman Marcus, Saks, Kiehl’s, 1-800-Flowers.com and many more. You can find the full list of merchants here.

How does ShopRunner work?

After signing up and creating an account, you can start your online shopping session with one of ShopRunner’s merchants. Shop as you normally would and look out for the ShopRunner logo for eligible merchants. Keep in mind that not all items qualify and some merchants may have a minimum spend requirement, usually around $25. Once you checkout, you’ll be asked to sign-in to your ShopRunner account, where you can select two-day shipping as a complimentary option.

Alternatively, you can shop directly on the ShopRunner website, where all of the eligible merchants are located on one platform. There are some nifty tools, like saving favorite retailers and tracking shipping and returns from a central account. Speaking of returns, while ShopRunner offers this as a free benefit, some retailers may include a restocking fee — just something to be aware of.

(Photo courtesy of ShopRunner)
(Photo courtesy of ShopRunner)

 

How does ShopRunner compare to Amazon Prime?

HAGERSTOWN, MD, USA - MAY 5, 2017: Image of an Amazon packages. Amazon is an online company and is the largest retailer in the world.
HAGERSTOWN, MD, USA – MAY 5, 2017: Image of an Amazon packages. Amazon is an online company and is the largest retailer in the world.

If you want free two-day shipping with Amazon, you’re going to need to get an Amazon Prime membership. Both ShopRunner and Amazon Prime offer a membership-based free shipping program, but there are some notable differences between the two.

Amazon Prime: $119/year membership

  • Free two-day shipping for over 100 million items (on Amazon.com)
  • Access to Prime Video movies and shows
  • Access to Prime Music
  • Free two-hour Whole Foods delivery in select cities
  • Discounts on certain items and access to Amazon Prime-exclusive sales

ShopRunner: $79/year membership (or free with an eligible card)

  • Free two-day shipping with 100+ merchants
  • Free returns
  • Exclusive discounts with select online retailers

Related Reading: The best cards for Amazon purchases

How to maximize your ShopRunner purchases

Now that you know everything there is to know about the ShopRunner basics, there are two more important things to take note of before you begin your online shopping adventure. First, don’t forget to use an online shopping portal to earn extra rewards on the purchases you’re making anyway. Second, check your Amex offers and Chase offers to see if there are any additional savings you can take advantage of.

As a real-world example with 1-800-Flowers, I first searched on Cashback Monitor to decide which shopping portal I should use. The highest earn rate at the time was 20% cash back through Top Cashback.

(Photo courtesy of Cashback Monitor)
(Photo courtesy of Cashback Monitor)

I also noticed that I was targeted for an offer to spend $50+ and get $15 back on my Amex Platinum card. All of that simply meant that I could triple dip on perks: Cash back through an online shopping portal, activating my Amex offer for a statement credit and super speedy two-day shipping with ShopRunner.

Bottom line

If you can get it for free, signing up for ShopRunner is an absolute no-brainer. It is an often forgotten benefit of many popular American Express credit cards. While many of us are not shopping right now during the coronavirus crisis, getting stuff to your doorstep is a much-appreciated perk — two-day shipping and the other benefits of ShopRunner don’t hurt either.

Featured photo by Maskot / Getty Images. 

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