Amex brings “Shop Small” online with the ability to redeem points — but is it worth it?

Nov 23, 2020

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For a decade now, Amex has had a “Small Business Saturday” event on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This day spotlighted small businesses throughout the U.S. during the busy holiday shopping period.

However, Amex did things a little differently in 2020. Earlier this summer, Amex cardmembers were eligible to receive up to a total of $50 in statement credits when shopping at their local small businesses. These companies were particularly susceptible to the effects of the COVID-19 crisis and Amex incentivized cardholders to shop small with statement credits.

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(Photo by vgajic/Getty Images)

Now, Amex is also introducing another Shop Small initiative — and this time, it’s in the digital realm. The first-ever Membership Rewards Shop Small gift guide at ShopAmex.com is launching on Small Business Saturday (Nov. 28, 2020). While gift guides are nothing new, this is Amex’s first foray into a small business-oriented list of curated items.

The most intriguing aspect of this guide? It’s the ability to redeem Membership Rewards points. Amex says that cardmembers can “exclusively redeem at attractive redemption values” which will vary from product to product. Unfortunately, that means there isn’t a standard, one-size-fits-all rate at which you can redeem.

Related: Best Amex cards of 2020

Is it worth it?

Typically, it’s not worth using your points for shopping purchases since you can get much more value when using points toward travel. In fact, TPG values Membership Rewards points as worth 2 cents apiece when taking into account Amex’s numerous travel transfer partners.

However, during the pandemic, where travel may be less of a priority for many people, using points towards non-travel purchases can make a lot of sense. Your priorities may have shifted and perhaps, you may be re-focusing your rewards strategies. In fact, TPG’s Executive Editorial Director Scott Mayerowitz has burned more than 300,000 points during the pandemic — all without taking a trip far from home.

While the redemption rate for Amex’s curated list of products will vary, a closer look at two sample products shows that there is some value to be had.

(Photo courtesy of American Express)
  • $149.00 or 10,430 points
    • 1.4 cent per point value 
  • $95.00 or 7,125 points
    • 1.3 cent per point value

While you certainly can get outsized value from redeeming for travel, these rates aren’t half bad. This is particularly true if you’re sitting on a large stash of Membership Rewards points and don’t want to overspend on gifts this holiday season.

At the same time, you’re also supporting small businesses such as the ones outlined below:

  • Hestan Cue’s 11” Smart Pan + Induction Cooktop smart cooking system
  • Harlem Candle Co.’s Holiday Candle, Diffuser and Room Spray
  • Tanoshi’s high-tech 2-in-1 kids’ laptop, laptop sleeve and mouse 
  • Modern Picnic’s Luncher tote

There are many Amex cards that earn Membership Rewards points, including several with elevated welcome offers.

That includes The Platinum Card® from American Express, with its current bonus of 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Plus, earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership.

Featured photo by JGI/Tom Grill/Getty Images.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

WELCOME OFFER: 100,000 Points Terms Apply.

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $2,000

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: Delta Sky Club and Centurion lounge access, up to $200 annual airline fee credit and up to $200 in Uber Cash annually (only for use in the U.S.)  (Enrollment required for select benefits)

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Plus, earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • $200 Hotel Credit: Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 in statement credits each month when you pay for eligible purchases with the Platinum Card® at your choice of one or more of the following providers: Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. Now there are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on select Equinox memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $179 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $179 back per year on your CLEAR® membership.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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