Amex Ditches Free-Money Incentives for ‘Small Business Saturday’ Shoppers

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The card company says the credit rewards it issued to encourage shopping at the nation's mom-and-pop stores are no longer necessary. It's still promoting the Nov. 28 event, though.

American Express started Small Business Saturday in 2010 as a way to encourage shoppers to make holiday purchases at small, local businesses. To help fuel the movement, Amex offered monetary incentives — as much as $25 in the form of a statement credit — to shoppers who made purchases with their Amex cards at independent small businesses on the designated day.

But Amex said it isn’t giving out statement credits to cardholders for this year’s small business shopping event, which takes place Nov. 28. According to the Amex website, the statement credit is no longer necessary.

“In past years, the consumer offer was one of the ways to encourage our customers to make a habit of shopping at small businesses as they begin the holiday season,” Amex explained. “Six years later, we’re pleased to say they have – last year, thousands of communities and 88 million consumers shopped small on Small Business Saturday.

Sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday is a reminder for consumers to think small and support local independent businesses that create jobs, boost the economy and help preserve communities.

In 2010, for the inaugural Small Business Saturday event, Amex offered a $25 statement credit and then partnered with FedEx to provide 40,000 $25 Amex gift cards to non-Amex customers.

Amex cardholders who shopped with independent small businesses in 2012 received a $25 statement credit for spending $25 at a small business. In 2013, it offered a $10 credit. Last year Amex offered a $10 statement credit that could be redeemed up to three times.

Although Amex has abandoned the statement credit for this year’s Small Business Saturday, Money reports that Amex is offering a separate promotion called “Shop Small in November,” which offers a $10 statement credit to its cardholding customers who spend $10 at a small business any time during the month.

“But this time it’s being offered only to certain customers, and the offer is not being widely advertised,” according to Money.

It will be interesting to see how Amex’s move to ditch its statement credit for Small Business Saturday will affect the number of shoppers frequenting small businesses Nov. 28. But, as Money noted, Amex hasn’t shared participation numbers in previous Small Business Saturdays, so it will be impossible to know for sure.

Do you shop with small businesses on Small Business Saturday? Will Amex’s decision to pull back its credit for customers who shop small affect your shopping? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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