Small Business Saturday Quadruple Win

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Update: All of my confirmation emails have now been delivered, including for authorized users and my Citibank issued Amex.  Woohoo!

ThanksgivingThursdayBlackFridaySmallBizSaturday has become one long and seemingly never-ending blur in my house, but it has been a very good blur…with lots of coffee involved.  Thankfully the little one can’t have coffee, so she is currently crashed at my feet.  Literally.


Today prior to the “crash”, we headed out for brunch at our favorite local restaurant and had a Small Business Saturday Quadruple win. Here’s what we did (in addition to eating a yummy brunch):

  • Bought six $25 gift cards to use over the next year at the restaurant with our six registered Amex cards. Win.
  • Earned 5 points per dollar from the United MileagePlus Dining Rewards Plan since all of the cards were registered with the dining plan (though I realized there is a 12 card maximum that you can register at any one time with that dining program). Double win.
  • We got an extra $10 in gift cards for every $50 purchased due to a holiday promotion the restaurant was offering. Triple win.
  • Our favorite server sold us the gift cards and told us she gets a bonus for each gift card sold, so she was very excited and more than happy to deal with our six Amex cards. Quadruple win.

So, our final tally was 750 United miles from the dining program for the gift cards. $180 in free food to use over the next twelve months from a place that we love. A great server who gets a little something extra from her employer for selling us the gift cards. And, last but not least, bellies full of hot coffee and healthy-ish food. I call that a Small Business Saturday Big Quadruple Win.

The only thing that hasn’t been quite as good as last year so far is the confirmation emails that are sent out after we completed the transactions. The transactions are showing as pending on our cards, but we haven’t received a “Congratulations – you just got $25 free dollars” email from Amex as we did last year. From cruising around the internet it appears that some people have received those confirmations instantly (even for some online purchases at “small businesses”, but since the morning the instant emails seem to have slowed down for the most part). The restaurant we visited is on the official map, so I am confident the transactions qualify, but it would be nice to get it in writing. This is especially true for anyone who might be nervous about whether or not authorized users with unique account numbers will count.  Just to make you feel better though, there are many reports of them working again this year according to the “Congrats” emails that went out this morning.  Lots of other encouraging success stories in that Slick Deals thread as well.

I will update if/when we get our confirmation emails that we met the requirements of Small Biz Saturday, but for now we are enjoying our nice quadruple win! If you want to read about all of the Small Business Saturday details, then check out this post.

Where did you shop for Small Biz Saturday? Did you get any instant confirmation emails? How much “free” stuff were you able to get while supporting small businesses?

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. Local mall on the official map sells Amex mall gift cards that can be used anywhere Amex is taken…anywhere in the world. Bought 9 $25 gift cards, took them to target and loaded it on my Amex for target prepaid card, went to the ATM and withdrew $210 (after load and ATM fee). Used my Best Buy synced Amex to buy $230 ($20 back after $200 spend) of freebies at Best Buy. Deposit cash to pay off Amex $210 balance. Got to love Best Buy as a small business.

  2. Not too impressed with Small Biz Saturday here in Berkeley CA. We were looking forward to a very well-reviewed brunch place accepting Amex, but they’re so successful they’re taking the entire weekend off. The next place on the Amex map does not accept Amex, and the long-time waitress says it never has to her knowledge. That may also be the case for a Thai restaurant we’re eying for dinner (no Amex logo on the door, just Visa and MC). Could it be that places get on the Amex map for having once asked Amex about a relationship, until they discover the high commission and change their plans?

    We also have six registered Amex cards, and so far have expended them at small liquor stores (many 750 ml premium spirits, e.g. Bombay Sapphire, Patron premium tequila are right around $25). Next is an upscale Japanese fish market.

  3. I have had fun shopping this morning as well. I had lunch with my son and knocked out one $25 spend. I got some jewelry at a local store, another $25 spend, one gift down. Two gc’s at a favorite rest for my brother’s birthday today. A pair of shoes and a candle (gift) at a small business in town. My biggest hit was this– I bought $150 worth of gc’s at a local establishment (using 6 of my Amex cards at $25 each). The manager gave me a $50 gift certificate for buying so many gift certificates. I still have one more card to use before the end of the day. I would call this a success. I have not gotten any emails either but I am not sweating it.

  4. had a great brunch ,split between 2 cards.than bought two $25 gift cards at my favorite burger joint.finally wifey had manicure/pedicure with the last card.happy wife happy life:) oooh and all that within a 3 block radius…

  5. Nice haul!
    My wife and I registered 7 cards and also got a $25 SBS card from FedEx. We went to a local spa that we used last year that runs a “10% off services and gift cards” sale in November. We also had a $10 off $30+ purchase coupon. We could have just gotten a bunch of $30 gift cards for $2 each but got eight $50 ones instead. $400 worth of spa services for $155. Thanks AmEx!

  6. Limited choices here so I went to a local gas station on the list and filled-up my tank (boring) – no confirmation email yet. Sounds like you had a fun day!

  7. My local bagel shop is not on the map, but they have an AMEX SBS poster in the window, so I just took a picture of it, hoping it would work as proof if I don’t get the credit. Off to get GC for Chinese food, Mexican food, and a credit at the dry cleaner!

  8. All my transactions are still in the “pending” pile.

    I did notice something really curious about one, though. I bought a reloadable gift card from a coffee shop and loaded $25 on it twice, from two Amex cards. On one Amex card the business was correctly identified. On the other, it had a completely different name. This from two swipes 60 seconds apart.

    I have received no e-mails at all..

  9. I have 7 Amex cards (5 under my name, 2 under a relative’s name but with my middle name, so no problem using my ID!). Got $175 of gift cards at a local Thai restaurant I visit several times a year. No confirmation emails yet but I used the credits at the same exact place last year no problem.

  10. Used our 11 registered cards at a local sports store, local nutrition store, local health food store, and a clothing store. Spent way more than the minimum, but all for stuff we would buy anyway. Hope all the credits come through like last year. No e-mail confirmations yet. Was able to register a 12th card that has not yet arrived because I could figure out the card number. I just can’t use it because I don’t have the CVV.

  11. Used one Amex for our local pet supply store, then the other five cards at the local jeweler that made our wedding bands. Nice to be able to pick out “a little something” for $125!

  12. Sounds fun! I’m really happy with my purchases as well. I bought “peace bomb” bracelets that are made from metal taken from vietnam era landmines. Proceeds from each bracelet clear 3 acres of land of bombs. Win win.

  13. Used 5 cards at a local restaurant and got gift certificates. Have family coming in for Christmas and plan to take them back to this restaurant in 4 weeks.

  14. Went to a local diner that my parents visit once a week. Purchase 2 $30 and a $25 gift card. Turns out that one of the giftcards was a recycle and still had a balance of $20. So in total, i walked away with $105 in giftcards and 2k aadvantage points (aadvantage dining) for only $10.

  15. We had problems. The first place on the local map in Springfield il. (We are traveling today) was listed as a local deli, too bad they are closed today. Next on the list was a dive bar, too scary. The third was a hole in the wall c-store. They don’t take AMEX. They tried to run it through but it wouldn’t work. Gave up for awhile. At dinner, the restaurant we picked in Petersburg IL. Went out of business. We finally found a couple local stores to do the transactions. It would have made us mad if it wasn’t so comical.

  16. Went to one of our regular restaurants and purchased 5 x $25 gift cards for future dining. Makes me happy to think we have 5 free lunches coming our way in the next month. No emails yet.

  17. Registered 6 cards. Used the first one this morning…got a confirmation email from AMEX. Used the other 5 at listed locations this afternoon and as of yet, no email confirmations from those. System is probably bogged down.

  18. Spent $400 across 16 cards (god bless Amex authorized users!):
    $250 wine/beer @ liquor store (10 cards got a funny look from the cashier but was all about it once I explained I was getting it for “free”)
    4x$25 = $100 gift card @ pizza place (plus add’l $20 gift card for a promo they’re doing)
    2x$25 = $50 gift card @ brewpub (plus 1000 United dining miles for new member bonus)
    Xmas came early this year! Though like others, I’m still missing the confirmation emails that were so comforting last year, however all my places were clearly listed on the ShopSmall official map so I have no worries =o)

  19. $75 worth of free booze but the takeout place for dinner has never accepted Amex, so we went and got more booze. Really curious to me what data Amex is using to populate those maps given that numerous non-Amex businesses are showing up on them. No confirmation mails from anywhere.

  20. About half an hour ago one e-mail arrived congratulating me. I’m assuming the other two from that same place should arrive soon. I think they’re just a little bogged down 🙂

  21. Thank you for posting this. I was starting to freak out about not getting the emails. I got one from my first purchase this morning but then bought 3×25 gift cards at one place early afternoon and had not heard anything. I was wondering if I screwed something up.

  22. Just got the first email for one of the purchases I made today around 11am EST. Nothing on the other ones yet (several at two different locations).

  23. Just received my first confirmation email at 11:03 p.m. about 11 hours after I my first purchase and five hours after my last. This should be 1 of 8, I shopped at 7 different businesses.

  24. I had so much fun today! It was my first time using the AmEx deal, which I heard about here, so THANKS! 🙂 I got enrollment e-mails instantly, but haven’t heard anything since the purchases. I originally registered two cards and spent them this morning on toys at our local Teacher Supply store – it’s perfect because they have zillions of $1 and under items for hitting right at $25. When I went home I registered two more cards. One I used at my regular salon to buy a $100 gift card that came with 4 additional $25 salon gift certificates, and the other we used having dinner out. I realize it’s silly to be giddy when I haven’t even seen the statement credits, but I really did have fun, and I have no reason to believe the credits won’t come through. Thanks so much for letting us know about this!

  25. Registered and used 4 cards… $25 free gas at BP, $25 free groceries at Fresh Seasons, $25 free products at Ace Hardware (all things I would have bought anyway) and a $25 gift card at a favorite restaurant (bonus). Only 2 of 4 confirmations so far (SPG Amex and Hilton Surpass Amex). No confirmation for Hilton HHonors Amex or Virgin Atlantic Amex. I’m a little concerned about the Virgin Atlantic Amex since it is a Bank of America card, although I did get confirmations for registering all fur cards. Has anyone else been successful with a Bank of America Amex?

  26. This was my first Small Business Saturday. I waited until the last minute to go out so just ran down to my local grocery store and bought 2 $25 Visa gift cards around 4:30 pm. My “Thank You” emails came in around 12:15 am and 12:30 am this morning. Next year I will be a little more organized since there were some great stores participating here in Chicago.

  27. 4 of my 5 emails arrived overnight. The one holdout is the citi-branded amex card. As that is administered by citibank rather than Amex, I’m not surprised. I’ll pester them next week if it doesn’t sort itself out. Worst case I spent $25 of my own money on something I’d have bought anyway…

  28. Just received 7 confirmatory emails from Amex. Emails are congratulatory, although solely specify the Amex cards I used. Good enough for me !

    Purchased items with my 7 Amex cards:

    Local liquor store for wine (upcoming holiday gala hosted by me at home), local Chinese restaurant gif card, flowers for Mom’s 75th bday, cold cuts / groceries for kids’ upcoming school week, 2 $25 gift cards to local Italian restaurant.

    Bye Mommy, I need to rest now 🙂

  29. I have gotten 8 emails thanking me for shopping SBS on specified cards but no statement credits yet. And the emails are not congratulatory….do u think credits are coming?
    The places I shopped were all found through search bar on ShopSmall website but not necessarily on places that auto populated in town if that makes any sense. I assumed if they showed up at all they were legit.

  30. Order carry out from a restaurant that was on the list. When I picked the food up they said they dont take Amex. Had to pay with a visa. Ended up buying a lot of beer,win and gas on 10 cards. Got 9 confirm emails.

  31. Great job MP! Glad the quad worked so nicely for you!…
    Had reg 19 cards. One was my Macys amex becuase i heard those worked as well. We are in a northern VT ski town thats just coming alive for the season. EVERYTHING here that takes amex is a sm biz. My wife got a ski coat using 8 amex cards and the store now realized they were busy because everyone else was also using amex, and we got gift certs to many restaurants and ski shops we already frequent.
    Last year an indy hotel with a spa my wife loves counted for this promo so my last stop was to use 2 cards there.
    Ive received 16 amex emails and sadly it appears Macys amex did not work and the spa no longer counts. But it must be true love to get a gift for someone and NOT get miles for it lol–she’ll go there anyway. All in all we did quite well!

  32. Six thank you for shopping on sbs emails. None of my small business’ showed up on the map. I went to one restaurant I went to last year and another small restaurant and received gift cards. In January our city has a restaurant week where participating restaurants give you a 3 course meal for 30 per person. These restaurants are pretty expensive normally. We now have 150 dollars in gift cards to use during that event. It is nice to know that in January when funds are low I will be enjoying a couple of nice free meals!

  33. I am in the same boat as Rob & Dell, above: used 8 cards among 3 registered users in the family at various places. Received emails for 5 of the 8 purchases; the 3 that have not arrived are from Citi Amex and BOA Amex.
    Like Rob, I made two purchases at the same place, within seconds of each other. The Amex account lists the name of the merchant identically to the name on the map, but the Citi Amex account lists it differently. Same is true with the BOA card — slightly different merchant name than is on the map.
    I’m hopeful that the issue will “sort itself out,” as Rob said, but I am concerned that I may have to call. I’m glad I saved screen shots.

    • I received the thanks for shopping SBS emails but non were congratulatory as they were last year. Has anyone seen a statement credit yet?

  34. Visited a small yarn shop that was specifically listed on the official map. They even had the Small Business Saturday doormat, but they do not accept AMEX. Strange. Went down the street to the local ACE hardware store, 1/2 off coupon in hand, and scored big. That store was bustling.

  35. Received 10 out of 12 confirmed emails. Have yet to post charges or receive email for Citi AA and Penfed. Wait and see. Hard to complain on $250.00 FREE!!

  36. My only snafu was using my HH Surpass card to buy gas at a BP station that was on the list/map. Called today and AMEX said gas didn’t count…it had to be used in the ‘store’. I pointed out, to no avail, the Small Biz website that listed participating businesses did not say that. Needed gas anyway but would have gotten it elsewhere with a coupon had I known that. Not a biggie.

    FYI: I called Bank of America (Amex) and was told I WILL receive the $25 credit as long as I had registered the card, which I did.

    • But what about statement credits? Anyone see those yet? Or do your email confirm 25.00 credit. Mine just thanked me with no mention of credit.

  37. Had 25 registered cards for a total haul of $625. We’ve got $375 to spend at our favorite high-end restaurant (that’s 2-3 great “date nights” for free right there) + the rest of it spread across misc casual restaurants. Love SBS!

  38. Let’s just say I did really good by American Express. We’re good customers, and this all gave me a really good “feel-good” feeling towards my favorite credit card company.

    Thanks for the shopping spree, American Express. It was great! Hope you do it again next year.

  39. I received one out of 5 confirmations. I used 4 cards in a Duanne reade near my home. It was on the list. I bought 4 gift cards. Do u think it will be accepted if I didn’t receive confirmations?

  40. I used my Macys Amex at a local toy store, and still haven’t received an email. Would they really let me register the card if it didn’t qualify? I hope not!!

  41. My wife and I used my two AMEX cards (plus her two AU cards) at a local Speedway gas station that was on the AMEX map to purchase $100 in gas cards. Neither one of us has received a single confirmation email yet, so I just called AMEX customer service. I was told their system has a deadline of Dec. 1 to process all the credits and if it hasn’t posted by then, to call in and they’ll make sure to manually adjust the credits.

  42. I got $50 in gas from a local station I’ve never been to, dinner from a local burger place, $25 gift cert to my favorite restaurant, $25 in childrens books at a local book store and my mom used a card at a local hardware store to buy something. I’ve received four confirmation emails from the six cards.

  43. I already received 7 of 8 $25 credits as of today. I have yet to receive the credit for the Citi AA Amex though that was pre-registered.

  44. Wahoo! All of our credits have posted as of this morning, including 2 from Citibank and one from Bank of America.

    I never received emails to confirm the transactions on Citi or BOA (though I did receive confirmation that they were registered), and while the transactions on those cards were pending, the names of the merchants appeared differently from their names on the Amex map, but they have since posted with correct names, and the credits have appeared.

    Thanks for the generous gift, Amex (& to Mommypoints for posting)!

  45. I am still missing 2 of 4. They were on the list which is why I picked them. Anyone else still missing any? Do you know how to double check the merchant or inquire?

  46. Just wanted to update that my credit appeared on my Macy’s AMEX on 12/1. I never received a confirmation email after the transaction, so I was sweating it – but it worked out! Thanks for the scoop Mommypoints!

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