Which Amex Card Should You Now Use At Small Businesses?

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Yesterday Amex announced a killer new promotion which will get people putting Amex cards at the front of their wallets. Amex is offering double base points for purchases at eligible small businesses through the end of the year. This applies across most of their personal and small business cards, and will certainly cause me to shift some spend to my Amex cards.

amex-small-business-double-points

While my favorite Amex bonus category at the moment is the 5x points offered on airfare with The Platinum Card® from American Express, that’s not exactly useful for your small business spend. 😉

The best Amex cards for small business spend

Ordinarily my favorite cards for small business spend are The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American ExpressStarwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, and Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express:

  • The Amex EveryDay Preferred Card offers 3x points for purchases at U.S. supermarkets, 2x points at U.S. gas stations, and 1x points on everything else; you earn a 50% points bonus when you make 30 transactions per billing cycle
  • The SPG Amex offers one Starpoint per dollar spent, though I consider Starpoints to be the single most valuable points currency
  • The Amex Premier Rewards Gold offers 3x points on airfare purchased directly with airlines, 2x points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, and U.S. supermarkets

amex-cards

So ordinarily when I’m deciding which card to put non-bonused spend on, the math is as follows:

  • The Amex EveryDay Preferred Card offers a return of ~2.55% (I value Membership Rewards points at ~1.7 cents each, and you can earn 1.5x points)
  • The SPG Amex offers a return of ~2.2% (I value Starpoints at ~2.2 cents each)

As you can see, the EveryDay Preferred Card ordinarily has the edge.

Do double points change which card is best?

No matter which of the above three cards you use, you’ll earn an additional point (either Membership Rewards or Starpoint) per dollar spent. That means:

  • The Amex EveryDay Preferred Card now offers up to 2.5x Membership Rewards points at small businesses, which I value at ~4.25%
  • The SPG Amex now offers two Starpoints per dollar spent at small businesses, which I value at ~4.4%

Of course you’ll want to put gas station and supermarket spend on the EveryDay Preferred, and you’ll want to put restaurants on the Premier Rewards Gold, assuming you want to earn Amex points and have those cards.

But based on my valuation of points, the Amex EveryDay Preferred Card goes from having a significant edge over the SPG Amex, to offering a slightly worse return.

Bottom line

This is a great promotion which will cause me to put virtually all small business purchases on my Amex cards. The way I see it, under this promotion the EveryDay Preferred and SPG Amex are basically equal in terms of the return they offer at small businesses. I’d go with the card that offers whichever points you have more of a need for at the moment. You can’t go wrong either way.

Now that Amex is offering double points at small businesses, what Amex card will you be using for your everyday spend?


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Comments

  1. Hey Ben, so when I logged into my Amex account to enroll my cards today, I was only offered my Amex Plat and Everyday cards as eligible for double points, not my SPG Amex. Do you know why that is?

  2. That’s odd. I was able to enroll my SPG Amex without issue. Even had the dedicated SPG link in which to do it. I did get an error when I tried to enroll an additional holder card but if I read the terms right, any spend on additional holder cards counts for double points as well, so long as the primary card is enrolled.

  3. Thanks guys, figured it out. It didn’t let me enroll at the same time as the MR-earning cards. I had to go through a separate link on the SPG Amex page to enroll

  4. This promotion absolutely does change the math for EDP vs PRG.

    During this promotion, Everyday Preferred is superior to PRG if you are eating at local restaurants, since you will end up with 2.5 points/$. With PRG you will still get only 2 points, since bonused categories don’t get the additional point.

  5. No you get 3 points per dollar on PRG for restaurants. one bonus base point on top of the two you already get. Read the Amex website.

  6. I could swear I read it differently yesterday (that any already-bonused categories did not get the additional point) but taking another look today, it looks like you guys are right and I was wrong.

  7. except if you have a threshold bonus to meet i.e. AmEx Delta Platinum 70K bonus, which is what I registered.

  8. @KMC Sorry, meant already bonuses categories!

    On the signup landing page: “You will not earn 2X rewards on any bonus you already enjoy with your Card, such as when you spend on certain types of purchases or at certain merchants. Rewards Caps apply.”

  9. I was pretty excited to read about this promo, already signed up all my cards and then started analyzing how much of my spend is actually at small businesses in a 5-10 mile radius. Turns out, not much. I realized I spend mostly at big box retailers, Amazon, large grocery shops, and warehouse clubs, all of which leaves very little spend for small businesses. Naturally, YMMV, but after conducting this analysis this offer won’t ultimately change what cards I place at the front of my wallet. Sure, I’ll probably spend a couple of hundred dollars between now and years end at restaurants, but that’s not a lot of extra points…. I’d like to hear how people will be maximizing this offer. In my case, spend at small businesses is just not going to happen.

  10. So what’s the verdict on already-bonused categories? It sounds like Pam/KCM are right: based on the landing page, bonus categories appear to be disqualified from this promotion. But perhaps there’s a different way to read that text? Seems open to interpretation, the way it’s worded…

  11. The way I’m reading it (now) is that you’ll get the extra point regardless of category, and the disclaimer quoted above is just making clear that it won’t ALSO double your category bonus points.

  12. Um… NONE of them? Traditionally Amex’s transaction fees are higher than Visa/MC/Discover, so most small business owners would prefer you use one of those instead. Chase Freedom Unlimited + CSR will give you 2.25% back & keep the shopkeeper happy as well.

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