I wish the days of small business AMEX offer where it worked almost everywhere came back. But, for this one, the qualifying small businesses are just a few local restaurants. Very underwhelming IMO (all the more so because we no longer dine out these days).
There’s some ethinic grocers around me that participate. Some not-so-small businesses, like Bonchon chicken (well over 100 locations in the US) are also considered a small business on the business finder.
The $5 credits post a little differently than last offers. They post with the company name as the description, making it look more like a refund transaction from the business. And if you have multiple $5 credited the same day (even from different businesses), it posts as one lump sum, again with one of the business’s names as the description. Making it look even more like a refund from the business instead of a bonus credit.
AMEX is very rigid and arbitrary about what they decide qualifies or not. For that and many other things like cashback categories. On my BCP card, I know some gas stations are definitely excluded where as they are counted as gas stations by every other issuer.
So for Shop Small, now I just search on their website ahead of time. The businesses that qualify have that small Shop Small icon next to their name/address. I have not been denied any of those credits at places I had confirmed in advance would work.
It’s not that Amex will only give credit for one. It’s that the store set up three different merchant accounts with three different category codes for their three revenue centers. It’s a function of structure, not Amex just randomly deciding when to give and not give credit.
There’s been similar claims within a Walmart, that the location of the register can affect the merchant category.
Many small businesses that use Square or Paypal for processing don’t show up on the map but do qualify for the credit. AFAIK, there is no way to tell in advance which of these businesses qualify. Most of the time the credit appears for business you’d expect them to, but not always.
This has indeed been one of the easier AMEX deals to redeem imo. They’ve been generous with what qualifies, which usually (as Shandril points out) is not the case.
In general, I have found that the Visa/MC MCCs are much more predictable in terms of category spend than AMEX’s. Stuff like my corporate cafeteria categorizes as fast food on Visa while it shows as “professional services” on AMEX. There are a few other examples as well.