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I don’t participate in every points and miles opportunity, but Small Business Saturday isn’t complicated and you don’t have to jump through many hoops. I think of it as a member recognition day of sorts. Thank you Amex!
One day last week I pulled out my eligible American Express branded cards. There were seven. I registered them all online, which was very easy. I spent some time trying to figure out the “map” in order to find participating merchants. This feature needs improvement. It’s very wonky. I finally looked only to my own zip code, and ended up inputting the names of some merchants on my own to see if they were registered. I double checked the restaurants against those which get extra miles from airline dining programs but none matched. I made a quick list on a post-it of establishments in walking distance and set out early Saturday afternoon.
In nearly every case, no one had heard of SBS. I had to guide them through the process, explaining that I needed separate $10 transactions. I received automatic email confirmations from Amex.
First: ALCOHOL! Yorkshire Liquor, right on my street is on the list, so why not? One bottle Fireball and a mega bottle Sake. $42. (3 x $10 on one card, and 1 X $10 on another card).
Second: MexiBBQ! A local favorite, with a great Monday night $9.99 burger and beer special and a Tuesday night $19.99 all you can eat ribs special. $50 Gift Card (2X $10 one card, and 3 x $10 second card). (note: nobody knew what to do nor heard of SBS, but manager sold card).
Third: Luke’s Lobster. Gotta have a lobster roll! Luke’s is one of the few places that understood SBS, or so I thought. When I checked my credit card online, I found that I had been charged $12 three times…. I won’t complain as long as the gift card they issued is also for $36.
UPDATE: the Luke’s charges were on BLUEBIRD Amex Card. Luke’s only charged $10 per transaction, but Bluebird lists it as a hold for an additional 20%, or $12 per transaction. Bluebird informed me that the extra $2 per transaction will “fall off” once the bill is paid.
Fourth: MeiJin Ramen! A new ramen place that I’ve been wanting to try. The restaurant is so pretty and the food smelled so good, I didn’t want to leave. $30 Gift Certificate (3 x $10). (note: no one knew what to do nor heard of SBS)
Fifth: Vietnaam. A local Vietnamese restaurant that I like a lot. Again, they had no idea they were participating, but filled out a gift certificate. $30 (3 x $10).
The sixth and final stop was the most difficult. First, I went to a new Mexican restaurant, Rosa something. They said they did not have any gift cards or certificates. Then I decided to back track to first avenue to Pio Pio, a favorite Peruvian Chicken restaurant. When I got there, I saw they had some nasty health code violations and walked on. There’s an upscale Mexican restaurant on 86th Street, Maz Mezcal, which was participating, but to my surprise, they also had serious health code violations.
Sixth: The sixth and final merchant was Sotto Cinque. A local Italian restaurant. Again, they hadn’t heard of SBS, but were happy to issue a gift certificate. $30 (3 x $10)
As for Won’t Run:
After weeks of reminding him to enroll his cards, he finally did so on Friday. We went to dinner with his daughter at a favorite all you can eat sushi restaurant last night. He remembered to bring only 2 of the cards. So, $60 of the $90 meal was charged at 6 x $10 on his 2 cards. Too bad he didn’t bring the third card, but, as they say, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.
HOW DID YOU DO?
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.