For a limited time, you can redeem Amex Membership Rewards for holiday shopping at small businesses — and you'll even get more value from your points than usual

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  • Amex is launching a Shop Small Holiday Gift Guide that will allow customers to use Membership Rewards points for holiday gifts.
  • From November 28 to December 31, eligible cardholders can redeem their points for products at participating small businesses, and the rates look better than what you'd normally get by cashing your points in for gift cards or merchandise.
  • This could be a good strategy to save money on holiday shopping and support small businesses at the same time, but keep in mind you'll usually get more value from your points if you transfer them to airline and hotel partners.
  • Read Business Insider's guide to the best credit cards for holiday shopping.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, credit card issuers have made customer-friendly changes to their rewards programs by introducing new ways to earn and redeem points and offering limited-time benefits and category spending bonuses. 

American Express has responded to shifting consumer habits by adding new benefits, including statement credits for streaming, shipping, and wireless purchases on select cards until the end of 2020. It's not just customers who have reaped the rewards, either — earlier this year, Amex offered up to $50 in statement credits for purchases at eligible small businesses to promote shopping locally.

Now, the issuer is launching another "Shop Small" promotion that can help you save money on holiday shopping and give small businesses a much-needed boost. From November 28 (Small Business Saturday) until December 31, Amex cardholders will have the opportunity to redeem points for purchases through the Membership Rewards Shop Small Holiday Gift Guide at ShopAmex.com

You can get decent value for your Amex points at small businesses 

Using Amex Membership Rewards points for merchandise, statement credits, or gift cards doesn't normally get you the best return from your rewards. Points are only worth 0.5 to 1 cent each when you redeem this way, compared to potentially much more if you transfer your points to an airline or hotel partner for award travel.

That said, this Shop Small promotion could offer decent value, although it will vary depending on the merchant. The sample redemptions Amex shared with us both offered a rate above 1 cent per point:

  • A $95 Larq water bottle for 7,125 Membership Rewards points (1.33 cents per point)
  • A $149 Modern Picnic lunch tote for 10,430 Membership Rewards points (1.42 cents per point)

These rates are attractive, particularly if you're looking to save money on holiday gifts by using credit card rewards instead of cash — as well as support small businesses that are struggling during the pandemic. Many of us are stuck at home right now, so it's encouraging to see American Express offer customers another way to redeem rewards that doesn't involve travel.  

The full list of participating merchants won't be live until November 28, but here are a few other teaser examples provided by Amex:

  • 11" Smart Pan + induction cooktop smart cooking system from Hestan Cue
  • Holiday candle, diffuser and room spray from Harlem Candle Co.
  • High-tech 2-in-1 kids laptop, laptop sleeve, and mouse from Tanoshi

You can participate in this promotion if you have an Amex card that earns Membership Rewards points, including personal cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express and American Express® Gold Card. Small-business cards like The Business Platinum Card® from American Express and The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express are also eligible.

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