Some credit cards offer limited-time special deals to their cardholders. “If you purchase $X from this place before this date, you will get a $Y credit on your statement.” These are called card-linked offers.
They are different than store-wide coupons. Coupons are taken off from the total at the time you buy. Card-linked offers are credited after the fact. Coupons usually don’t care how you pay. Card-linked offers are tied to a specific card you use to pay.
AmEx Offers is a popular card-linked offers program. If you have an American Express card issued by American Express (not Fidelity AmEx or PenFed AmEx), you see the offers when you log in to americanexpress.com. Here’s what I see as I’m writing this:
They use some targeting and experiments to give different offers to different customers. Like coupons, you have to “clip” the ones you want to your card. The clipping actions will reveal your preferences, which will help them target future offers.
The best way to get the credit is to buy a gift card for places you will shop at anyway. If the store doesn’t sell gift cards you just clip everything with a remote possibility. Then you use your card as usual. If you happen to hit one, you score.
After you add the offers to your card, as soon as you make an eligible purchase, you will get an email from American Express telling you that you hit the offer. I usually get it on my phone as I walk out of the store, before I get to my car. The credit is posted within a few days even though the official terms and conditions say it can take much longer.
According to the Savings tally, I received over $400 worth of credits from AmEx Offers since 2013. Recent credits include:
- $25 credit for spending $50 at Smart & Final (3 times; bought Arco gift cards)
- $20 credit for spending $20 at SamsClub.com (bought Sams Club gift card; used on walmart.com with free in-store pickup)
- $20 credit for spending $20 at Amazon
- $25 credit for spending $100 at Staples (bought Amazon gift card)
I don’t see any proactive notification option to tell me what new offers are made to me. I just peruse the offers section from time to time when I log in to my account to check transactions.
Bank of America has a similar program called BankAmeriDeals. You have to enable it in online banking under Special Offers & Deals. Then you see a list of offers and you add the ones you want.
I see these offers as I’m writing this:
- 10% cash back at Bucca di Beppo, Chili’s, and Applebee’s
- 10% cash back at Nordstrom Rack, H&M, and Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th
- 10% cash back at Office Depot or OfficeMax
- 10% cash back at Hampton Inn and Four Points by Sheraton
Unlike AmEx Offers, which is tied to a specific card, BankAmeriDeals is tied to you. If you have multiple Bank of America cards, the offers you add will apply no matter which Bank of America card you use. It’s good you don’t have to worry about using a specific card, but it also means you can double- or triple-dip on the same offer if you have multiple cards.
If you enable it in your online banking, you can get emails when new offers are added. Like AmEx Offers, you get an email confirmation as soon as you hit an offer. The actual credit can take 60 days before it’s posted to your account.
For some reason the offers from BankAmeriDeals don’t quite match my spending pattern. I only received $25 worth of credits in a year. I just take a shotgun approach. I add everything with a remote possibility and see which one will hit. So far I got very few hits. You may have a better match than I do.
[Photo credit: Flickr user nist6dh]