Think Amazon Prime is the only way to get free two-day shipping? Think again.
If you’re an American Express cardholder, there’s another strategy you might not know about. And it’ll apply at more than 140 online stores — instead of just Amazon.
Here’s everything you need to know about the ShopRunner Amex benefit.
First Off, What Is ShopRunner?
ShopRunner is a subscription service for online shoppers. When its members purchase items from one of 140 partner stores, they get:
- Free two-day shipping
- Free return shipping
- Members-only deals
- Express checkout at select stores
For most people, this service costs $79 per year. But Amex cardholders can get a free ShopRunner membership.
We’ll dive into how to sign up below — first, here are a few more details about ShopRunner.
Around 30 ShopRunner stores require a minimum purchase to get free shipping and returns; for the ones that do, it’s usually $25. Not all products on partner sites are eligible, either — your chosen item must have the ShopRunner logo next to it.
When it comes to partners, you won’t find big box stores like Target or Old Navy, but you will find brands like Ann Taylor, eBags, Express, Lord+Taylor, MacMall, Neiman Marcus, and Staples.
How to Sign Up for ShopRunner Amex
As mentioned above, Amex cardholders don’t need to pay a dime for ShopRunner. If you have a personal or business (non-corporate) American Express card, a complimentary ShopRunner membership is one of your credit card benefits.
All you have to do is list your Amex as the default card in your ShopRunner account. (You don’t even have to use it to make your purchases.)
Here’s how to sign up for the ShopRunner Amex benefit:
1. Get an eligible American Express credit card: If you don’t have one already, we list several eligible cards below.
2. Sign up for a free ShopRunner account: If you already have an account, no worries; just add your Amex card as the default, and ShopRunner will cancel the remaining term and give you a prorated refund.
3. Log in when you’re checking out of ShopRunner’s partner stores.
That’s it! As long as you keep your Amex listed as the default card in your ShopRunner account, you’ll never have to pay a subscription fee.
You can also get free returns. To be eligible, you must have made the initial order with ShopRunner — so, even if the retailer offers free shipping, use ShopRunner in case you need to return the item.
If Amex isn’t your cup of tea, Mastercard credit cards with the World and World Elite level of benefits, like the Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer (Review), may also offer a free ShopRunner membership. PayPal members can get a one-year membership for free, too.
How to Maximize the ShopRunner Amex Benefit
If you’re an online shopper, you use online shopping portals to maximize your rewards, right?
Well, when you combine shopping portals with the ShopRunner Amex benefit, you can really crush this whole rewards thing.
Let’s say you want to buy a new dress at Bloomingdale’s. You use a site like Cashbackholic to see which shopping portal offers the most rewards. At Bloomingdale’s, Chase offers a generous 5% cash back (1% normally plus an extra 4%), so you go with that.
You log into Chase’s portal, surf to Bloomie’s, find a dress, and then check for the ShopRunner symbol.
When you’re ready to check out, you sign into ShopRunner to get free two-day shipping.
And you don’t even need to pay with the Amex card on file.
You can pay with whichever card makes the most sense for you. Conceivably, you could get free shipping with your Amex, earn Ultimate Rewards points by shopping through Chase’s portal, and then earn cash back by paying with a Discover card. It’s all part of the credit card rewards fun.
Which Amex Cards Work With ShopRunner?
Wondering if your Amex is an “eligible card”? Here’s what qualifies, according to the ShopRunner terms and conditions:
“An American Express U.S. Consumer or Small Business credit or charge Card that is not cancelled and that is issued to you by a U.S. banking subsidiary of American Express. Prepaid cards and products, American Express Corporate Cards and American Express-branded cards or account numbers issued by other financial institutions are not eligible.”
Basically, most personal and small business Amex cards are going to make the cut. But if you’re looking for specific recommendations, here are a few types of cards that will help you take advantage of the ShopRunner and Amex partnership.
Our favorite charge card is The Platinum Card from American Express, which comes with a slew of perks like airport lounge access, Uber credits, and a $200 airline fee credit.
Cash Back Cards
If you’d prefer cash back over points, try the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express. It earns a whopping 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming services and on up to $6,000 of purchases at U.S. supermarkets per year (then 1%), plus 3% on transit and U.S. gas station purchases.
Membership Rewards Cards
Like the charge cards mentioned earlier, these credit cards earn Membership Rewards points. The biggest difference is you can carry a balance on these credit cards (though we strongly advise against it).
The EveryDay Preferred offers 3X points on grocery purchases (for up to $6,000 per year), plus 2X at gas stations — and a 50% point bonus if you make at least 30 purchases in a billing period.
Co-Branded Credit Cards
You’ve got choices when it comes to co-branded Amex cards: Hilton, Starwood and Marriott, Delta, and Mercedes-Benz. The best card for you depends on where your loyalties lie.
One pick with a solid introductory bonus is the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express. You’ll be able to earn 60,000 Delta SkyMiles after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months — enough to cover a round-trip domestic flight to a variety of destinations. You can also earn a $50 statement credit after you make a purchase directly from Delta on the card within the first 3 months. The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year.
We’re always surprised to discover how few people know about this valuable perk. Even if you don’t shop at many of the stores listed, we’d say it’s worth signing up for a free ShopRunner Amex account. That way, you’ll have it in your back pocket the next time you want to, um, get a new dress with pockets.
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