American Express has a new deal for small businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic.
The financial services giant said today it will commit $200 million to a stimulus-style initiative that will give cardholders $5 back every time they spend at least $10 with a small merchant. The program, part of Amex’s Shop Small campaign, begins today and will continue over the next three months. Eligible cardholders can get the $5 cash back up to 10 times when they shop online or at a physical location.
Amex says similar programs have already rolled out in Australia, Canada, and the U.K., while additional ones will launch in Japan and Mexico.
Separately, Amex says it will commit $10 million specifically to help Black-owned small businesses in the form of grants and other efforts. Those funds will be disbursed over the next four years through business organizations that “provide grants to Black small business owners and capacity-building efforts in local communities across the country,” Amex says.
The announcements come as small and midsize businesses around the country struggle to stay afloat during COVID-19 and the associated lockdowns, including a recent rollback of reopenings in California, Texas, and Florida where daily new infections have spiked.
In many cases, federal and local loan programs meant to help smaller companies navigate this uncharted territory have come up short, and companies large and small have had to lay off workers, cut pay, and, in some cases, close for good. Amex says its own research has shown that stimulus-type programs like this actually induce customers to spend money. It also cites research it conducted in which 62% of small-business owners indicated they would have to shut down if consumer spending doesn’t return by the end of the year.
This isn’t the first time Amex has stepped up to help small businesses during an economic crisis. During the Great Recession a decade ago, it launched Small Business Saturday, which has since become an annual tradition.
Amex cardmembers can enroll in the new program by visiting the Shop Small website.