Small Business Saturday
Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and Small Business Saturday!
As I outlined on Friday, Small Business Saturday is a great way to stock up on things that you need like Restaurant Gift Certificates, Alcohol, Grocery Store Gift Certificates, etc.
In my case, this past weekend I was at my Parents house in the Chicago suburbs and there wasn’t really anything around me that I needed.
My original plan was to hit up a local wine store and buy wine to give as gifts at holiday parties. However in checking out American Express’s Small Business Saturday map, I noticed that a fairly large local grocery store chain called Sunset Foods was on the list.
Sunset Foods has a couple chains around the North Shore, so I don’t necessarily consider it a Small Business, but for some reason American Express does.
Similar to many other grocery chains like Jewel-Osco, Dominicks, etc, I suspected that Sunset Foods was large enough to sell Gift Cards to other stores.
I called them on Saturday Morning and they said that they do sell Gift Cards to other stores, so I decided to try my luck and stop in. Worst case was that they didn’t have any good gift cards, so I would have to revert back to my original plan of going to the wine store to do my Small Business Saturday purchases.
To my surprise, Sunset had an entire rack of Gift Cards!
As you can see below, they had Gift Cards to Nike, Best Buy, eBay, Barnes & Noble, Macy’s, JCP, Sears, etc.
The only thing I really have been wanting to buy is a DSLR camera, so I figured Best Buy Gift Card would be the best bet. Worst case, is that I charged my mind about the camera, and I could re-sell the Best Buy Gift Cards on PlasticJungle.com for 90% return.
So I went ahead and purchased 4 x $25 Best Buy Gift Cards at Sunset Foods, as 4 separate transactions with each of my eligible American Express Cards
The best part about this is that Sunset Foods still got my $100 in spend, I get reimbursed by American Express for my $100 spend, and I get Gift Cards to a store that I actually need to purchase something at!
Best Buy / American Express SYNC
After purchasing my Best Buy Gift Cards from Sunset Foods, I headed over to Best Buy.
Before I left the house for Sunset Foods, I researched out what camera I wanted and how much it was going to cost. I settled on a Canon T3i DSLR. It knew the Camera would be around $650 after tax, so even with the $100 in Best Buy Gift Cards, it would still be fairly expensive.
If you remember from a few months ago, AMEX ran promotions via Social Media for discounts at different retailers if you synced your AMEX Cards via Facebook, Twitter, etc. Well apparently that is still going on! A full list of current AMEX SYNC promotions can be found here.
To my surprise, Best Buy is still one of those retailers, so if you SYNC your AMEX Card and tweet them, you can get $20 back if you spend $200 at Best Buy.
I did this earlier in the year with my SPG Business AMEX and bought a $200 Best Buy Gift Card, and then used the Gift Card to purchase Bose In-Ear Headphones.
The cool thing about AMEX SYNC is you can SYNC multiple Cards, although it can be a pain.
Once an offer is “loaded” onto your Card, you can unsync your Card but the offer will still be “loaded” onto your Card. After you do that, you can SYNC another AMEX, and repeat the process for however many Cards you want to SYNC.
Before I left for Sunset Foods, I synced my AMEX Platinum and Citi AAdvantage AMEX with the Best Buy offer. Additionally I had a $90 Best Buy Gift Card that I got as a gift.
After I got to Best Buy, I picked out the Camera that I wanted. However, being a smart shopper I used their computer displays to check the price on Amazon. I mean that is what they are there for right? ; )
To my surprise, on Amazon the camera was only $579, and they were offering an additional lens, backpack, and memory card for free! So not only was it cheaper on Amazon, but you didn’t have to pay sales and you go a bunch of free extras.
Normally, I would have just ordered it off of Amazon, but majority of the stuff was back ordered because it was such a good deal. Not to mention I had all those Best Buy Gift Cards.
A little known fact is that YOU CAN NEGOTIATE at Best Buy!
Even if you don’t find a cheaper price online, if you are buying anything big like a Computer, Camera, or TV, try and negotiate the price down or at a minimum, get them to throw in some free accessories!
Best Buy operates a business model that isn’t exactly sustainable, so they are willing to be flexible on price if it means getting your business.
Honestly I am surprised that Best Buy matched the Amazon deal, because the prices below are the actual prices from Best Buy. Basically for $650 (including tax) I got the following:
- Canon T3i DSLR Camera – Best Buy List Price: $599.99
- Canon 75-300 Lens – Best Buy List Price: $199.99
- Sandisk Memory Card – Best Buy List Price: $20.00
- Lowepro Backpack – Best Buy List Price: $89.99
The funniest part is that on Amazon, the backpack they were throwing in the bundle was some crappy $30.00 Amazon backpack. Best Buy obviously doesn’t sell Amazon branded gear, so Best Buy let me pick out any photo backpack, didn’t matter the price. So of course I picked out the most expensive one for $89, and will just return it later for Store Credit since I have no use for it. Note: This was actually the Store Employees suggestion, not mine.
When I went to check out, I simply told the Agent that I would first like to buy 2 x $200 Gift Cards, and to ring them up separately.
Thanks to SYNC, for each of those $200 Gift Cards, AMEX will give me $20 Statement Credit back, so I only technically spent $180 on each of those Gift Cards.
Camera Bundle: $650 after tax
$100 Best Buy Gift Cards – Free from Small Business Saturday
$90 Best Buy Gift Card – Free from a gift
$400 Best Buy Gift Card – $360 from AMEX SYNC
$60 out of pocket for remaining balance
All in all, on the $900 Camera Bundle ($650 after Amazon price match), I got around $230 off thanks to Best Buy Gift Cards.
Excluding the $90 Gift Card I already had, American Express’s Small Business Saturday and SYNC saved me around $140.
On a $650 Camera, $140 is about a 20% discount, which is sizeable.
All in all, for the $900 in camera gear that I got, I paid around $420 out of pocket. Once I return the backpack, the final total should be closer to $320 out of pocket which is a steal for DSLR cameras.
Best Buy’s price match policy is good for 30 days, so if the price drops again on Amazon, I will go in.
Although American Express’s Small Business Saturday was targeted for Small Businesses, if you think outside the box, you can easily use it to shop at stores that you want while still helping Small Businesses.
The same tricks we use to get free flights and hotels, can be easily applied to retail stores to score some massive discounts and earn some more points!
As you can see, I saved around $140 thanks to Small Business Saturday and SYNC.
One another thing that I will point out is that many of us are quick to jump the gun on canceling Credit Cards even if there is no need.
I have 4 American Express Cards. 1 of them does not have an Annual Fee, and for 2 of them the Annual Fee is waived for the 1st year.
The only Card that I have paid an Annual Fee on is the AMEX Platinum which was $450. Although that is a substantial amount of money, I get lounge access, SPG Gold Status, $200 in Annual Airline Credit, and a whole host of other features.
Since all my other AMEX Cards don’t have fees (or I will cancel them before the fees kick in), that $140 I saved basically goes to cover my $450 Annual Fee.
I was going to buy this camera anyways, but with the help of AMEX and Amazon, I saved $140.
Although it doesn’t always makes sense to keep a Card with an Annual Fee, if you do it right, it can really help you save some serious money!