Here’s a way for you to make a lot of money selling something that won’t cost your customers anything. Six months from now it will almost be Thanksgiving. Why does that matter?
For the past few years, Saturday after Thanksgiving has been American Express’ Small Business Saturday. It is a generous win-win promotion for small businesses and consumers.
On Small Business Saturday, American Express has given one $25 statement credit for every American Express card that registered for Small Business Saturday, if you spend at least $25 on it in one transaction at a registered small business. Read my posts about it here.
Last year, I ran around town like a middle-aged trick or treater. For every American Express card I registered, I purchased a $25 something from a small business. I got booty, the small businesses made sales, and American Express picked up the tab for the first $25 of the transactions. A tremendous promotion!
How This Applies To You
About 1,000 of my subscribers are comedians and actors. Let’s use them as an example. Many of them already sell MERCH: T-shirts, CDs, DVDs, books and downloads of entire seasons of their podcasts. Some even promote their own shows and sell their own tickets.
Do you have merchandise or a service to sell? Could you sell something, or a bundle of things for a $25 price point? If nothing else, you could sell an official $25 gift card for future use at whatever it is you do? By the way, what the heck do you do? You have six months to get your product ready. What if 100 people used their registered cards to buy your $25 item? That’s $2,500! What about 1,000 people? That’s $25,000!! What about… I think you see where this is going. That’s not a bad Saturday.
You might be saying, “This is great! I already have a shopping cart on my website or PayPal. I’m ready to make some cash. We’re going to have roast beast for Christmas!!” Unfortunately, online sales do not qualify for Small Business Saturday. Neither do sales using a dongle on your mobile phone. At least, they do not at the time of this post.
Small Business Saturday is meant for stand-alone brick and mortar businesses. What that really means is that a small business person must be able to swipe cards physically through a terminal. But I didn’t write this post to tell you what you can’t do.
The Solution: Dialing for Dollars
My new friend Kay, in the American Express Product Solutions department, gave me some good news. She told me that transactions by small businesses using Dial Pay qualify for the Small Business Saturday promotion!
I’m not suggesting that you strap on the headset and pretend you are Judy from Time-Life with operators standing by – but, you will have to enter American Express credit card numbers from a touch tone phone to place the orders.
You must run the transaction on Small Business Saturday. Have your fans/customers email or voicemail their orders, with their American Express card number. I don’t know if you are allowed to collect pre-orders that you then run on Small Business Saturday. In the event that you have hundreds of orders to process, pre-orders would allow you to anticipate that and hire help. It’d be a good problem to have.
At What Cost?
If you only wanted to do this for Small Business Saturday, it would run you a grand total of $39.95. Not too shabby since you only need to make two $25 sales to cover that. Dial Pay is $25 to set up, then $7 per month. To use Dial Pay, you must have a Merchant Account. A Merchant Account charges a percentage of your sales or a flat rate of $7.95/month. If you are only trying this for Small Business Saturday, go with the merchant rate of $7.95/month.
What Can You Do For Me?
I hope you run with this and make hundreds or thousands of dollars. Your fans/customers will need an American Express card that is eligible for Small Business Saturday. This works with Personal and Business cards, but not Corporate, prepaid or gift cards. Here are some eligible cards with clickable links to apply. They worked for the promotion in 2012 and are expected to this year as well:
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
TrueEarnings® Card from Costco and American Express
American Express® Gold Card
American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card
Blue Cash Everyday Card® from American Express
Blue Cash Preferred Card® from American Express
Blue Sky from American Express®
The Platinum Card® from American Express
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express OPEN
Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express OPEN
The Business Gold Rewards Card® from American Express OPEN
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN
SimplyCash® Business Card from American Express OPEN
Please tell your fans/customers that this is brewing and to pick up an eligible American Express card so they are ready to go in November. Heck, send them a link to this post!
“Authorized User” cards have always qualified as well for Small Business Saturday’s promotion. So if John gets a card, he can get an authorized user card on his account for Jill as well. Jill can apply for her own card and get John an authorized user card on her account too. Two accounts, four cards = $100 worth of statement credits on Small Business Saturday. Like I said, AMEX has a great win-win promotion here.
I can get a referral credit when people apply for a card from this site and are accepted. I appreciate it when you use my links. That helps keep the 1s and 0s spinning around cyberspace so I can bring great tips like this to you.
I also welcome any new subscribers – it’s always free. So, please like, tweet, post, repost, retweet the repost. I hate to think I’m broadcasting to no one!
Kay at American Express told me that ShopSmall.com will have more information as it gets closer. Meanwhile…
Steps To Accomplish:
- Get an American Express Merchant Account. Call 800-445-2639 or do it online at www.AmericanExpress.com/merchant. Click where it says “Accept American Express Cards”. If you already have an account, just contact Kay (scroll down to Step 1 under Dial Pay). She was very helpful and I believe she gets a taste from folks who sign up for Dial Pay.
- Have your business Tax ID number or Social if you are a Sole Proprietor (not an official business entity). Provide your bank routing and account numbers where your sales proceeds go. I am a sole proprietor. I hooked mine up to my regular personal checking account.
- There are no fees to create a Merchant Account, no minimums, nothing.
- During the process of signing up for a Merchant Account, you will find out what American Express Rate or Percentage your small business qualifies for. Then you choose which way to go. If you are only interested in trying this for Small Business Saturday, I suggest you start with the per transaction fee then switch to the $7.95/month flat rate in November. American Express told me that is okay.
- To qualify for Small Business Saturday 2012, American Express told me that businesses had to register their Merchant Accounts for Small Business Saturday by September. That was the cut-off date. They did not have the 2013 cut-off date at this time.
- Amanda at American Express told me that if you sign up for a Merchant Account and have no activity for 150 days, you COULD get automatically switched to a $7.95/month flat rate. Assuming that will happen, if you are only trying this for Small Business Saturday, open your Merchant Account in August. This will give you plenty of time to participate in Small Business Saturday and close your Merchant Account afterward, if you so choose.
- If you are on the flat rate plan of $7.95/month, you will get paid 100% of your transaction amounts. No percentage will be taken from the transactions. If you are only trying this for Small Business Saturday, make sure you cancel your merchant account to stop the monthly $7.95 flat fee. After cancelling your Merchant Account, you have six months to reinstate it if you wish.
- Now that you have a Merchant Account, contact Kay. She said it is easier to do it all over the phone. She can be reached Monday through Friday (from 8:00-4:30pm Pacific) call 800-528-0682, press 7, then extension 55205. Email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Dial Pay has a one-time $25 set up fee. $7/month until they cancel. That is deducted from your bank account on the first week of the following month.
- No cancellation fee. No contract. No obligation. If you cancel it and want to turn it on again next year, you will pay another $25 set up fee.
If you are only doing this for Small Business Saturday, get your Merchant Account. In early November, request a change to the $7.95 flat fee. Then call Kay to order Dial Pay.
Microphone belt buckle from Vendio
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