How small businesses can take advantage of Black Friday

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Black Friday could be a great time to snag some deals for your own small business.

As well as comparison shopping for electronics, it’s also the day to stock up on holiday gifts for employees and customers and to gather party supplies for November and December office events.

Use a business credit card to make savings especially powerful. This year looks like it could be more festive than last year.

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According to a survey from American Express, small businesses plan to increase their spending on gifts and parties this holiday season. On average, they’ll spend a total $6,700, up from $5,370 a year ago.

Seventy-one percent of them plan to buy gifts to thank current customers, and they say they’ll reward employees with more lavish holiday parties. Seven in 10 businesses are planning a holiday party that they expect to spend an average $3,000 for – up from $2,000 in 2015.

Using a business credit card can bring an even bigger win, according to one credit card industry expert.

“Nothing quite unites Americans like their love for cash back,” says Matt Schulz, senior industry analyst at in Austin, Texas. “It’s one of the few things data shows (most) people agree on.”

No reason to think small businesses would be any different, and the simplicity of getting cash back – which directly reduces your expenses – is very appealing to most small businesses, according to Schulz.

‘A significant boost’

Kim Kaupe, cofounder of Zinepak, a New York City marketing firm, uses her business credit card to pick up employee gifts.

“Amex does discounts on gift cards,” she says, “and you can pay with points.”

Those accumulated points also mean free flights and free hotel rooms for future travel, and Kaupe says she goes out of her way to build up points by prepaying services and goods the company can use in the following year.

“We’ll pay for the entire year of using our domain name on Black Friday,” she says. “GoDaddy, HubSpot, Dropbox and other B2B (providers) run specials. If you pay for an entire year, you get a free month.”

Another way to accumulate points is by using a credit card that doubles or triples rewards when used at a small business.

American Express’s Shop Small for 2X Rewards works like this. You can enroll an eligible Amex card online, and use it to shop at specific small businesses and websites through Dec. 31.

Several card issuers have set up shopping portals that boost your cast back or your rewards when you make purchases through the site.

“It’s taking an extra step but potentially ramping up your cash back or your rewards,” Schulz says. “Depending on how much you’re spending, that could be a significant boost.”

Recently, most of the attention paid to credit card signup bonuses has been for consumer cards, but Schulz says business credit cards also carry big signup bonuses.

“It’s the best time in the history of the business to get one,” he says.

Double rewards

When you use a card after a signup bonus, it can be a way to reduce some of your costs during the holiday season, Schulz says.

Taking advantage of sales and discounts while using a card is a way to game the system, Kaupe believes.

“On one end, we’re taking advantage of discounted rates or a free month, and on the other, when we pay with an Amex card we get the points – so we can get free flights and hotel rooms,” she says. “It’s a double reward.”

Kaupe will take advantage of retailers that offer double or triple points. That way, even boxes of Kleenex for the office can reap rewards.

“We’ll buy 20 boxes, because we want to get as many points as possible,” she says. “For us, triple points add up.”

Some small businesses avoid Thanksgiving weekend retail.

Caroline Weaver, owner of a New York City specialty shop, says CW Pencil Enterprise will be closed on Black Friday. Weaver herself will be in Cleveland at her mom’s house, watching “The Gilmore Girls.”

“I plan on doing all of my own Christmas shopping online on Friday or over the weekend,” Weaver says. “I love that Small Business Saturday is a thing! It’s a nice way to shine some light onto shops like mine who also are looking for a bit of a boost during holiday season.”

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