Key takeaways

  • Small Business Saturday is a one-day event designed to support small and local businesses
  • American Express offers a Shop Small map that customers can use to search for local businesses near them
  • Businesses can add themselves to the map as a free marketing opportunity

In 2010, American Express created Small Business Saturday to encourage people to support small, local businesses. The holiday now runs full steam alongside other major Thanksgiving shopping events, highlighting unique, high-quality products and providing small businesses a platform among a wider range of customers.

For even more visibility, American Express allows shoppers to use its Shop Small map to find small businesses near them. While your business needs to accept American Express cards and meet other requirements to show up on the map, it’s a free marketing opportunity if you’re eligible.

Let’s walk through the steps for adding yourself to the Small Business Saturday map.

What is Small Business Saturday?

Small Business Saturday is a shopping event that encourages people to choose small and local businesses for their holiday shopping. Small Business Saturday is held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, sandwiched between the other big shopping days, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This year, Small Business Saturday falls on November 25, 2023.

Why you should participate in Small Business Saturday

According to American Express’s 2022 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey, holiday shoppers spent $17.9 billion on Small Business Saturday. And as businesses continue to rebound from COVID-19, signing up for the Small Business Saturday map can give your business an edge in the holiday season.

Here are a few other reasons why you should consider participating:

  • Cater to customers’ holiday shopping needs
  • Grow awareness of your brand
  • Encourage repeat customers after the holidays
  • Take advantage of free marketing by American Express
  • Build your customer base online or offline
  • Boost business profits
Bankrate insight

American Express aims to drive $100 billion in consumer spending at small businesses from 2021 through 2025. This goal is highly achievable, as data from the National Retail Federation shows that on Small Business Saturday in 2022, 63.4 million people shopped in-store and 58 million online. In-store shopping was up 51 million from 2021, and 77 percent of shoppers stated they were shopping specifically for Small Business Saturday.

Eligiblity requirements for the Small Business Saturday map

American Express provides multiple resources for small businesses, but they have eligibility requirements for businesses to be featured on the Shop Small map. Business must:

  • Accept American Express cards and have done so for more than 12 months with at least one transaction within the last calendar year
  • Be located in the United States, Puerto Rico or other U.S. territories
  • Brick-and-mortar businesses must have at least one physical business location within U.S. territories
  • Online-only businesses must have a service area within U.S. territories
  • Must have at least one but no more than 25 locations if a brick-and-mortar business
  • Have no more than $5M in American Express annual charge volume
  • Must not be part of a franchise brand with more than 250 stores or a franchise brand with more than 25 corporate-owned locations
  • Not be in an excluded industry, such as government agencies, charities, nonprofits, crowdfunding, trade associations, shopping property management companies, direct sellers or political organizations

If your business doesn’t meet these requirements, you could still be featured on American Express Maps, which is a worldwide listing of businesses that accept American Express cards. It has a wider range of acceptable industries and fewer eligibility requirements than the Shop Small map.

Bankrate insight

American Express lists the following business categories as eligible for the Shop Small map:

  • Dining
  • Shopping
  • Entertainment
  • Travel
  • Services
  • Business services

How to be featured on the Small Business Saturday map

You can easily add yourself to Amex’s Shop Small map once you confirm you meet the eligibility requirements. Here are the four steps to add yourself to the map:

1. Log in to the map with your EIN

Begin by navigating to the American Express Shop Small map homepage and enter your Employer Identification Number (EIN). Also called your business tax ID, the EIN is a government-issued number assigned for tax purposes.

If you haven’t applied for an EIN, you can use the last four digits of your social security number to sign in.

Additionally, if you’re a registered merchant with American Express, you can also use your merchant number. You can find your merchant number in the upper right corner of related American Express emails.

Bankrate insight

You can apply for an EIN online, by mail or by fax to get your official tax ID. All methods are free, but if you apply online, you can receive your EIN immediately.

2. Scroll through business information to confirm

Once you log in, click on your business’s name in the righthand toolbar. A window will open with your business information displayed. Scroll to confirm that your business details are correct.

Click into the servicing section to confirm whether American Express card members can pay at your small business. You can also confirm whether or not you have online services and if your business is accessible locally and/or nationally. Save your changes.

3. Add your shop’s location to the map

Toggle the “Show on Small Map” button to make yourself visible on American Express’s map. It can take three days for your business to show up on the map or other business details to change if you made edits, so you’ll want to do this before Small Business Saturday.

4. Confirm your location was added

After a few days, log back into American Express to confirm that your business was added to the map. Or search for your business from American Express’s small business map search for consumers.

Bottom line

Small Business Saturday is a major shopping event for small businesses, providing visibility throughout the holiday season. And since location and reaching customers is half the battle to succeeding in your small business, utilizing American Express’s Shop Small map is key.

As businesses can add themselves to the map, it’s an easy way to promote your business to customers locally and nationally during and after the holiday season.

Frequently asked questions

  • Small Business Saturday works by uplifting and supporting small businesses during a single-day shopping event that is sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday — two shopping events where big-box stores often overshadow smaller businesses. Small businesses can participate by planning sales and activities to encourage shoppers to support local and community-based businesses.
  • According to the National Retail Federation, 121.4 million people shopped online and in-store on Small Business Saturday in 2022. By comparison, 160.1 million people shopped online and in-store on Black Friday.
  • Small Business Saturday gives small businesses a way to promote the benefits of shopping small during a popular time for holiday shopping. Customers can find deals on high-quality items, often custom or handmade, that support their local economy and community instead of purchasing items from bigger stores during Black Friday or Cyber Monday.