Get a free ShopRunner membership

All you need is an American Express card and this $79-per-year service becomes complimentary. Forever. Or at least the foreseeable future.

ShopRunner's benefits extend to more than 80 online stores.
ShopRunner's benefits extend to more than 80 online stores. Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

ShopRunner is one of those things I wouldn't pay for, but would gladly accept for free.

Now I can: American Express cardholders can get a free, ongoing ShopRunner membership. That's a $79-per-year value.

For those unfamiliar with it, ShopRunner upgrades you to free 2-day shipping at stores ranging from MacMall to Newegg to TigerDirect to Toys R Us. And there's no minimum purchase, either, so you can get that fast, free shipping even if you spend only a couple bucks.

It also entitles you to free return shipping, a huge plus if you've ordered something big and heavy (like, say, a TV or speaker system) and decided you don't like it. (Remember that restocking fees may apply, though, so the return itself may not be free, only the shipping.)

ShopRunner also offers a smattering of members-only deals, like 15 percent off your entire purchase at Shoes.com. But a quick bit of Googling for "Shoes.com coupon code" revealed a 20-percent-off code that anyone can use. So ShopRunner doesn't exactly have the edge when it comes to deals.

Of course, the big draw here is the shipping upgrades. It's not unlike what Amazon Prime offers, but applied to more than 80 stores instead of just one. Would I pay $79 for a one-year ShopRunner membership? I would not. But free? Yes, thank you.

To get this freebie, just enroll your American Express card (any US consumer or small-business card) and keep it as your default payment method for your ShopRunner account. I'm a bit unclear as to whether that means you have to pay for every purchase using your Amex, or it merely has to be your default card, and you can choose something else (if you want) at checkout.

In any case, if you have an Amex, I'd say this is a no-brainer. You may not always shop at ShopRunner-supported stores, but when you do, why not have those benefits in your pocket?

Bonus deal: Rhapsody is a pretty sweet music-streaming service, especially if you sign up for a Premium account, which includes unlimited streaming to mobile devices. Ah, but $10 per month? Think I'll see what's on my trusty free radio. But, wait, what's this? You can get 50 percent off Rhapsody Premium for three months when you apply coupon code WINNER3FOR5. In other words, $4.99 per month for three months, instead of the usual $9.99. This works for new and existing customers alike. Now that's a deal I can -- sorry -- rhapsodize about.

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