Spend $25 at a local business, get $25 back from American Express

The Small Business Saturday promotion has almost no strings attached. Just use your Amex card to patronize an independent business, then get a $25 credit on your statement.

American Express

Big week ahead, fellow cheapskates! And I'm kicking it off with my annual guest appearance on CNET's Holiday Help Desk, which airs live today at 12 p.m. PT/3 p.m. ET. The big topic, of course, is Black Friday, and if you think you know what I'm going to say about it, think again. Hope you'll tune in!

That said, let's table Black Friday for a moment and talk Sweet Saturday. On November 26, American Express is sponsoring an event called Small Business Saturday. The upshot: Spend at least $25 at any independently owned local business (that accepts Amex, natch) and Amex will give you a $25 credit on your statement.

To put that another way, you're about to get 25 bucks' worth of free stuff.

What's the catch? For starters, you need an eligible American Express card (which I believe is any of them, consumer and business alike). Next, you have to register the card on American Express' Facebook page.

Update: Actually, you don't have to use Facebook at all. Here's a direct link to the Small Business Saturday registration site.

And that's about it! There are some restrictions, of course: online purchases aren't eligible, and you'll have to steer clear of franchises, chain stores, and other large operations. This is for small-biz buys only.

Still, I'm guessing you can find any number of mom-and-pop shops to patronize. How about the local pizza place, car wash, bowling alley, or toy store? It's a win-win for everyone involved, and I commend American Express for supporting small businesses this way.

According to the Small Business Saturday terms and conditions, your $25 credit should appear within five business days. That's cool--I kind of expected to have to wait at least one or two billing periods.

What are your thoughts on this? Worth braving a bit of traffic on Saturday? If so, what store do you think you'll visit?

Bonus deal: An outfit called RandomBuy has the Q:Electronics noise-isolating earbuds for $4.99 shipped when you use coupon code WOOTFREESHIP. They're pretty slick-looking, and available in a wide assortment of colors. Great stocking-stuffer (or closing-nights-of-Chanukah filler). No idea how long this sale price--or coupon code--is good.