Are You Missing Out on Free Shipping?

Jill Jaracz
September 27, 2017
Free Shipping Benefit

Major credit card brands often put together a variety of sweet perks to encourage you to use their credit card more frequently. Those perks can include travel assistance or extended warranties and other valuable benefits -- like free shipping on certain online shopping purchases--so it helps to read the fine print of your card agreement and rewards booklets.

Doing so might help you find benefits like a free membership to ShopRunner, a membership-based online shopping portal that provides free two-day shipping for hundreds of stores and millions of products including apparel, beauty, electronics, gifts home goods and office supplies. In other words, it's similar to the free two-day shipping benefit on Amazon Prime, but it includes a lot of different retailers, particularly luxury retailers like Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, that you may not find on Amazon.

Both American Express and Mastercard offer free memberships to their eligible cardholders, a $79 annual savings in terms of the membership cost, but it could potentially save you a lot of money on shipping costs. The membership includes free two-day shipping, free returns and member-only deals like cash for referring friends. It also gives access to express checkout at select stores. One membership is good for up to four members of one household.

In comparing it to Amazon Prime, the two services are somewhat similar, though with Amazon, you're restricted to shopping at one website. Although ShopRunner doesn't offer the unlimited media streaming, reading and photo storage of Amazon Prime, free returns is a benefit Amazon Prime doesn't offer.

When American Express partnered with ShopRunner for this offer in 2013, Josh Silverman, president of American Express U.S. Consumer Services, said in a statement, "ShopRunner offers American Express customers exclusive benefits across a terrific network of retailers that align perfectly with the types of services that our Card Members want and value."

American Express offers this benefit to its U.S. consumer and OPEN Small Business card members. Mastercard offers it to World Mastercard or World Elite Mastercard cardholders. Both types of cardholders can register for a free ShopRunner membership at ShopRunner's website.

To use the service, you can shop through ShopRunner three different ways: Through its own website, through its mobile app or through its partner store websites. While shopping, if you see the ShopRunner logo by an item, it's eligible for free shipping. The logo may not show up while you're shopping, but it will show up in your shopping bag so that you can be sure it's one of ShopRunner's eligible items. If you're shopping directly at one of the partner websites, you'd sign into your ShopRunner account to activate the shipping discount. Some stores on ShopRunner do have a minimum purchase amount in order to get the free shipping. Currently, that list numbers 26 retailers, which is about 20 percent of the stores on ShopRunner. All but one of these requires $25 in spending to activate free shipping. The remaining one is Staples, which requires $49.99 in spending before you can get free shipping through ShopRunner.

If you don't have an American Express or eligible Mastercard, it's possible to get at least a one-year membership through one of ShopRunner's partners free with a certain amount of spending at the site. That amount can vary--while I was researching this article, I saw memberships included for $100 to $200 in spending, depending on the store.

Still, this is a nice, not often mentioned perk for American Express and Mastercard holders that can really save you money. As they say, membership has its privileges.

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