For all you frugal food-lovers out there, if you haven’t discovered Restaurant.com gift certificates yet, then I have a treat for you. It used to be that my wife and I rarely ate out, and when we did, it was always the same two or three restaurants. Eating out at nice restaurants had become so expensive that we wanted to make sure it was at a place that we knew we would enjoy. Then my wife discovered Restaurant.com. We have been able to eat at moderately upscale restaurants for slightly more than fast food prices. Since we don’t spend as much money eating out, we are able to try new restaurants and experience many new types of cuisine. Best of all, we no longer dread getting the final bill.
How it Works – Visit Restaurant.com to see a list of participating restaurants in your area. Consider also searching before going on vacation or business trips to see where you can save money on the road. Each restaurant has a profile that usually includes the restaurant’s website, location, menu and street view photo. The standard gift certificate costs $10 for a $25 discount, however some restaurants offer $50, $75, or $100 gift certificates as well. The key to maximize savings is taking advantage of Restaurant.com promotions, which happen frequently. My wife and I always wait for the 80% off special, which allows us to by a $25 gift certificate for only $2 instead of $10.
The Catch – Normally when I hear of a great deal, I wait to hear the catch. In the case of Restaurant.com, the catch is hardly worth grumbling about. Although restaurants vary, the standard $25 gift certificate usually requires that $35 worth of food must be purchased in order to use the discount. Depending on the type of restaurant, this may be a lot of food, but keep in mind that you can always take your leftovers home. Typically, my wife and I each order an entrée with a side salad, and depending on the restaurant, we share an appetizer or dessert. Together our bill generally comes out to about $35-$40 before the discount is applied. Considering we purchase our gift certificates for around $2, our total expense for the two meals generally falls between $15-$20 when factoring in the tip. Keep in mind that participating restaurants are allowed to include an automatic 18% gratuity when tabulating the bill, and most do.
Things to Know – On rare occasions, you may run into trouble trying to use a Restaurant.com gift certificate. To avoid these situations, be sure to do the following: 1) Read the terms of the gift certificate. Sometimes alcoholic beverages are not included toward reaching the minimum purchase. Other times, the gift certificate may give certain hours or days when the gift certificate can or cannot be used (e.g. – Dinner only M-Th). In most cases, Restaurant.com gift certificates can only be used once per month at any given location; 2) Make sure you show your gift certificate to the server before placing your order. If a restaurant discontinued their association with Restaurant.com after you purchased the gift certificate, but before you tried to use it, the restaurant is not obligated to honor it. In these circumstances, Restaurant.com will credit you for your gift certificate purchase, but to avoid embarrassment it may be best to call ahead if you are bringing a large party.To learn more about Restaurant.com you should visit their website, and consider creating an account to receive special promotional emails. As for me, I think I’ll be heading out to eat tonight.