With the sad state of the economy today, more and more people are having trouble making ends meet and are cutting out added expenses like eating out. There are, however, ways to eat out at some of your favorite restaurants for a lot less by using coupons, registering on web sites or by pre-purchasing discount certificates online.
Our family loves to use coupons when we eat out. We find them online, in the newspaper or occasionally, they come in the mail. Coupons can be anything from a percentage or dollar amount off, to an entirely free meal. Many times, with the right coupons, we end up spending just a little more than if we stayed home and cooked it ourselves without all the work and the clean up.
In addition to using coupons, another good way to get deals from restaurants is to sign up on their web sites or join their E-clubs. Most places reward members by sending out coupons and special members- only deals. For some places this could be a weekly thing but most seem to do it monthly. Many places also send better offers like free meals, desserts or appetizers for occasions like birthdays and anniversaries, so if they ask for those dates when you join their site, be sure to fill those answers in.
Hands down, though, our favorite way to get restaurant discounts is by using Resturant.com(there is no s on the end). Resturant.com lists deals on over 15, 000 restaurants nationwide. You can search the site by zip code, city or state and in each search you can look up to 30 miles away from the place you enter. Once you have entered your search information, you will see a list of participating restaurants in that area. You can look through the entire list or narrow the search by using filters to search by types of cuisine or price. For each listing you see the restaurant name, address and phone number along with the type of food they serve. In most cases, you can also bring up a menu, or there will be a link to the restaurants web site to get more information.
Purchasing a certificate from Resturant.com is easy. Most certificates are sold as $10.00, $25.00 or $50.00 discounts. The full cost for a $25.00 certificate is $10.00 but there are almost always coupon codes available online or codes that they send you for discounts of 50%-80% off the $10.00 price. So, if you time it right, you can buy a certificate for $25.00 off your bill for as little as $2.00. The biggest discounts are usually available at the end of the month. Unfortunately, that is when some of the more popular places may already be sold out. So, if there is a popular place you really want to try, you may want to spend a little more and get it early in the month when the inventory is the highest. Each restaurant sets their own terms and conditions of use for the certificates and these are clearly listed right under the price and the add to your cart button. The TOS include minimum purchases, which on most $25.00 certificates is $35.00. This means if you had a coupon code for 80% off and purchased a $25.00 certificate for $2.00 and spent the minimum $35.00, your meal would actually only end up costing you $12.00 for your $35.00 tab. Other restrictions might include days of the week where certificates are excluded from being used and if the gratuity will be added to your tab at the full meal value.
Getting and using your certificate is easy as well. You can either print them immediately after you buy them or you can keep them in your account until you are ready to use them. Once printed, you take the certificate with you to the restaurant and although it does say on the certificate that you need to present it when ordering, we always just hand it to the server when we are paying the bill. The restaurant then uses the phone number on the certificate to call it in and make sure it's valid before they deduct the amount from your bill. A few days after it is redeemed you will get an email with a very short survey about your dining experience. If you ever buy a certificate and the restaurant decides to no longer take part or goes out of business before you use it, you will get a credit that you can use to buy another certificate of your choice.
By using these certificates, we have been able to continue eating out at some of our favorite restaurants and spend a lot less. They have also given us the opportunity to try some places that we normally might not have if we had to pay full price. This weekend we did just that and we were blown away by the food and the service and will definitely be going back in the near future.