Save Money on Vacation Using Restaurant.com

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Folks who collect miles and points to get Big Travel with Small Money often focus much of their attention on award flights and free hotel stays.  But there are lots of other ways to save money once you get to your destination.

Sometimes, the most expensive part of a trip (if you got the flights and hotels for free) can be eating out at restaurants.  Especially if you’re traveling as a family or large group!

Emily and I use Restaurant.com to save money on meals when we go away (and sometimes at home, too).  If you’ve never used it before, I’ll show you how to get discounts AND miles & points!

Save Money on Dining Out With Restaurant.com

How Does It Work?

Link:   Restaurant.com

Restaurant.com sells discounted certificates for participating restaurants.  It’s a way for restaurants to get people to try them out.

You can search for restaurants by city, state, or zip code.  And if you want, you can specify the type of cuisine or restaurant name.

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You Can Search for Restaurants by Location and Type of Cuisine

You can buy certificates in denominations from $5 up to $100.  But you’ll only pay 40% of the certificate’s value.  For example, you’d only pay $20 for a $50 dining certificate.

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You’ll Save 60% When You Buy Certificates From Restuarant.com

Once you’ve bought a certificate, you can print it out (or use the restaurant.com app on your smartphone) and present it at the restaurant.

Note:   Read the fine print on the deal before you buy a certificate.  There’s usually a minimum spending requirement, and sometimes certain days or hours are excluded.

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This Restaurant Requires a $50 Minimum Purchase When You Use a $25 Certificate, and Only Monday to Thursday

If you buy a certificate and aren’t able to use it, you can exchange it for a certificate of the same value at any other participating restaurant.

Example:  Orlando, Florida

Suppose you’re going to Disney World in Florida with your family.  It’s notorious for being incredibly expensive.  A quick search on Restaurant.com reveals lots of participating restaurants in Orlando.

You can refine your search by specifying distance from a location, and filter results based on price, popularity, distance, and rating.

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You Can Narrow Down Your Search Using Specific Criteria

And you can refine results further with criteria on the left side of the search page.  For example, a family traveling with small kids might want to narrow down their search to only family-friendly restaurants.

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You Can Even Sort by Type of Cuisine, Atmosphere, and More

To find out more information about a restaurant, click the “Learn More” button on the search page under the restaurant name.

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You Can Get More Information About a Restaurant by Clicking “Learn More”

You’ll get more details, including photos, a link to the menu, links to reviews, any restrictions, and a map.  And to buy a certificate, select the denomination you’d like then click “Add to Cart.”

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You Can View More Detailed Information About a Restaurant

And you can view the menu on Restaurant.com.

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Check Out the Menu to See What Looks Good!

Why Is This a Good Deal?

Saving 60% on a restaurant certificate is a good deal.  But Restaurant.com often publishes promotion codes which give you an even further discount on certificates.

For example, I Googled “Restaurant.com promotion code” and found the promotion code “SMILE” which saves another 50% off already discounted certificates.  So you can get a $25 certificate for only $5!

Enter a current code into the “Promo Code” box at checkout.  Most of the time you’ll save even more money.

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Enter a Promotion Code at Checkout to Save Even More

In this case, the promotion code “SMILE” took $5 off the price of the certificate.

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Not a Bad Deal!  A $25 Certificate for Only $5

And if for some reason you’re not able to use the certificate, you can easily exchange it for another restaurant anywhere in the US.

It’s Not Bad Manners to Double Dip at Restaurant.com

Link:   Evreward.com

You can pay for your Restaurant.com certificates with a miles and points earning credit card.  But did you know you can get shopping portal bonuses for Restaurant.com, too?

Note:   There are affiliate links for Restaurant.com, but I’m NOT using them because you’ll earn miles and points by going through a shopping portal instead!

I always check Evreward.com for the best bonuses before I buy anything online.  And Restaurant.com has some very good bonuses!

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Check Evreward and Earn Extra Miles, Points, or Cash Back When You Buy Restaurant.com Certificates

For example, when you shop through the Chase Ultimate Rewards shopping mall, you’ll get an extra 15 points per $1 you spend at Restaurant.com.

And remember to sign-up for Rewards Network because that same restaurant MAY also earn you airline miles for the remainder of your bill.

For folks like me who are really serious about saving money, you might consider creating a Venn Diagram to illustrate which restaurants have Restaurant.com discount certificates for sale, earn miles in Rewards Network, and have an AAA discount. 🙂

Who Would Like This Deal?

You won’t find many name brand or chain-style restaurants on Restaurant.com.  In fact, it’s best suited to adventurous diners, because you’ll find lots of ethnic and mom-and-pop type eateries.

When Emily and I go on vacation, we try our best to eat at local places and sample regional specialties or ethnic cuisine.  And even at home in Austin, we love to try new kinds of foods.  So Restaurant.com is a great opportunity for foodies to try new cuisines and restaurants at a discount.

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We Like Trying Local Food, Like Savage Shrimp in Kauai

That said, if you go on vacation and immediately hunt down the closest McDonald’s, IHOP, or Kentucky Fried Chicken, Restaurant.com might not be for you!  Instead, you could buy gift cards for those places in stores where you earn miles and points.

Bottom Line

You can save up to 60% on restaurant meals in the US when you buy certificates from Restaurant.com.  And if you can find a promotion code online, you’ll save even more!

Emily and I like using Restaurant.com when we’re traveling because it’s a great way to try out restaurants and save money, too.  Plus, you can double dip and earn extra miles and points by going through a shopping portal.

Have you tried Restaurant.com?  Tell me about your experience in the comments!

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10 responses to “Save Money on Vacation Using Restaurant.com

  1. Daraius, do you really find halfway decent restaurants through this site? Every city I search has only the crummiest, about-to-close restaurants on there. It’s actually kind of sad. PS – more pictures of Emily, please! 🙂

  2. I also look for restaurant.com restaurants that participate in airline or hotel dining rewards (Mileage Plus Dining, Rapid Rewards Dining, IHG® Rewards Club Dining, etc.).

    With the example you gave of getting a $25 certificate for a $50 minimum purchase, there’s at least $25 plus tax that can go toward airline miles or hotel points!

  3. Beware of Restaurant.com. I have purchased coupons from them only to have them denied by the Restaurant, who said they had stopped honoring their coupons. When I called Restaurant.com to get a refund, they said they would only issue credit for another coupon, no refunds. I had to deal with it through my credit card company to have the charge removed.

  4. I have used restaurant.com for years (mostly locally), I have found many great restaurants, very few of them that were bad, in fact I would say 90% we went back to at least once, heck House of Blues in Cleveland & Orlando even participates in it. We have also discovered many places we probably would not have found any other way.
    On the subject of refunds, why not just get another coupon? Most of the time you only spend $5/EA anyhow, so it’s not like you keep a lot of money tied up in them.

  5. “You can save up to 60% on restaurant meals in the US when you buy certificates from Restaurant.com.”

    Lies lies lies lies. You can save up to 60% on a certificate that can cover at most half of the meal costs. Gratituities are also calculated BEFORE discount. So you’re talking maybe a 25% discount AT MOST off the cost of a meal, IF your certificate is valid and IF your meal cost is exactly twice the value of your certificate. Considering that browsing this site is just encouraging you to lock yourself into one of these restaurants

    Come on guys, this is a big scam advertisement site. There are so many restrictions on restrictions on these things it’s just not worth it.

    If you don’t believe me look here:
    http://www.resellerratings.com/store/Restaurant

  6. I used to LOVE using Restaurant.com certificates,but currently my laptop computer does NOT show the box “Enter Promo Code” at all on the check out page or anywhere else. Has anyone else been unable to plug in a promo code?

  7. I use this site often. With the promo codes I usually get $25 off for $5 with minimum spend of $40. It is a good sports bar located at a holiday inn by our house. And as a bonus I get a nice reward from United miles!

    Also used when we travel. If I see something that looks good I will yelp it.
    Went to “chef Ron’s gumbo” in New Orleans. One of the best meals I have ever had( 4.9 yelp. ) at a very nice discount. Had other great experiences as well.
    Do your research and if it works try it.

  8. These are on sale on eBay for a great savings. Currently there are $100 cards at at by it now price of $5.95. There’s an auction for a $500 card with 7 hours left at $17.95.

  9. Been using them for years. From time to time there are deals where you can get the $25 certificate for only $4. I like that if a restaurant closes or leaves the program, the restaurant.com system will allow you to choose another certificate of the same value. That’s been a boon since I went a little crazy once on the $4 deal and I had some certificates that were quite old. The restaurants were gone, but I could update with new ones. I like to check TripAdvisor reviews or Yelp reviews of places before I buy a certificate. I’ve found quite a few gems (and a few dogs as well) over the years and you’re allowed to purchase as many certificates for a place as you like, but only allowed to use them once a month. The workaround is that you have your partner use the certificate and you use the certificate. That said, please don’t take advantage of small mom and pop places that advertise because they depend on some repeat full price business or if you do use the certificates often, at least pony up for some drinks or a bottle of wine so the restaurant can at least break even.

  10. I have been using restaurant.com for years and have always been pleased. In fact if a restaurant closes or discontinues the program they notify me I have a credit. Have found
    many good new places to dine,