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!
How Does It Work?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
To find out more information about a restaurant, click the “Learn More” button on the search page under the restaurant name.
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.”
And you can view the menu on Restaurant.com.
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.
In this case, the promotion code “SMILE” took $5 off the price of the certificate.
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
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!
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.
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.
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!