While restaurant coupons and discounts abound, sometimes you just want to go to that trendy new place you've been eyeing, or you've ticked off your significant other and need a table at a French restaurant, stat. Here are a few tips on saving money in restaurants with or without coupons.
Upromise by Sallie Mae offers up to 8% rewards on more than 10,000 restaurants -- and you can get a full 12% if you use the Upromise MasterCard. Their searchable database of restaurants shows the average entree price, which days the rewards are available, and the type of restaurant. If you register your debit or credit card with Upromise (it's free) you'll earn cash back at participating restaurants:
- 2% on spending up to $125 annually.
- 4% on spending up to $300 annually.
- 6% on spending up to $500 annually.
- 8% on spending $500 and over annually.
You can get an additional 4% cash back if you sign up for the Upromise MasterCard, which has no annual fee.
Restaurant.com often gives 2-for-1 or something-percent-off deals on its gift certificates, which are valid at any of its 18,000 affiliated restaurants. Check its website for voucher deals, or search for all available offers on our discount finder.
DealGator, a deal aggregation website that includes Groupon, LivingSocial, and hundreds of other discount-deliverers, lets you search by location and keyword, avoiding the hassle of sifting through Amazon.com's Amazon Local, Groupon Now, and whatever else the kids are calling them these days.
ShopDiscover is Discover Financial Services' online bonus mall -- if you click through the portal to various merchants, you'll earn anywhere from 5% to 20% off or more. For example, you can get 10% off Groupon vouchers by going through the ShopDiscover portal -- discounts on discounts. You need a Discover card to access the portal, so we recommend getting a no-fee Discover card that will grant you access. However, most of Discover's cards don't stack up well for everyday rewards. Therefore, we recommend:
- Getting a no-annual-fee Discover card.
- Using that card to purchase vouchers for Groupon, Restaurant.com, etc.
- Using other credit cards for daily spending to maximize your rewards.
5. Yelp.com, squeaky-wheel edition
While you can use Yelp to find restaurants offering check-in discounts and coupons, complaining on the review site can get you free future meals and discounts. If you have a legitimate gripe about a venue (e.g., you tried to resolve it reasonably and you aren't just being a jerk), making your discontent known on the Internet can get speedy resolution and free foodstuffs. Yelp, Twitter, Facebook -- all channels not only for local deals, but also for providing patrons with a voice.