What would you say if we could tell you how to save money every time you ate out at a restaurant? Well you can and we will show you how. In fact, with all these money saving tips you may eat more and wind up gaining weight. Don’t worry, our next topic will focus on saving money while losing weight.
Top twelve tips for saving money when dining out
1. One of the best ways to save, are coupons to buy one meal and get a second one free (or BOGO as some CouponSurfers call it). These coupons are available as part of the Entertainment Book. There are over 175 regional books covering most of the USA and Canada. Each book has 100’s of BOGO coupons for your favorite local restaurants as well as many more dollar off and percent off coupons for casual and fast food (both National Brands and Local Favorites). The best part is that it only takes one or two coupons to pay for the regular cost of the book which is normally around $30. However we never pay full price and we don’t think it’s fair that you should.
2. Do you enjoy dining at some of the casual dining chains like Applebees, Bennigans, Chili’s, Friday’s, Olive Garden, Pizzeria Uno, Red Lobster, Ruby Tuesday, and others? Well check the Sunday coupon section (FSI’s) of your local paper. You will frequently find dollar off coupons for these and other national chains. The lone exception is Outback Steakhouse. They claim to never offer coupons (kind of unamerican if you ask me). Another way to save at the casual dining chains during the holiday season are gift cards. Many places will provide an enticement to get you to purchase gift cards. For example you can get a $50 gift card at Friday’s and they will give you a free $10 gift card. There’s no reason why you can’t give yourself the $50 gift card as well. Typically the free gift cards can’t be used until January – check with the restaurant to make sure.
3. Want to save 10-20% at your favorite neighborhood mom and pop restaurants? Then take a look at Rewards Network (formerly iDine/Transmedia). The way this program works is that it ties in the savings with your credit cards (both personal and business). For example suppose the bill comes out to $60. You will get charged $60 but then will get a $12 credit on your credit card. You can tie in multiple credit cards. The best part of this program is that there are no coupons to forget
to bring with you and no one knows (even the wait staff) you are using a coupon. You can take a look at the Rewards Network website to find restaurants in your area. In fact they send you a book that lists them across USA and Canada. If you contact Rewards Network directly the cost of this program is $49. However check with your local newspaper. We were offered the program for free if we subscribed and it has automatically renewed for 8 years now without any cost at all. The best part of this program is many times you don’t even realize the restaurant is participating in Rewards Network until you see the credits in your next credit card bill – it’s like found money. Now if you are really in to saving money, you are probably thinking; “Can I double dip using this program with an Entertainment Book coupon to really maximize the savings?” Yes you can. I have and it’s kind of like getting paid to eat out (well it feels like that).
4. Fast Food Coupons – Check your local phone books. They frequently have a coupon section (usually in green) that has lots of coupons for Fast Food as well as plumbers, etc… I recently got both a new Verizon Superpages and a Yellow Book and was about to throw one out (who needs 2 phone books for the same area). Well before I did, I checked the coupon section and saw coupons for Burger King, Boston Market, Dominos, Pizza Hut, Subway, Taco Bell and a bunch more. Also Fast Food restaurants will frequently offer a ‘donation coupon book’. The way this works is you make a donation to the specified charity and in turn get a coupon book. You might spend $3 for the coupon book and get $50 worth of coupons. You get to save money by donating to a good cause – what could be better?
5. Many restaurants offer an email club where you provide your email address as well as your Birthday/Anniversary, etc… You will then get promotional emails from the restaurants that frequently offer coupons and special deals. These email clubs are generally available from both the local smaller chains and the national chains.
6. Check your bill. These sometimes contain a coupon for your next visit or they may direct you to a website to fill out a survey and give you a coupon code to use in exchange for taking the time to fill out the surveys.
7. If you like to go to the movies check with your local movie theaters and nearby restaurants. They frequently have cross promotions that can save you money. For example show your movie stub to get a free dessert with any meal purchase or show your restaurant bill to get $2 off a movie ticket.
8. Who hasn’t heard of the early bird special? You know the deal you offer to eat early (usually before 6pm – even earlier in Florida) and the restaurant will make you a special deal. But did you know restaurants also offer ‘late bird special’s’ on appetizers. For example both Friendly’s and Pizzeria Uno offer half price appetizers during the late evening.
9. Senior Discounts. I’m sure just everyone knows that many restaurants offer discounts to seniors. These tend to usually be 10% off certain days of the week. But did you know the age for ‘senior discounts’ is frequently not very senior (as young as 55).
10. Do you remember going to Denny’s for a free meal on your Birthday? Well a lot of other restaurants also offer a similar type deal (usually a BOGO deal). It’s not often advertised so be sure to ask at your favorite restaurants – even if they say no, they will almost always give you a free slice of cake. Be sure to bring your id as many places will now check.
11. Well now you’re probably asking yourself how come Internet coupons were not mentioned. Well since you mentioned it, you can check the individual restaurant web sites for coupons. For examples you will almost always find coupons at pizzahut.com.
12. Take a look at Restaurant.com. They let you save 50% on your next meal. You get to choose from thousands of popular restaurants across the country. Right now they are offering a $25 gift certificate to your favorite restaurants for only $10. Click here to get the certificate.
Do you have a proven way to avoid paying full price when dining out? Post it here.