Yesterday at MOPS a mom from my table shared with me about how she has saved money when eating out by buying gift certificates at Restaurants.com. We don't eat out very often; however, I thought it was worth checking out to see if there was a way to save money in those instances when we do.
We don't live in a very big town, so I was pleasantly surprised to find out that 9 nearby restaurants offer gift certificates through this site, and I have already enjoyed eating at 4 of them. Once you find a restaurant that you want to try, you can purchase a gift certificate at a discount. For instance, my local restaurants all offered $25 gift certificates for $10. Some offered other denominations including $100 certificates for $40. Of course, there are certain restrictions. Most restaurants required a minimum purchase of $35 plus 18% included gratuity before the discount. In addition, only one restaurant-specific gift certificate can be redeemed per party, per month, per restaurant even if the party is seated at separate tables and/or receives separate checks.
Right now until January 24th, most $25 gift certificates are only $3 when you use the coupon code ENJOY. I decided to go ahead and try it at a restaurant that I know we'll go to eventually. Normally, it is easy for our family to spend $35 at this particular restaurant that I chose. With tax plus tip, the bill would normally come to about $45. After redeeming the certificate, it would be $20 at the restaurant plus the initial cost of the certificate ($3 with coupon code). So, for $23 my family can enjoy a meal out that would normally cost us $45. Not a bad deal.
However, I actually got a FREE BONUS certificate too! I turned down the "free coupon" at checkout and ended up getting a $10 certificate from Restaurants.com. (I'm not sure whether or not I would have gotten the "free bonus" if I took the "free coupon.") Unfortunately, I wasn't able to roll over this certificate into purchasing the discounted certificates. But, I was able to get a $10 gift certificate (with a $20 minimum purchase) at another place we've enjoyed eating.