Never Pay Full Price at Restaurants – If you aren’t using these tips, you’re leaving money on the table! Here’s how to save money at restaurants.
Let’s be real here – going out to eat is one of the greatest luxuries in life. I’m serious! Someone makes the food, brings you the food, cleans up after you and lets you sit down and enjoy a conversation without worrying if you’re burning dinner in the other room.
But I’m also a cheapskate! The thought of paying full-price to eat somewhere is a little crazy to me. I want to make sure that I can get something for free whenever I go out. Which is why I want to show you how to never pay full price at restaurants.
(And it has nothing to do with scamming the waiter to think that there’s a fly in your soup!)
There are a few great, easy and totally legitimate ways to save money at your favorite restaurants. It takes some planning before you go out, but trust me, it’s worth it!
How to never pay full price at restaurants.
1. Check online for freebies before you go.
Almost every chain restaurant has a coupon for a free appetizer or dessert for signing up for their email list. There might even be other deals, like a percentage off of your total bill, $5 or so off, a discounted happy hour, or more!
All you have to do is sign up and make sure that you get the coupon email on your phone before arriving at the restaurant. (Save more money by showing them the code on your phone rather than needing to print it out!) And you’re all set!
2. Get free gift cards to use.
I love using Swagbucks, but it’s really great when you get to redeem those points for free gift cards. You can get your first $25 discount for 12% off each month, too.
Swagbucks is super easy to use and it’s even easier to rack up those sweet points to redeem. You can check out easy ways to earn more Swagbucks here!
They have gift cards from major chain restaurants including Olive Garden, Outback, Chilis, and more. If you don’t see a restaurant that you like, you can always redeem your points as a Visa gift card or to your Paypal account. Plus you get a bonus just for signing up!
Ibotta has to be one of the most versatile apps out there! Not only can you save quite a bit of money on your regular grocery trips, but now you can also save at restaurants as well.
Just check to see if you have a restaurant on their list of deals (it changes all the time), scan your receipt and get your cash back.
4. Grab a discounted gift card.
I recently discovered Raise.com and their discounted gift cards and I’m SO happy. You can get gift cards from almost anywhere for a discount up to 25% off or more. There’s nothing wrong with the gift cards, they were just not wanted by their original owner so they got sold to Raise.com. This basically is a winning situation for everyone involved.
For $25 gift cards to major chain restaurants, you can spend $21.70 instead of $25. It doesn’t sound like much, but if you went out to dinner each week for the whole year, you’d save $171 just by buying gift cards on Raise.com.
5. Get birthday freebies!
I LOVE birthday freebies! They will range from a free dessert to a full complimentary meal. Sign up at least a month before your birthday to make sure that you don’t miss out of birthday month freebies as well!
6. Check Groupon for deals.
We only ever went to a nice restaurant once, and that was because I had a Groupon that saved us 75% off of our bill. Groupon is a lifesaver when you are sick of chain restaurants and just want to try something new.
You’ll get emails from them with deals each day with deals, but you should really just look for cool date night deals. These aren’t limited to just food, either. You can get great date night experiences for more than 50% off, too!
7. Don’t forget to check your local deals newspaper!
You probably get a local magazine or newspaper of sorts that gives you coupons to great local restaurants (and more – like car detailing, cleaning services, etc.).
I can’t even begin to tell you how often I’ve used the coupons and deals that I’ve found in my local paper. And they are to places that I likely never would have tried to go to without a coupon. I’m telling you that these resources are so helpful!
8. Use Restuarant.com
Groupon will have deals occasionally where you can get $25 worth of Restaurant.com coupons for $4. Which is amazing!
Restaurant.com has great deals to mostly local places. You can get a $25 gift certificate for $10 or less sometimes. But be careful of the restrictions. Some places require that you spend a certain amount of money or visit during certain times. Just remember to keep that in mind when you buy.
9. Follow your favorite restaurants of social media.
Sometimes, businesses will offer flash sales or daily deals that they don’t advertise anywhere but on social media. They might even offer a discount if you mention that you found the discount on Facebook.
You should also sign up for their email list, but checking out their Facebook page before dining with them will make sure that if they do have a special going on, you’re in the loop.
10. Remember the cheapskate golden rules when dining out.
Yes, there are actually cheapskate rules when you go to a restaurant. They will help you save money no matter what type of coupon you have.
- Skip the soda – Save the $2+ and get plain water instead. You can even make poor man’s lemonade by getting extra lemons with your water and adding a little sugar. (Just sayin’…)
- Go for lunch – lunch specials are always less expensive than dinner. Plus, the specials are usually just as diverse.
- Skip the booze – They don’t show you the prices half the time and they are just so expensive anyway! If you want to have a drink with dinner, find a nice BYOB place and bring that $8 bottle of wine instead of paying $8 per glass.
- Stock up on apps and split an entree – Try getting appetizers as the “main course” and then just split the bigger entree. You’ll often get more food with appetizers as well (plus, don’t forget that at least one of them will be free! 😉 ).
- Check for discounts – Students, veterans, doctors, nurses, teachers, seniors, and more usually qualify for some type of discount. All you need to do is ask the waiter, or better yet, call ahead of time.
- Save going out for special occasions – As much as I love going out, save the dinner for a once a month treat. Opt for a coffee date instead. This will save you tons of money!
Always remember that if you can’t afford to leave a nice tip, you can’t afford to go out to eat. And when you do leave your nice tip, make sure that you use the calculations on the original bill price and not on the discounted price.
So now you know how to never pay full price at restaurants. Dining out is so much fun. But it can be expensive if you aren’t careful. The bottom line is to just do your best each time that you spend any more to try to spend less or find a coupon. Every little cent adds up in the end!
What’s your favorite restaurant hack? Leave it in the comments and I might add it to the list!
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