The website currently only offers certificates to restaurants in the U.S., but just about every medium to large city is represented with restaurants offering up the discounts.
How Restaurant.com Works
Do a search on the city you’re interested in by zip code, or do a regional search by state, which is then narrowed down until you get to a city level. Larger cities are broken down into subsections.
From there you get a list of restaurants offering up the gift certificates. You’ll find ethnic restaurants, new restaurants, chain restaurants and even gourmet restaurants. It varies by city, but there’s usually a really good cross-section to choose from, especially in the larger cities.
Each restaurants listing will contain information on the eatery, such as location and hours of operation, and most include a sample menu. Once you’ve decided on a restaurant, it’s time to buy the gift certificate.
The most common denomination for the certificates is $25 off a $35 or $50 check, which sell for only $10. Sometimes restaurants will offer up other discount options, like $10 off $20, and these can sell for less.
Save Even More!
Sign up for the website’s mailing list – even if you’re not interested in buying right now. Why? Because usually once or twice a month, Restaurant.com holds a sale that lowers the price 50% or 60% off the normal sale price. So a $25 off $50 certificate would cost $4 or $5 instead of the normal $10, which makes this good deal even better.
When buying certificates to a town you’re traveling to, most likely you’ll be unfamiliar with the restaurants. Buying a certificate means you’ve committed to eating there. Restaurant.com doesn’t have anything to do with the quality of a restaurant it deals with, so do your research. Do a web search on the restaurant or read reviews at sites like Yelp.com, Chowhound or CitySearch before you buy a certificate to make sure it’s a place you’ll like.
Most certificates also come with restrictions, such as “tax, tip and alcohol not included” or “valid for parties of 2 or more,” or have only certain days or times the certificate can be used. These are all spelled out on the restaurant’s page at Restaurant.com, so make sure you’re familiarize yourself with any restrictions before you purchase the certificate.
And while certificates are good for one year from purchase, it is possible that a restaurant could go out of business for whatever reason. So the longer you wait, the more risk there is of the certificate being unusable. However, the website has a satisfaction guarantee with any certificate they sell, so you should be able to get an exchange for another restaurant with a certificate of comparable value.
How to Buy a Certificate
Purchasing a Restaurant.com gift certificate is super simple.
After you’ve done your onsite search at www.restaurant.com, and picked your restaurant(s), just check the gift certificate you want and then purchase. You’ll then get links to immediately print out your certificate, so you don’t have to wait to use it. The site also emails the links, in case you do want to wait to use it.
When dining, present the certificate to your server prior to ordering, so they can include it in figuring out your bill total…and double check your bill when you get it to make sure the discount was taken.
That’s it. And remember, good karma is to tip based on your pre-discount bill total.