Most of you may be dining out while you are doing the last of your Christmas shopping. I want to share my restaurant gift card hack that I use during the holiday season to save money dining out.
If you are on the email list for your favorite restaurants after Thanksgiving you start receiving emails saying something like buy $50 in gift cards and get a $10 bonus card free.
Well in my accounting mind that translates to the restaurant telling me that if I buy a fifty dollar gift card I’m getting 20% off! That is a pretty good deal considering most restaurants don’t give percentage off deals very often.
The catch is the bonus cards are usually not available to use until your next visit or January 2 and they expire by March 31 depending on the restaurant so be sure to read the fine print.
I usually only buy gift cards at restaurants that I frequent often and know that I will use the bonus cards before the expiration date. I also make it a point to know which restaurants are offering these gift card deals because if I’m going in for a meal and I’m going to spend a large portion of the required gift card amount I buy my gift card before I sit down to eat. Then I pay for my current meal with the gift card, so I’m not really out any additional money.
Example: If I am going to PF Changs for dinner I am most likely going to spend $25 minimum. Their deal is buy $100 in gift cards and get a $20 Bonus card. So when my server comes to the table I asked them for the $100 gift card immediately and I have them bring it so I can go ahead and pay out that transaction. Then I will proceed to order my meal as usual.
When I pay my tab I will pay with the gift card that I just purchased. That makes that meal 20% off because of the $20 bonus card I got with the purchase of the gift card.
REMEMBER: Gratuities usually can’t be added to gift cards, so be sure to bring cash preferably small bills so you can tip without having to wait for change back. Also keep your eyes open for other offers in your email from your favorite restaurants. For instance PF Changs sometimes runs a 20% off online orders or they will have BOGO (Buy One Get One Free Entree's) dine in or take out depending on the deal.
If you use your already discounted gift card on top of these types of deals your discount grows even bigger. As a single person I usually use the BOGO deals to buy my lunch and dinner meals and most of the time those two lunch entrees will feed me for 4 meals, so my money stretches a long way.
If you are like me and you eat out 80% of the time these holiday gift card offers come in really handy for saving money. If you are also like me and you purchase these gift card deals with a credit card that offers points then you are getting yet another perk on top the discount. Example: I use my Chase Sapphire Reserve card for all my dining expenses and it gives me 3 points per dollar spent so I rack up quite a few points for travel when I’m dining out. I have included links to some of the gift card deals that I am aware of below. Just click the link to go to the website or pop into your favorite restaurants to buy gift cards on site.
If you are interested in the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card you can apply for it here. Or if you don’t travel often and don’t see the benefit of the $450 annual fee for this card you can apply for the Chase Freedom Unlimited card which gives you 1.5 points or 1.5% cash back on all purchases with no annual fee and you can apply for it here. ONLY apply for the credit cards if you use credit responsibly and can pay the balance in full at the end of the month. It is NEVER a good idea to use credit cards to earn points and then pay a ridiculous amount of interest on the purchases. You LOSE BIG TIME if you don’t pay your balances in full.