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October 23, 2009


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My wife and I use it; it works well. We've even paired their gift certificates with or Borders Rewards discounts for some really big savings.

I don't really understand how they make money, but it works from my POV.

Make no gift certificates aren't gift certificates in the tradtional sense, they're coupons. Coupons that usually have so many restrictions that, in the end, make them just a little more advanteous than the coupons you get for free with your Money Mailer-type publication. Obviously some deals are better than others, you need to read the fine print with each to avoid disappointment before you buy. Many have restrictions against using them on holidays or weekends and/or require a minimum party size and/or requires a minimum purchase well over the face value of the certificate. Make no mistake, this is *not* an unrestricted dollar-for-dollar gift certificate you purchase from the restaurant itself.

How does make money? They keep the *entire* amount you pay for your "gift certificate." In return for their marketing services (many mom-and-pop restaurants use their website as their own, since they post menus, photos and other information that might exceed the restaurateur's technical know-how or budget), the restaurant is betting you'll spend well over the minimum purchase requirement, make a return trip without a coupon, and spread good word of mouth. No different than a direct mail coupon, except that they know you're probably going to show up and spend since you've got a vested interest by having paid for a coupon. By comparison, a traditional direct mail coupon is a huge success if only 2% of the recipients show up and use it.

"they are either places that are too far away or spots where we'd never want to go."--You pretty much nailed it on the head. Restaurants that are doing well without couponing usually don't have to rely on marketing methods like or direct mail coupons when they're already bringing in enough business at full price.

We've used several times and we love it. Of course you do have to read the details for each specific restaurant before you buy (some have limited nights you can use it, some require a minimum check amount, etc.) but we've had great success. We've talked with the owners at 2 of the restaurants where we've used the coupon and they said they're happy to have people come in with the coupons. We don't go out to eat often, but when we do, it's worth checking for a place. In fact, we're going out this weekend, and is having a 70% off sale (code = PUMPKIN) so I'll definitely pick up a certificate from them to put towards dinner.

I use them. The coupons do have restrictions (usually minimum purchase and time of day restrictions). I buy a few coupons around Christmas (the best price of the year) and use them throughout the year. You also want to see if your local radio and TV stations other half of gift certificates through halfoffdepot or

The few times that I've used them it has been more of a hassle than it's worth. We ended up ordering way more food than we normally would just to get over the minimum, and in one case the restaurant owner seemed angry with us as though it was our fault that he didn't appreciate the system.

Not that I've got any interest in shorting a good service, but be careful - a lot of these coupons inform you that tip is included. Other then that, I've had very positive experiences.

We've used them. It pays to read the fine print carefully because the requirements are different for each restaurant, but as long as you follow the directions they work just fine.

If you can get the 90% off deal, it's worth it. They add a huge gratuity to a lot of them, but we've never had trouble with the restaurants accepting them. We did, however, have a problem with getting signed up for a service that I swear to this day I did not agree to. They charged $14.95 to our Visa each month for 4 months before I realized what was going on (it was during the Christmas season and I thought my husband might be making purchases for Christmas, so I didn't ask. It wasn't until I noticed the same amount 3 times in a row that I asked). I had a very difficult time getting the money refunded. eventually stepped in and helped. They were very apologetic as well. However, it turned me off from ever using the service again. So my advice is to try it, but be careful where you click and watch your credit card for a month or two afterwards.

I just buy a few when they offer the $25 coupons for $1-$2 (which is ALL the time, just sign up for the email alerts, never pay the $10) and keep them in my wallet for our favorite restaraunt that just luckily happens to be on the list (the few other places we go to aren't on the list). This only takes a minute to buy a few at once, and I've always just kept them in my wallet and handed one to the waitress at the restaraunt, so there has never been any hassle.

When we buy the low priced fare our bill hits about $32, so we don't meet the $50 minimum and so it just stays in my wallet. When we do order the main entrees, the bill hits about $55 and I use it, which then makes the meal cost $55-$25+$2 = $32. Once we realized this we obviously started ordering the main entrees more often.

I used them on vacation. Takes a little legwork. Mainly looking up the menus of the restaurants ahead of time to see if you'll easily make the minimum and if it is worth it. Has gotten us 2-3 date nights for a low price. Only on the 90% off though when its $2 for $25.

I have used them quite frequently, and aside from the occasional restaurant closing (not an infrequent occurrence), I believe it's a good deal. I also do not pay for the full $10, and use the discounts all the time. It's great for our favorite local restaurants, and I never have a hard time buying the minimum. Even with tip and the coupon and everything, a $50 meal will end up around $20, which we don't mind a bit! I have also used them for friends when they move to a new area and give them new ideas for places to eat.

I checked into it before, but (except for 1) I dont' think they had any restaurants in my area that I like.

I have to wonder if this is one of those deals where spend $80 to save $40 (total cost $40), vs going to a decent chain like Olive Garden and only spending $35...

Definitely will require going to the site, typing in your zipcode to see if you like any of the listed restaurants. If you do find a restaurant that you frequent often, this would be great!


I live in Chicago and there are a ton of restaurants nearby that work with For me, the deal is terrific. We're in our early 30s and eat out with friends at least 3 times a week, so the restrictions are typically of no consequence.

I would imagine that if you don't live in a major city and/or only rarely go out to eat, may not be such a great deal. For me though, it's perfect.

We use it when we know we'll be going to a specific restaurant with friends or family since the minimum you must spend is usually more than my husband and I can/would spend on our own at the restaurants we like.

And like others have said, buy when you find a discount code...our favorite is the 90% off days when we can get $25 off $50 or more at my favorite Italian place for $1...$35 total for a fantastic dinner and 3-4 days of great Italian leftovers! Lasagna...yummm....great, now I have a craving...

No restaurants close to me are apparently participating :(

But I guess that saves me money anyway, because I almost never go out to dinner due to there being only a couple decent restaurants in my small town.

I've used it, and liked it. I'm an a busy area, so there are many restaurants around here that participate. I can either get discounts on the price through my corporate partner website, or I convert my airmiles to a gift certificate and then use that to by the certificates. I have no problem with the tip being included...we usually spend far less that we otherwise would anyway.

I have used it and generally like it. You can get REALLY good deals. HOWEVER, it is happened to me that I purchased a "gift certificate" (as someone else mentioned you are really getting a coupon) and did not go to the restaurant for a couple months or so. When I did finally go that restaurant was "no longer accepting" the gift certificates. So my point is to be careful. I would check with the restaurant first before buying (will they be continuing in the program?) and then make sure you use it pretty quickly (even though they are supposed to be good for a year after purchase).

This is basically an advertising program along the lines with the Entertainment book and such. A restaurant makes money by getting customers to come that may not have normally come. Plus you may be more apt to get some appetizers or dessert when you are saving on the meal.

I'm in the Minneapolis area and while several of the restaurants available are in the suburbs or are really small establishments(Which might be very good, mind you), there are a few restaurants that are well known throughout the city. Sometimes it can be tough to get your hands on these coupons on the deep discount sales, but I never pay more than $3 for a $25 gift certificate that requires a $35 minimum purchase. I've never had a problem redeeming them and its a great way to save some money on places you already frequent or to try a place you've never heard of. Who knows, the mom & pop Indian restaurant might be pretty good...

Doesn't appear to be worth the hassle in my case.

None of the restaurants we go to are on the list.
Many of the coupons exclude alcohol, and what's a good meal without a bottle of wine?
Some coupons tack on an 18% tip.
The restaurants on the list are miles away from where we live and we don't like having to use a freeway at night anymore - that's when lots of accidents happen.

My experience has been that it's only restaurants that are hurting for business that use gimmicks to attract customers. We like restaurants that we have used for years where we are welcomed like members of the family when we arrive.

I had a positive experience with them. We used them a few times at a local steak house. It worked just fine and saved us quite a bit on the meal. However that particular restaurant stopped taking the certificate and now theres no restaurants in our area that take them that I'm really interested in.

You do have to pay close attention to the requirements. Often they have $35 or $50 minimums, 18% mandatory tip or other requirements.

If you can work around the restrictions, then you definitely save money -- it's just not as much as you might think by buying a $25 gift certificate for $3.

We've never had a problem redeeming them. We also buy them only when they are on sale (70-90%) off and only pick restaurants we would likely visit anyway. We liked how we can really sample the restaurant's menu and not pay out of pocket as much, plus have tons of leftovers to enjoy. It's worth it if you are going those restaurants anyway and would spend close to (or exceed) the post-coupon amount any other time.

Thanks for this post! This weekend some friends and I are heading to my Italian place before Laffspot (I "won" 10 free tickets) and I'm putting my $3 $25 coupon towards the bill.

Lasagna Al Forno and maybe dessert (normally $12-15) - $3
Comedy Club Ticket (normally $15) - $0
Comedy Club 2 Item Minimum (2 $3.50 non-alcoholic juice drinks and tip) - $10
Night Out with Friends - $Priceless

Thanks again to FMF for starting this and to Susan from LI for mentioning the PUMPKIN 70% Off special going on!!!

You just need to be careful and read the fine print. We use it a lot, and it works well for us, because we only choose "gift certificates" that are reasonable such as a $25 gift certificate with a $35 purchase requirement. We usually only purchase them when they are 70 to 80% off, so for a $35 meal, we end up spending about $13 plus taxes and tip. Not bad!

Have used, you do need to check restrictions and I would not buy them too far in advance of use or they may end up like the yearly coupon books that don't get used. If you can use them it's a good deal.

We have used quite often. I only wish more restaurants were signed up in our area. One of our favorites dropped off. It actually allows us to order more expensive entrees. If my entire family goes out it is easy to reach the minimum required. Just read the restrictions and you are set.

We love it! We have a Cuban restaurant that we love and that offers the $10 off $20. That will feed our family of 4 for about $12, including dessert and tip. Not bad! Yes, check the requirements and only purchase when you have the 80 or 90% off coupons. As someone mentioned gets 100% of what you pay for the certificate and the restaurant gets your business. We don't go out often, but we keep a few certificates on hand for those times we do!

I use it a lot after reading ALL of the fine print.....We (2) just enjoyed a great meal at a Thai Restaurant in suburban Chicago for $13.61 including 18% tip!!!!! And, we were stuffed. They even allow BYOB although we did not know it, but for the next time we will use it.

I bought a $10 certificate for $0.40!!!! YES. $0.40.


Last year we had a coupon code to that turned their $10/coupon deals to $1 and their $25/coupon deals to $3 or something similar to that.

We got a half dozen coupons for my brother for christmas since his family eats out a lot, and we got 4 for our upcoming vacation (which was last december/january.)

We only wound up using 1 or 2 of the coupons but that still saved us about $30 or $40 total, and the coupons were good for a year so I mailed the coupons to a friend a few months ago who was going out to Vegas. No idea if he used them or not.

No real participating restaurants where I live...... is great !!! My wife and I like to go to new places within 45 minutes or so from home (get to use our GPS), so the choices are great for us. Gives us something new to do together. I only buy $25 coupons that are accepted on weekends. (except for business people, who eats out on weekdays?). They always have deals that you can buy the $25 coupons for $2 or $3, so why not?

Our family uses it and we love it. As already said, read the fine print, which is specific to each restaurant. I usually buy when they have 80 to 90% off coupons for, which makes them like a buck. Fortunatelly three of our very favorite restaurants participate. We try to visit them once a month (the fine print says you can't use more than one per month). But I tell ya if it weren't for the coupons, we'd be downscaling the type of restauants we visit.

One particular favorite of ours, we were able to feed four of us for $45 bucks, including tip. This is a very upscale restaurant. We did go on a night where they have cool specials and live jazz. So for $45 we had awesome food, entertainment and a pitcher of sangria! We tried down-scaling to Applebees once and our check was about the same--never again. I'm not a mid-chain girl, so it's coupons, or a full fledged dinner at home. I highly recommend the site.

My experience with has been hit or miss. Several nicer places around here were on the site and I bought a bunch of the "coupons" to go out to eat with co-workers and friends. Unfortunately when we went there, we were informed that they did not honor the coupons and to take up the issue with the site. did let us exchange the coupons but since they were no longer having the same sale, we got less of a "deal" (they gave us the $$ value we paid - 80% off and were just having a regular non-sale day ...).. If you call the restaurant ahead of time to verify they honor the coupons, read and comply with all the fine print (many will not accept it if you order a "special" since they feel you are already getting a great deal), and look at it as a slightly cheaper lunch or dinner with friends and family .. you should be alright. When you get these for on vacation be especially careful and make sure the places are not in a bad part of town or too far to go from your hotel (cabs can be spendy if you didn't rent/use a car) ... out of the 7 or so I purchased for a week-long trip we only used one ... But it was not a big loss since i got it at the 90% off!!

We have used in the past. They're okay if you're hitting a popular zip code. Try > restaurants instead.

They provide more restaurants in the area and seem to offer a better variety of free options.

Lame. They don't have it for any of the places I already eat at. There's no point in adding expenses for the sake of taking advantages of a "sale." I'll stick with my hole-in-the-wall mid-eastern gyro place.

It's great, You're introduced to nice places you would otherwise never know about, and at a significant discount on the bill. We found three so far that were excellent.

The best deal I found for was to buy the 12 Month "Dinner of the Month" club when it was 90% off. We got a $25 gift certificate once a month plus a bonus $50 certificate for $24. We use them to to visit new restaurants that we normally couldn't afford to eat at.

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