The basic way that Restaurant.Com works is that you buy a gift certificate ($25, $50, $75, and $100) which you can use to apply toward paying your total restaurant bill. Officially a $25 gift certificate costs $10 but The Coupon Whisperer is telling you to NEVER pay that amount. Why? Because several times a month, Restaurant.Com certificates sell for an 80% (sometimes 90%) discount which means that a $25 gift will sell for only $2 after you apply the coupon code they supply you. The higher denomination gift certificates also can be purchased for these same steep discounts.
There are a few simple rules that must be observed in order to use these gift certificates. In the case of the $25 gift certificates you usually have to have a total bill of at least $35 and leave a tip of at least 18% of the total undiscounted bill. No big deal for The Coupon Whisperer since he always leaves a tip of at least 20% (easier to calculate).
So how does this work in a real life application? Well, I have used Restaurant.Com certificates at the nearby Cannoli Kitchen which serves excellent oven baked pizzas. My last bill for a couple of extra large pizzas came to about $37. After applying my $25 Restaurant.Com gift certificate, that was reduced down to just $12. The tip brought my cost up to $20 so with the $2 cost of that gift certificate the total cost came to just $22. Had I not used the Restaurant.Com certificate, my bill would have been $37 plus $8 tip for a total cost of $45. Therefore my net savings were $23 or more than half.
The best deals you get with Restaurant.Com are for $25 where the total bill must be at least $35. For some reason the $50 gift certificates and higher have to be used on total bills of double or more of the certificate face value.
So what are the pitfalls of using Restaurant.Com? The biggest problem is that while the certificates themselves don't expire, the restaurants often do. In October I bought a bunch of Restaurant.Com certificates including for a Japanese sushi restaurant and a Chinese restaurant. Guess what? Both are now closed. So my advice to you would be to CALL the restaurants for which you are planning to buy gift certificates to make sure they are still in business plus don't wait too long before using your gift certificates to avoid any restaurants that might expire before you can visit them.
It is FREE to join Restaurant.com and you can search via your zip code to see what restaurants are available to use the certificates at in your area. You can even take a look at their menus online.
Once you decide on restaurants for which you want to buy certificates, simply enter the discount code (remember, NEVER pay the full amount) and pay via credit card. You can either print out the certificates from online immediately or print them out later from your account to avoid losing them.
Remember, the 80% discounts are offered several times a month so no need to panic and think the deal won't come around again. Restaurant.Com will notify you via e-mail of these discounts.
Bottom line is that with this service available, you would be crazy to pay full price for your restaurant meals. Just follow the simple rules (regarding total bill and tips) and you will save BIG by using Restaurant.Com.
Happy dining, Couponeers!