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Pick up discounted gift certificates to your favorite restaurants

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One popular promotion for restaurants, especially around holiday time, is to offer a discount or bonus on gift certificates you buy in advance.

For example, you might pay $20 and receive a $25 gift certificate. For restaurants where you eat often, this is like found money. Not only are you basically getting $5 in free food, but it usually won't prevent you from using another coupon you might have (confirm that when you buy the gift certificate).

Here's an illustration: suppose you have a 20% off coupon for a restaurant, and they are also offering a $25 gift certificate for $20.
  • Pay $20 for the $25 gift certificate.  Out of pocket: $20.
  • Have a nice meal, get a bill for $35.
  • Give them your 20% off coupon.  $35 x 20% off = $7 discount. Now your bill is $28.
  • Use your $25 gift certificate. Pay the $3 difference. Out of pocket $3.
  • Total out of pocket = $23 for a $35 meal. You turned your 20% off coupon into a 35% discount!
Since you are buying these gift certificates directly from the restaurant, they usually don't have the same minimum purchase requirements as the third-party offered ones (like Restaurant.com) do.

It's important to note any restrictions or time limit on using the gift certificate and bonus. If you're not going to be able to use the extra benefits in time, there's no point in buying it. Also treat the certificate like cash - if you lose it, you're out of luck. And you'll want to steer clear if you think the restaurant might go out of business before you can cash in the certificate. If they do, you're stuck.

A LOZO expert posted this tip.

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User Comments

posted by jamd02 (Contributor | 140 Points) on 04-28-2010 05:45 PM
Restaurant.com
Restaurant.com also offers ongoing promotions that offer anywhere from 50-80% off gift certificate purchases. In other words, during an 80% off promotion, you can get the $25 gift certificates for only $2 (or 80% off the normal cost of $20), thus getting $23 free towards dinner. I have found they run the 80% off promo at least once a month, so I never pay more than $2 for the certificates!
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