Please note: this is an informational, third-party post about Restaurant.com. If you have an issue with your certificate, please contact Restaurant.com directly here.
There have been a few questions about how [r.com] works, so I thought I’d try to explain a little bit about how it works:
First, [r.com] doesn’t really offer actual gift certificates. They offer “gift certificates” (in “quotes”), so I often refer to them as coupons. All require a minimum purchase which is higher than the “gift certificate” amount, so in effect, they are coupons.
The minimum purchase amounts vary by restaurant, but the most common minimum purchase for a $25 certificate is $35 or $50. In effect, here’s what you’re getting:
Pay $3 for a $25 certificate with a $35 purchase minimum
+ $10 (plus tax and tip) at the restaurant
= $13 for $35 of food
So, it’s still a great deal, but you’ll definitely need to pay a little bit out of pocket at the restaurant.
Most restaurants add a gratuity to the pre-certificate price. As a former restaurant server, I totally get this, because it’s just as much work for the server, even though you’re paying less. If the restaurant doesn’t add the gratuity themselves, I’d urge you to tip on the pre-certificate amount anyway. :)
Some restaurants have stipulations like not valid on holidays or dine-in only. Make sure you read through the fine print before purchasing so you’re not surprised!
If you purchase a certificate and the restaurant goes out of business, or for some reason refuses to honor it, you can request a refund from [r.com]. I’ve never had to do this, but they should be able to take care of it.
The certificates are emailed to you after you checkout. If it doesn’t arrive, you may want to check your junk mail as sometimes they go there. You’ll need to print the certificate out on your own printer.
I highly recommend checking out a restaurant’s menu online before you go to the restaurant. [r.com] has menus for some of the restaurants on their website. You’ll want to take a look at the price points of their entrees so you can see how much you’d have to order to get to the minimum purchase amount. It’s been awhile since I’ve used one, but in the past we’ve found that a $35 minimum can be difficult to reach when dining with two people at restaurants where their entrees are around $10.
Obviously, your savings percentage goes down with the more you spend over the minimum amount, so you’ll want to try to get as close to that amount as possible. Often, the certificates turn out to be a better deal for parties of 3-4 or more.
If the restaurant menu is available online with prices, you can do some “strategizing” ahead of time to get your total right to the required amount. It can be difficult to discuss who’s ordering what and if you’ve met the minimum amount in a noisy restaurant!
So, there’s some tips on using [r.com]! If you’ve got any more questions, feel free to ask in the comments and I or another reader may be able to help you!