Eating at restaurants can take a huge bite out of your budget. Here are some restaurant apps to help you save some dough.
Restaurants provide more than just great food and Instagram pics. They offer convenience, ambiance, socializing, entertainment, and access to dishes that may not be part of your culinary routine. (Or maybe you just don’t want to stink up your studio apartment with fish.) But the cost of eating out regularly can really add up.
There are many restaurant apps that can save you money at your regular go-to’s as well as introduce you to new places that you might not even know. Yelp and Seamless aren’t the only games in town. Here is a list of 11 restaurant apps to help you save money on dining out and ordering in.
With Spotluck, you “spin” a digital wheel to receive discounts to local restaurants. The amount of the discount changes based upon day, time, and weather. You are allowed one free spin per day in each neighborhood, and the spin returns one random restaurant and a discount. If you don’t want to choose that restaurant, there are still baseline savings at other participating restaurants. You can also earn points for bonus spins.
The spinning feature helps you discover new local places in your area. Spotluck only participates with local restaurants (not chain restaurants). Spotluck is currently available in many different locales in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Delaware.
Gebni is a food app for restaurant delivery and takeout that offers smart pricing based on real-time demand (as well as a way to lower food waste). If you order an item when the demand is low, your price will be lower than the regular menu price. If you order during peak demand times, you will pay the regular menu price. There is no downside to this kind of dynamic pricing because you will never pay more than the regular price, even when the demand is high. Right now, Gebni is only available in New York City.
With Seated app, you explore their list of top restaurants in your area. Then you book your reservation, show up, and upload a photo of your receipt. Seated will send you a rewards code that can be applied to gift cards and experiences. Seated is currently available in New York City, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, and Atlanta (with plans to add San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Miami, Austin, Los Angeles, and Denver). Seated “caters” (sorry) mostly to upscale restaurants.
When you book a reservation through OpenTable and you eat at that restaurant, you earn Dining Points. These points can be redeemed for Dining Rewards that you can use towards future meals booked through the app. You can earn Dining Points even faster if you look out for Bonus Points reservations on the app. Dining Rewards are good at more than 20,000 U.S. restaurants that participate with OpenTable. OpenTable is available in all 50 U.S. states and 40 cities internationally.
For a fixed monthly fee, MealPal offers you lunch choices at over 1,000 local restaurants and gives you skip-the-line access. For example, with the 12-meal plan, you can receive up to 12 meals every 30 days in New York City for $6.39/meal. MealPal is currently available in Austin, Boston, Brooklyn, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. as well as Auckland, London, Manchester, Melbourne, Paris, Singapore, Sydney, Toronto, and Wellington. Dinner subscriptions are also available. With the cost of lunch in many major cities rising to over $10/day, the subscription can save you money if you typically don’t bring your own lunch to work (plus you get to try something new!).
With HungerPass, you search for restaurant deals through the app and select whether to dine in or take out. When you check in at the restaurant and activate your HungerPass membership ID, you just present the ID to your server or cashier to receive a discount off the entire bill (including drinks). HungerPass is currently available in New York City.
The Hooch app rewards you for purchases that you make at participating restaurants and bars. Hooch rewards you in TAP dollars, which can be redeemed for gift cards, experiences, dining, or hotel rooms. Hooch also offers rewards on travel and shopping. (And for those blockchain groupies, the TAP Network is built with blockchain technology.)
8. Groupon, Groupon+, and LivingSocial
Groupon and LivingSocial (which is owned by Groupon) offer deals on local restaurants, cafes, breweries, and bars. You can filter your desired categories by price, location, ratings, and type of food to find the current deals available.
Groupon also offers Groupon+ (Groupon Cash Back). If you link an eligible credit card to your Groupon account and dine at one of the participating restaurants that offers cash back, you’ll receive cash back on your credit-card statement.
Restaurant.com offers discounted certificates at participating restaurants. They also offer a 6-month dining discount pass that offers deals and discounts at national chain restaurants and retailers.
10. Perks at Work
Some employers offer benefits, perks, and incentives to do things like exercise or go to the gym. Some of these companies also offer perks that include discounts and rewards for purchases, including at restaurants. One such program is Perks at Work, which provides employees with access to exclusive corporate discounts and rewards at over 30,000 brands. These discounts cover many categories, including dining. See if your employer offers these types of discounts and rewards to use at restaurants. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
11. National chain restaurant loyalty and rewards apps
In addition to apps that offer discounts and deals at local restaurants, there are also many national chain restaurants that have apps for loyalty/rewards points, discounts, and other free perks. For a thorough list of 27 national restaurants that have loyalty and rewards apps, take a look at “How to Get Free Food from 25+ Restaurant Apps.”
12. If you have a rewards credit card, you can stack the savings.
If you have a rewards credit card, you can stack your discounts and earn double rewards on dining out by using a restaurant app to save money and then paying for your restaurant meal with your rewards card. Some rewards credit cards also allow you to select specific categories of spending to earn higher discounts. For example, if you know that you eat out a lot (tsk, tsk, read our section on Simmering Savings) and you have a rewards card that offers different reward tiers by categories that you select, consider choosing the restaurant category as your higher tier to increase your rewards even further.
Cooking at home will almost always be a lot less expensive than eating at a restaurant. Restaurants, however, offer an escape from the everyday grind and entice us with new tastes and new experiences. Eating out too much, though, can eat into your budget. If you are looking for ways to lower your spending on restaurants (besides just going cold turkey), consider trying out restaurant apps that can help you indulge your taste buds and save money at the same time.