Save money when eating out : Most people enjoy the luxury of eating out sometimes. It’s a sociable and enjoyable thing to do but it is also an expensive one, and the bill can amount to more than you are happy about, especially if there are a number of you dining out. Here are a few tips on how to save money when eating out.
Tastecard and other dining cards
There are certain schemes whereby chains of restaurants join up to offer discounts of 50% off the bill or 2-for-1 on meals. Many restaurant chains such as Prezzo and La Tasca are part of the Tastecard scheme, as well as some local establishments, and even some Michelin starred top-class eateries are included as well. Tastecard is the largest scheme, with over 7,000 restaurants being part of it, but there are some others too, such as the Hi Life Dining Card, the Gourmet Society and the Phantom Card. The drawback is that the Tastecard costs £79.95 per year to be a member, although there are often half-price joining offers for this too, or special deals with bank accounts and so on, so this means that you will need to use it to reap the benefits (and the cost) or getting it in the first place. There are often local schemes too, which work similarly but instead of a card, you buy a book of vouchers, and the vouchers within are for a range of activities and establishments, to include local food chains and pubs.
Tesco clubcard offers the facility to exchange clubcard vouchers for those for a selection of restaurants as part of its Clubcard Boost scheme, which will enable you to swap your vouchers for restaurant ones with four times the value. So £5 in Tesco Clubcard vouchers becomes £20 in Pizza Express or Bella Italia vouchers. There are a wide range of participating restaurant and pub chains, and even some local ones.
Offers for registering at particular chains or establishments
In many restaurant chains you can receive an offer for a free starter or free dessert for registering with the organisation, or for telling them about your experience. That usually involves filling out a quick survey, which you could even do on your smartphone while you are in the establishment, to get the offer. Many of these also include your details in a monthly prize draw, which will have a large cash prize or a similar alternative. As well as being offered instant and immediate discounts for use, many of these chains will periodically email further offers and deals, such as ‘main meal & dessert for £10’, and so on, for you to take advantage of.
Toptable (Now OpenTable) or Lastminute.com
The booking companies Toptable and Lastminute.com routinely offer deals for you to eat at a certain restaurant at a certain time. This means that if you are flexible, or inflexible but the websites have a match for you, you can book a restaurant and save up to 50% off your bill. Toptable also offers the facility for you to find local eateries offering menus costing under £25, which is quite useful if you’re on a budget. Another similar website to check out for booking set fares is 5pm.co.uk.
The cashback websites Quidco and Topcashback offer certain deals on some restaurants and takeaway services. Hungryhouse is a takeaway company which allows you to search an area for a selection of food delivery companies, and these cashback websites regularly offer money off or a percentage off the total bill. Cashback can also be gotten on joining up to Tastecard or the Gourmet Society.
The last method for you to eat out more cheaply is for you to try mystery shopping. Many of the mystery shopping firms offer a reimbursement of a full or partial bill for eating out. Mysterydining is a company that exclusively recruits mystery shoppers that want to dine out, and the reimbursement for these is usually pretty good, and although it doesn’t always meet the total cost of the bill, it lowers it significantly. The drawback to these is that you have to go and eat at a place they decide, and a a time (or at least on the day) they decide, so there is little leeway for manoeuvre, and also you have to fill in a survey or similar, analysing the visit. So they are not for everyone, but something to consider if you like to be able to eat out but are concerned about the cost.