Restaurant.com 80% off Coupon Code with FatWallet 25% Cashback - $25 Gift Certificates for $1.50

By Xin Lu on 18 November 2008 (Updated 19 April 2011) 43 comments

Note The original promotion has ended, but there is a new promotion valid until 08/31/2010 at Restaurant.com.

$25 Restaurant.com Gift Certificates for $2.00

Save 80% off Restaurant.com $25 Gift Cert. orders. Use code CLEARANCE and Pay $2.

Restaurant.com regularly sells $25 restaurant gift certificates for $10, and $10 gift certificates for $3. From today to 11/20/2008, a coupon code gives you an additional 80% off so a $25 gift certificate is only $2, and a $10 gift certificate is only $0.60! Additionally, FatWallet.com is having a 25% cash back sale on Restaurant.com so if you use FatWallet you would essentially get the $25 gift certificates for $1.50 each, and $10 gift certificates for $0.45 each after you receive the 25% cash back. (See also: How to Use Up Remaining Balances on Prepaid Gift Cards)

The coupon code is SURPRISE. You can search for restaurants within your area and add gift certificates to the restaurants you are interested in, and then add them to your cart and order. One thing that you must do with these gift certificates is to read the fine print. Some restaurants require minimum purchase amounts and some gift certificates can only be used on certain days so make sure that you read the details associated with each gift certificate. After your purchase, you can print out the certificates or choose to print them later.

Currently the website is very slow because of this promotion, but there are a lot of restaurants to choose from. There are more than 100 restaurants within 15 miles of where I live and I finally purchased a few of these gift certificates to restaurants I know of. The gift certificates generally expire one year from issue and never expire in California and other states where the expiration of gift certificates is illegal. Even if you do not eat out often, these gift certificates could make great stocking stuffers!

Steps to receiving the max amount of discounts:

  1. Sign up for FatWallet.com.
  2. Go to the Restaurant.com landing page and click through to Restaurant.com.
  3. Add gift certificates you are interested in purchasing.
  4. Type in SURPRISE in the discount code box.
  5. Check out.

The coupon code should give you 80% off and the FatWallet cash back should be redeemable in a few weeks. Make sure you don't sign up for additional offers at Restaurant.com.

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Guest's picture
Guest

Something seems fishy about this. I went and check the restaurants in my area and they were all restaurants that I had never heard of and a lot of the street names were misspelled. Enough things were wrong to get my spidey sense tingling.

Guest's picture
Guest

Put Restaurants.com and scam in Google and see how many hits you get.

From what I have read when you buy the gift certificate you are also, unknowingly, signing up for promotions from Shopping Essentials and they will continue periodically charging your credit card. It seems it is very hard to get them to stop too.

Guest's picture
Guest

I don't know, there were some pretty nice restaurants, as well as a few cafes where you'd never be able to spend the $35 minimum without a sizable group. I signed up and bought 4 coupons and will use them as gifts for Xmas, thanks for the tip!

Linsey Knerl's picture

With no problems. Definitely not a scam.

Linsey Knerl

Guest's picture
msmmajeanne

There were no deals in my zip or the surrounding zips for fifty miles, and I don't live in a rural town. Some deal. I feel like I just opened my email up to more spam.

Guest's picture
katy

last year we succumbed to this restaurant.com freebie - we were very hungry waiting for the food which was promised and never arrived.we called the restaurant several times. ordered by email - by phone -

it's a cruel hoax.

Guest's picture
Guest

That sounds like it was an issue with a restaurant, not restaurant.com, which sells coupons.

My girlfriend and I regularly buy $25 coupons when they are on sale for $2. We've never had any problems. In fact, when one of the restaurants I had a coupon for went out of business, restaurant.com sent me an email to inform me. They also gave me a $25 credit, which on the $2 special gave me several more certificates.

It is a great deal! These people who think it is a scam are clearly the naive people who don't know how to do their research, and frequently fall for scams. Don't worry. It's on the up-and-up.

Guest's picture
kukatie

I chose restaurants that I know and love but can't afford to visit. Thanks for this tip!!!

kj

Guest's picture
Kat

Not a hoax, you just have to READ THE FINE PRINT! Make sure you know what you're signing up for. There is a portion where they try to entice you into the Shopping Essentials thing, but it's not "unknowingly." It says very clearly that by entering your information, you are authorizing them to have access to your account.

Take a minute and read, people. Personal responsibility? Remember?

I just said "no thanks" to that one and skipped off with my gift certificates - thanks SO much, Xin!

Guest's picture
dianna

i bought two, for restaurants i know. there are restrictions -- like a minimum amount for 2 people ($20 at one and $35 at the other, not at all undoable) and you can only use them during the week rather than weekends, but i think it'll make for a good xmas gift.

Guest's picture
Charles

I bought one of these $25 coupons (which is what they really are) yesterday to use at a local Italian cafe. I asked up front if the restaurant would honor it, and from that point on, the waiter was pretty grumpy.

Don't get me wrong, the food was great - but I couldn't help feeling guilty because, more often than not (according to our waiter), the servers get screwed over because cheap customers tend to tip on the "discounted" price, rather than the whole bill. In addition to that, the restaurant itself doesn't see a single penny of that $25 (our waiter said they see it as an "advertising cost", but it still doesn't make it any less painful to extend such a huge discount).

It was just me and my wife as they rolled out appetizers and entrees and desserts (to get up to the $35 min. purchase). I love saving money, but this just made me feel cheap. With the economy the way it is, these restaurants really can't afford to be giving such huge discounts regularly.

Before tip, we paid $10.80 for over $35 worth of food - and I'm positive that the ingredients and the labor that were used preparing that food cost at least $15-20 (I've worked in the food industry in the past).

My opinion is to use this $25 "coupon" sparingly to find new restaurants to try for the first time, and then pay full price on any return visits. I wouldn't ever use one more than once at the same restaurant, because that really isn't what the owners intend them for. And I personally wouldn't use them on restaurants that I already frequent, because, again, that isn't what they were intended for.

I do a lot of things to save money, but this is just something that I won't do again. Just my two cents, and of course you're entitled to your own opinion.

Guest's picture
keith

I appreciate your concern for the restaurants offering certificates. However, if restaurants using the program were getting the raw end of the stick, don't you think they would stop participating. Nobody made them give such a big discount through Restaurant.com. We've used the coupons many times and our waiters never gripe at them (mind you, we always tip well too). The purpose of the certificates is simply to fill the seats that would have went empty anyways and that maybe next time you will full price, or tell a friend about the restaurant and they'll go.

For instance, we used a certificate at Ted's Montana Grill in Atlanta. The service was superior and the food was spectacular. Even with using the coupon, we just had two entrees and the meal came to $14. ($24 minus a $10 certificate). We tipped our waitress $6 - she had nothing to complain about. We tipped better than the table next to us who didn't use a coupon, had three people in the their party and ate full meals. They also happened to complain about the food and sent it back twice (multiple people in their party). Then complaining to the manager four times and blatantly asking for free stuff. So, who was ripping off the restaurant? Certainly not the person participating in the marketing program that the restaurant signed up for.

The people next to us were from out of town and likely will never be back or tell their friends about the restaurant. I, however, paid for my meal (which was relatively inexpensive to produce), have told a number of friends about my great experience already, and have posted reviews on the internet as well. All in all, I think the Restaurant.com thing is a great deal for a restaurant like that.

Now, if a restaurant has complaining waiters, subpar service and food, Restaurant.com may give the them the worse publicity they could have ever dreamed of.

Guest's picture
Guest

This is a very thoughtful and considerate approach to this promotion. Kudos!

Guest's picture
Guest

This is breaking the law.

A GRATUITY by it's very nature is gratuitious. It is NOT guaranteed. They cannot according to NY law charge a gratuity to someone.

Guest's picture
Neko

I got over $365 worth of gift certificates for only $28. I just got through reading the fine print and it says that you can only redeem one certificate at a time. If this is true then the savings is not as great as I thought. I thought they were gift certificates in that you can use them as such with no limit. It appears they are marketed this way but may in fact be "coupons."

I did some research about the "scam" and this is what I found:

At the end of an order with Restaurant.com there is an offer to receive $10 cash back for becoming a member with ShoppingEssentialsPlus. When entering your email address twice and clicking on the button 'Yes,' you have authorized Restaurant.com to transfer to ShoppingEssentialsPlus your information, including the credit card information that was used in your order. If you do not wish to continue your membership with ShoppingEssentialsPlus during your 30-day free trial,
you will need to contact ShoppingEssentialsPlus prior to being charged the $14.95 monthly membership fee.

I didn't do that so I am alright. As far as hurting the feelings of the restaurant for using a gift certificate, I don;t care. They are the ones that took that risk. If they are lucky I may become a regular customer. I will still tip well though, that is a no brainer.

- Neko

Guest's picture
Keesha

We use restaurant.com regularly--it's definitely not a scam, but as others have pointed out, you have to read the fine print and know what you're getting into. Sure, some servers may act less than thrilled when they know you're using a coupon, but I find that's true at some places regardless of what type of coupon I have. There aren't a lot of restaurants in some markets, but I find that in my area there are more added each time I look.

Xin Lu's picture
Xin Lu

at the restaurant I went to they included 18% tip on the original price, and since I usually tip 15 to 20% that was alright with me.  It was still a good deal. 

Linsey Knerl's picture

I waited tables at a restaurant where we always mailed out coupons.  We would always get thrifty types using coupons for Buy1 Get1 or free appetizers.  This greatly reduced the "tippable" amount, which was a bit frustrating for me.  But you also have to consider that they might not have come in to eat at all without the coupon.  An empty table made me zero dollars in tips.

Linsey Knerl

Guest's picture
Guest

How about we just stay home and you don't get any tip. That is the most ungrateful attitude I have ever heard.

Guest's picture
mike hunt

thats what she just said...

Guest's picture
Former Waiter

I think this is a great idea all around. A restaurant not having to advertise? Awesome - they only pay advertising costs when they actually -get- a new customer. That's excellent.

As far as grumpy servers? Coupons'll do that sometimes. When I use a coupon, I let the server know up front that I tip 35% on the undiscounted amount, for truly excellent service. That way they know you won't be one of those 'make your own lemonade' tables who leaves a $1 tip and feels generous!

If a server is grumpy anyway? Sometimes you just get someone who is bad at their job. Oh well.

Guest's picture
Shivalika

I like people like you. :) One time, I used a coupon for "free dinner entree" and had water to drink (diet). My bill was $0.00 and before that it was $12.90 just for the entree. I left the server $5.00.

Guest's picture
ken

here is a $25 coupon from restaurant.com, no purchase necessary http://www.freewithtrial.com/

Guest's picture
Guest

Some of the above comments say, "read the fine print" but I only saw one who had observed there is an 18% gratuity charge. Sometimes I add a bit more for awesome service.
Guilt? Not a bit.
And I have discovered that using two $25 coupons within the month limit of only one coupon per month does not apply at one restaurant where I was allowed to use two in one month. The restaurants need to fill the seats and I am available!
Linsey, I like your attitude. Your glass is half full, not half empty.
geO

Guest's picture
Guest

Restaurant.com is a great site. When...you can actually get on and order discounted coupons for the dining establishments. Every one wins. The site, the restaurants, you, and the advertisers.

The problem arises when..."you can actually get on and take advantage of what they are ofering you."

Forget their 70% off promo's. Worse yet the 80% off promo's...ultimate forget about getting on their website and ordering their 80% off coupon plus $25.00 gift certificate for $2.00.

Not if you want to wait an eternity and get lucky that you can get restaurant names in your area AND then print certicates for them!

I've called them before and they know they have a problem. The excuse is always the same..."When we offer these promotions we have very very high traffic volume."

Yet they do nothing and you can't get to take advantage of their "offer."

Sooooo, are these offers even valid? I wonder if their advertisers and restaurants are aware of this ongoing problem.

Guest's picture
SN

I read all the fine print, under terms of usage for both Restaurant.com and the Merchants Terms of Agreement. Like everyone else says here, you need to read what you're doing!

Yes, you can only use 1 coupon at 1 restaurant per month! Big Deal! One Coupon During One Visit! You're also suppose to pay 18% or 20% Tip on the BEFORE DISCOUNT price. That's just common sense! Be nice to your waiters!

There are tons of restaurants listed that my husband and I visit regularly. We've used this with no problem and will continue!

Don't want to get offers or spam, then say NO when it asks you! Also, don't sign up for Shopping Essentials if you don't want to get charged for it!

Easy! I agree with the others - TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS! Read before you DO anything. :) This is a fantastic way to save money and get to try out new places! BRAVO!

Guest's picture
Guest

I have read all the comments listed above and I equally agree with all of them - not including the "this is a scam" messages.

I first stumbled upon this website about a year ago, and I used to purchase the $25 gift certificates @ $10. As many are stating, there is a "fine print" if you will, but it is hardly that. It is simply a text in normal size print that clearly states the requirements for you to successfully "qualify" for using your Restaurant coupon at that respective website.

All restaurants have different requirements. This is where you have to be quite careful if you have a particular budget or spending range. For example, some nicer scaled restaurants might be on the website selling a $25 gift certificate for $10 (or $3 w/ the 70%), but you will have to spend a minimum of $100.

Others may only have a minimum spending of $35 or a minimum purchase of 2 entrees. In addition, most will not include alcohol for the discount, but it will be stated, and most state that an 18% gratuity is included on the total bill (before the discount is applied).

Responding to the gentlement who feels bad about using the coupons at the restaurants during tough economic times. Look at it this way (like the way the waiter who posted above has). You visit a restaurant you would in most cases, never would have visited. You spend $10 and tip accordingly for a meal you would have probably never encountered. That waiter can be thankful for a customer that if not present, leaves an employee with a few dollars left. Something is better than nothing?

Keep in mind, these restaurants are not in the business of losing money and are not to be in this website FOREVER. As somebody mentioned in another comment, this type of advertising is "perfect" advertising. There is no waisted slack. Your advertising paid for that customer to come in. It is not a waisted ad where maybe only a few people respond. As soon as enough traffic accumulates, and you and others now know this particular restaurant - provided that they provided good service and good food - you will go back regardless of the price. That is how it works.

There are quotas that are met on this website as well, and sometimes they may be on the site for a couple months out of the year. If you enjoyed your experience, they know they can continue to attract you at regular market prices.

From an economic standpoint, websites such as these that are teaming up with restaurants and retail stores are big economic stimulators. During a recession, you have to take any losses you can to simply get people in the door. i.e. Post 9-11, the government subsidized 0% interest rates on new vehicle purchases. A profitable idea? no... A smart idea? yes. Why... You anticipate for future business to grow and expand, and you take the risks that come with that.

Guest's picture
Jeff

and it's not 6/15/09 yet

Guest's picture
Guest

Are you at all aware that before things got all switched around and messed up, people actually tipped folks BEFORE receiving their service. The size of your tip decided the quality of service you received. This is how it should be.

I have a full-time job in HR but I also have a tip-based part-time job I work about 10 hours/wk. I make less than minimum wage on payroll delivering pizzas. And I provide the very best service I can to every single customer I have. If I drive all the way to your house and you stiff me or tip me $1, you have very selfishly wasted my own personal money (my car, my gas, my tires, my oil) and my time. I will not just appreciate that you ordered. I work for an international corporation so your $20 order didn't make a difference. We neither want nor need the business of egocentric customers. How can you expect a service individual who just worked very hard to provide excellent service to be happy with whatever negligible amount you decide to give them? They provided a service and you are *OBLIGATED* to tip. So says the federal government. See, that's why their employer can legally pay them minimum wage and remove overtime pay.

So, if you're not going to tip a FAIR amount, yes, please do stay home. And don't stay home and order delivery, either, because we make less than minimum wage and work for tips, too. It's a very dumb idea to unfairly short someone who has your name, phone number, and address, by the way. And that's not a threat by any means, just plain common sense. Just be fair. Pay attention to estimated delivery times. And realize that an *estimated* delivery time is um, well, it's an *estimate.* If a store is busy, it's really not your driver's fault it took an hour and a half to get your order. Chances are, your driver just picked your order up at the store 5 minutes before getting to your house. If someone tells you it's going to be an hour and 15 minutes, don't yell at your driver when she gets there in an hour an 4 minutes. I experienced that exact situation 2 days ago. He tipped me 97 cents and that was only because I can't carry coin change. I'll always remember exactly where he lives because he lives 20 feet away from 2 very good friends of mine. If I cared enough, I could really pay him back for being such a jerk. If he wants to apply for a job where I work in HR, he won't get past the application process. No way. See, we don't hire discourteous irrational folks here. ;)

Just be fair and try to remember that you're dealing with hardworking (for the most part) *humans* next time you think about being cheap with a tip. You never know when you're going to be dealing with someone's friend or relative the next time you go to interview for a job and whether you want to admit it or not, networking is one of the BIGGEST factors in employment and promotions. By stiffing your server, you could have just screwed up your entire professional career. Especially if your server or driver is someone like me who actually works in Human Resources for a large company and has a memory like a steel trap. Funny, huh? I certainly think so.

Guest's picture
Guest

Correction, 2nd paragraph last sentence:
That's why their employer can legally pay them LESS THAN minimum wage...

Guest's picture
Guest

I have purchased and used restaurant.com coupon codes/gift certificates many times over the past three years and have not had any problems. Certificates are good for one year once redeemed. It was a little challenging figuring out how to select the restaurants and redeem the gift certificate online the first time, but after that it's really easy----just print, save and enjoy great savings!!! no fears!!!!!

The 80% off coupon code expired 8/31/2009

Current special per www.BradsDeals.com starting 9/1/2009: Take 50% off dining gift certificates at Restaurant.com via bradsdeals website =
http://www.bradsdeals.com
You'll find lots of other great sales and deals on bradsdeals.com too.

From: jojo

Guest's picture
Guest

Wow!!! number 23. you are a moron. You dont like making less than min. wage then get a real job, it is not my responsibility to make sure you earn a good living of my tips. I worked as a blackjack dealer (tips), waiter (tips) and as a pizza delivery (tips) for dominoes pizza. I treat people the same if they tip me nothing or average or above average. You remind me of the type of person who would spit in my food if I did not tip you or you would give very poor service if I came back and got you again as my waiter. I tip around 20 percent because I know what it is like to have to work for low wages, but I dont insist on people having to tip me because I chose this line of work and was well aware of the pitfalls and rewards, It is YOUR choice to work there, dont blame others, if you deliver good service on a consistent basis you should get decent tips.

That being said, If you look at the restaurant.com certificates the tip is already included, which I do not agree with, why because if you buy a 100 dollar gift certificate you really only get 82 dollar gift certificate. Lets do the math 100 dollar gift certificate, must usually buy between 150 to 200 dollars worth of food. tip already added in at 18 to 20 percent. you buy lets say 150 worth of food, give them your gift certificate (make it simple no tax added) your total bill to pay with cash will be 68 dollars. but wait should it not be only 50(150 in food but 100 gift certificate equals 50) but the tip is already automatically added in so you pay 68. Why do I not like this, it defeats the purpose of tipping for good service. How, well if people like number 23 above know they are going to get tipped regardless of how service is you may not get as good of service as you should, which by the way is from personal experience. I find that if the waiter does not get a tip up front they tend to do a better job, thats why I also dont agree with the 15 percent tip added for party's of 8 or more either.

Dont feel bad, if the restaurant did not want you to use these certificates they would not have signed up for the service. It is to get new people in and try to make you a regular customer, Use them often and give as gifts.

Guest's picture
Guest

I just got $25 certificates for $1. each. Coupon code NINETY
I used paypal and didn't see anything about signing up for Shopping Essentials or another company. Not sure if that's different if you're using a CC v.s. Paypal. (anyone know?)
Anyhow, I don't know how long the NINETY discount is available for but if this works out well I may go back and get some new ones for some of the other restaurants listed. :)
Thanks for all the feedback here. I was concerned about a scam so I'm glad I found a site w/ some info on it all.

Guest's picture
Dinning out often in SD

We got turned on to Restaurant.com a couple of months ago.
Have not had any issues. I did however, read all the restrictions and did not opt to get sucked into the other special offer from Shopping Essentials after reading what they offered I didn't see it as something I would want to do.
Back to Restaurant.com. Never have had a problem with attitude from our server in fact we have become a regular at one restaurant we found and once a month we use our coupon. No guilt here. They offer the coupon and know what their cost and risks are so why in the world would or should I feel guilty. I'm following the rules set forth by the program.
In many cases the owner or manager will stop by the table to see how everything is and we take the opportunity to let them know if it is our first time and that we are their because of restaurant.com offer.
A restaurant was sold before we used our coupon and restaurant.com emailed me and gave me a code to go on line and purchase any other restaurant that I wished.
All I can say is we eat out more often that we would with out this sight, have found some great new places. On the other hand we tried some places that we will not go back to. But, we never would have tried them in the first place with out restaurant.com.
Take the time to read and understand what your buying.

Guest's picture
Guest

I also didn't see anything about ShoppingEssentials-- is this still going on? I actually didn't see anything inordinarily sneaky although I do assume I'll get a lot of junk mail now until I opt-out, which I plan to do promptly.

How would a restaurant know if you're using a coupon twice in one month?

Guest's picture
Guest

We just used our coupon last night and it was great! You do have to look at the fine print, and we definitely tipped on the total amount, not just on what we paid. The waiter was wonderful, he didn't treat us any differently than any other customer. This also was a very nice restaurant in our area, so I went ahead and bought a few certificates for Christmas for friends as well. This is not a scam, it's a great way to enjoy restaurants that you normally couldn't afford.

Guest's picture
Guest

has anyone been able to go to the same restaurant with a certificate more than monthly? Does the system stop you and if they call in does that cancel that certificate

I may need to call restaurant.com for that

thanks

Guest's picture
Guest

@ #33

They do not do anything proactive to stop you from using one per month. "If they notice" they will send you a letter/email asking you to stop. "If you continue" they can block your ccard number and/or email address. Both of which, you could get around.

Guest's picture
Guest

i signed up for a certificate. only after all the payments are done and when i'm ready to print the certificate that they revealed that i have to make a $150 minimum purchase to be able to use the certificate!!! tried to talk to them, they said no way i can cancel out. tried paypal next and paypal said they can't do anything because it's already paid up.

Guest's picture
dearest

i just love it, love my soul-mate.

Guest's picture
Wayne B

I have used several restaurant.com certificates and never once had a problem. In fact, some restaurants have not redeemed the certificate, and so I have been able to use the same certificate multiple times.

Guest's picture
Jason

RESTAURANTS.COM IS A GIANT SCAM

Do not, under any circumstances, order anything from this company. We just ordered a $25 coupon for a purchase of $50 or more. But there were so many restrictions AND a GIANT unexpected ENFORCED gratuity that it made me feel RIPPED OFF. After looking at the bill, we would have actually paid $10 LESS if we would NOT have used their coupons at all!!!

Guest's picture
Guest

This is no different than Groupon, or LivingSocial, or any of a host of daily deal sites which are so popular now & offer 50% off at local restaurants. And the concept is the same: the restaurant is offering 50% off in the hopes that you'll come back, or tell your friends about them. It's all marketing costs. Yes, if you buy the "$25, $50, $100 off" coupon (it is more of a coupon, not a gift certificate) & you read the fine print, there are restrictions. Then again, for such a great price, I would expect there to be. Groupon & some of those other daily deal sites' offers expire after ~3 mos. If you don't use it before then, tough luck. Restaurant.com certificates never expire. And it says right on the certificate, & prob for most of those daily deal ones too, to tip on the FULL AMOUNT, before discount. Granted, they shouldn't have made a 18% tip a requirement, but the ppl who only tip on the discounted amt are just being stingy. And if you buy one of the smaller certificates, like the $10 one, you don't have all these restrictions. It's just a matter of how much you want to save vs. how many restrictions you want to put up w/.