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Automatic Rebates Save Money Eating Out

Stephanie Nelson,

Although there are many coupons available for all kinds of restaurants ranging from fast food to formal restaurants, many people do not feel comfortable using a coupon at a restaurant.  They may feel awkward asking the server to accept the coupon, they may feel like a penny-pincher in a social situation, or they may feel ridiculous pulling out a coupon in front of a client.

Fortunately, there are some restaurant savings programs that allow you to save big dollars without presenting a coupon at all.  I call these "automatic rebate" programs and they can save time, money and embarrassment for diners who are not comfortable with coupons.

My favorite automatic restaurant savings program is Rewards Network at that gives members cash rebates ranging from 10 percent to 20 percent of their total bill.  The program costs $39 to join, but if you go to the Restaurant Coupons section at, you can take advantage of a free trial membership through a special link on that page.

Rewards Network is easy to use once you understand how it works.  First, go to and enter your zip code.  You will see a list of participating restaurants.  When you join the program you register a credit card.  When you eat at a participating restaurant, you will earn a cash rebate into your Rewards Network account automatically.

You do not need to explain the program to the server and no one else in your dining party needs to know you are saving money at all.  The rebate will appear automatically if you remember to use the registered card and you are also able to register more than one credit card.  The good news is that your rebate is based on your total spending, including beverages, tip and tax.  Many typical grocery coupons or gift certificates exclude the cost of beverages, tax and tip.

I have found the program to be very helpful when I am traveling on business, as well as family trips.  I can easily find restaurants that are near my hotel based on zip code.  The site also helps me decide where I'd like to eat because I can review each restaurant's menu online and read actual reviews from members who have eaten at the restaurant.  I've saved money by avoiding hitting any bad restaurants with the review and rating feature of the site.

Rewards Network gives members the option of receiving their rebates in the form of cash, airline miles or dollars in a Upromise college savings account.  If you opt for the cash program, there is the $39 membership fee I referenced earlier.  If you opt for airline miles or Upromise savings, you will not pay a membership fee at all.  However, the cash program offers higher rebate percentages than the other two options.  Your best bet is to use the free trial membership link at and earn higher cash rebates.

In some cases, you may be able to combine coupon savings with Rewards Network savings, depending on the individual restaurant's policy.  One of my favorite restaurants offers a 20 percent cash rebate through Rewards Network, and I am also able to print a "buy one, get one free" coupon from a local coupon website.  With savings like that, I am more than happy to pick up the check!

Automatic Rebates Save Money Eating Out - Smart Savings News Story - WPLG Miami

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