Restaurant.com claims that you can get the best deals on the web by using their website. Having used their website, sometimes I got good deals and other times, it was a different story.
The normal cost of the certificates I have seen range from $5 – $40. The value may be $15 – $200. The way it works is that you pay a price for value at that restaurant. For example, I saw a “$25 off of $35 purchase” certificate that cost $10. At first glance this is a great deal. But you have to read the small print to see what is not included from the menu. Also, tax and 18% gratuity is added before deducting the certificate value.
Even if you only purchase $35 worth of food, your out of pocket costs at the restaurant will still be about $20. Add that to what you paid for the certificate, and your total out of pocket cost is $30. In essence, you only saved $5 by going through Restaurant.com. It is true that you still saved some money, but what the time and effort worth it? It depends on what you wanted.
When I went to San Francisco, I planned my dinners around what certificates I had. Since I did not know where I wanted to eat, I checked Restaurant.com, looked over the restaurant menus, and other websites for restaurant reviews. When I go to Atlanta, I check to see what is available also. If I have a taste for a certain cuisine, I might check to see what restaurants they have. Since I am not saving an extreme amount of money, I look at the certificate value also.
The bottom line is that if I am going to a restaurant with a coupon (which is what this essentially is), I want to feel as if I am getting some savings. If I have to pay a lot (yes, this is arbitrary and can mean different things to different people) in my opinion, the whole certificate purchasing process is not worth it. The way that I try to maximize my deal is to buy the certificates on sale. They regularly have 70% and 80% off certificates prices. Instead of paying $10, I would pay $2 or $3 for a certificate with $25 value. However, for many of the fancier restaurants, the promo codes do not apply.
I recommend using Restaurant.com but do the math first to make sure you are mentally prepared for what you will have to pay at the restaurant. Using their certificates does not slash your restaurant cost drastically, but it will reduce them.