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Obviously I love miles and points for (almost) free, or certainly reduced cost travel, but I don’t discriminate against points that get me free food. I sign up for every yogurt punch card, burrito stamp, and dining club card that I encounter. These all result in “free” food for my family assuming we frequent that location with some regularity. Many of those programs are somewhat regional and based on the restaurants in your area, but there is one program that is available to virtually all of us and can result in more free food.
I have been using OpenTable.com for a while because it is a very easy way to make reservations at properties around the country. I even used their sister site, TopTable, to make reservations when I was in Europe. I hate picking up the phone to make a reservation unless absolutely necessary, but a few clicks of the mouse is easy-peasy. This means that OpenTable is perfect for my family since we can not only make dining reservations at many restaurants very easily, but if our plans change we can change or cancel the reservations just as easily. Tip: Sometimes I have been told by the host at a restaurant there is a wait of an hour or more, but I go on OpenTable from my smartphone and make a reservation for a time much sooner.
I have used OpenTable this year on vacation for many dinners including: Molasses at the St. Regis Bahia Beach, both Shibuya and Hakkasan at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, White Oak Kitchen in Atlanta, and Toscanini in Beaver Creek. I also use it locally on a regular basis for a few kid-friendly restaurants in order to avoid having to wait for a table.
Earning OpenTable Rewards:
You need some basic understanding of what OpenTable is before you can understand the rewards program, but the real point of this post isn’t how awesome OpenTable is for reservations, but rather how those reservations can get you free food.
When you make a reservation online and follow through with eating at the restaurant, much of the time you get 100 points. However, there are sometimes reservations slots that give you 1,000 points. Much of the time, these reservations are for the “off-peak” (early) dining times. This is often perfect for families as eating at popular times such as 7:30PM or 8:00PM is too late for little bellies. This means that you can sometimes get 1,000 points per completed reservation at some restaurants.
Redeeming OpenTable Rewards:
Once you get 2,000 OpenTable points you can redeem for an OpenTable cheque to use at any restaurant nationwide that participates in OpenTable. Getting to 2,000 points can take a little while at 100 points a pop, but if your plans line up with some of the 1,000 point options then it is easy to get there in a hurry.
Here is the rewards chart for the United States:
2,000 OpenTable Points = $20 OpenTable Dining Cheque
5,000 OpenTable Points = $50 OpenTable Dining Cheque
10,000 OpenTable Points = $100 OpenTable Dining Cheque
When you’ve earned enough points to exchange for a Dining Cheque, the option to “Redeem Points” will appear on your “My Profile” page when you log in. Simply click “Redeem Points” to place your order.
I’ve just placed and order for my first OpenTable cheque, and look forward to using it to save some money on a meal I would have had regardless. It reportedly takes 3-6 weeks for your cheques to arrive in the mail, but it just took about a week for mine to arrive.
Naturally, OpenTable rewards will also stack with earning miles via a Dining Rewards program (such as MileagePlus Dining) at participating restaurants, and earning 2x (or 3x on First Fridays) paying with your Sapphire Preferred card, charging the meal to your room to also earn hotel points, etc. If the restaurant you are visiting also has their own local rewards program, then use that, too! It can easily result in a quadruple dip in earning rewards, miles, and points!
Anyone else use OpenTable as one of their ways to earn some extra points while eating out?