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.

OpenTable Reservations:

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.

Many 1,000 point dining options in Vegas

Many 1,000 point dining options in Vegas

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.

OpenTable Mommy Points

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.

OpenTable Cheque

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?

Posted by mommypoints | 15 Comments

15 Responses to “Using OpenTable Reservations to Earn Free Food”

  1. We’ve been using Open Table for a couple of years. My only probem with the service is that they physically mail the dining check. It would be much better if your dining credit was visible/ usable with the app. There have been many times where we wanted to use our credit but had it at home, on the fridge!

    We recently used a $50 certificate to go for a nice dinner for Kim’s birthday.

  2. Ken says:

    Any problem with restaurants accepting the cheque?

  3. Rob P says:

    Open Table is great, easy and lucrative.

  4. Res says:

    I’ve been using open table for years and love it. One caveat: you really need to cancel your reservation in advance (can be done online or through the app) rather than no show as a very small number of no shows reportedly ends up in your account being closed. I also save my receipt until the points post as occasionally the restaurant forgets to check you off and OT follows up as a no show. Restaurants get charged a fee for each rezzo (around $4-5 for a regular rezzo I believe and quite a bit more for a 1000 pt rezzo) so they also sometimes keep non OT rezzo spots, so if you don’t see anything available on OT, call and give it a try.

  5. Rob P says:

    Yeah you gotta make sure that the host/hostess checks you in.

  6. mommypoints says:

    Michael, awesome!
    Ken, I haven’t really heard reports of problems.
    Rob, agree!
    Res, I have had a no-show or two and my account has remained okay, but I agree it isn’t a good idea for many reasons. Also agree it is worth a call to the restaurant if you don’t see what you want on OT!
    Rob, I have never done that and always had the dines post, but I am sure it is better to be safe than sorry.

  7. Alan says:

    The main reason to contact the restaurant if you are going to be a no-show is simply that it is rude not to! It should not have anything to do with your Open Table account being closed. It is just that it isn’t fair to a restaurant to hold a table for you if you aren’t going to eat there. Think if you wanted to eat at that restaurant and your ideal time was ‘booked’ by someone who didn’t show up. NOT COOL!

  8. Ryan says:

    I’ve been using it since 2008 and swear by it. Pretty much all non-chain restaurants in Calgary it so makes life extremely simple. I’d say

    This post reminded me to check my account, and it turns out I had enough for another cheque. So another $26 CAD (not sure why we get $26 and US only gets $20, but I love their exchange rate) of food for free. Since 2008, I’ve got $260 in cheques.

  9. mommypoints says:

    Alan, totally agree. I have messed up a time or two but agree with your sentiment.
    Ryan, awesome! Enjoy your food!

  10. Laura R says:

    I have used Open Table for years to make reservations at The Melting Pot (their website automatically directs you there) but The Melting Pot is not a restaurant that earns points in the program! Other than that we don’t eat very often at restaurants that require reservations. Although I did just look at the list and we have actually been to a few that are on there and I never thought about using the service to make a reservation. Thanks for the tip!

  11. kodoma says:

    Just used it when I was in Vegas, really easy to get points in that town!

  12. Alan says:

    I should have added above that I really love Open Table, have been a member for years, and use it all the time. What a great way to get something for free, since I would be booking at these restaurants on the telephone otherwise. We have a tradition at our wedding anniversary dinner that I get a 20,000 point OT certificate a few months ahead. We then order a $200 bottle of wine at the restaurant and toast Open Table!

  13. john says:

    I am a frequent user of Open Table. However, when it shows no availability for a particular time, I call the restaurant, and frequently will be able to book for that time. Although I cannot prove it, I believe some of the more popular restaurants intentionally show no availability for the time slots they know they are going to book anyway. Since the restaurant is probably paying a fee for each booking through Open Table, they could avoid paying that fee if they know people are going to book for those slots by telephone.

  14. phil says:

    One BIG problem with Open Table is that your cancellation may not make it to the restaurant in a speedy manner. I cancelled a rez. in Denver area in June, the night before (online), and the restaurant called me about a half hour after the original rez. time & asked why I didn’t show up. Not sure who screwed up but it wasn’t me.

  15. Rebekah says:

    I am a host at a restaurant that uses open table. Please NEVER make an online reservation if the host tells you they are on a wait!!! They have a wait because they don’t have room for you at the moment. Go on the wait and if something opens up sooner they will let you in. It difficult and frustrating for the staff, not to mention extremely rude to make an online reservation if the restaurant is on a wait. Open table isn’t supposed to allow online reservations when the restaurant is on a wait but sometimes it doesn’t update right away. If you make an online reservation and the restaurant is on a wait for walk-ins already you are overbooking the restaurant! If you weren’t able to plan ahead and make a reservation beforehand please just try a different restaurant and come back to the one that was on a wait another time.

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