Take a look at your Mint account. How much are you spending eating out every month? Maybe more than you realized.
But eating out is fun, and we don’t want to deprive you. So instead, we found some great cash back apps for restaurants. Go out to eat and get paid!
Gambeal gives you cash back when you eat at certain types of restaurants, mostly chains. For example, when you spend at least $6 a taco or burger restaurant, you get .25 back after uploading your receipt via the Gambeal app and reviewing your restaurant experience.
Gambeal will approve your receipt within 24 hours. Once your account has at least $20 in it, you can cash out through your PayPal account. The money will appear within 24 hours.
Trim is not strictly a cash back rewards dining program, but they do offer cash back. Trim goes through your bank and credit card statements and finds recurring transactions, things like Netflix and gym memberships.
If those subscriptions are something you want to cancel, Trim takes care of it for you. I signed up for Trim about three months ago and they have saved me $64 a month on subscriptions I didn’t really use and had them cancel.
Currently, when you make a Trim account and link any Visa, card, you will receive $1 back when you spend at least $5 at a restaurant, any restaurant! You can use this feature ten times.
Just activate the offer which Trim sends via Facebook Messenger, and that’s it! The next time you dine out, the money is automatically credited back to your linked Visa card.
Trim offers the same deal when you spend on groceries and offers a one-time $10 credit when you spend over $20 at a movie theater.
Spent is more than a cash back app, it’s also a tool to help small business owners, their employees, and freelancers manage their money. You connect your bank and credit card accounts, and the data is imported into Spent.
Each month you choose from a list of participating restaurants and retailers, and you will earn 1% cash back on all of your purchases. There is also a list of participating local shops and restaurants where you can earn up to 15% back.
You can track your earnings on your profile, and the money can be transferred to your PayPal account.
Nationally participating restaurants include Starbucks and Panera Bread and the food delivery service GrubHub. Retailers include office supply chains Staples and Office Depot where cash back can add up for small business owners.
Mogl is another great app that gives you cash back when you dine out, up to 10%! Sign up and link your credit or debit card. The app will show you a list of restaurants offering cash back.
Pay with your linked card, and you can get cash back, donate your savings to a fundraiser or earn points for travel rewards. The cash is credited to the linked card each month.
Currently, Mogl is only available in San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, Ventura County, San Francisco, and Phoenix.
Drop (promo code frugal4less) doesn’t offer cash back but points that you can use to claim gift cards from their partners. Download the app to make your account. Link a debit or credit card, you can link multiple cards. You will choose five brands you want to earn points with.
Each point is 1/10th of a cent, in simpler terms; 1,000 points are equal to $1. Once you’ve earned at least 5,000 points ($5), you can cash them in for gift cards. Typical users earn 1-2% cash back in the form of gift cards for each dollar spent.
Most of the brands are retailers, but restaurants include Starbucks and McDonald’s. When you shop, you earn points from participating stores and restaurants. Drop points don’t expire.
Dosh is one of the newer cash back apps on the scene. The app is still in Beta but it’s open to the public. You can earn 5-10% cash back at participating restaurants.
Download the app and create an account. Link your credit or debit card and the bank or PayPal account you want the money you earn deposited to.
When you spend money at a participating restaurant, your cash back is deposited into your Dosh wallet. Once you have at least $15 in your wallet, you can transfer it to your bank or PayPal account. The money arrives within three business days.
The app will show you a list of offers near you. I have a few dozen restaurants all offering 7% cash back. Like Yelp, there were lots of independent restaurants.
Dosh isn’t just a cash back app for restaurants. They also offer cash back for participating retailers both online and brick and mortar, and hotels.
iDine works on a tiered system, the more you spend dining out, the more cash back you earn. You can earn 5% cash back on your restaurant bills including tax and tip when you spend up to $750 a year and opt-in to receive emails from iDine.
If you spend more than $750 per year and opt-in for the emails, you’ll earn 10% cash back. The emails are not spammy or annoying; they’re usually updates on which restaurants in your area have recently joined the program and come about once per week.
Sign up for an account and link your debit or credit card. Once you have earned at least $20, iDine will mail you an American Express gift card worth the total amount of your rewards.
You can search restaurants by zip code, city, state or name. Don’t give up if you enter your zip code and the results come back as no restaurants found. That happened to me, so I used New Orleans as my search and found a few dozen participating restaurants.
Seated is my favorite of the rewards dining apps. Seated is an app for making restaurant reservations. Download the app and create an account.
Use the app to make restaurant reservations. Each time you complete a reservation, you get a $15 credit for Amazon or Lyft.
You are required to link a credit or debit card. Some restaurants require a minimum spend and linking the card you use to pay is how Seated verifies you met the minimum.
While I appreciate saving any amount when I eat out, even the 7% cash back which is the highest I’ve found so far near me is usually going to add up to less than $10.
But a $15 Lyft credit each time I use a participating restaurant is a generous reward. So much so that I go out of my way to eat at restaurants that participate.
Once you complete your reservation, your reward will appear in your account within 24-48 hours.
Some of the information on Seated’s website seems to be out of date. The site states that they offer credits with Uber, Starbucks, and Amazon. My choices have included Lyft instead of Uber in the past, but now Uber has replaced Lyft on my app.
The site also states that you will receive a $30 credit but the last time completed a reservation which was just a few weeks ago, I got $15 which is the amount I have always been awarded. Reviewing information for this article is the first time I have seen a $30 offer.
According to the site, Seated is only available in New York, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Miami, Houston, Austin, Denver, and Seattle. But I have been using Seated for several months, and I live in New Orleans.
Just because your city isn’t on the list doesn’t necessarily mean Seated isn’t available there so check to be sure.
To qualify, your reservations must be for two or more people and for most restaurants, you can only be rewarded for two reservations in a 30 day period.
Upromise wants to help you with college expenses. You will earn 2.5% cash back on your total restaurant bill including tax and tip when you dine in, order take out or buy a gift card with a participating restaurant.
Sign up for an account and link your debit or credit card. The money you earn can be used to save for college, pay down an existing student loan or paid out via check.
Your earnings can be deposited into a linked 529 Savings account or a linked student loan account. A check can be sent once you have $10 or more in your Upromise account.
Submit a request online, and the check will be sent out by the end of the current month or beginning of the following month.
There are more than 10,000 restaurants that are part of the Upromise program. You can search for restaurants with a zip code or by name. I found several dozen restaurants in my area.
If you want to get even more cash back, Upromise has other programs. If you use their credit card, you can earn 10% cash back. You can also earn cash back through online shopping, travel, grocery, and drug store purchases.
10. Open Table
Open Table is another site for making restaurant reservations. You earn points when you book and complete a reservation through Open Table.
Most reservations are worth 100 points, but sometimes you can earn up to 1,000 points by booking at a certain restaurant at a particular time.
Sign up for an account; there is no need to link a debit or credit card. Once you accumulate 2,000 points, you can redeem them for a $10-20 dining rewards gift card which you can use at any participating restaurant. You can also redeem points for an Amazon gift card.
The cards are sent via email within an hour of redemption. Earning 5,000 points will give you a $25-50 reward, and 10,000 points are worth a $50-100 reward.
Open Table works with thousands of restaurants. You can search by location, type of cuisine or restaurant name.
Points expire after 12 months of account inactivity.
11. eScrip Dining
eScrip Dining doesn’t give you cash back, but rewards three enrolled schools or non-profits in your area with up to 5% cash back when you dine out at participating restaurants.
Sign up for an account and choose from three enrolled non-profits. Link your debit and credit card. When you dine out, you’ll automatically earn 2.5% cash back. Review the restaurant, and you’ll receive an additional 2.5% cash back.
Your rewards will appear in your account once the restaurant registers the transaction, usually within five days. Again, I found a few dozen participating restaurants in my area.
There seems to be a pattern. For all of these rewards programs, I see a lot of the same restaurants who participate.
Many of us turn to Yelp to check out reviews before we head out to a new restaurant. Now you can also get 7-10% cash back when you eat at thousands of participating restaurants.
Log into an existing Yelp account or sign up for a new one. Link the credit or debit card you use when dining out, pay with that card, and the money will be credited to the card by the 18th of the following month.
To find participating restaurants just type “cash back restaurants” into the “Find” bar at the top of Yelp’s page. Each restaurant listing will show the percentage of cash back they offer.
I live in New Orleans and found 41 participating restaurants, all of them offering 7% back. I was happy to see that most of them were independent restaurants and not just chains which as a New Orleanian, I am forbidden to eat in.
There is no minimum spend, but the offer isn’t available for delivery orders.
Some of these apps are pretty generous, some are less so. But you can really make them worth your while if you stack rewards. The first thing is to get a good dining rewards credit card if you don’t already have one (and don’t have credit card debt).
Currently, the Uber Visa Card offers unlimited 4% cash back on all dining purchases. The Capital One Savor Card is now offering unlimited 3% cash back on dining purchases.
If the cash back card you use has revolving categories, be sure to activate them for the quarter. The Chase Freedom Card offers 5% cash back at restaurants when dining is one of the quarterly categories as does the Discover it Cashback Match Card.
Choose one debit or credit card to use whenever you eat out. While you often can link more than one card to dining rewards programs, doing so dilutes the rewards.
Sign up for all of the programs we listed that sound interesting to you. No, Gambeal isn’t going to make you a lot of money, but when you combine several programs, your earnings can add up.
Because most of these programs will send you emails, create a separate “rewards” email address so you can keep track of them.
Sometimes you get bonus offers, emails offering additional cash back at restaurants which have recently joined a program and this is a good way to stay on top of new ways to increase rewards without cluttering up your regular email in box.
If you have an American Express Card, check out Amex Offers when you log into your account.
Sometimes the offers will be for additional membership rewards points which can be used for statement credits and sometimes they will be for a credit statement when you spend a certain amount of money at a particular restaurant.
Currently, my restaurant offers include $5 back after spending $25 or more at Chuck E Cheese and one additional point for every dollar spent at Longhorn Steakhouse.
If you dine at the same restaurants often, join any loyalty programs, they have. These will most often be available at chain restaurants and offer things like free food on your birthday and a free appetizer when you order an entree.
Don’t forget about Groupon and Living Social which often sell discounted restaurant deals. Groupon has scrapped their restaurant cash back rewards program, but you can still buy Groupon vouchers that will save you money when you eat out.
If you like travel rewards, sign up for airline loyalty rewards programs. They often partner with dining rewards programs and restaurants so you can earn points that can be redeemed for travel rewards when dining out.
American, Delta, and United Airlines all currently offer such programs.
Eat, Drink, and Be Frugal!
Eating out can be a great pleasure, so we don’t want to tell you not to do it. But eating out can really make a dent in your budget so use these rewards programs so you can have your cake (or steak) and eat it too.
See any restaurant cash back apps that aren’t on this list and should be? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading and happy frugaling!