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$3,000 a year. That’s how much the average American household spends on dining out according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Think about that for a moment… it’s a lot of cash.
If you’re trying to live frugally, you probably want to cut that figure down as much as possible.
Maybe you’ve already tried to stop eating out as much, and maybe you’ve failed. I don’t blame you. I get it – it’s hard to resist eating out when you live in a big city.
Fortunately, you don’t have to cut out the trips to the restaurant entirely to save money. You just have to get smarter about where and how you eat out.
That’s why today, we’re going to be reviewing Seated, an app that helps you to spend less money on eating out by rewarding you for your reservations.
In this full seated app review, we’re going to be talking about what it is, how it works, whether or not it’s worth trying out.
Interested? Well, you should be. Now let’s jump into it.
What is the Seated App?
Seated is a smartphone rewards application that rewards you for eating out at any of their 2,000+ partner restaurants. All of the restaurants included in the Seated app have been vetted and hand-picked to ensure diners get the best possible experience.
The app can be used to find new places to eat, make reservations, and earn money back via rewards points. Points are awarded based on how much you spend – typically up to 30% of the value of your check – and can be redeemed for different rewards.
Seated started operating back in mid-2017. Before that, the app was called ‘VocoLife’, but the creators changed the name when they relaunched a new and improved version.
The goal of Seated is apparently to encourage frequent diners to try out new restaurants by making it easier, quicker, and more affordable to find and book awesome restaurants.
This is definitely useful considering the fact that the average couple spends 132 hours every year trying to decide what to eat. Just think of all the money you could have earned if you would have spent that time working instead.
Currently, Seated operates in various cities and states all over the country, including New York, Chicago, LA, Boston, Washington D.C, Austin, Miami, San Fransisco, plus a few more places. If you live or frequently visit any of these areas, it’s worth downloading the app and giving it a try!
How Does it Work?
Here’s how the Seated app works in a nutshell.
- Book a reservation on the app
- Dine out at the restaurant (and meet the minimum spend)
- Pay the bill and snap a photo of the receipt
- Upload the photo to the Seated app to verify that you’ve met the minimum spend
- Your chosen reward code/points will show up in your app within 24 hours
It’s as simple as that!
However, to help show you how this works in practice, let’s dive into a little more detail.
How to Use the App
Here’s how to use the Seated app, broken down into 3 steps
Step 1: Browse the Restaurants in Your Local Area
Ok, so as soon as you’ve finished downloading and signing up for Seated, the app will automatically pair you with your nearest city that Seated operates in.
You can then set your party size in the app and browse through all the restaurants in that city by clicking ‘see restaurants’.
There are often hundreds to choose from, so you need to narrow down the results. To do so, you can sort and filter the results based on things like:
- type of cuisine
- Date/time Time and date
And more. You can also sort the results by swiping left. I like to sort them by ‘most popular’ as I’ve found that this puts the best quality restaurants at the top. However, you can also sort by reward value, availability, distance, and a few more factors.
If you find a restaurant you’re interested in, you can just tap on it to see more information, such as:
- How many people have recently booked it
- The estimated reward
- Minimum/maximum spend
- Rating and reviews from other customers
- Location information
- Photos of the restaurant, menu information, and more
Step 2: Make a Reservation
Once you’ve decided on a place to eat, you make your reservation through the app. Here’s how you do that:
- First, select your chosen reward (we’ll talk more about what these choices are later) at the top of the page
- Next, make sure your party size and date are correct
- Choose the time you’d like to make a reservation for and click ‘next’.
- Select how you’d like to verify your purchase; you can either link your card or opt to verify with a receipt
After that, you’re done. You can also cancel your reservation at any time as long as it’s not within 15 minutes of the reservation. Make sure you do that if you’re not going to be able to make it because if you fail to cancel and don’t turn up, your account can be suspended or fined a $5 fee.
Step 3: Verify Your Purchase
The next step is to show up at the restaurant and enjoy your meal. After that, you’ll need to verify your purchase.
If you selected to link your credit card to the app earlier and paid for the meal with this linked card, you don’t need to do anything else. Your chosen reward will automatically be delivered through the app within 48 hours.
If you didn’t pay with a linked card, you have to upload a photo of your receipt through the app and wait up to 48 hours. You can check to see if your reward has credited in the ‘Me’ section of the app.
Seated App Rewards
Seated partners with a handful of popular brands and retailers to offer in-app rewards. These rewards are mainly gift cards for brands like:
And many more. Personally, I like to redeem my points for Amazon gift cards as I tend to shop online a lot.
If gift cards aren’t your thing, you can also cash your points in for ‘Seated Experiences’. These rewards are various luxury VIP dining experiences – think wine tastings and tastings at fancy Michelin Star restaurants.
How to Maximize Your Rewards With Seated
If 30% back on your dining purchases wasn’t enough already, I’m going to show you how you can potentially double or even triple those earnings for even more juicy rewards. Here are 4 ways to maximize your rewards with Seated
Double Up With Another Dining Rewards Program
Seated isn’t the only program that rewards you for dining out. The AAdvantage Dining Rewards Network, for example, rewards you with miles for dining out at their restaurants. There are also other apps like Seated, such as OpenTable, that do the same,
You can double up on your rewards by using two similar dining rewards programs at the same time. For example, you could eat at a restaurant listed on both AAdvantage Dining and Seated. By using the credit card that’s linked to your AAdvantage account, you’d earn miles, and you could submit the receipt to the Seated app for points at the same time. Double the rewards!
The only tricky part is finding a restaurant that’s listed on both rewards programs, but it’s definitely doable!
Pay With a Rewards Credit Card
Another way to maximize your cash back is to earn credit cards rewards on top of your Seated points. Certain ‘rewards credit cards’ will reward you with lucrative points for dining out, so you can pay for your meal with these cards to get even more value back on your order.
Take Advantage of Bonus Promotions
Seated often run bonus promotions that give you additional rewards for signing up with the relevant promo code. For example, right now, you can earn $10 Lyft credit on your first Seated reservation by using the code ‘LYFTxSEATED’.
You can enter your promo codes in the ‘Me’ tab, which you can find in the bottom right corner of the app.
Refer Your Friends
You can also earn bonus rewards by telling your friends about Seated. They offer a referral program which rewards you with a $10 bonus just for getting your friends to sign up. This can be a great way to bump up your rewards.
All you have to do is click the gift icon on the app interface to get a unique referral code. Once your friends sign up with that code and complete their first reservation, your referral bonus will credit your account.
Tip: If you want to make money through referring friends, check out our post on the best apps for referral bonuses
What’s the Catch?
So far, so good. Seated seems pretty great, huh? At this point, you’re probably wondering what the catch is. After all, the business model does seem a little confusing. Why would Seated give you rewards points just for dining out? What’s in it for them?
The answer is revenue from restaurants.
It turns out that the restaurant industry is very competitive, and your custom is very valuable to restaurant owners. Seated promote these restaurants to new users by listing them on their app in exchange for a kind of referral fee. The app profits whenever the restaurant profits.
This is actually pretty good for us, the users, as we don’t have to pay anything to use the app. We benefit from cashback on our dining experiences, the restaurant benefits from marketing itself to new customers, and Seated benefit by making money. It’s a win-win-win situation.
It’s a really great marketing opportunity for restaurant owners as Seated say that their participating restaurants can reach over 2 million customers. They also provide restaurants with valuable analytics, reviews, and promotional tools.
Tips for Using Seated App
Here are some more top tips for using Seated App effectively:
- Make sure to always tell the restaurant host/hostess your Seated account name when you show up. If you don’t, you might get marked as a no-show, which can land you a $5 fine.
- If the restaurant doesn’t have a note of your Seated reservation, you can still earn your rewards by getting a walk-in table and verifying your purchase on the app.
- If, for some reason, your rewards are missing from the ‘Me’ section of the app, send a photo of your receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org and explain the problem. If it’s an error on their side, they’ll fix it.
- Make sure you pay for the bill in full on your linked credit card – don’t split it between your party. If you do split the bill, you’ll only be rewarded for the amount you paid individually.
- There are often limits on the number of times you can earn rewards at specific restaurants, so try to mix it up and try new places.
Other Seated App Reviews
I’m not the only one who thinks Seated app is pretty awesome, other users seem to agree too. Most other Seated app reviews are overwhelmingly positive.
On iTunes, for example, the app gets a respectable rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars, based on over 8,000 user ratings.
Here’s what one happy iTunes user has to say:
I have been a seated used for a while. Using the rewards, I no longer pay for my Uber! It allows me to try new places which is quite awesome as I got bored from the same places I used to go to. The search and filter have been very helpful in narrowing down what I want and the cuisines I like.
On Google Play, Seated is rated 4 out of 5 based on almost 500 user ratings.
Here’s another glowing review from an Android user:
great app. earn tons of rewards. well vetted restaurants and did I mention that you get paid to make a reservation and get a free Lyft to drop you off…. and a Starbucks. nice!!!
Advantages of Seated App
Based on my own experiences, and what other users had to say about the app, I’ve put together a list of the main advantages and disadvantages of the Seated app. Let’s start with the positive stuff.
Here are some of the things I like most about the Seated app:
- It encourages you to try new restaurants
- Seated pays out much higher value rewards than other similar dining rewards apps.
- Restaurants are thoroughly vetted so the food is always delicious
- There are tons of different restaurants on there so you have a lot of choices.
- It’s a great way to save money on dining out
- Many of the restaurants are high-end establishments. The app lets you try this high-end cuisine at mid-range prices
- You’re not locked into reservations – you can cancel at any time up until 15 minutes before the booking
- The app donates one meal to a child in need every time you make a reservation through ShareTheMeal. You’re not just saving money, you’re making a difference too!
Disadvantages of Seated App
On the other hand, there are a few things that I think could be improved. Here are some of the things I don’t like about the Seated app:
- The app has very aggressive notification rules and doesn’t allow you to adjust them, which can be annoying
- It doesn’t integrate with Yelp. Instead, Seated uses its own review system so the restaurant reviews and ratings may be a little skewed.
- Viewing your bookmarked restaurants isn’t easy – the only way to do so is to go to the home screen, where you can only see one of your bookmarked restaurants at a time. This is probably a way to encourage you to try new places, but it can be irritating.
- Most of the restaurants are high-end establishments so the menus can be a little pricy.
- Seated only has around 2,000 restaurants listed, which is significantly less than competitor apps like OpenTable
- You can’t dine solo through seated; there’s a 2-person minimum
How to Sign Up For the Seated App
Ready to start using Seated to earn rewards when you dine out? Here’s what you need to do:
- Download the Seated app through your iOS or Android device
- Open the app and either connect it with your Facebook account or enter your phone number. If you choose the latter, you’ll be sent a message with a code that you’ll have to enter into the app.
- Fill in some basic details (enter your full name, email address, etc.) and hit ‘start eating’
- Change your device settings to allow the app to access your location
- Turn notifications on if you want to get reminders about your upcoming reservations and other notices
After that, you’re ready to start using the app. Go ahead and browse the restaurants to make your first reservation!
Alternatives to Seated App
If you don’t think Seated app is the right dining rewards app for you, don’t worry, there are plenty more out there. Before we finish up, I wanted to talk about some of the best alternatives to the Seated app.
OpenTable is probably the most well-known dining reservation app on the market. It was one of the first apps to allow users to earn dining rewards and launched way back in 1998, and paved the way for many more apps of this kind.
Like the Seated app, OpenTable allows users to reserve tables, explore restaurants in their area, and earn points. The main difference between the two is that OpenTable has a lot more restaurants on offer – 43,000 of them. It also operates in many more locations both across the U.S. and internationally.
2. Spent App
Spent is another smartphone app that allows you to earn rewards for dining out. The app lets you earn 1% cash back on all your purchases at participating restaurants. Some participating restaurants even reward you with up to 15% cash back
The difference between Spent and Seated is that Spent isn’t just for dining, it’s for other general purchases too. As such, their list of participating restaurants is a lot smaller. Most participating restaurants on their list are big chains like Starbucks and Panera Bread. It’s not as good for discovering new restaurants as Seated.
Spent is also much more than a cash back app. It also provides tools to help self-employed individuals and small businesses to manage their finances.
You can view our detailed review of Spent here
3. Dosh App
Dosh is another cash back rewards app like Spent. It allows users to get cash back on purchases at retailers, hotels, and restaurants.
The dining rewards are a little more attractive than Spent. You can earn up to 10% cash back at participating Dosh restaurants, and there are lots of independent restaurants on their list.
The money you earn as cashback is deposited straight into your Dosh wallet and can be cashed out via PayPal or direct bank transfer once you have at least $15.
Click here to see our in-depth review of Dosh here
If those 3 apps aren’t enough, check out our post on 12 apps that give you cash back at restaurants for even more ideas.
Seated App Review: Final Thoughts
Alright, that concludes our Seated app review!
All in all, I really like the Seated app and would recommend it to anyone that likes to dine out and wants to live frugally. Even if you’re not interested in the rewards points, it’s still pretty useful just as a restaurant discovery app!
If you decide to try it out, let us know what you thought of the app in the comments. Enjoy!