Going Out for Dinner? Here’s How to Get Paid for Eating at Restaurants

Restaurant discounts
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Honest Abe


Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. We’re letting you know because it’s what Honest Abe would do. After all, he is on our favorite coin.

Fact: More than 80% of Americans admit to wasting money.

And much of that money, they say, comes in the form of food and drink.

Nearly 70% of people said they spent too much on going out to eat, according to the 2,000 folks who responded to Hloom’s recent “The United States of Financial Waste” survey.

Additionally, more than 25% of respondents admitted to wasting money on alcohol. (Here’s how to get paid to buy it, instead.)

The good news is these respondents said, yes, they’d be willing to cut back on this spending.

The bad news is that temptations are difficult to curve. They’re not traditional restaurant discounts or coupons, but here are some easy ways to earn money back each time you eat (or drink) out.

It’s basically getting paid to eat at restaurants.

1. Never, Ever Throw Your Receipt Away

We’ve earned hundreds of dollars back on groceries thanks to Ibotta.

But, what many consumers don’t realize, is the free cash-back app also offers cash-back rewards for restaurants and bars.

If you haven’t already, download the app, tap “Find Rebates,” then scroll down to the “Restaurants & Bars” category. There, you’ll find nearby deals, including 10% cash back at Krispy Kreme and Buffalo Wild Wings.

The best part is you can find cash-back opportunities for any restaurant or any bar.

For example, order a Shock Top and any food item from anywhere your heart desires and score $2 cash back.

Plus, Ibotta will give you a $10 welcome bonus just for signing up.

See what’s available in your area.

2. Show Your Server a Barcode

Rather than planning your meal around coupons and rebates, here’s a cash-back opportunity you don’t have to think about until after dessert.

When your server brings you the bill, whip out your phone and open the Subtotal app.

Peruse its list of over 70 restaurants, find the one you’re dining at, and enter the bill’s total. Add a tip (no math required), and pay through the app.

The Subtotal app then generates a barcode that you show your server. It works similarly to a gift card.

By using the free app, you can score up to 10% cash back, which automatically pops into your credit or debit card account within a week.

Some of our favorite restaurants in the app include 8.1% cash back at Applebee’s, 5.25% cash back at BJs Restaurants and 7.5% cash back at California Pizza Kitchen. There’s also 8.1% cash back at Krispy Kreme and 6.75% back at Papa John’s.

Check out the full list of eateries, and download the app for free here (iOS/Android).

3. Pay With a Cash-Back Card

Something like 1% back on a meal might not seem like much, but it can add up quickly, especially if you’re feeding a family.

If you’re eating out, you might as well use a rewards credit card to get something back from your meal.

One of our favorites is the Barclaycard CashForward™ World MasterCard®. Not only does its name sound super fancy, you’ll accumulate 1.5% cash back on any and every purchase you make.

For example, if you spend $250 a month when you eat out, you’ll bank $45 back at the end of the year. Plus, if you (responsibly) spend $1,000 within the first 90 days of opening your account, you can snag a $200 bonus. Just make sure to pay it off in full each month to avoid interest.

Take a look at all the fine print, and see if it might be a good fit for you.

Bonus: Here are a few more reward opportunities.

4. Get Cash Back on Restaurant Gift Cards

You may already know that Swagbucks can help you earn SBs by taking surveys or watching videos online. Well, now you can earn more SBs by purchasing gift cards through the site.

Stick with us. It’s pretty easy.

First, buy a gift card from MyGiftCardsPlus through Swagbucks. Search for your favorite restaurant and buy the gift card. Swagbucks will give you cash back on the purchase.

Some of our favorites include Chipotle, Panera, Chili’s, IHOP, The Cheesecake Factory, Krispy Kreme, Domino’s and Papa Johns.

Then go eat. You’ll earn SBs from the gift card purchase you can use toward future gift cards.

Plus, if you sign up now, you can get a $5 bonus when you make your first purchase.

5. Stack Those Deals

Each of these methods can earn you some money back on your meals. But true Penny Hoarders stack ’em up for ultimate savings.

For example, try deal-stacking some of these offers — like paying through Subtotal with a cash-back card. You’ll earn points back on both platforms. Then, scan your receipt through Ibotta for even more cash back.

Exercise some creativity with your restaurant discounts and see how close to free your meal can be!

Advertiser Disclosure: Many of the credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which The Penny Hoarder receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). We do not feature all available credit card offers or all credit card issuers.

Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Tweet at her and tell her your favorite way to earn cash back when you dine out (because she goes out to eat a little too often.)

Honest Abe


Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. We’re letting you know because it’s what Honest Abe would do. After all, he is on our favorite coin.