Free Restaurant Coupons

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Free restaurant coupons can be used to get free appetizers, entrees, and desserts. Coupons may also provide discounts on entrees or entire bills, but may require a purchase to be valid. Offers can be found through a variety of sources, including Entertainment Coupon Books for select cities, coupons mailers like Valpak and Money Mailer, or from local dining magazines and newspaper circulars. In addition to coupons, restaurants sometimes run specials or promotions that provide discounts or free food without the need for a physical coupon.

Offered by Many restaurants, including Applebee’s, Chili’s and Ruby Tuesday
Types Restaurant rewards programs, social media deals, dining specials
Savings Range from a few dollars off a meal to a free dinner for two
Prevalence 62% of consumers redeemed restaurant coupons from in the past 6 months[1]
Limitations Vary with offer
Coupon required? Some offers require a paper coupon, others require a loyalty card
Author Susan MacDowell

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Restaurant Rewards Programs

One way restaurants issue coupons is through their Rewards Programs. Although not all restaurants have such programs, many do.

  • Many restaurants send out coupons to customers on their email list. Some, like Olive Garden, distribute coupons upon enrollment, and then occasionally throughout the year. Others, such as Texas Roadhouse and the Ninety Nine, are in more frequent communication with their members, emailing them about promotions weekly, and sending out coupons every month.
  • Some chains, such as Landry's, require members to pay a fee to enroll in a rewards program. The fee is then credited back to the diner, who can use it at any restaurant in the chain. The Landry's program runs on a point system. For every dollar a customer spends, they receive a point. After diners reach a certain number of points, they can redeem the points for free menu items, or discounts on the entire bill.[2]
  • Other chains, while not requiring an enrollment fee, also use a points system to allocate coupons. Outback Steakhouse requires members to input information from their receipt within several days after dining. The rewards that can be earned range from a free appetizer or dessert, to a complete dinner for two.
  • Some restaurants have gone paperless, issuing digital tracking systems. Red Robin, for example, has switched from printable coupons to a loyalty card. A digital coupon is automatically added to a customer's Red Royalty account annually on the customer's birthday, which can be redeemed when the card is presented at the restaurant.

Social Media Promotions

  • Most restaurants have Facebook pages and Twitter feeds, which may be used to distribute coupons, as well as news of special offers. Individual locations within a chain may have their own Facebook pages, which may have location-specific offers not mentioned on the corporate page.
  • Some restaurants, such as Chili's, give coupons to users who check-in via Foursquare. The coupon will display on a customer's smartphone, which can then be shown to the server.

National Restaurant Association Video

What do consumers look for in a restaurant?


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