In the past year, I’ve earned several thousand airline miles and hotel points by dining at the same restaurants I always have. I don’t mean credit card rewards points; I’ve earned those in addition. How did I do it? With one of my favorite but least known restaurant deal sites: Rewards Network.
What is Rewards Network?
Rewards Network is a website that rewards users for dining at participating restaurants by offering points or miles. They allow you to choose the type of rewards to earn from popular rewards programs like American AAdvantage miles, Hilton HHonors points, Delta Skymiles, and many more.
They have a network of more than 11,000 restaurants across the United States. The restaurants also include select locations for many popular chains.
|Buca di Beppo||87|
|Jack in the Box||78|
|Lone Star Steakhouse||61|
|Dickey's Barbecue Pit||59|
|Fogo de Chao Brazilian Steakhouse||30|
How it Works
Rewards Network provides separate websites for each rewards program where you can sign up and search for eligible restaurants. You get rewarded each time you dine at a participating restaurant.
You earn points or miles based on how much you spend at the restaurant. Say you are registered for Delta SkyMiles Dining and you are earning 5 miles per dollar spent. If your bill comes out to $54, you would end up earning 270 miles total (54 x 5). You earn rewards based on the final bill amount including any tax and tip.
Best of all, you don’t need to tell the restaurant you are a Rewards Network member or give them any type of rewards card. Rewards Network automatically credits your rewards account when you use your registered credit card at a participating restaurant.
How to Register
It’s easy to get started with Rewards Network. Just register and you’ll start automatically earning rewards. Follow these simple steps to get setup.
1. Choose the rewards you want to earn
First, you want to decide on a rewards program. Review the list of programs in the table below and find the one that makes the most sense for you.
2. Register for the rewards program
You have to be registered for the rewards program first, before you register for dining rewards. So if you are not a member yet, you will need to register and make a note of your membership number.
3. Register on the rewards program’s dining website
To start earning rewards for dining, go to the Rewards Network website for that particular rewards program and click the Sign Up link (links to each dining website are provided in the table below). You will need to enter your name, address, email address, and your membership number for the rewards program. You will also be asked to opt in for email alerts. If you do, you will earn more points or miles each time you dine (although some programs will force you to opt in for emails to receive any rewards).
4. Register your credit or debit card(s) on the site
Once registered, you will need to enter at least one credit or debit card to start earning rewards. Don’t worry, you won’t be charged anything. When you dine at a participating restaurant and use your registered card, Rewards Network will automatically be notified about your dine. Be sure to register all your cards because if you use a non registered card you get nothing!
5. Find restaurants near you
Each rewards program’s dining site offers a search to find restaurants eligible for rewards near you. However, some restaurants only offer rewards on certain days, so be sure to double check what days are eligible. All rewards programs have the same restaurants in the network so it does not matter which one you use to search.
Go, eat, and enjoy! And be sure to use your registered credit or debit card! Typically the points or miles will show up in your account in 5-7 days.
|Rewards Program||Earnings||Signup Bonus|
|Orbitz Rewards||5% back in Orbucks||$10 in Orbucks|
|Club O||5% back in reward dollars||None|
|Plenti||3 points / $||None|
|Fuel Rewards||10 cents per gallon for every $50 spent||None|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards||3 points / $||1,000 Points|
|United Mileage Plus|
As you can see from the table above, the amount you earn may vary pending on your membership level within the program. Most of the dining programs have 3 membership levels:
- Member: Basic membership when you do not opt in for email notifications.
- Online Member: Membership when you do opt in for email notifications.
- VIP Member: Membership received after you have 12 or more eligible dines in the calendar year and you have opted in for email notifications.
There are a few exceptions, like Orbitz, Plenti and Southwest that have just a single level, while JetBlue has just two levels. Be sure to check the dining program’s website for the specifics.
Sign Up Bonuses
Most of the dining rewards programs have a sign up bonus. Each may have slightly different terms, but they typically offer you additional points or miles after your first dine of $30 or more at a participating restaurant within 30 days of signing up. Some rewards programs offer additional bonuses for the second or third dine or for writing a review for the restaurant you visited. Each program’s sign up bonus terms are clearly stated on their website.
Maximize Your Earnings
Here are a few tips I’ve learned after being a Rewards Network member for several years:
1. Earn as many different sign up bonuses as possible
Many of the programs offer lucrative bonuses where you can earn extra points/miles after your first dine. There’s nothing stopping you from earning bonuses from more than one program, so try doing one dine in each of the rewards programs that you are interested in.
2. Register all of your cards
You can register as many credit or debit cards as you want. So don’t miss out by accidentally using a non registered card when you dine. You can also register different cards for different rewards programs if you want to diversify the rewards you earn. Just make sure you don’t register the same card at more than one program or else you won’t earn any rewards.
3. Elect to receive emails
Most programs offer you more rewards if you opt in to receive email notifications. While you may be hesitant to receive additional emails, it’s not that bad. You typically receive one email per week summarizing the restaurants in your area eligible for rewards.
4. Write reviews when promotions are offered
Sometimes programs offer you bonus rewards if you write a review for one of your dining visits. The reviews only take a couple of minutes and are a nice way to earn a few more points or miles. Keep an eye on your email for these promotions.
5. Use a credit card that gives you cash back
One of my favorite things about Rewards Network is that you earn these rewards in addition to your typical credit card rewards so you can double dip. Find the credit card that gives you the most points or cash back on dining and make that the card you always use.
6. Use Cravor to find restaurants eligible for points and other savings
Cravor is a great tool for finding restaurants offering points and miles as well as other deals and coupons. It’s location based, making it the easiest way to find all the restaurants offering discounts near you.
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