U.S. households have, on average, 18 loyalty club memberships. That might seem like a lot, but when it comes to dining out at least, more is better.
According to the National Restaurant Association, 30% of restaurants offer a loyalty or reward program. Yes, signing up entails carrying yet another card tag on your keychain and a full inbox of regular emails, but the discounts are worth it.
Bookmark sites, like SurvivingtheStores.com and DealNews.com, usually grab printable versions of the coupons sent to members but you won’t find every deal there, so that strategy is best reserved for restaurants where you’re an infrequent visitor.
For favorite haunts, time your signup a few days in advance of a visit — chains often send out a welcome offer. In addition to regular coupons, here’s what members can expect:
Black Angus Steakhouse
Get a free dessert for signing up for the Prime Club. On your first birthday as a member, get a coupon for a free steak dinner with the purchase of a second entrée of equal or greater value.
Buca di Beppo
New members get a free appetizer or specialty bread.
California Pizza Kitchen
Get $5 off your next visit by signing up.
Sign up for the email club to get a free order of Skillet Queso and Chips with the purchase of any entrée.
New members of the “Raving Fan eClub” get two free grilled chicken tacos at signup, and a free premium shake on your birthday.
On your birthday, get a free Grand Slam breakfast.
Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant
New members get $10 worth of reward points uploaded to their card, redeemable for restaurant discounts and freebies. Regularly, earn one point per dollar spent.
Get a $2 coupon toward a 16-ounce smoothie.
Sign-up for the e-club and get a four-pack of muffins.
Sign up for the Q Club, and get a coupon for up to $2 off your next purchase.
Romano’s Macaroni Grill
Save $5 on a purchase of two entrees when you sign up for Get The Dish emails.
Earn one point per dollar spent; 200 are redeemable for a $20 voucher.
New members of Give Me More Stripes get one coupon for a free dessert or appetizer, and another that lets you jump to the front of the line to get a table. For your birthday, get a free dessert with purchase of an entrée. Members earn one point per dollar spent on purchases that include food, with points redeemable for discounts.
Frugal Foodie is a journalist based in New York City who spends her days writing about personal finance and obsessing about what she’ll have for dinner. Chat with her on Twitter through @MintFoodie.