Restaurant Gift Certificates

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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You've heard the old saying "Everybody has to eat." Right there is all the justification you could ask for in picking up a restaurant gift certificate for the folks on your holiday lists. Whether it's a credit to a fast food joint, a 24-hour diner, or a five-star bistro, your coupon is every bit as good as cash and will be honored accordingly. There are, however, a few things to bear in mind.

Number one, not all restaurants offer gift certificates to their customers. Some of the more "elite" eateries frown on the notion of gift certificates altogether, though you're more likely to find this snobbery among venerated stand-alone restaurants than chains or franchises. Spots such as Applebee's, Ruby Tuesday, and Chili's, which occupy places in Everytown, USA, are more accessible to the average diner than, say, a chop house or sushi bar. Hence, it's understandable that their corporate offices are more likely to extend credit to their customer bases.

You Get What You Pay For

While it may sound obvious, your recipients' gift certificates only cover the food and drink that they order. Compare this with a complimentary meal, which may not have any sort of spending cap in place. Typically, when restaurants botch their food or service (or both) and succeed in ruining your meal, they'll offer you a price break or even a future meal "on the house." Your restaurant gift certificate is not carte blanche for a nine-course extravaganza, but rather a credit that treats appetizers, entrees, desserts, drinks, liquor, tax, and tip exactly the same.

If you're buying a restaurant gift certificate for a family, remember that unless it's burgers, dogs, or pizza, it's next to impossible to find a quality dinner for four for under fifty dollars, which for many folks is a lot to spend. Better to shell out the same amount on a dinner for two and let them hire a babysitter to look after the kids or else choose a lunch venue instead. It's much easier to stretch your restaurant buck at a soup and sandwich shop in the middle of the day than it is at a new dinner joint with inflated prices that's just opening in a "hot" part of town.


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