Wanna earn rewards every time you dine out?
How, you ask?
Through OpenTable Rewards program.
With this program, you basically get paid to eat out!
Here’s what you need to know and do to earn rewards the next time you dine out…
What will I learn?
What is OpenTable?
OpenTable is a website and app that can help you reserve your next dining experience and earn cool rewards for doing so.
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It’s very similar to the Seated app which I reviewed recently.
It’s perfect for traveling and restaurant discovery, with access to more than 43,000 restaurants worldwide.
You can find restaurants by location or cuisine, see pictures and menus, read reviews, book tables, update reservations, cancel or rebook reservations, and even invite guests to dinner with you!
As you continue to use the app, you’ll get personalized recommendations based on your experiences and preferences.
At the same time, you’ll rack up points toward free or discounted future dining experiences.
Where Can I Use OpenTable?
OT is available in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., as well as internationally.
Check it out in these featured locations (and many more) worldwide:
- New York, New York – 31,031 restaurants
- Chicago, Illinois – 10,480 restaurants
- Los Angeles, California – 10,447 restaurants
- San Francisco, California – 8,438 restaurants
- Miami, Florida – 6,141 restaurants
- Las Vegas, Nevada – 2,212 restaurants
- London, England – 10,102 restaurants
- Tokyo, Japan – 4,096 restaurants
- Berlin, Germany – 1,709 restaurants
- Mexico City, Mexico – 1,392 restaurants
- Melbourne, Australia – 766 restaurants
- Dublin, Ireland – 601 restaurants
How to Get Started
The very first thing you need to do is sign up for an account. That’s how you’ll rack up and redeem your rewards.
You can register on the website or on the free app, available for iOS or Android.
- Step 1: Visit the website at opentable.com and click the blue “sign up” button at the top, righthand corner of the webpage or download the app (iOS or Android) and follow the prompts.
- Step 2: Enter your name, email and primary dining location OR sign up with an existing Facebook or Google account, then click “Create Account.” If you’re a professional who books reservations for other people, check the box that says so.
- Step 4: Input your location or let location services find you. On the mobile app, you can also set and save separate locations for “home” and “work” for your convenience.
- Step 5: Begin searching restaurants.
You can then start browsing and searching for restaurants near you that work with OpenTable.
Start Making Reservations
First, decide whether you prefer to use the website or mobile app – or a mix of both!
Once you’ve chosen, sign in.
As long as you have location services enabled on your computer or mobile device, you will see restaurants near your location, new and hot restaurant picks and restaurants recommended for you.
From there, it’s pretty basic:
- Browse or search for the perfect restaurant.
- Click a restaurant to learn more or choose a reservation time.
- Select a reservation time, enter your phone number and click “reserve.”
That’s it! After that, you just have to show up.
Using the app
The mobile app is an easy way to make reservations, discover new restaurants or cash in rewards on the go – right from your mobile device.
On the app, you can browse by cuisine or see highlighted restaurants by categories including (but not limited to):
- Great for brunch
- Special occasion
- Good for groups
- Fit for foodies
- Family style
- Bar seating
Under “Dinner Tonight,” you can toggle your party size, as well as your dining day and time.
Restaurants that have been booked the most that day will appear at the top of the list, just below any restaurants that might be paying for a promotion. Promoted restaurants are marked as such, for transparency.
For each restaurant, you can see user ratings, cuisine style, price and location.
If you prefer a map view, that is also an option.
To learn more about a restaurant, or to book a reservation, click on the restaurant’s name.
If you’re like me and you like to work up an appetite looking at food pictures, good news – you can also view user photographs of food at each restaurant.
You can also favorite your preferred restaurants, read about a restaurant’s most popular dishes, access full menus and dive deep into user reviews if you choose.
Restaurant pages show users the restaurant’s address on a map, as well as a phone number, price range, hours, payment options, parking, dress code info and more.
The app also offers users the ability to buy gift cards for other users. But more on that later.
On the “Search” tab, enter your current location and search by restaurant name or cuisine.
On the “Reservations” tab, book a table or look at pending reservations.
On the “Profile” tab, access your user settings, edit your profile, see a list of your favorite restaurants, and browse/claim reward options. Keep reading for more info on that.
Using the website
The website experience is very similar to the mobile app.
Once you log in and choose your location (or just use “current location”), you can choose a quick search from the menu – “Lunch today” – for example.
Alternatively, set your party size, and the time, date and your preferred cuisine to search your options.
If you’d rather browse all the restaurants in your location click where it says “View all (number) restaurants in (your city).”
Just below the search function, you can also browse through lists curated from your activity on OT.
My account, for example, shows me:
- Best Italian restaurants in my area
- Best American restaurants in my area
- Popular neighborhoods
- Restaurants near popular landmarks and other hot spots
You can also explore new places in your area and increase your rewards by taking advantage of Bonus Point Tables.
Once you’re ready to book, the process is largely the same as on the mobile app.
Example of Booking a Reservation
If I’m in Manhattan, the first restaurant that shows at the top of my list is The Capital Grille – Chrysler Center. I can see right away that it’s a promoted restaurant.
I can also see that it’s pricey ($$$$), but well rated. And, it’s been booked 92 times today.
But maybe I’m more in the mood for The Smith – Nomad, with its casual American cuisine emphasizing local products.
At nearly $20 less per plate than the promoted restaurant, it has an impressive 4.6/5 rating after more than 1,250 user reviews. They rave about great service and the restaurant being great for birthdays, groups, business meetings, brunch and special occasions.
It has also been booked the most of any restaurant in this area on OT today – 313 times.
Furthermore, I can read a description of the restaurant and see where it is on a map. I can also see its phone number, hours, payment options, parking details and dress code.
After I pick a reservation time, the app asks “what’s the occasion?” It also offers me the ability to make a special request, and opt-in to receive text updates on my reservation if I want.
After that, it’s time to seal the deal and click “reserve.”
I can feel my mouth watering already…
When you book and honor restaurant reservations with OT, you can earn points toward future discounted dining experiences or Amazon gift cards.
From time to time, OT will even give you the option to donate points toward charitable causes.
There are three rewards tiers – 2,000, 5,000 and 10,000.
At each level, you receive a higher reward.
At 2,000 points, you can get:
- Dining Reward Value up to $20, $10 Amazon gift card
At 5,000 points, you can get:
- Dining Reward Value up to $50, $25 Amazon gift card
At 10,000 points, you can get:
- Dining Reward Value up to $100, $50 Amazon gift card
If a reservation is eligible for dining points – which is the case for more than 20,000 restaurants on OT – you will see how many during the booking process, likely in the reservation detail and also in your reservation confirmation from the comapny.
The total points per dining experience can vary, based on the date and time of your reservation.
There are 1,000 point and Bonus Point reservations – typically special promotions that require two or more diners. Keep an eye out for those to earn more points faster.
Redeeming Your Points
Beware – points do expire if you go longer than 12 months without collecting more.
Also, activated reward cards expire 12 months after the end of the month it was issued to you, so don’t activate them if you don’t have plans to use them soon.
Don’t let good rewards go to waste.
If you are ready to use them, access your reward points in your user profile.
There, you can view your reservation history, activate dining rewards, see your balance, and how many points until your next reward.
Redeem points toward dining experiences
First thing’s first – check your profile for your rewards points balance, and click the button that says “Get ($) Dining Reward.”
- Choose the number of points to be redeemed.
- Activate your award via email within 12 months of receipt.
- Within 12 months of activation, make and honor a reservation.
- Bring your printed reward card, or show it to the restaurant to redeem.
Reservations are required to use your dining reward, and it must be a new reservation to be eligible. Also note, all redemptions are final.
Redeem points toward Amazon gift cards
If you’d rather use your points toward an Amazon gift card instead of another dinner reservation, just click “Get ($) Amazon Card” in your profile when you go to redeem them.
Amazon cards are sent through email and typically arrive within an hour of redeeming your points.
Maximizing the Rewards You Earn
Look for Bonus Point Tables and 1,000-point Table in the app or on the OT website. They are the quickest way to earn the maximum amount of points for a single reservation as quickly as possible.
Good news – finding these opportunities is easy.
Nearby restaurants offering extra points should automatically feature at the top of your search results.
Just click a time slot with a “1,000 points” label, and you can claim your reward once you honor that reservation.
Add a Promo Code to Save Even More
Under “Payment Settings” in your profile, you can add promo codes to save even more money when eating out.
Once the promo code has been added to your settings, you can apply it to the receipt when paying with your OT app.
Examples of promo codes
I found several codes on coupon sites, claiming to get users up to $20 off with OpenTable.
Some are restaurant specific, and others are not.
None are guaranteed, but here are a few to try:
You can also use restaurant coupon apps to find more discount and promo codes for local restaurants.
What Else Can I Do with OpenTable?
Did I mention you can pay for meals (at participating restaurants) with your mobile app?
This feature really sets OT above its competitors!
You have the option to do this through credit cards you set up on your account, or through Google Wallet.
Of course, if you’re paying with a Dining Rewards Card, you can access that on your phone as well.
You can also buy and send gift cards (in select cities) to friends using OT. You can pre-select the restaurant, or leave the recipient’s options open.
Once you pay for the gift card, it will be mailed to the recipient and you will receive a receipt via email.
The recipient can activate and use the card through the app or on the website.
OT for Restaurateurs
If you own and/or operate a restaurant that doesn’t use an online reservation system, check out OT’s website.
Restaurants have access to a full cloud-based table management solution, as well as tools to accept, manage and monitor reservations.
The service is also a one-stop-shop for managing and monitoring customer reviews, and monitoring reservations and guests per shift on the go.
OpenTable Reviews by Other Users
Still the market leader in services of its kind, many users are still favorable toward OpenTable – especially when it comes to making the reservation process a breeze.
One user wrote “Got a date to impress? Maybe you’re trying to celebrate your anniversary, or simply meet up with a group of friends and grab something to eat. OpenTable will make it unbelievably easy for you to find the perfect place for the right occasion. Now save yourself some trouble by searching, exploring, and making a reservation all in one app.”
The New York Times named OpenTable one of 12 Travel Apps Worth Keeping in 2016.
The app also made No. 71 on Mashable’s 100 Best iPhone Apps of All Time list in 2015.
Negative reviewers have complained about more recent updates to the search functionality when dining outside of one’s typical location – particularly unfortunate for a travel dining app – and about customer service.
One user said redeeming and using rewards points can be difficult – “I would advise against giving an OpenTable gift certificate as a gift to anyone. There are way too many limitations, rules, and annoying steps to redeem.”
Fake Reservations Scandal
In 2018, the company made headlines for the wrong reasons.
Over the course of two months, a rogue employee allegedly made more than 300 reservations at 45 Chicago restaurants using a competing app, Reserve.
Of course, all would turn out to be no-shows.
The intent was likely intended to make Reserve look bad in order to sell those restaurants on OpenTable.
The comapny says the incident was the work of a lone employee, who has since been fired.
If you like booking restaurant reservations online, also check out:
- Seated: This is the best app like OpenTable. You can earn between $10 to $50 in rewards every time you book a restaurant with the Seated app.
- Reserve: You don’t earn rewards, but it’s a good app for finding new places to eat and booking them.
- Resy: Same as Reserve – no rewards, but offers easy reservations and it’s a great app for discovering cool places to eat out.
- Tock: They offer reservations in many different countries and not just the U.S..
The Bottom Line
To end this review of OpenTable and its rewards program, I’d have to say it is a great app and website to use specially if you eta out often. I mean, if you are going to dine at a restaurant, you may as well use OT to earn free gift cards and meals.
Now over to you…
Have you tried OpenTable or other apps like it?
Tell us what you thought about the experience in the comments.