Several people wrote to tell me about the Restaurant.com 80% off deal, but I sort of blew them off. It sounded too good to be true. I was wrong. Turns out this is very very real, but the offer ends today.

Kris and I have used Restaurant.com once, but don’t know much about it. Here’s what I can tell you:

  • The web site allows you to buy discounted gift certificates to restaurants. You might, for example, buy a $25 gift certificate for only $10.
  • Gift certificates are electronic. You print them out and take them with you.
  • Gift certificates are good for one year from the date of purchase.
  • When you sign up, you’re placed on an e-mail list through which the site sends you other offers.

Read more at the Restaurant.com FAQ.

Through today only, if you enter the code TREATS at checkout, you’ll receive an additional 80% off your order. In other words, today only, you can purchase $25 gift certificates for $2. (This offer applies to gift certificates of all denominations, not just $25. But $25 is a “safe” amount.)

While this is undeniably a great deal, it’s important to exercise caution if you decide to take advantage of it. For example, Kris and I have found that Restaurant.com doesn’t offer gift certificates for restaurants we frequent. Also — and this is important — use of these gift certificates requires a minimum purchase. There may also be other requirements and restrictions. (Be sure to read the terms and conditions.) Here’s a typical offer:

So, using the example above, I could purchase a $25 gift certificate for $10. (Today only, I’d be able to get that further discounted to $2.) If Kris and I then dined at Pinocchio during the next year and spend more than $35 on a meal, we could use that $25 gift certificate. Sounds like a good deal to me!

Even with the restrictions, and even without the extra 80% discount available today, Restaurant.com could be an excellent way to save money when dining out. I think it’s going to depend on your habits and your location. It’s certainly worth exploring.

Have you used Restaurant.com before? What feedback can you give GRS readers?

[via Lifehacker and GRS readers]

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