Cutting the Value of Rewards Network Dining for Miles in Half: the End of the VIP Rate Your Dining Bonus

iDine (aka Rewards Network) which partners with several loyalty programs to provide miles for dining has just become half as valuable.

Used to be that all dining activity earned 10 miles per dollar via most airline co-branded relationships. A couple years ago they initially killed the 10 miles per dollar, implementing a new structure of 1 mile per dollar for those signed up for the program, 3 miles for those who create an online profile, and 5 miles per dollar for those who use the program enough to be called ‘VIPs’. After much outcry they added a bonus 5 milers per dollar for VIPs who ‘rate their dine’ after the meal, effectively returning the program to 10 miles per dollar for those who remain engaged enough in the program.

The ‘rate your dine’ bonus was not extended to 2009. It just disappeared off the website.

Initially it was there, a direct link to the offer said it was ongoing. The link on the Delta and United co-branded websites specifically said the offer would expire December 31, 2009, which menas they updated the end-date on the offer from 12/31/08.

In a Flyertalk discussion, though, the a purported representative of the company made the unlikely claim that this was just a web archiving glitch.

(W)e encountered a technical issue that was specific to archived links associated with the Delta SkyMiles Dining and the United Mileage Plus Dining “VIP Rate Your Dine Bonus”. The VIP Rate Your Dine Bonus for all Rewards Network dining programs ended on 12/31/08 – there was no special extension for Delta or United.

How an ‘archived links’ issue could have changed the end-date of the program is unclear. But it doesn’t really matter. The VIP rate your dining bonus has ended. Which means the most you can get out of the program currently, outside of limited-time specific promotions, is 5 miles per dollar. That’s half the earning I’ve experienced since first participating in the program over 10 years ago.

For 10 miles per dollar I’d go out of my way to eat at participating restaurants. For half that, I won’t. And since I’m not overly impressed with the current array of participating DC-area locations, I’ll probbaly even drop down from VIP status since the incremental different over just having an online dining profile is just an extra two miles per dollar.

Seeing the gutting of valuable programs like this is truly, truly sad.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. I have been a member for nearly a year, and while I eat out 4 nights a week with my travel (and mostly different restaurants), I have only ever accidentally eaten at a restaurant 3 times that gave me the points. I was never organized enough to be proactive (what with long work days, different hotels and cities), so I was never particularly impressed with this program anyway!

  2. I guess they’ll see the results pretty soon when people stop going out of their way to use these restaurants. For 5 miles I certainly won’t bother even looking at what restaurants sign up in my area.

  3. I agree; I won’t go out of my way to eat at their restaurants anymore, or even keep track of which ones participate. If I happen to eat at one, cool… but I won’t choose one just for that reason the way I sometimes used to.

  4. To whom it may concern:

    Trust your gut feeling that the company is on the way out; it is sufferinfg great losses due to the economy; and downhill since 9/11/2001. But truly, any inteligent person should realize there is no logic in spending exhorbitant amounts for dining only to get miles that may never get used and for which the company paid fractions of a penny for. Even though many diners are aware of those facts; doctors, lawyers, prominent individuuals (you’d be surprised!) it affects people like a drug, falling pray to the vice like “mile-junkies” who very often must fight it out with some rep on the phone in India or Bangladesh to get “courtesy miles” to calm you down because of some ‘black-out date’ on the dining website. That product’s time has come and is now gone in today’s explosive economy. It is no longer practical or inteligent to play that losing game.

    The alternate offer of cash back instead of miles is even more insulting to one’s intelligence; should you wish to withhold your e-mail address to avoid the annoying e mails you will receive, you get a measly two percent rewards.

    You may wish to do some research right here in the internet, regarding dining programs to discover very soon what fools we have all been with this game!

    Christophoro in New York

  5. I was shocked by Rewards Network’s new rewards plans; insulting to say the least, they have surely lost a lot of customers here in Hawaii and also California. I have informed my entire family and friends of the insulting rate of rewards. The programs that I have maintained for so many years are now useless. The cost and extra human effort to generate rewards is no longer practical. Please do the math, we are buying those miles for exhorbitant prices.

  6. REWARDS NETWORK IS NOW SWITCHING TO IDINE AGAIN. THEY WILL NOW ONLY OFFER 10% REWARDS. ACCORDING TO THEM, THIS MAKES IT EASIER, BECAUSE ALL THE REWARDS ARE THE SAME…..B.S. I LIKED GOING TO THE 20%, AND EVEN A FEW 40% PLACES NEAR ME. 10% WILL NOT MAKE ME VISIT NEW PLACES, LIKE I USED TO……
    YEARS AGO, WHEN THE PROGRAM WAS DINING ALA CARD, YOU RECEIVED 20% EVERYWHERE. THAT WAS GREAT.
    ADDITIONALLY IF I UNDERSTAND CORRECTLY, YOU WILL NOT RECEIVE YOUR REWARD, UNTIL YOU HAVE YOUR NEXT DINE, AND SO ON. IN OTHER WORDS, YOU REWARD WILL ALWAYS BE 1 STEP BEHIND.
    THIS NEW REWARD SETUP WILL DEFINATELY CAUSE PEOPLE TO LOSE INTEREST.

  7. IN ADDITION TO MY POST ABOVE, I ALSO UNDERSTAND THAT YOUR DINE WHICH IS 1 STEP BEHIND MUST BE WITHIN 60 DAYS TO QUALIFY FOR YOUR REWARD……BOOOOO

  8. It came to our attention that we have been charged $50 yearly since 1997, for the cash back program that was always free before the company changed names from the very wonderful former “Transmedia”. My husband and I realized that while we rarely used the program willingly since we have no computer. (we borrowed our friends’ today) the actual earned yearly rewards came to $6.50 or none most years! Rewards Network stopped sending directories except by specific request years ago, and now they just will not send any at all, yet each year the $50 were charged to our credit cards with impunity with no rewards ever! They won’t tell you that you’re supporting their corrupt scheme. By now, our children, grandchildren and my husband and I have closed all those stupid accounts; these times of great economic stress will not justify getting fornicated by a corrupt company. Mind you that we learned sadly that some of the restaurants that were in the program went out of business within months after they joined. Rewards Network is ruthless with the participating restaurants whose revenue was so erroded that they filed bankruptcy in short order. In our hometown Philadelphia, Rewards Network is looked upon as a sure way to lose your business. Our close friends who ran a restaurant for years were wiped out by their corrupt scheme. Bear in mind that $50 yearly forces you to spend $1,000 just to break even..!!! (DO THE MATH!) (Rewards Network now only offers 5% cash back rewards); What a scheme! and they’re getting away with it..! We sincerely hope that some customers do the math so they see how bad they’ve been abused, and hopefully expose Rewards Network’s ruse publicly to embarrass them. Bon Apetit! Shalom!

    Myrna and Marvyn, Philadelphia

  9. I have been a member of both Rewards Network and Primecard (used to be IGT) for many years now. I have to admit that Rewards is much easier to use (no separate card) and I liked it better but I can get better discounts using Primecard on some of the same restaurants in Florida and NY.

  10. We recently read on the web a very disturbing article titled: “CRASH LANDING Rewards Network’s problem is unsettling for investors” which restaurateurs MUST read and proceed to contact their lawyers immediately! Investors? Well. we all learn our lessons only too late! That company’s stock will not be worth the paper it is printed on! We will forego all connections with that entity immediately, for the sake of our minds! It is downright insulting to even bring up that we were very active members at one time!

    Good Luck to all!

    The Byers

  11. Sadly for us, we also were charged each year unknowingly for $49 and yet the only rewards last twelve months came to $2.56 Wow! we feel we have been raped! How can such an outfit continue to stay in business? On the other side of the coin, we visited our favourite restaurant in Los Angeles, only to be insulted by the owner when we inquired why he had stopped working with the airline miles program. Then we heard about a major class action suit against that corrupt company; The restaurant owner added that many restaurants had sued the company for what he called outrageous illegal fees and interest rates for financing. The company is forced to pay some $26 million back to the restaurants who won the case! We had to leave the restaurant and eat elsewhere, the owner was enraged and we feared food poisoning…

  12. do you know what they are doing now! For some reason if you use your master or visa card it does not post to your account. When you call them they will give you canned reply.

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