$20 Free For Your Next Restaurant Meal

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$20 off $20 restaurant meal

LivingSocial and for that matter Groupon were once ‘next big things’. They raised a lot of money, burned a lot of cash, and built of mailing lists of people who don’t like to pay retail. This week Living Social laid off about half of its workforce. Over the paid 18 months they’ve shed better than three-fourths of their employees.

Businesses dependent on liquidating others’ unused inventory always seem like a great idea. At one point Priceline’s business was selling opaque airfare. At one point years ago they were going to revolutionize travel — and everything else. They were going to be the platform to liquidate excess unsold inventory well beyond room nights and into gas and home mortgage lending. Fifteen years ago the most valuable thing Delta owned was shares in Priceline — the company liquidating unsold airline inventory was worth more than the carrier that actually had that inventory.

Priceline took their big valuations and acquired other businesses — like Kayak and Booking.com and OpenTable.

LivingSocial and Groupon struggled. Amazon shut down their competing deals product.

LivingSocial has a new vision, though:

Thakar’s new vision for LivingSocial would let users get discounts by linking their credit card with their LivingSocial account and using it at participating stores.

That sounds a lot like Plink Rewards which didn’t do so well.

One variant of tracking your purchases and offering you rebates is already underway. Via Heels First Travel Living Social Restaurant Plus will give you up to a 30% rebate when you spend at specific restaurants at certain times.

And they’re still spending other peoples money to get a business going: They will give you a 100% rebate on your first qualifying meal up to $20 when you sign up. (You have 30 days from signup to take advantage of the offer.)

So far rebates are available in:

  • Atlanta
  • Los Angeles
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • Washington, D.C.

Sign up, then link a credit card. Search restuarants by time and you’ll see both a list and a map of offers.

The great thing is you don’t make a booking through them, you just pay for meals as usual and the process should be automatic.

So I would treat this as something to sign up for, set, and forget — and if I happen to visit a restaurant with a rebate, that’s money I’d otherwise be leaving on the table. Once you accumulate $10 in your account you can cash out.

The link in this post is my referral link. You’re certainly welcome to leave yours in the comments.

$20 off $20 restaurant meal

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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  1. This is the crazy thing about these travel-entertainment start-ups: their business idea is almost always WORSE than what Wall Street thinks. But you can’t really short their stocks because, sometimes, they take all that Wall Street money and find (usually buy) a business that actually works.

    The “daily deals” sites have been uniformly unsuccessful in taking the money and making the transformation. This livingsocial idea will almost certainly fail. That said, I think tripadvisor was smart to take a similar road and buy thefork.com (lafourchette) as part of OpenTable. When you look at restaurant reviews on tripadvisor in Europe, you get the opportunity to book a table, sometimes at a discount. Now THAT’S synergy, and a good business idea!

  2. On the same note: I still miss Bing Rewards! I saved hundreds of dollars on their crazy rebates on eBay and other stores… Oh well…

  3. @SH

    Yes, it stacks with MileagePlus Dining (or the other similar airline/hotel dining programs that run off of the Rewards Network platform).

    I’ve been using it for a while, and things have worked pretty smoothly. My biggest gripe is that a lot of the merchants specify that you must dine in, so I have been able to get credit for some carry out orders, or a few “fast casual” restaurants where they tend to ring the order up as take out, but I’ve still received a decent amount.

  4. Pet peeve of mine, programs like this that require me to sign up before I can see the list of participating establishments.

    Resolution: Google for “living social restaurant plus explore” and the top 6 results should be links to the lists for each city – the five Gary mentioned plus San Jose.

  5. Gary, thanks for my really nice free lunch today. The $20 credit was confirmed immediately on the Living Social app after my purchase

    For those wondering, this program does run on the MOGL platform and you can’t have the same cc registered for both programs.

  6. I unsubscribed from LivingSocial several years ago after they refused to stand behind their product and refund an usable deal.

    I wonder what happens if LS goes bankrupt before paying off on this offer.

  7. Hard to imagine it’ll go viral because it’s too annoying to quickly find a restaurant near me, or even understand the deal 100%. Or maybe I’m too old, because their website seems to suck.

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