I receive compensation for content and many links on this blog. You don’t have to use these links, but I am grateful to you if you do. American Express, Citibank, Chase, Capital One and other banks are advertising partners of this site. Any opinions expressed in this post are my own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by my advertising partners. I do not write about all credit cards that are available -- instead focusing on miles, points, and cash back (and currencies that can be converted into the same).
Capital One has a new restaurant benefit that they’ve just announced today for all of their cards. If you have any Capital One card you have access to dining reservations others don’t on the Resy reservations platform and access to early booking of special dining events.
New Capital One Dining Benefit
Capital One has introduced two new cardholder benefits with restaurant reservations site Resy: special reservations at peak times at tough to get into restaurants in three cities and early booking for ‘Off Menu Week’.
Capital One Cardholder ‘Exclusive Tables’: tables for two held on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at:
- New York City: Charlie Bird, Frankies 457, Legacy Records, Loring Place, Pasquale Jones and Quality Eats (two locations)
- Washington D.C.: A Rake’s Progress, All Purpose (two locations), Masseria and Red Hen
- Austin: Kemuri Tatsu-ya, Odd Duck, Pitchfork Pretty and She’s Not Here
Kemuri Tatsu-ya is excellent and fun. Pitchfork Pretty is across the board excellent, at brunch and dinner. Odd Duck began as a food truck and is now part of a local chain (Barley Swine for fine dining and fast casual Sour Duck are the other properties).
All three are part of my repertoire in Austin. I haven’t given She’s Not Here a go, since the reports I’d heard are that I’d be disappointed in the nigiri. Of these I’ve only found Kemuri Tatsu-ya to be a tough reservation, and then only for indoor seating.
In some ways this is similar (but more automated) than American Express’ long-standing Global Dining Collection with top restaurants setting aside bookings for cardmembers.
Off Menu Week is a twist on restaurant week, offering items they don’t usually make instead of a price fixe menu. Cardholders can make reservations 72 hours before the general public.
- Los Angeles: Monday, February 25th, 2019 to Sunday, March 3rd, 2019
- Reservations live for Capital One cardholders 1/24/19, reservations live to public 1/28/18
- Washington D.C.: Monday, April 8th, 2019 to Sunday, April 14th, 2019
- Reservations live for Capital One cardholders 3/7/19, reservations live to public 3/11/19
- San Francisco: Monday, June 17th, 2019 to Sunday, June 23rd, 2019
- Reservations live for Capital One cardholders 5/16/19, reservations live to public 5/20/19
- New York City: Monday, September 16th, 2019 to Sunday, September 22nd, 2019
- Reservations live for Capital One cardholders 8/15/19, reservations live to public 8/19/19
- Chicago: Monday, October 21st, 2019 to Sunday, October 27th, 2019
- Reservations live for Capital One cardholders 9/19/19, reservations live to public 9/23/19
- Austin: Monday, December 9th, 2019 to Sunday, December 15th, 2019
- Reservations live for Capital One cardholders 11/7/19, reservations live to public 1/11/19
This is Available to All Capital One Cardholders
I verified with Capital One that this new benefit is available to all of their cardholders. And it’s not just for personal cards, business cards are eligible too.
So if you have a Venture card you can use this. Venture miles now transfer to 14 different airline frequent flyer programs in addition to effectively being a 2% travel rebate card.
OpenTable vs Resy vs Tock
OpenTable, owned by Priceline, is the behemoth in online reservations — commanding about a 60% market share of restaurants that take reservations. They don’t just handle reservations but they’re big enough to bring eyeballs. People search for an available place to eat on OpenTable, and as a result they’re able to charge restaurants more — not just a monthly fee but also a buck per reservation. (Some restaurants block out peak reservation times from OpenTable to avoid paying for bookings they can make without the platform.)
If you make a booking through OpenTable on a restaurant’s own website they charge the restaurant just a quarter but don’t provide diners with rewards. It’s the rebate of about a $1 per booking that initially swayed customers onto their platform. However after devaluing their points they even found a sneaky way to avoid giving you points in the first place.
Resy launched in 2014 with an idea of charging a premium for the most in demand bookings. They’ve pivoted and are now a lower cost alternative to OpenTable. They cover far fewer restaurants — a couple thousand compared to 20 times as many on OpenTable — but they tend to have newer trendier spots that are filling up on their own; places that don’t need to pay for OpenTable’s eyeballs and just need software to manage reservations so customers don’t have to call in and no one has to stand by answering the phone. Reserve operates on a similar model, each can save a restaurant 5 figures a year versus OpenTable.
Meanwhile there are other platforms like Tock which is ticket-based (you prepay for all or a portion of your meal). That’s great for really in-demand restaurants and small restaurants where a cancellation that cannot be replaced last minute deals a real blow to the business. Many of the restaurants using Tock offer tasting menus only, so there’s a fixed price to charge up front.
Dining is the Big Play for Credit Cards to Win “New Affluent” Spend
Dining is at the core of several banks’ strategies for attracting business from the new affluent who value experiences over things and have discretionary income.
Sapphire Reserve doubled down on the Chase Sapphire Preferred play of bonusing travel and dining spend.
Capital One is also making a big play for consumer interesting in dining with their Savor products. The Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card is especially good with $0 annual fee the first year (then $95); 4% back on dining (and entertainment), 2% at grocery stores, and 1% everywhere else. They also added unlimited free delivery as a benefit.
American Express® Gold Card earns 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar at US restaurants and on up to $25,000 per year at US supermarkets as well as 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines (or on amextravel.com) and has a $120 annual dining credit which gives enrolled cardmembers up to $10 per month in statement credits for using the card at:Shake Shack, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Grubhub/Seamless.
As it becomes harder and harder for banks to just spend more and more on rewards (the economics of the products face a competitive limit of what’s possible) experiences become a real opportunity for competitive differentiation.