Rewards Network Dining Programs: Best to target?

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by mikeschu, Aug 29, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. mikeschu
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    mikeschu Gold Member

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    I haven't signed up for a dining program as of yet. I'd like to start acquiring a few miles/points for eating out at restaurants.

    Based on what (little) research I've done, it appears that Rewards Network (formerly iDine) is the major player in the market. I also know it's good to book using OpenTable and double-dip into that program. My question is, are the Rewards Network programs structured similarly in terms of earning ability, or is there one program that has specific advantages over any others? Are there any programs to specifically avoid?

    For this discussion you can assume I'm paying with a card that earns miles or points, and that I understand the marginal value of one point or mile in a given program (e.g. I understand one SPG point is generally worth more than one Priority Club point).

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    There's no advantage to going one way or another, although sometimes some programs get promos before others -- and sometimes like right now you can get 10k miles from one promo for some airlines and nothing at all for others.

    There's no downside that I can see, other that some of the restaurants (some people will argue "most" restaurants in the program) are lackluster at best. It's a perfectly good way to keep an account alive by adding a couple of miles here and there by buying a soda from a deli.

    Personally I made VIP with US and AA a while back thanks to a cheap deli near work and pizzeria near home and now the occasional outing to a couple of decent restaurants actually yield a rather nice mileage bump for something I would have done anyway.

    I even recently found out a bowling alley in the city participates as well, and recently went out there with a bunch of people and collected everyone's money and paid for everything with my card. Stuff like that makes you appreciate the whole program and the venues that participate.

    You can sign up for all the programs, with the only caveat being that you need individual usernames for each (since apparently the backend is shared) and you can register cards only with one program at a time -- when you try to register a card with another network it will automatically un-register it from the first.
     
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  3. tarheelblue
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    tarheelblue Silver Member

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    If you typically earn miles/points in multiple programs, sign up for the RN programs that give you the desired miles/points. Then pay attention to which program is offering bonuses at any particular time--as viguera pointed out, sometimes there are different promos at different times of the year. Try to target your dines around the promos, so as to maximize your earnings. If AA has a promo this quarter, focus on that program, then move over to Delta when their promo is announced, or if you max out on AA. And be sure to get the registration bonus that most programs seem to offer for the first dine of a certain dollar amount. (I believe you have to do the 30 second survey about the dine in order to earn the bonus.)

    Remember, too, that if you buy a gift card of any amount, the points are granted on the day you purchase the card, not the day you use it. That makes it easier to take advantage of bonuses without having to actually eat at only RN restaurants 24/7. :eek: It's also an easy way to get yourself up to VIP in a hurry, by buying a $5 card a day each day for 11 days. (Or a bunch of cards in one day, but either at several different restaurants, or for varying amounts at the same restaurants.) The sooner you get up to VIP using small dines, and thereby earning 5 miles/$ in the airline programs, the sooner you can maximize your earnings when you start with larger expenditures for dinners, etc.
     
  4. Dangjr213

    Dangjr213 Gold Member

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    I didn't know some of the programs had VIP... I have all of my cards tied to the WN program. Might consider changing
     
  5. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Yeah I thought all the programs had VIP after 11 dines? Either way it's not a bad way to go if you find an actual nice place that you don't mind going to, or if you organize a group outing and manage to pick up the tab. :)

    And today with the availability of Square / amazon or paypal payments / Citi's "bump" or NFC payments you can easily pick up the entire tab for a large group and have people send you their portion of the bill electronically, so everybody wins. :)
     
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  6. Dangjr213

    Dangjr213 Gold Member

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    I definitely have more than 11 dines. Our favorite pizza place is on the list and we visit every Friday.
     
  7. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Damn you've been missing out... :)

    I know US was offering 10k miles targeted to VIPs who had 10 dines / $250 spend before the end of the year. That's a pretty damn good deal if you're going to the restaurant anyway, but I don't know if you'll receive the offer now (since you have to first qualify for VIP).

    Couldn't hurt though... even if all you get is the extra couple of miles per dollar for being VIP, it's an easy way to collect a few miles here and there.
     
  8. mikeschu
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    mikeschu Gold Member

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    Thanks for all of your responses - so far from what I'm reading here and some more research last night is that:
    1. The rewards are roughly the same across hotel chains - typically 5 or 8 points/dollar spent.
    2. The rewards are roughly the same across airlines - typically 3 or 5 miles/dollar spent. (I haven't been able to verify AA but I think this holds.)
    3. There is no distinct airline or hotel that offers more bonuses than any other program.
    4. There is no distinct airline or hotel program that offers less bonuses or is more restrictive than any other program.
    5. I'll need multiple accounts to maximize the card earnings, which is fine because I can link a couple of cards to different accounts.
    If that's the case then it's a matter of linking cards to either keep accounts active or earn more miles. Too bad AGR doesn't have a dining program as that would be an easy way of getting points for them, but I'm being nitpicky here. ;)
     
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  9. PointsCashMiles

    PointsCashMiles Silver Member

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    I think you've pretty much summed it up. For me, the easiest thing to do is just pick a program and stick with it with exceptions for especially good promotions (i.e. US Airways Grand Slam).
     
  10. mikeschu
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    mikeschu Gold Member

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    Sadly, I'm expecting Doug Parker to save his pennies this year for a merger run. :( I hope I'm proven wrong.
     
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  11. PointsCashMiles

    PointsCashMiles Silver Member

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    I hope so too - otherwise I have accumulated quite a few hotel points in 5 or 6 programs I don't usually use
     
  12. mikeschu
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    mikeschu Gold Member

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    Forgot to ask: when creating extra accounts (ex: one for AA and one for UA), I know you need separate cards and usernames. Does the system check for e-mail addresses as well, or can I have multiple accounts under one e-mail?
     
  13. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    I use the same email address for all my accounts with no problems.
     
  14. DJP_707
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    DJP_707 Silver Member

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    Please elaborate on the program with the 10K promo, I must of missed that some how.
     
  15. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    I'm working on US right now, but I think AA has it as well.

    dine-10k.PNG
     
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  16. Hunter Anderson

    Hunter Anderson Active Member

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    Does Open Table has a rewards program?
     
  17. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    They offer points when you make (and keep) a reservation. Usually it's 100 points per reservation, although some restaurants offer 1k points during special times/days.

    When you have enough points you can request a "dining cheque" from them. Every 10 points is equal to $1 so if you accumulate say 5k points you get a check from them for $50. The catch is that it's an Opentable check, redeemable at a participating Opentable restaurant, so it's not like you can take it to the bank and deposit it.

    Still, if you're going to eat at a participating restaurant any way, it makes no sense not to use them since it's free and you can triple dip with the Rewards Network points plus whatever credit card you use to pay.
     
  18. DJP_707
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    DJP_707 Silver Member

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    Thank you!
     
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  19. DJP_707
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    DJP_707 Silver Member

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    I keep getting emails to sign up for dining rewards with priority club and I'm already a member. So when an email came for a 1000 point bonus, I singed up my wife's PC account, and a new credit card, for the $30 dining charge needed to get the bonus. And sure enough the next day I get an email offer for 1500 bonus points for a $30 dine. So I emailed PC rewards customer service asking them to apply the bigger bonus to her account and below is the response I got after two weeks.

    Thanks for contacting us!

    Unfortunately once you’re registered for the 2012 New Member Bonus you’re unable to register for any other bonuses you’re eligible for until the current bonus has ended. Should you have any questions or need further assistance, please feel free to contact me directly.


    So are they saying after I collect the 1000 points I can register for the 1500 points? I guessing NO. And I already know I can't register for both at the same time, that's why I asked them to update the account for me to the bigger bonus.
     

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