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Sep 2, 2005 04:53 PM

Restaurant gift certificate

  • s

How does one go about buying a gift certificate from an out-of-area(cross country) restaurant? How to verify? Who sends to recipient? Am I making too much of a common place transaction?

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  1. Sarah, I pick up the telephone, making certain that I am not calling during the dinner rush, and ask to speak to the restaurant manager. Explain what you want, give your credit card number and every restaurant I've ever dealt with sends a letter or note to the recipient advising them of the gift. I have never had a bad experience, no establishment has ever done anything but honor the gift and often they'll comp something in honor of the occasion. It is a lovely thing to do and I'm certain your recipient will be thrilled with your thoughtfulness (not to mention your generosity).

    Some establishments, Stuart Anderson's comes to mind, have an actual credit-card with a preset amount they send. Beware, this one expires after a year. (Someone gave this to me and I forgot about it until I found it in my wallet after expiration), Not the end of the world, but it was a waste. Specify "No Expiration" if possible.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Sherri

      It's illegal for a gift certificate to expire in California, regardless of what it says on the card. As long as the business is within state borders and the business is still alive, they have to honor it.

      This doesn't apply to coupons, and I'm not sure what the rules would be for a gift certificate to a national chain restaurant. Once I got a card at Morton's to mail to a friend in DC, and the woman assured me there was no expiration date. I believe that's the case with most large chains.

      Perhaps other states have similar laws?

      1. re: nooodles

        Thank you for the information, Noodles. I'll pass this on to one of my sons and hope they enjoy a meal. Without your information, I would have just thrown it away.

    2. Shouldn't be a big deal. I once did it with a restaurant that didn't even normally do gift certificates. Just ask.

      If you're worried about verifying, have them send it to you - and then you can tuck it into a card. (Now that I think if it, that would eliminate any possibility of the envelope being mistakenly discarded as junk mail.)

      1. I do it all the time. Big places may actually sell GCs online. Otherwise, call the restaurant (not during service when they're busy) and talk to the manager. Give him your VISA number to pay and ask him to mail it to you. Has always worked for me.

        1. Just another thought for you... American Express offers a "Be My Guest" card. Its another option to giving a gift certificate. Its a credit card that they send with the recipiants name on the card and is in the amount you request for such as $50., $100. or $200. dollars etc, and is good at any restaurant that excepts AMEX. This way the person can select their own favorite restaurant to enjoy.

          1. Thank you one and all for your help -- the AmEx card sounds easiest IF their restaurant choice honors such, and there must be one in DC. Have a good (rest of) weekend!