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May 22, 2009 05:23 PM

Does anyone use "Rewards Network"?

There's a link to a "rewards network" site offering cashback rewards on one of my fave restaurant's (Sedona) website.

We eat at Sedona a lot, so getting 15% back every time would be pretty nice. The only catch is, you have to register your credit card # and then use that card when you dine. Has anyone tried this? Is it for real? I'm always weary about giving out my credit card #, but it's very tempting....

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  1. Use the card with the lowest credit limit so damage is less if the number is stolen, hacked or used by someone at Rewards. You only have to shut down one card that way.

    1. I have been a member of what is now rewards network for more than 10 years. It started as iDine and it came free with my subscription to the NY Times.
      I have never had a problem with my credit cards.
      There are a number of restaurants in my area that I would dine at anyway, and I am happy to get back my percentage.

      Percentage back varies by the restaurant and even the day of the week.
      Some are limited to $600 poer month.

      I check on the website before traveling for availability.

      Also, many restaurants only participate in theior slow seasons.

      Last year, I saved over $800 with this program. It's much better than using a coupon and looking cheap with a business client or friends. You just hand your credit card and the waitperson doesn't know you are getting a discount. When your monthly statement comes, you see both the rstaurant charge and the a credit from rewards network.

      1 Reply
      1. re: bagelman01

        Great, thanks for the info! I always forget to bring any coupons I get anyway, so this seems ideal for me. I think just to be safe I will use it on a credit card with a lower limit!

      2. We have been using Rewards Network for ~ 5 years with no problems. We have three cards registered (one of mine, one of his and a business card).

        1. What in hell is up with this lately? They've been sending emails advising of change back to iDine on SEP 27, 2009. And with the changeback the rewards will be only 5% and won't be credited until you dine an additional time within 60 days. I just looked and most rewards in my local area are currently 10% with a few 15%'s here and there. This looks like a big step backwards in consumer benefits.

          Another thing I've noticed lately is an increasing shift in their participating merchants to pub and nightclub type establishments that serve some food versus straight restaurants. I think it's the beginning of the end, but who knows, they've been around a long time thru several reincarnations. Maybe the slugggish economy plus competition from outfits like forces them to make a change, but probably the basic problem is they are losing merchant clients.

          10 Replies
          1. re: gnocchi

            We've been using the iDine/Rewards Network for a long time without any CC issues. We use miles as our reward because there is no cost involved. I don't know of any change in the program and will follow up.

            When frequenting a local participating restaurant, we struck up a conversation about the program and I thought it would be interesting to share this with patrons. The program is essentially a loan to the establishment. Rewards Network "advertises" and brings in customers to the establishment.

            The establishment pays back the loan at 100% interest; if an establishment borrows $25,000, they pay back $50,000...not certain of the time limit. Payments are made by taking a substantial percentage of the purchases made with a Rewards Network registered credit card. I can't recall the percentage but it's something like 80% and it is on the TOTAL amount charged to the CC, inclusive of tip.

            We've changed our approach to the network by using it to find restaurants while traveling only. If we find a local place using the program and they are good, we will either pay cash or use the card and leave a cash tip. Of course, we spread the good word.

            I think the shift in participating establishments to pubs/bars is a clear indication of how the economy is affecting the industry. It might be easier (in some locations) to start up a bar with high liquor mark-up and serve some food rather that the reverse.

            1. re: Dee S

              Do you really think a business (other than the Mafia) could get away with charging 100% interest to a restaurant?? If a restaurant qualifies, RN can give the restaurant a cash advance in exchange for a wholesale food purchase. Depending on the amount of monthly business, credit score, etc. will determine the deal. What you didn't figure in your equation is the fact that the FOOD COST for most restaurants is 30-35%. So if a restaurant gets a $25k advance in exchange for a $50k purchase by RN and the food cost is 30% it will cost the restaurant only $15K to produce the $50k of food. Keeping in mind the business is getting the $25k upfront it's a real good deal. Plus RN markets the restaurant through it's partnerships with their loyalty partners. They have to do this because RN only gets paid when their members eat @ the restaurants. The length of a deal like this could be from 10-14 months so the restaurants cash flow isn't seriously impacted.

              1. re: SantaFeRay

                I don't see why a business could operate and charge a high rate of interest . I don't believe RN is subject to banking laws so all bets are off. It seems they kind of operate like a cash advance place (you know, paycheck advance, title loans etc) and they all charge a reasonable 98.9% (sarcastically stated).

                In any event, I was reporting what was told to me by the restaurant owners. We didn't go into any further details. RN does accept payments outside when members eat at their restaurant. My friends paid their "loan" off early because of the high cost associated with it.

            2. re: gnocchi

              There are some changes. Not sure where the 5% is coming from. From the emails "The new program offers you an opportunity to earn 10% back from each dine, credited to your card after every subsequent dine within 60 days." There is a $40 fee (this is not new). You are not charged the $40 upfront. Part of your reward is put towards paying down the fee (this also is not new). The new thing appears to be requiring a subsequent dine within 60 days instead of crediting the reward within a few days of dining. This is a bit of a disappointment. I have noticed some merchants dropping the program. I've only noticed a few nightclub type places in our market.

              1. re: Bluebird

                I got the email today about the change and resumption of the iDine name. Now instead of an instead 15% credit on my card, I will have to wait to spend money withing 60 DAYS TO GET 5%..............
                Godd Bye and Good Riddance

                From now on, I'll be using

                1. re: bagelman01

                  Wow! 15%. In our market, most the establishments were between 5% - 10%. Rarely, there was something higher or double rewards that would get the reward above 10%.

                  I like too. I don't see that I have to choose one or the other. I'm not losing anything by participating on idine. I'll see how it goes when they may the switch.

                  1. re: Bluebird

                    The 15% is a legacy. It comes from when iDine was a gift to paid subscribers of the New York Times. Those who got free memberships topped out at 10% savings.
                    In Fact, It originally was called Transmedia..........

                2. re: Bluebird

                  My e-mail says 10% as well, and now there's the 'subsequent dine' thing. It's a good deal if you dine out a lot and at the same places that use this program.

                  We don't eat out nearly as much as we used to, and like to try new places as much as possible, so this will mean even less use than we made of it in the past.

                  1. re: Bluebird

                    I tried posting this at the top in reply to bluebird, but anyway it ended up down here.

                    1. re: Bluebird

                      I think some of the confusion is because there are several levels of cards out there. Some are "paid" like yours and the rate is 10% but they are charging you a $40 fee that is deducted from initial rewards. Others are completely free but they will max at $5%.
                      The current program which is about to expire had an additional provision whereby your earnings would jump by an additional 5% after spending a certain amount each calendar year. I think it was around $400. Once you spent $400 the establishments that were offering 10% would jump to 15%.

                      bagelman01 posts below that the 15% is legacy but I know for a fact that a few places in my area (NYC suburbs) are at that level. I would say the majority in my locale are at 10% with a very few at 5-8%.
                      Rewards Network/iDine/Transmedia etc keeps jerking around with their marketing scheme trying to get something to click, but it's probably a delicate balance between pleasing and signing up consumers vs. doing the same for restaurant owners. Remember when they tried offering rewards that varied by time of day that you dined?

                      But in the end if the program is free you can't complain too much. If the public is in fact dining out less they are going to use the best promotion available in their area. It seems that some restaurant owners are just better at how they handle these rewards programs and local promotions and the treatment they afford to diners who utilize them.