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Dec 17, 2012 08:30 AM

Using a gift card at a restaurant...

So, I received a pretty generous gift card for The Purple Pig here in Chicago. I've never actually used one of these at a restaurant so am not sure about its use. Does anyone know if it's good for the entire bill, including tax and tip? Or just the food & beverage?


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  1. Typically the card does not cover the tax, and it never covers the tip. Always tip the server based on the menu price.

    2 Replies
    1. re: masha

      Okay, thanks. And of course I tip on the menu price.

      1. re: masha

        You may be right about this particular restaurant (I haven't been) but I've used gift cards to pay for tax and tip.

      2. Gift cards vary from one restaurant to another, and from one type of gift card to another. Usually, but not always, it covers the tax. Sometimes, but not always, it can be used for the tip. If it's more than the amount you plan to spend, some gift cards will retain a balance for a future visit, while others are one-time-use only. Usually it says on it what the terms are, including these details. If you're not sure, ask your server or the manager.

        Just to give you an idea of how these terms can vary, Lettuce Entertain You has a promotion every November-December in which you get a $25 bonus gift card for every $100 of regular gift cards you buy. The regular gift cards are unrestricted and can be used for food, beverage, tax, and tip (which you can enter on your receipt), and retain any unused balance for the future. The bonus gift cards come with some restrictions on days/times etc, and can only be used for food and beverage, not for tip, and are one-time-use only; however, the amount from the bonus gift card is deducted from the check before tax, so that $25 they deduct actually lowers your bill by around $27 because it lowers the tax too.

        1 Reply
        1. re: nsxtasy

          Ha! Okay, I had no idea that it might be different from one place to another. I'll call first. Thanks!

        2. Nxstasy, thanks for posting the Lettuce yearly special. I have my kids trained so that I get one of those every Christmas. Anybody who doesn't know Lettuce restaurants should check online for the long list. With the 25% bonus, one of the best deals in town.