It used to be that you had to know a guy, who knew a guy, whose cousin was friends with some dude who could maybe hook you up with a table at a super-hot restaurant. These days, though, apps like OpenTable or Resy make it stupidly easy to book a reservation last-minute at a ton of top-notch spots. But it turns out there's an app that helps you do that and pays you for showing up for your reservation.
Seated, which makes it easy to book tables at top restaurants in a number of cities, actually incentivizes you to eat out more by paying you back when you do. It helps you can earn up to 30% of what you pay for your meal (at participating restaurants) in gift cards and credits to a variety of stores, brands, and services. Essentially, it's like using a great rewards credit card without having to sign up for one.
It works like this: Download the app, search for a restaurant, and book a table. Then, when you've finished your meal, snap a pic of the receipt, upload it to the app, and within 24 hours, your reward will be digitally deposited into your account.
Since Seated has been around for a couple years now, the rewards offerings are pretty robust, and include gift cards and redeemable credits to the likes of Amazon, Lyft, J. Crew, Apple, Starbucks, Lululemon, and more. So, for example, if you spend $100 on a meal out at a participating restaurant that's offering a 30% reward, it could potentially earn you a $30 Amazon gift card or Lyft credit.
The app currently lets you book a reservation for restaurants in New York, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Atlanta, and has plans to launch in five other cities around the country soon. Also, it exclusively lists eateries with a four star or higher Yelp rating, and based on browsing its New York offerings, many are popular spots.
There is some fine print to consider, though. It's worth noting that 30% is the maximum reward you can receive, and that the percentage fluctuates according to a number of factors related to how full or empty the restaurant expects to be on a particular day/time. Also, each establishment has a minimum that must be met in your total itemized bill in order to qualify for a reward (so double check that you've ordered enough to meet it).
But, hey, if you've been looking for a reason to try out some hot new spot in town, this may be it.