Many NEA members take full advantage of the great—sometimes jaw-droppingly amazing!—deals that NEA Click & Save offers on Restaurant.com dining certificates. Through this discount program, NEA members can purchase gift certificates to local restaurants for far less than face value. Frequently, you’ll find $25 dining certificates for just $10, but sometimes you can even find specials where you pay a mere $3 or $4 to get a $25 certificate!
These piping-hot deals drive a lot of the traffic to the NEA Click & Save website, “so certificates can take a little bit longer to load when people are all trying to print them at the same time,” says Ian Field, an account representative who works on NEA Click & Save’s Restaurant.com discount program. No need to worry: Your purchase has been registered, and you should be able to print your certificate within an hour, he says.
We asked Field to share some of his best tips to help you have a fulfilling experience and save a lot of dough:
1. Pay attention to the “minimum spend”
When you see that “$4 for $25!” offer, you may assume that you’ll get that $25 meal and pay only $4. It doesn’t quite work like that, though. Most of the participating restaurants have a “minimum spend” requirement that’s higher than the face value of the gift certificate. For example, you may be required to spend $37 during your visit for the $25 coupon to be accepted.
This minimum-spend information is listed as you’re browsing for deals, and the requirements vary by restaurant. Before you buy, make sure you’ll be able to meet the minimum-spend requirement on your upcoming visit. This is particularly important for certificates with a higher face value. A $75 certificate may be on sale for $12, but your minimum-spend requirement could be $150.
2. Print the certificate now—or later
At the time of your purchase, you’ll be given the option to “print now.” You may be ready to cash in your great deal, so you’ll print your certificate right away. But if want to wait until you’re ready to go to that particular restaurant, or you want to give a certificate as a gift, you may decide to print the certificate later.
Either way is OK: NEA Click & Save tracks all of your purchases and keeps your active certificates in one convenient place. You also can see all the certificates you’ve ever used or exchanged.
You can access your certificates in several ways. At the top of NEA Click & Save, you’ll see a link to “My Account.” Click on the little arrow next to it, then click on “My Restaurant Certificates” in the dropdown menu.
Or, when you’re on the Restaurant.com page on NEA Click & Save, you’ll see a link labeled “My Certificates” near the top of that page. The number in the red box indicates how many active certificates you have.
3. Before you head to the restaurant, make sure it still participates in the program
Under your active certificates, you may see a note that says, “Does not expire.” As far as NEA Click & Save is concerned, your certificate will never expire. However, restaurants can cease participation in the Restaurant.com program for a variety of reasons, in which case your certificate won’t be valid there anymore.
“Ideally, you’d never need to exchange it because you’d go to the restaurant, redeem it and have a good experience,” Field says. “But let’s say you bought a certificate, and the restaurant went out of business before you could use it. It’ll show as an invalid certificate in your online account history, and there will be a link to exchange it.”
Therefore, the first thing you should do before you head off to dinner is to make sure your coupon will work when you get there. You can do this online or by calling the restaurant. To check online, look up your active certificates at NEA Click & Save (as discussed above). If any of your certificates are no longer accepted at a restaurant, you’ll see a message there.
Just because a restaurant doesn’t accept a certificate anymore doesn’t mean you’ve lost out on your great bargain. NEA Click & Save makes it easy to exchange certificates for a comparable deal at another participating restaurant.
4. You can exchange your certificates online in a flash
Your favorite pizza joint changed management and dropped out of the Restaurant.com program, so now you can’t use the $2 for $10 certificate you bought last month to order a deep-dish 3-topping pie for dinner tonight. Your money isn’t lost: You’ll just need to exchange your certificate for one at another restaurant.
Under the “My Account” section of the website, invalid certificates have an “exchange” link next to them. All you have to do is click the link, choose which restaurant you’d like to patronize instead, and hit the “place order” button. Or you can choose to build up your WOWPoints. “It’s up to the member what they would decide to do,” Field says.
You can exchange certificates for those of similar face values, meaning you could turn in that $10 certificate and get a $10 certificate at your local Mexican restaurant, regardless of how much you actually paid for your original certificate.
If you don’t see any restaurants that whet your whistle, you can exchange your invalid certificate for WOWPoints, which you can apply to future NEA Click & Save purchases, including Restaurant.com dining certificates. The redemption value is based on what you paid for the certificate (not the face value), and 1 cent equals 1 WOWPoint. For example, if you paid $2 for a $10 certificate, you can exchange it for 200 WOWPoints.
To learn more about WOWPoints and how to earn and use them, visit the Help section of NEA Click & Save.
5. Don’t call the phone number on the certificate
The restaurant uses the phone number on your certificate to validate and redeem the certificate so that the discount can be reflected on your bill. As soon as the certificate is validated, it becomes invalid so it can’t be used again.
But if you call the number on the certificate yourself in an attempt to get information, you’ll end up invalidating your certificate before you even get to the restaurant!
“It happens to the best of us,” Field says. To rectify the situation, you’ll need to contact Restaurant.com directly. “They should be able get a new certificate or try to reissue the same one,” he says.
If this happens to you, contact NEA Click & Save via the Help Center to find out the best way to contact the service provider.
Help is just a click away
If you have any questions about your dining certificates, you can visit NEA Click & Save’s user-friendly help center and click the “Restaurant Certificates” button to find answers to frequently asked questions. Via the Help Center, you also can click the “Contact Us” link, then answer a series of questions to find details about any specific restaurant certificate issues you may be having.
“These are all really common questions that we get, and we try to give the answer right away,” Field says. “If the help center doesn’t answer your question, you can still easily write in to us.”