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Now through Friday, August 16, nearly 300 restaurants are participating in New York City’s Summer 2013 Restaurant Week. Not only is this a great chance to try new restaurants at a significant discount, but it’s a good opportunity to triple dip on your dining spend and rack up tons of bonus points.
This time around, diners can enjoy three-course weekday (and some Sundays, depending on the restaurant) lunches for $25 and three-course dinners for $38.
NYC Go, the organization behind it, has also teamed up with American Express again so that when you register your Amex card through the Restaurant Week site, you will earn a $5 statement credit every time you spend $25 or more during a Restaurant Week dine and pay for it with your registered Amex in addition to any points you would earn by using it to pay.
If you choose to use your Sapphire or Sapphire Preferred instead, you will earn 2X Ultimate Rewards points per $1 (2.14 points per $1 with the Sapphire Preferred thanks to its 7% annual points dividend), or if you have the Citi Forward card, you earn 5X Thank You points per $1.
Not only that, but 275 of the participating restaurants are also members of OpenTable, so you can also earn OpenTable points on Restaurant Week dines (usually 100 points per dine, which translates to $1 back in value).
Then, for the triple dip, be sure the credit card you use to pay for your Restaurant Week meal(s) is registered to the Dining Rewards Network site of your preferred airline or hotel group, and if the Restaurant Week restaurant you choose to dine at is part of that network, you’ll earn between 3-5 more miles per $1 you spend.
To be honest, there’s not a huge amount of overlap between the Restaurant Week restaurants and the ones that participate in Dining Rewards Network, but there are several throughout the city that do participate in both – it’ll just take you a bit of research to narrow down the field a bit.
Which Is A Better Deal – Amex Or Sapphire Preferred Or Citi Forward?
Let’s say you located a restaurant where you could triple dip, such as the City Lobster & Steakhouse on West 49th Street, a popular pre- and post-theater spot at Rockefeller Center with a classic chophouse menu of steak and seafood and a huge raw bar that participates in Restaurant Week, OpenTable, and Dining Rewards Network (I looked through Delta’s site). If three people went out to dinner there, you’d be spending $114.
Using an Amex card that earns Membership Rewards points like the Premier Rewards Gold or Platinum cards, you’d get your $5 Amex rebate (remember to register!), plus $1 OpenTable credit plus up to 570 Delta miles (I value at 1.5 cents each) plus 114 Amex points (I value at 1.8 cents each).
I’d put your return value at about: $15.50, or just over 13.5%.
If you use a Sapphire Preferred, the value back equation becomes $1 in OpenTable credit plus the same $8.55 in Delta miles plus about $4.88 in Ultimate Rewards points since I value them at 2 cents apiece.
I’d put your value back at about: $13.50, or just under 12%.
If you have the Citi Forward card, each of the points you earn is equivalent to 1% cash back, so the same $114 bill at City Lobster & Steakhouse would get you all the same Delta and OpenTable credit plus 5% cash back, or $5.70 in value, so your total value back would be about $14.25, or 12.5%.
Using my valuation of Amex, Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou points, here’s the breakdown of the dollar amounts at which you should use each card:
Under $150: Citi Forward
Between $150-$200: American Express
Over $200: Sapphire Preferred
It’ll take a little coordination to make sure you can triple dip with both OpenTable and Dining Rewards Network, but even if you are not going to a restaurant that participates in both, this is still a good chance to maximize your dining spend and still get to try some great restaurants.
The Starwood Angle
Even if you’re not triple-dipping with Dining Rewards Networks, there are still some great points-earning options for you. If you are a Starwood Preferred Guest member and present your membership card or number when dining at a restaurant or bar within an SPG hotel and you spend over $10, you can earn 2 Starpoints per $1, just as you would on hotel stays, even if you’re not a guest.
To take a quick example, let’s say you had the Starwood Amex card and registered it for this promo then went to dine out for Restaurant Week at the Lambs Club at the Chatwal Hotel in Midtown.
You’d earn your $5 Amex rebate, a $1 OpenTable credit, plus 2 Starpoints per $1 spent at the restaurant as an SPG member and an additional 2 Starpoints per $1 with your Starwood card – either the business or personal version. So on a $100 Restaurant Week bill, you’d be earning a total of $5 back plus 400 Starpoints, which I value at about 2 cents apiece for a total value back of $13, or 13%.
It’s also still Restaurant Week in Los Angeles until the end of this week. The system there is a little bit different with three tiers of pricing at various restaurants, but you can still get that $5 Amex rebate at participating restaurants there, and the same triple-dipping opportunities – you’ll just need to do some legwork to find out which restaurants are participating in Restaurant Week and Dining Rewards Networks if you really want to max out your points earning. Otherwise, be sure to register and use an Amex card for that rebate or use a card like the Sapphire Preferred with a dining category spending bonus to rack up extra points while trying some great new restaurants.