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How to earn rewards with the Seated app while dining out or ordering in

June 25, 2022
7 min read
Overhead view of young woman taking photos of scrumptious and delicious meal on dining table with smartphone before eating it in restaurant. Eating out lifestyle. Camera eats first culture
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I'm what some may call a "foodie." I love trying new restaurants and cuisines as well as revisiting favorites. That’s why the app Seated is my new best friend.

Seated allows you to dine out and get paid for it. This app rewards diners with cash they can redeem in the form of gift cards. All you have to do is let the app know you'll be dining at a location before you take a seat.

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Here’s what you can expect if you try out the Seated app.

The market

Americans love to eat out. Seated allows us to do this and save some extra cash in the process. There are more than 1,500 restaurants participating across six major U.S. cities, including Chicago, Atlanta and New York City.

OpenTable offers a similar program but with fewer rewards. It includes over 60,000 restaurants around the world in its network, far outpacing Seated on that front. However, each OpenTable reservation typically earns only 100 points. You need 2,000 points before you can earn a $10 Amazon gift card. That means you would have to dine out 20 times before you would earn anything.

Related: Earn easy Hilton points by eating at your favorite restaurants.

How Seated works

First, download the app. Seated is free on both the iTunes and Google Play stores. If you sign up using this link, you'll receive an extra $15 reward for your first reservation.

Once you’ve done that, you must provide your phone number to sign in and create an account. It will text you a one-time code to verify your number. After that, all you have to do is put in some personal information like your name and email and create a password.

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(Screenshot from Seated)

On the home screen, you’ll be presented with restaurants that are "New Additions" and currently have "Surging Rewards." Swipe down that menu for a map of your area with all the restaurants currently open for dining in whatever method you've selected. You can scroll around the map and explore restaurants by awards percentage.

If you click on a restaurant it will expand to include options for dine-in, delivery or pickup. When you choose each option it provides more details about availability and the rewards percentages at different times. You'll also be able to view the menu, hours, directions and reviews.

There's also an option to browse restaurants by cuisine or mood with the search function. From there, you can filter restaurants based on availability, price, neighborhood and booking type (walk-in or reservation).

Once you know which restaurants participate, you can use the search feature to go straight to your preferred restaurant.

(Screenshot from Seated)

You can even "favorite" restaurants you want to try. To view them later, navigate to the account tab at the bottom of the app, tap the three horizontal lines in the top right-hand corner of your screen, and then click "Favorites" to scroll through everything you have saved.

Once you pick where you want to dine, the reservation process is pretty straightforward. Restaurants allow you to book up to a month in advance, blocking you from booking during prime weekend dining hours.

Read more about restaurant loyalty programs and why they're worth it.

Limits to how often you visit a restaurant through Seated vary based on the restaurant’s preferences. There are no minimum spend requirements or reward limits.

When you arrive at the restaurant for your reservation, all you have to do is give your name to the host. No mention of Seated is necessary — and in my experience, they haven’t even known what the app is. To redeem your rewards, just submit a photo of your receipt with the name of the restaurant, the date and time you visited and the total cost.

Note that your rewards are based on the bill's subtotal before taxes and tips. If you want to split the reward when dining with a group of fellow Seated users, you can choose to do so once Seated notifies you that your rewards have been added to your account.

(Screenshot from Seated)

You can change or cancel up until 15 minutes before your reservation time. Account suspension for missed reservations is up to the discretion of Seated, but we recommend playing it safe.

The app sends you a notification when your reward is ready. It can take up to 48 hours but often arrives within a few hours. Opting in for notifications helps keep track of when you receive money and when the app is offering special rewards.

What’s missing

The app uses its own review system, which isn’t great. It also lacks the ability to include photos, doesn’t show dates for when reviews were given and doesn't display written portions of reviews. The app shows the average Yelp rating at the top of the page but doesn't provide more detailed information from there. I find myself Googling to read reviews more often than checking the Seated in-app reviews.

I think including Happy Hour times would be a great addition, as searching externally to see if the restaurant has any special deals gets tedious. Right now the app only lists an establishment's regular hours.

Seated is working hard to increase its restaurant network and the number of cities where it’s available. That's a big change that could make travel dining a little more affordable.

Related: Know your benefits: Hiltons can’t opt out of the food and beverage credit for elite members

Overall impression

(Photo by Michael Berman/Getty Images)

I'm living in New York City for the summer, and while it's great, food is expensive here. It's hard to spend a short three months enjoying a new city that has enough restaurants and bars to keep me busy for years while also trying to save money. Seated has made this a little more doable.

In one week, I used the app four times. One night I ate at Madame Mikettes. Two of us shared roasted Brussels sprouts, barbecue chicken spring rolls and a beautiful mussels mariniere, as well as a glass of South African cabernet for $53 before tax and tip. Here, we made $11 back.

My boyfriend then downloaded the app with my referral link and dined out, earning me $10. The following night we met up with friends for drinks at Greenwich Treehouse and spent $36 — earning $8 back.

In the one week, I spent $182 total, but also earned a Seated balance of $60. I redeemed half of that benefit to see a movie at the AMC cinema, for which I was rewarded $10, and kept the remaining $40 in my Seated balance.

Taking advantage of the extra promotions will help you get the most out of the app. By referring a friend, you get $10 when they make their first redemption with Seated. Even better, if you refer five friends that sign up you will reach “Partner Status.” That means you will make 5% of whatever Seated makes off those friends' purchases, forever. If you redeem rewards by a certain date, Seated may even offer you an extra $10 towards your balance.

Using the American Express Gold Card on dining purchases will earn you 4 points per dollar on the first $25,000 spent, and 1 point per dollar after that. TPG staff members have also successfully stacked their airline dining program rewards with rewards from Seated. That’s some pretty good reward value.

Featured photo by d3sign/Getty Images.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.