My Experience Using Seated (And Double Dipping)

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Last week I wrote about Seated, which is an app that gives you $15-20 in gift cards (with your choice of Amazon, Starbucks, or Uber) every time you dine out at a participating restaurant. You might say “what’s the catch?” and the truth is that there aren’t many catches:

  • Obviously only a limited number of restaurants are participating (as of now 2,000+), and most of them are fairly high end
  • At least two people need to dine to be eligible
  • Not all participating restaurants accept reservations through Seated at all times, so sometimes they’ll only let you book during off-peak times, when they value the business most

Unlike some dining programs, there are a lot of really popular, great restaurants on the list, so getting a $15 gift card for dining at them is awesome. Well, I had the chance to test out Seated over the weekend while I was in Los Angeles, and wanted to report back on my experience, and how I double dipped (or maybe even triple dipped, depending on how you look at it).

My experience using Seated

There are tons of restaurants in Los Angeles participating in Seated, though for a Sunday lunner (lunch/dinner combo, since I go to bed early), Ford and I went to Momed, which is a modern Mediterranean restaurant. We booked a table for 2:30PM for two people, and making the booking was super easy. It’s even easier than OpenTable, since all your info is saved through the app and there’s no need to log-in.

You don’t need to give a credit card or anything, though do note that you can be banned from Seated if you miss your reservation and/or don’t cancel at least 10 minutes in advance (I doubt they’d do that if you just do it once, but rather I suspect it’s for repeat offenders).

Momed was awesome, and we had a great meal.

Yum, yum.

The check came out to ~$55 including drinks, food, etc., so with tip it was ~$70.

We paid at the restaurant just as we usually would, and just under 24 hours later I received both an email and my app was updated to reflect that I had received a $15 Amazon code. On top of that, I got an additional $5 for being referred by an existing member, so I got a total of $20 in credits. It seems to me like you get the credit as long as the restaurant doesn’t mark you as a no-show, rather than them actually having to mark you as having been there. I say that because when we checked in I got the sense that the host didn’t even look to confirm our reservation, since it wasn’t very full.

But wait, there’s more…!

Previously I did everything I could to use airline and hotel dining programs, where you can earn bonus points for dining at select restaurants. While Seated restaurants actually seem to largely be hotspots, a lot of the restaurants belonging to Rewards Network dining programs are ones that especially need extra business, to put it mildly. There are some good restaurants on Seated, though in general the selection isn’t as good with Rewards Network, in my opinion.

My goal with this meal was to go somewhere that belonged to both Rewards Network and Seated. That’s how I arrived at Momed, which was one of several restaurants belonging to both.

We used the AAdvantage dining portal, and actually signed Ford up for it, so he’d earn 1,000 bonus AAdvantage miles after his first dine.

The cool thing is that you can double dip both of these programs — AAdvantage dining is linked to your credit card, while Seated is linked to making your booking through them. So a day later he had 210 miles post, and in the next few weeks he should have an additional 1,000 miles post.

On top of that, he paid with the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card, meaning we earned 3x points there as well.

Adding it all up

So for our very nice $70 meal we earned:

  • $20 in Amazon gift cards
  • 1,210 American AAdvantage miles
  • 210 Chase Ultimate Rewards points

When you add it all up, that’s a return of about $40 on our $70 meal. That’s pretty darn good, if you ask me!

Get an additional $5 on your first Seated meal

As mentioned above, Seated has a referral program, where both the person referring and person being referred can receive an extra $5 in rewards after their first dine. If you haven’t yet signed up, you can do so using code BEN242, and you’ll receive an extra $5 after your first dine, and I’ll get the same.

To enter this code, first sign-up for the app, and then click on the “wheel” at the top left of your account, and click on the “Redeem Promo Code” button. There you can enter the code, and it’ll automatically be applied to your first dine.

Bottom line

I really like Seated. While the major dining portals are worth keeping an eye on, many of the restaurants are places that aren’t worth eating at for the miles, since there are better restaurants out there. However, Seated has some truly great restaurants, so getting a $15-20 gift card for those meals is a heck of a deal.

If you can find a restaurant that participates in both a dining program and Seated, you can do even better.

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Comments

  1. If the restaurant also participates in Mogl, it’s possible to get cash back on top of the rewards from Rewards Network and the Seated gift card (which doesn’t reduce the earning from RN or from your credit card, as you can set the cash back to credit to a debit card and back into your bank account).

  2. “It seems to me like you get the credit as long as the restaurant doesn’t mark you as a no-show, rather than them actually having to mark you as having been there. I say that because when we checked in I got the sense that the host didn’t even look to confirm our reservation, since it wasn’t very full.”

    This is definitely important and I hope this is true.

  3. This is all well and good, but clearly isn’t sustainable. The restaurant is paying the Seated a referral / reservation fee (or is paying some sort of ongoing fixed fee for participating in the program). The app is turning a significant portion of that fee into a rebate to customers via gift cards. So the restaurant is likely losing revenue off the top of every tab that comes to it from the app and the app is taking a significant portion of that revenue and turning it back to the customer. Everyone’s margins are squeezed to the point where the economics stop making sense. The bet here is obviously volume for the app and repeat usage (without the app rebate) by the restaurants. That business model has been tried and failed – its called Groupon. Best of luck!

  4. I’m told it also stacks with Uber’s Visa Local offers, so you could actually triple-dip if you went to a place that’s offering that AND Rewards Network dining. Maybe even quadruple if it’s also in Yelp’s cashback?

  5. Thanks for the detailed review.

    This looked great and I wanted to use your signup code but I am just not willing to use Facebook as my login and have them post to my account. Its a tough sell but I understand why they do it…

  6. @ CS — I was approximating. If you’d like to know the exact amounts, the total came out to $53.50, plus $5.10 in taxes, plus a 3% “kitchen appreciation surcharge” (which doesn’t go to the servers), plus the tip of $10, which is an ~18.7% tip.

  7. also, to capital B Brian’s point above, I think some of the nicer places are only offering tables at off-peak times. Like when I was booking last week, a really nice, popular place I wanted to go only had tables at 9:30pm on a Sunday on Seated (they close at 11 pm). I couldn’t book at 7:30pm like I wanted, so I just used OpenTable. It’s probably worth it for the restaurant to take a 10% hit on a table if it can keep the place full until close…

  8. I love that someone wants Lucky to explain why he tipped so much. Because he’s not a terrible human being, isn’t that a good enough excuse?

  9. I tried Seated the other day as well, and similarly had a great experience! Went to a place in Philadelphia which was similarly quite empty, so I don’t think the hostess marked us down when I said I had a reservation, but I got the credit nonetheless. The app also works with restaurant.com gift certificates – I had a $10 certificate from them and went with a friend, so basically my half of the meal was “free” and I still got the amazon gift card! I love the opportunity it gives to double/triple dip, and will definitely be picking restaurants that also participate in rewards network/mogl/uber offers/dosh.

    I’m also pretty sure this isn’t sustainable, as above commenters have said, but hey, I’ll take it while I can get it! I sure ain’t complaining.

  10. Ford? You signed your car up for the AAvantage Dining?

    Can we sign up pretty much any kitchen appliance for it?

  11. I double dipped this with the $20 Amex offer for fig & olive in NYC, ended up being $40 off $190 which is pretty decent. I’ve not looked to see if any of the other Amex offers places are on Seated and/or DiningRewards. If I’d really been on the ball I could have taken two cards with the fig & olive offer on, spent $10 more, then split the bill to get $20 off $100 spend twice and the $20 Seated gift card so $60 back on $200 along with a few MR points along the way. I also got this offer on my Hilton Surpass Amex which gives extra Honors points for dining so it could be even more lucrative! So much so that like others I fear it could be too good to last!

  12. There’s also Yelp! Rewards, Uber Local Offers, and Thanks Again. I’m lucky in that I have 2 restaurants that I love within walking distance that participate in the Rewards Network, Yelp!, and Thanks Again. I kinda felt bad because one of them was also offering a Groupon which I bought via AAdvantage Shopping for bonus miles. For some reason though the transactions don’t always capture automatically. They’ve always credited me if I send in the receipt or credit card transaction.

  13. Seated’s terms of service and “privacy” policy are really creepy. You must give them access to your Facebook account, and they say they will scrape out your list of friends and do, uh, something unspecified with them.
    Some people may be willing to sell their friend list for a $15 coupon but no thanks.

  14. I installed the app, learned that the only way to use the app is to give them my facebook password. I uninstalled the app.

    Best security practice: Never use your account from one site to set up your account on another. One gets compromised, everything linked gets compromised. It doesn’t matter how well they promise to behave… just say no. And now you know what’s making their business model work – your facebook data.

  15. @John Levine – there is an Edit button for permissions. When I signed up, I unchecked permission to access my Facebook contacts, and unchecked letting them know my birthday (that’s for friends only, and not friends of friends, and I’m even uncomfortable with that).

    I like their Chicago offerings. I try to double or triple dip – Groupon, Yelp, Dining Rewards, cc promos (like the current one with my Barclay Aaviator card with 3x AA on dining – second time this year they did that). If MileagePlus X added more restaurants (they have a few chains, like IHOP) it could be even be more intriguing! The holy grail is the quadruple dip!

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