Using Restaurant Coupons as a College Student

College aged students face several different challenges. While most students know what kind of academic challenges to expect, many students are unprepared for the challenges of living on their own. Most college students have minimal experience living away from their parents. At first, the newfound freedom is a welcome change, but living on your own means accepting additional responsibilities. One of the biggest changes you are now responsible for is paying for food. Colleges often have an account you can use at the campus cafeteria, but sometimes you cannot get to the cafeteria or you want to experience different food.

Colleges are excellent spots for the food industry. Restaurants located near a college are often busy, since many college students have limited travel options. These restaurants are convenient spots for family members who are visiting as well. Students typically appreciate these restaurants because it gives them a place to socialize, as well as an easy location to visit after the cafeteria has closed for the evening. If you have evening classes, restaurants are your best chance at getting a good dinner. If you are on a limited budget, you may be hesitant about going to a restaurant. If you are worried about spending too much at a restaurant, consider using restaurant coupons to save money.

Know what Coupons you Need

In recent years, collecting coupons has become an art. Skilled coupon collectors end up saving hundreds of dollars every week by using their coupons. Restaurant coupons do not have the same options available as grocery store coupons, but plenty of great savings are available for students. Before you start collecting restaurant coupons, learn the basics of effective couponing.

The first tip is knowing what you need. If you are not familiar with the restaurants in the area, take a few minutes to look up the nearby locations. Be realistic about what restaurants you can reach. If you have evening classes that do not get out until late, make sure you are not collecting coupons for restaurants that are about to close by the time you get out of class.

When you are looking at restaurants, get an idea for the general price range. You may automatically be dismissive about expensive restaurants because they are outside of your budget. These restaurants often have generous deals to bring in customers. You may not visit the restaurant normally, but it is worth taking a trip every so often when you have the right coupon.

Average and Maximum Price

While you are looking over the menu, get a feel for the average price. Again, be realistic about your needs. Do not look at the least expensive meals if you know you want to order something more expensive. Set a maximum price for each restaurant. Once you know the maximum price, you can decide whether or not you will use a coupon. Some coupons only provide minimal savings. If you are still above your maximum price even with a coupon, do not bother clipping it.

Coupon Requirements

One of the reasons restaurant coupons are not as effective as grocery coupons has to do with coupon compatibility. Most restaurants place a limit on how many coupons you can use at any given time and they often limit one coupon per bill. Another common requirement with restaurant coupons is how much you must spend before the coupon becomes effective. For example, restaurants have coupons for free appetizers or desserts, but only if your order exceeds $25, or if you order contains a certain number of entrees. These coupons are great if you are going out with your friends, but if you are just looking to grab a quick meal after class, you may never hit these limits.

Another requirement to keep an eye out for is when you can use the coupon. With sit down restaurants you do not have to worry about this, but if the restaurant has pickup or delivery service you must make sure your coupon is applicable. Pickup coupons typically have some of the best deals, since it incentivizes customers to visit the restaurant directly. This is easier on the restaurant than sending out a delivery driver.

Where to Find Coupons

If you want to get the most out of restaurant coupons, you must know where to look. Coupons are divided into two categories, physical and digital coupons. Physical coupons are found in coupon books or in your local newspaper, while digital coupons are found online. Some digital coupons you must print out, while others contain a code you enter on checkout. Some digital coupons can be stored on your phone.

If you do not have a printer, check your library or computer lab for printing requirements. If you are lucky, the college lets you print for free as long as it is below a certain page limit, but most campuses charge a small fee each time you print. If you are only printing off restaurant coupons, it is not expensive. To save time, try and schedule all your coupon printing at once.

If you are using a coupon you printed online, check in advance to make sure the restaurant honors the coupon. Some restaurants are uncomfortable with printed coupons, believing them to be part of some sort of scam, even if you got it directly from the company website.

When you are looking for physical coupons, make sure you check with the restaurant directly. Many restaurants provide coupons after you make a purchase. Check your receipt to see if there is an online survey you can take to get a coupon. Some restaurants close to the college provide additional discounts to students, so always bring your student ID with you. You may be able to get coupons if the restaurant offers a membership deal. If the waiter does not ask you about membership, check online to see if there is a digital membership available. This is most common with chain restaurants.