Travel Hacks: Leveraging Groupon To Save Money When Traveling

Traveling is expensive.  Any way that you can save costs on travel expenses is desirable.  This is the reason that we read Boarding Area religiously, right! However, no matter how much value you got redeeming your British Airways Avios for a short haul North American flight, or your IHG points for a PointsBreak hotel, an unavoidable travel expense is food!

Expensive Food Bills

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As Americans, we are spending more and more dining out.  Even 10 years ago, the average dinner out would set you back $25 in Seattle, for example.  For families, the costs can go through the roof!

Groupon to the Rescue

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One website that many of us already use, but never think of leveraging to save money while traveling is Groupon!  As you know, Groupon offers significant discounts on local restaurants.  On our recent trip to Arizona, I knew that we would be spending several days in Phoenix.  I spent about 20 minutes on Groupon’s website, and came away with 3 Groupons for the trip.

Purchased Groupons for Phoenix

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I know that the thought of buying Groupons for new cities can be daunting.  After all, you don’t know how good the restaurants are.  What I have found to be helpful is first to use Groupon’s own feedback mechanism.  When you click on any restaurant, it will let you know what percentage of other Groupon users who have purchased that Groupon would recommend it again.  It’s a simple Yes/No answer, but I have found it to be a very good barometer for whether  I will enjoy the restaurant.  I generally use 90% as my cutoff.

Feedback

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After the restaurant passes the first test, I will take a look at their Yelp ratings.  I’ve used TripAdvisor before for restaurant ratings, but find the reviews don’t often provide much information.

Yelp Sorting

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I dislike the Yelp Sort of reviews with a passion, even though it is the default option.  I find that Yelp’s algorithm often includes dated reviews written by their Elite members, which no longer reflect the experience at the restaurant.  I usually sort by Date, and scroll until I find someone who has written at least 10 reviews.  I try to avoid the angry “I hate this restaurant because they didn’t bring the water quickly enough” type of rants.

Groupon Discounts

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To save even more money, I time my Groupon purchases to when they are having sales.  Right now, Groupon is having a sale through September 15, 2015.  You can save an extra 25% off all restaurant Groupons by entering the promo code SUPER3.  This promo code is valid for up to 3 purchases per account, to a maximum of $50.  This can be a great savings!  For example, a restaurant may sell a $30 Groupon for $15 (a 50% savings, right off the bat).  On top of that, the 25% discount code will knock the price down to $11.25 – a whopping 62.5% off!

But Wait… There’s More!

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Did you also know that a number of cash back sites include Groupon?  These websites simply involve a consumer clicking through their special link to receive a percentage rebate on the purchase.  For example, MrRebates is currently offering a 6% rebate on any purchases at Groupon.  In my experience, MrRebates has provided a rebate on the full purchase amount, before the extra coupon!  So in the example of the $30 Groupon retailing for $15 (but you actually paid $11.25 with the 25% off promo code), MrRebates has generally added a $0.90 rebate to my account (6% of $15.00).  This will bring the total cost of your $30 Groupon down to $11.25, which is a staggering 65.5% off retail!

Penny Pinching

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I know that all of this can seem like a lot of effort, but the payoff is worthwhile, especially if you travel frequently!  The 3 Groupons that we purchased for our trip to Phoenix saved a total of $70 on food.  This adds up quickly, especially if you are budgeting for a family!

What have your experiences been like using Groupon when you travel?

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