The summer holidays have come to an end, and I’ve managed to get through it without re-mortgaging the house which is a bonus. I recently wrote about one of my favourite ways to save money eating out (along with getting 2 for 1 at the cinema) – Meerkat Meals.
However, last week, I ran into an issue with it (well kind of). As Meerkat Meals is only available Sunday through to Thursday on food and Tuesday & Wednesday for cinema deals, this can be quite limiting.
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My eldest wanted to go and see Lion King at the cinema. But he had a tennis camp on the Wednesday meaning we needed a discount on a Thursday. Which you can’t get with the Meerkat Movies part of the Compare the Market offer.
I’d also promised him a Frankie and Benny’s breakfast before the end of the holiday, but this was going to be on Friday. Again, not covered by Meerkat Meals. So rather than pay full price, I decided to try out a Tastecard membership to bag us a couple of discounts.
As a bonus, I also managed to get a 3-month Tastecard Trial for £1 through TopCashback* and get £3.50 cashback in the process, giving me a Free Tastecard Membership for 3 months (well actually I’m being paid to use it which is even better!). You can read my TopCashback review here.
So, if you haven’t heard of Tastecard before I’ll run through everything you need to know about it…
What is Tastecard and How Does it Work?
Tastecard is the UK and Irelands largest dining club. According to the Tastecard website, they have over 6,000 participating restaurants and over 2.6 million members. Compelling stats indeed!
Once, you’re signed up you get a membership card (or digital card in my case via the app) which you show at restaurants to receive the deal. This is usually 50% off or 2 for 1 depending on the restaurant.
You can also use it 7 days a week at some of the featured restaurants, but you’ll need to check in the app as this varies quite a bit. Some restaurants exclude Fridays and Saturdays for example, making it comparable with Meerkat Meals. But others like the Frankie and Benny’s near me offer 7-day usage which is a big plus.
Which Restaurants are on Tastecard?
Tastecard has partnered with over 6,000 restaurants so there’s plenty of choice. The list is very similar (if not identical) to Meerkat Meals as the Compare the Market app is actually powered by Tastecard. Tastecard features independent restaurants as well as the big chains.
There are a few exclusions you need to be aware of though with Tastecard. I found this out when I recently couldn’t use it at Pizza Express on a Saturday as it’s only valid for upto 2 people and excludes Saturdays and Sundays.
So, I’ve rounded up what you need to know about the main restaurants below – that way you can compare it with Meerkat Meals to see if paying for a Tastecard is actually worth it (based on where you eat)
- Absurd Bird – 50% off, 4 diners only, excludes Fridays, Saturdays, and December
- All Star Lanes – Only available for 2 diners, excludes Fridays and Saturdays, excludes December
- ASK Italian – Only available for 2 diners, excludes Fridays and Saturdays, excludes December
Azzurro – Only available for 2 diners and excludes December
- Banana Tree – Only available for 2 diners, excludes Fridays and Saturdays, excludes December
- Barcelona Tapas – Only available for 2 diners, excludes Saturdays and December
Beefeater– No longer available
- Belgo – Only available for 2 diners, excludes Fridays and Saturdays.
- Bella Italia – Upto 6 people, not available on Saturdays but can be used in December
Brewers Fayre– No longer available
- Café Rouge – Upto 6 people, not available on Saturdays but can be used in December
- Chino Latino – Only available for 2 diners, excludes Fridays and Saturdays, excludes December
- Chiquito – No restrictions
- Coal Grill and Bar – Only available for 2 diners, excludes Fridays and Saturdays, excludes December
- Coast to Coast – No restrictions
- dim t – Only available for 2 diners, excludes Fridays and Saturdays, excludes December
- Domino’s – London and Yorkshire Restaurants
- Ed’s Easy Diner – 50% off food, No restrictions on days
- Feng Sushi – Only available for 4 diners.
- Filling Station – No restrictions
- Fire & Stone – 50% of the whole menu, from Sunday to Friday and 50% off lunch on Saturdays. Excludes December
- Frankie and Benny’s – Upto 6 diners, no exclusions on weekends or in December
- Friendly Phil’s – Only available for 2 diners and excludes Saturdays
- Garfunkel’s – No restrictions
- Giraffe – 2 Diners only. Weekends and December OK.
- Handmade Burger Co. – Only available for 2 diners, excludes Fridays and Saturdays, excludes December
- Harry Ramsden – 2 Diners only and not available in December
- Jamon Jamon – Only available for 2 diners, excludes Fridays and Saturdays
- Joe’s Kitchen – No restrictions
- La Tasca – Excludes Fridays, Saturdays and December
Milano– No longer available Papa John’s– No longer available
- Pizza Express – Only available for 2 diners, excludes Fridays and Saturdays, excludes December
- Pizza Hut – 2 diners only, excludes Fridays and Saturdays
- Prezzo – Not available on Saturdays but Fridays are OK.
- Prime Burger Co – Only available for 2 diners, excludes Fridays and Saturdays, excludes December
- The RBG Grill – Only available for 2 diners, excludes Saturdays.
- Richoux – Only available for 2 diners, excludes Saturdays and December
- Shaka Zulu – Only available for 2 diners, excludes Fridays and Saturdays
Table Table –No longer available
- Tiger Tiger – Excludes December
- Villagio – Excludes Fridays, Saturdays and December
- Wildwood – Only available for 2 diners, excludes Fridays and Saturdays, excludes December
- YO! – Upto 4 diners, not available on Saturdays
- Zizzi – Only available for 2 diners, excludes Fridays and Saturdays, excludes December
The app lets you scroll throughout the restaurants nearby and has information about the discount, days the offer’s valid and what’s excluded once you visit the restaurant’s page. So always check the app first!
What is Tastecard Plus Access?
Actually, the whole Tastecard+ thing was a bit confusing, to be honest. I wasn’t sure whether the Plus part was an upgrade or included in my Free Trial. But I can confirm it was actually Tastecard Plus Membership that I got when I purchased a 3-month free trial through TopCashback.
According to the site: “Tastecard+ is available to Tastecard members who have their membership upgraded to include Tastecard Plus access”
But actually, checking the Tastecard website, all the current membership deals include the Tastecard Plus membership. Confusing or what?
Basically, if you sign up for one of the current deals you get access to the Plus deals, which give you offers on none dining related deals, including:
Cinema discounts – up to 40% off.
This was incredibly handy as it got me 40% off my Odeon tickets for Lion King saving me just over £3 for 1 adult and 1 child. This works out at 17.5%.
So, nowhere near as good as the 2 for 1 you get with Meerkat Meals, but the big benefit is you can use it any day of the week. It’s also great if you’re watching a film alone or in an odd-numbered group.
Entertainment – As well as cheap cinema deals you can get up to 60% off theatre, comedy and music events. Plus FREE film preview tickets, as well as other competitions to win tickets and VIP passes
How Much is Tastecard Plus Membership?
Currently, there are 3 membership options available.
90 Day Trial for £1
This is the introductory offer I took out. The offer alone is pretty good as one visit to a restaurant or the cinema gets you a saving back way in excess of your £1. Watch out though as it auto-renews at the end of the trial into a full £39.99 annual membership.
The current deal gives you 42% off the RRP of £6.99 to give a monthly membership price of £3.99 which you can cancel at any time.
This is currently being offered at 56% off at £34.99 rather than the retail price of £79.99.
But which is the best deal?
Best Tastecard Offers
Based on the current Tastecard deals:
Monthly Membership is the most expensive option coming in at £47.88 for a full year (£3.99 a month). But the plus side is you’re not tied in and can cancel at any time.
Personally, I’d expect the annual membership option to be the cheapest. But when you work it out, this isn’t really the case. It’s currently £34.99 for a 12-month membership, which works out at £2.92 per month (well £2.915 to be exact).
However, with the 90 Day Trial option, even if you auto-renew at the slightly higher price of £39.99, you get 15 months for £40.99.
This works out at just £2.73 (and a bit…) per month over the whole period. Plus, you can cancel before the renewal if you don’t think you’ll get enough out of it. So, this is the deal to go for in my view…
All offers include Tastecard+ and give you instant access via the Tastecard app which you can download for either iPhone or Android. This is particularly useful if you need one in a hurry for a restaurant or cinema visit the same day (this was my case).
Get a Free Tastecard Trial with Cashback Deals
As I mentioned earlier, you can combine the deals above with cashback deals to actually get Free membership. And make a bit of profit too! I used TopCashback* as they had the best deal at the time giving me £3.50 cashback when I took out the £1 trial.
How to Use Tastecard Plus
Using Tastecard for Eating Out
The Tastecard app is pretty useful for hunting out nearby restaurants. In the app itself, it shows you restaurants nearest to you along with what the offer is (2 for 1 or 50% off). Plus, the days you can use the Tastecard at that particular restaurant.
Always make sure you check the app as this can vary from restaurant to restaurant.
Then, you can click into the restaurant page to double-check the terms of the offer and see if there are any more excluded days for example. Similar to Meerkat Meals, Bank Holidays are usually excluded along with Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day.
Once your happy that you can use it at your chosen restaurant, all you need to do is click on the “Use Card” button on the restaurant page.
This generates a discount code which you then present when you pay your bill to get your discount. You can also tap your digital card to generate a QR code to be scanned in the restaurant if you prefer.
Then you can track your savings in the app of you want to by following the prompt to enter the bill amount and your saving. This could be quite useful if you want to easily track your savings to see if the apps worth keeping after a free trial.
Using Tastecard for Cinema Discounts
The upgraded Tastecard+ membership (no matter how confusing), gives you extra cinema deals alongside your food discounts.
It works slightly differently to the Meerkat Movies app. Rather than presenting a discount code when you buy your tickets at the cinema, with the Tastecard Plus app you buy an e-ticket using the app itself.
The e-ticket isn’t for a specific showing and it’s valid for 3 months from the date you buy it. So, if you have a change of plan at the last minute, you’re not going to be out of pocket which is good.
You then have to either:
- Key in the code if you book your tickets online (warning: this includes an additional 75p booking fee) or
- Present the code at the box office
At my local Odeon though, it’s gone the way of a lot of cinema venues i.e. everything’s automated. You buy the tickets yourself at the Odeon ticket machine.
Frustratingly though, there was nowhere to input an e-ticket code and I ended up having to pick up my tickets at the snack counter.
Luckily, we were slightly early. But I definitely advise leaving a bit of extra time the first time you use your Tastecard at the cinema in case you face the same issue….
Tastecard Plus is accepted at the following cinemas.
Tastecard at Odeon
Available nationwide. 2D films only, standard seating. Admin fee of £0.45 per ticket. All prices below include admin fee:
- Adult: £7.67
- Child (12 years and under): £6.59
- Adult: £9.02
- Child (12 and under): £7.14
Tastecard at Cineworld
Available nationwide on 2D films with standard seating. Discounts also available on drinks and snacks. No admin fee applied to e-tickets.
- Adult: £7.95
- Child (14 and under): £5.85
Available nationwide on 2D and 3D films (45p booking fee). Vue has the same ticket price for children and adults but with different prices for 3D, 2D and inside and outside London. They also have several cheap cinemas with standard ticket prices offered as low as £4.99 everyday. So you get a minimal discount with Tastecard Plus at these.
- London: £8.50 and £9.13 for 3D
- Outside London: £7 and £8.58 for 3D
- Cheap Cinemas: £4.50 and £8.58 for 3D
- Available on 2D films with standard seating. Booking fee of 45p
- General / Adult: £7.70
- Child (14 and under): £6.25
Available on standard 2D films only, with standard seating. 45p admin code for each e-ticket.
- Adult: £6.90
- Child: £5.90
Available on standard 2D films only, with standard seating. 45p admin fee for each e-ticket (included in prices below).
- Adult (All Locations including London): £8.65
- Child (All locations): £5.40
Picturehouse Piccadilly in Central London is the exception at £13.70 for an adult ticket
Available on either standard 2D or 3D screenings. 3D screenings are also the same price as 2D which is a big advantage if you’re after a 3D film. 45p admin fee for each e-ticket (included in prices below). Another standout feature of The Light is a Child is classed as 17 and under which could give you another savings boost if you’ve got teenage children.
- Adult: £7.25
- Child: £5.80
Important Points to Note
Make sure you check your local cinema prices first before going ahead and buying an e-ticket. Lots of cinemas have special discount days or ongoing low off-peak prices which can vary massively by location. So always check first to make sure using your Tastecard gives you the best deal.
Tastecard Days Out Offers
Another advantage of Tastecard Plus is the Days Out offers you get access to as well. The offers include discounts on Theme Parks,
with reductions of up to 50% according to the website, although I found some slightly bigger discounts too which is a bonus!
Again. the app is really user-friendly and lets you search by town or postcode to find offers nearest too you. Currently, the following attractions are available:
- Drayton Manor – up to 49% off
- 25% off Entry to Diggerland
- 55% off Paintballing
- Up to 46% off at Blackpool Pleasure Beach
- Thorpe Park – Up to 54% discount
- Alton Towers – Up to 51% off
- Chessington World of Adventure Tickets – Up to 50% off
- Legoland Windsor – Entry from £21.75
- Up to 41% off entry to Sealife Centres. The discounts vary for each location though so check the app.
- 15% off at Bear Grylls Adventure
- 42% off Entry to Shrek’s Adventure in London
- Discounts on visits to London Dungeon as well as dungeons at York, Edinburgh and Blackpool Tower
- 24% off the London Eye
- Discounted Entry into Madame Tussauds in London and Blackpool
One thing to note is that there are plenty of other discounts and offers available for Days out though. You can Boost Your Tesco Clubcard points for some good deals. And there’s usually Merlin 2 for 1 offers available on packs of cereal or chocolate regularly. But if you haven’t got another voucher then the Tastecard app gives you some easy to access discounts.
How Do I Cancel Tastecard Membership?
Tastecard had a lot of bad press a few years ago after loads of customer complained about being hit by the renewal fee despite trying to cancel. So, how exactly do you cancel your membership and not get stung?
Tastecard’s cancellation guidelines are to “call 0800 5677 241 (9am-5pm, Mon-Fri) at any point within your 12-month membership period and no later than 5pm on the working day preceding your renewal date.”
You can also cancel using the online form.
This means if your renewal date is on a Monday for example, you’ll need to cancel before 5pm on the Friday before, to avoid getting stung with an auto-renewal.
Tastecard Good Points
- 7-day access to restaurant deals is a big positive giving it the edge over alternatives such as Meerkat Meals
- 7-day access to cinema discounts is a huge bonus. This makes it ideal for use on days you can’t use a Meerkat Movies 1 for 1 offer
- The £1 and Free Trials really are no-lose offers. If you use them just once you’re up on the deal
- Discounts on Theme Parks and Days out are a nice bonus but remember to check if better offers are available
- Instant access via the app so you can sign up and get a discount straight away.
Tastecard Bad Points
- There have been previous complaints about the auto-renewal having to be cancelled by phone and several days before the renewal date. This has changed recently so you can cancel one working day before renewal and there’s an online form you can use instead of having to phone.
- Standard price for annual membership seems expensive to me. But, saying that, there are always offers available so you shouldn’t have to pay full price.
The Verdict: Is Tastecard Worth It?
Well, my rather “on the fence” answer is… It depends…
At the full retail price of just under £80 then probably not. But there’s always a few offers around so you shouldn’t need to pay this anyway.
In terms of eating out, Meerkat Meals provides a cheaper alternative as you can get if free with an insurance policy aor for just over £1 if you need to buy policy.
The bonus Tastecard has over Meerkat meals is the fact it’s less restrictive. This means if you often dine out on a Friday for example (excluded on Meerkat Meals) you can use your Tastecard.
The cinema offers are a great addition too as you can use these 7 days a week rather than just on Tuesdays or Wednesdays with Meerkat Meals.
So, if you regularly visit the cinema at the weekend for example Tastecard Plus could save you a tidy sum over the course of a year. You can also try out the Savings Calculator on the Tastecard Website to see if it’s likely to be worthwhile.
But, with 90-day trials available for £1 and cashback available,, you’ve really got nothing to lose in trying it out.
Then you can see if an annual membership’s worth it for your lifestyle. Especially if you’re about to visit the cinema or one of the featured restaurants – you’ll get your £1 in one visit.
Just remember to make a note of when your trial ends so you can cancel it if you find you’re not using it enough.
So, there you go, everything you need to know about Tastecard Plus. Have you tried Tastecard out yet? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading.