Money at 30: T-Mobile Dining Rewards
Over the years, wireless network provider T-Mobile has routinely ventured outside of the realm of telecommunications. A prime example of this is the brand’s banking account T-Mobile Money. On top of that, the company has been known for its various “on Us” and “thankings” for consumers, such as its T-Mobile Tuesdays promotions. In that same vein, the brand has now introduced T-Mobile Dining Rewards, allowing customers to earn cashback on purchases from participating restaurants.
So how does T-Mobile Dining Rewards (powered by Rewards Network) work and is it worth it? Let’s take a closer look at the platform.
What is T-Mobile Dining Rewards and What Does it Offer?
Signing up (and who can)
First, in order to join T-Mobile Dining Rewards, you’ll need to be either a T-Mobile or T-Mobile Money customer. On that note, you don’t need to have T-Mobile in order to open a T-Mobile Money account, so that could be an option for those on other carriers. Plus, having a Money account is an advantage with T-Mobile Dining Rewards — but we’ll get to that in a bit.
To get started, you’ll need to enter your email address. Presumably, this must match the one used for your T-Mobile account. After that, you’ll also need to provide your name, zip code, and phone number. Naturally, you’ll also be asked to create a password for your account. Once this is done, it’s on to the next step.
Before you can get started earning cashback with T-Mobile Dining Rewards, you’ll need to link your credit or debit card(s) to the platform. Currently, Visa, Amex, and Mastercards are accepted — meaning no Discover. That exclusion is a bit strange since other Rewards Network programs such as Delta’s Skymiles Dining do allow for Discover cards to be linked. In any case, they also note that debit cards must be run as credit in order to be eligible for rewards. Luckily, you can link multiple different cards to your account so you’re covered regardless of which one you use at participating locations.
Personally, I definitely prefer the linked-card method for earnings rewards versus something like Rakuten where you need to use a specific link to shop online. Of course, I can also understand people being hesitant to enter their credit card information on the platform. So, that’s something to consider.
On the T-Mobile Dining Rewards website, you can search participating restaurants by entering a zip code or address. You can also search for cuisine types or specific restaurants if you want. Then, you can filter by price, dining options (dine-in, order online, takeout, delivery), meal service, and more.
When you run your search, one of the first things you’ll notice is that some options are labeled “Online ordering only.” From what I can tell, these restaurants utilize ChowNow for their online ordering, which is probably why this limitation is in place. As for other listings, you can tap the “Learn more” button to see additional details.
For example, there’s a Benefits Calendar, noting what days (if any) are excluded from rewards — although I have yet to find a location with any such restrictions. Of course, you can also view the address, phone number, hours, and more about the business.
Although there are plenty of restaurants on this list that I’ve seen on other platforms, there are several different ones as well — specifically, the ones that utilize the ChowNow platform. Because of this, I’d say that T-Mobile Dining Rewards’ line-up is more impressive and makes it easier to find a place you want to visit. There are also reviews, which are apparently pulled from the larger Rewards Network and not just T-Mobile Dining Rewards.
Now for the part you’ve been waiting for: the rewards. Here’s how much cashback customers can earn:
- Dining Rewards customers (any day): 5% back
- T-Mobile Money customers using linked debit card (any day): 6% back
- Dining Rewards customers (T-Mobile Tuesdays): 10% back
- T-Mobile Money customers using linked debit card (T-Mobile Tuesdays): 11% back
As you can see, there is a bonus benefit to being a T-Mobile Money customer as you’ll get 1% extra when you use your Money debit card. Even better, when you use the platform on Tuesdays, you’ll earn a base of 10% back — or 11% if you use your T-Mobile Money debit card.
Something to note is that, for online transactions, these reward percentages are based on the subtotal of your transaction, meaning that taxes and gratuity are not factored into your cashback earning rates. For in-person purchases, the full transaction amount will be eligible. In fact, in the FAQ, T-Mobile points out that you may see a lower amount initially but that this should be updated to the full amount within a few days.
For comparison, some of the same restaurants are featured on Dosh where they also yield 5% back — ditto Current rewards. So, the real differentiators here are the T-Mobile Money exclusive perk as well as the increased T-Mobile Tuesdays rates. Thus, even if you do use one of these other services, it may be worth trying T-Mobile Dining Rewards for these boosted opportunities.
For a limited time, new T-Mobile Dining Rewards members can earn a bonus. When you sign up and spend at least $25 using the site within your first 30 days, you’ll earn $10 bonus cashback. To be clear, these funds come in addition to whatever you earn from your qualifying orders.
According to the terms, this bonus offer is valid through June 30th, 2023. Also, like with the cashback offers themselves, the $25 threshold does not include taxes or gratuity.
Cashing out rewards
Similar to other cashback platforms of this nature, you will need to reach a certain rewards threshold before you can redeem your earnings. In this case, you’ll need to accrue at least $10 in rewards before you can actually access your money. Interestingly, once this threshold is reached, the site states that it will apply a credit to your most recently used linked card.
To me, there are pros and cons to this setup. First, while I prefer no limit at all, $10 is fairly reasonable. Also, I do kind of like the idea that your rewards are automatically redeemed and sent directly to your linked card. However, this also means that you’re forced to start back at square one each time whereas other apps will let you continue to accrue and cash out when you’re ready. So, for example, you may choose to stop at $15 before redeeming — which wouldn’t be possible on T-Mobile Dining Rewards (unless you happen to get cashback on a big order that tops you up to this amount). Overall, I’m a bit torn but I think this system works well enough.
One last note: if you don’t earn any new rewards for 12 months, your remaining rewards will expire. If you go 36 months without any eligible new earnings, your account will be closed.
Mobile app (sort of)
Interestingly, there’s not yet a T-Mobile Dining Rewards app. Instead, visiting the site on mobile does reveal a workaround option. By going to the site on your iOS device and tapping the Share button, you can scroll down to select “Add to Home Screen.” Then, when you tap the icon, you’ll enjoy an experience that is basically like a dedicated mobile app.
I’m guessing that, in time, an actual app for the service will be launched. I unfortunately can’t speak to whether or not a similar experience is offered on Android devices. But, for iOS users, I think that this workaround is perfectly acceptable.
My initial experience
As soon as I saw that T-Mobile had launched this Dining Rewards platform, I knew I wanted to do a review. Then, when I looked at the line-up of restaurants, I was excited to discover that one of my favorite local coffee shops was included. Even better, it directed me to place an online order, which is my preferred option. So, being the diligent reviewer I am, I placed my order and headed over.
Unfortunately, things didn’t go exactly as planned as my transaction has yet to register. That said, this is completely understandable as T-Mobile Dining Rewards states that it can take up to three days to show up (they also note to contact them if it doesn’t show up within 10 days). This is pretty in line with my experience with Dosh’s dining options as well, so I really should have expected it.
In any case, I remain confident that my cashback will arrive so that I’ll be able to share more about my experience using the platform. When it does, I’ll be sure to update this post.
Final Thoughts on T-Mobile Dining Rewards
Overall, T-Mobile Dining Rewards is yet another interesting development from the telecom company. What’s more, while it’s easy to compare the platform to other options that exist, I’d say that the line-up of participating restaurants coupled with the T-Mobile Tuesday perk potentially put this one ahead of the pack. As for the T-Mobile Money aspect of things, however, I have to say that it may not be as great as it appears. That’s because, by using your T-Mobile Money debit card for purchases instead of a credit card, you’ll likely be sacrificing rewards you’d get from said card. For example, the 3% back I’d get from my Capital One SavorOne card or 4x from my American Express Gold Card would trounce the 1% bonus I’d get from Money. That said, if you don’t have a dining rewards credit card, then this 1% bonus perk could be worth it — and could help you get the 10 transactions a month minimum T-Mobile Money requires in order to earn a higher APY for the month.
With that aside out of the way, I’m definitely excited to explore the Dining Rewards platform going forward. This is especially true on Tuesdays, which have been a solid dining-out night for us anyway. All in all, I think T-Mobile Dining Rewards shows some great potential, making it a no-brainer for T-Mobile and T-Mobile Money customers to try.