I was dubious about the Taste card when I first heard about it.
£79.99 for a twelve-month membership to something that offers half price meals? My initial reactions were that it was a lot of money, the restaurants would probably be few and far between and that given the relative infrequency that i eat out, I’d never make my money back.
Fortunately, Taste offer a free thirty-day trial their card, and also actively list which restaurants the discount is available at, meaning I could have a good nose around before deciding. Even better, I didn’t need to input any card details to set up the trial, which is a real bug bear of mine. (Which reminds me, I really must cancel that ongoing Xbox Live subscription.)
The Taste Card is a UK-wide card that allows the card owner to get 2 for 1 or 50% at thousands of different restaurants around the country.
The first thing I did was to look up my local restaurants. I did this on the website and immediately noticed two things. Firstly, the sheer number of restaurants I could use the card in locally - far more than the couple I had been expecting. In fact, there were 24 restaurants within 5 miles of Chelmsford City centre when I checked, and the vast majority of those were within a mile.
Secondly, my local pub, which I have been to more times than I care to remember, takes the card. If never seen it advertised there before and had never seen anyone use it, but sure enough, next time I was there, the window proudly displayed a Taste Card sticker. I asked the landlord about it and he said that the card was accepted but that it required a table booking to use it.
Given that the Fleece is not the kind of place you can book a table, this struck me as odd. Pressed for more information, he revealed that as long so the pub knew you’d be using the card fifteen minutes in advance they could cater for it. Simply put, when ordering the first pint, I can mention that I’ll be using the card to order food on the next round and the Taste Card can be used.
Armed with this information I decided to apply for the free trial and jumped online to complete my details. A few minutes later I had an email confirming my application and had jumped onto the App Store to download the official app, which subsequently was all I needed to get my discounts.
What more is there to say about the Taste Card? Well, it’s more widely accepted than you may realise. As I’ve said, searching in Chelmsford brought up more than twenty restaurants in a one-mile radius that accept the card. Try it in somewhere like London and results roll into the hundreds.
The annual membership seems expensive at £79.99, but you could save that with three uses of the card, which suddenly makes it much more reasonable, though there is a way to get it far cheaper, which I’ll go into below.
The mobile app is easy to use, and although you are sent a physical card for use when you have a full membership, I always found it easier to use the mobile app to get the code up, as it saves me carrying yet another card around in my wallet. Equally, the main website is well laid out and easy to search through.
There are a few downsides, though nothing that should prevent you from buying the card. Firstly, it’s worth double checking what food you’re getting discounted at your restaurant of choice. At some places it’s only the main, and doesn’t include sides or extras, and although it details this on the website, it isn’t so clear on the app.
You also have to remember that you need to book in advance, but I’ve done this at a steak restaurant and a pub, both within an hour of going there and it’s never been a problem.
Lastly, there can be a lot of restrictions on Friday and Saturday dining, as well as busy periods such as the lead up to Christmas. It has to be said that there are still plenty of places to choose from though.
You can get a 30 day trial of the Taste Card and there are no card details to enter, or subscriptions to cancel. Once the card expires, you just aren’t able to use it any more.
So, how do you get the Taste Card cheaper than the advertised price of £79.99? Quite simply, don’t sign up for it when the trial expires. I found that I generally only used the card when going out for meals with my girlfriend - who has a card of her own. I was planning to use my trial card with friends, and although I did use it a couple of times, forking out £80 was just too much in one go, so I decided not to renew.
Within a couple of weeks I had an email offering me a discount. Within a month of my free trial ending, I was being offered £50 off an annual membership, and most recently a £50 discount and a free corkscrew worth £23. It shows that it’s worth holding out for.