Let me start off by saying that absolutely nothing here is going to cost you a dime to get and absolutely nothing here involves any sort of questionable tricks. I'm about to share with you four free apps for your smart phone that you can download right now and use immediately that will save you money on your trip here in Seattle.
What it is: Pirq is an application that cuts 20-50% off your bill at absolutely zero cost to you at select restaurants and times. The idea is that businesses offer larger coupons at their low hours and smaller coupons at the busy times, which helps keep their business steady throughout the day. For you, it means free coupons that can be redeemed instantly for 20%+ off your bill. Visit their website for the full story
How it works: I have no idea how their business model is viable, but so long as it is here it is dead simple: You click on the business you're about to visit and see what coupons are available. You select one and then when you get there, click redeem. You need to scan a code that is at the business (usually by the register), and then poof: 20-50% of your bill simply vanishes.
Pros/Cons: Good discount with almost no effort, but few participating businesses (especially Downtown)
A sampling of the best participating businesses: Taste Restaurant (at the Seattle Art Museum, 20-50% off), 8oz Burger Bar (20-50% off), Ten Mercer (20-50% off), Eva Restaurant (30%, late night), Pegasus Pizza and Pasta (Alki, 20-50%), Taco del Mar (Super cheap fast food Mexican, now an extra 20-50% off. Great for budget travel)
What it is: LevelUp is a form of payment accepted by some businesses in the area, but why you should be interested in it is that it offers both a bonus for signing up ($5 with promo code 91389 or by signing up using this link*) and most businesses have a first time credit that discounts your bill. For example, Pike Place Chowder uses it and offers a $2 credit. Add in the $5 from the promo code and that gets you a cup of the world famous, line-out-the-door clam chowder for a whopping $1.20 plus tip (including tax). Visit their website for the full story
How it works: Another dubious business model, but enjoy it while it is here! After you've set up the application, just open it up and let the person at the register scan the code on the screen. Your card is charged the amount of the bill minus your credit. As an added bonus, since LevelUp is a payment you can also team up any businesses like this with any coupons or special offers you have because it is not another "discount or offer" that would prohibit their use
Pros/Cons: Free money for you, no string. The only con is most initial credit offers are only $2 per business and you can only use it once.
A sampling of the best participating businesses: Pike Place Chowder ($2 free), Mr. D's Greek Deli ($2 free), Coastal Kitchen ($4 free), Paragon Restaurant ($4 free), Mioposto ($2 free), Cafe Allegro ($2 free).
What it is: Chinook Book is a coupon book that operates on the Entertainment Book model, but their smart phone app comes loaded with a couple of very handy coupons that both local and visitor can enjoy. You have the option to buy access to all of the coupons for $10, but that is not necessary to enjoy some pretty nice savings. For example, coffee at Cafe Ladro (which while not on my top 15 is still decent) is buy one get one free. What makes them different is that the Chinook Book only offers coupons for local, sustainable businesses. Visit their Website
How it works: Download the application, then click "near me", then "filter", then "availability" and select "available" and then apply. This will show you all of the coupons you can use right now that are close to your position. To use them, click on a coupon and hit redeem and show the next screen to the cashier. They'll take off that amount.
Pros/Cons: There is a lot of good stuff in there that is free, but the majority of coupons require a $10 "coupon pack" purchase.
A sampling of the best participating businesses: Free coupons, no purchase required (Download and go): Duke's Chowder House ($10 off $30), Pacific Science Center (2 for 1 admission), Blue Moon Burgers ($2 off), Cupcake Royale (6 Cupcakes for the price of 3), Cafe Ladro (Buy 1, Get 1), Wooden Boat Center (One free hour of rowing in their historic boats), Bartell Drugs ($5 off $25).
Requires purchase of $10 "Coupon Pack": Museum of Flight (2 or 1 admission, worth $17), Argosy Cruises (20% off Tillicum Village), Seattle Aquarium ($2 off regular admission, up to four people), IMAX ($2 off up to two tickets), Cafe Vita (2 for 1), Fuel Coffee (2 for 1), Molly Moon's Ice Cream (2 for 1), Alki Kayak Tours (50% off second tour, when first purchased at full price).
What it is: A free app with coupons for 50% off your bill, or better, up to a certain amount. Sometimes they even have coupons for free things on there.
How it works: Download and start the application, select a business, click redeem, show the screen and save. Visit their website for full details
Pros/Cons: 50% off, but limited selection of businesses in Seattle. They are from New York and there are more coupons there. Works in several cities.
A sampling of the best participating businesses (as of 6/14/12): Bluebird Ice Cream (50% off up to $5), Wallingford Pizza House (50% off up to $13), Pel'Meni Dumpling Tzar (50% off up to $7)
Other Less-Free Options
What it is: The coupon book that started it all is still kicking around does offer some good values. If you are living in Seattle, you can easily get your money's worth. If you are a visitor, it can work in your favor if you plan on visiting places where they offer two for one coupons for expensive admission and you buy the book in the Goldilocks period between when they heavily discount this year's book to sell more of them and the end of the entertainment book year. There's also a rather clunky app for your smart phone.
How it works: It's a huge book of coupons, usually 2 for 1 deals. You present the coupon before your bill is totaled and the cashier takes off that amount.
Pros/Cons: The number of coupons in there is overwhelming, and many of the places are lackluster. On the other hand, many major attractions have 2 for 1 deals (which can be $15-20 in savings each time). Unfortunately, you have to buy the book to get the coupons. There are no free coupons like the Chinook Book in their mobile app. While you can check out the full list of participating businesses here, the Chinook Book app offers a better deal for visitors in my opinion. I also couldn't find a couple of my favorite coupons, like Pike Place Chowder in the online list, which leads me to believe that those businesses may have pulled their coupons.
What it is: A combination ticket for six of the most popular tourist attractions. It is the ultimate tourist ticket and with it you gain access to the Space Needle, the Seattle Aquarium, the Argosy Harbor Cruise, the Pacific Science Center, the EMP Museum, and your choice of either the Museum of Flight or Woodland Park Zoo. If you do all of those sights, you end up saving about $50 per adult and $35 per child.
How it works: You purchase the book online for $70 per adult and $45 per child, and you can print out the vouchers at home. Having the vouchers, you can skip the lines at each of the attractions.
Pros/Cons: It is a good deal if you actually visit all of the sights, but if you only do two or three, buying tickets separately or by using the other free coupons (if available) in the apps I mentioned above will save you more.
Looking for more traditional ways of saving money in Seattle? Click here!
*Full disclosure: If you sign up using the promo code there, you get $5 credit that you can use anywhere and I do too. If you don't use a code, you start out with $0 credit. Around the internet, their are people who promise "your share of $10" (translation: $5) or other amounts, like $10 or $20 in credit. Anyone claiming that a LevelUp promo code will give you more than $5 in credit is lying to entice you to use their code. If you found this article helpful, please use my link and show some love. I don't get anything if you download any of the other applications. :)