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A cheaper Entertainment Book

I used to buy through a rewards program, but I've found a more cost-effective way.

By Donna_Freedman Oct 29, 2010 11:08AM

I order an Entertainment Book every year. In the past I've gotten it through MyPoints, one of several rewards programs that I use to get free gift cards.

But now I've found an even better deal: I ordered the EB through a cash-back site.

Cash-back sites are affiliate marketers, which means they get a fee for sending customers to merchants. Then they share a sliver of that fee with us.

In this case it wasn't exactly a sliver: Mr. Rebates is offering 30% cash back on the EB, which came to $9.60. The site also offered $3 off the book's purchase price, free shipping and a $25 gift card.

Other sites also have EB deals but they're not quite this generous. Ebates currently provides 17.5% cash back, and Fat Wallet is giving a flat $5. Both sites also offer free shipping and the $25 gift card.

For that matter, so does the parent company's website, But why order from there when you can save an extra $5 to $9.60?

Gaga for BOGOs

In case you aren't familiar with the EB, it's a thick book of coupons for restaurants (fast food, mid-range, hoity-toity), movie theaters, hotels, travel packages, supermarkets, drugstores, cultural attractions, and services ranging from eyeglasses to oil changes.

It's highly unlikely that anyone will use them all. Myself, I have no interest in golf, tanning salons or carpet cleaning. It's also hard for me to use the supermarket and drugstore coupons because I usually don't buy enough at a time; families, however, would probably love those "$5 off $50" deals.

But there are plenty of BOGOs for sandwich and casual dining joints (my sister and I take turns buying each other lunch) and for local attractions (I'm expecting visitors this year). I can also get a free pretzel at Auntie Anne's -- it's not a Reading Terminal Market soft pretzel, but it's pretty good.

Last year's EB had coupons for $6 movie tickets plus a coupon good for a free ticket on your birthday at Regal Cinemas. Hope that hasn't changed this year, because I love going to the movies for free.

When I went to Alaska last summer I found that both Carl's Jr. and T.G.I. Friday's accepted the coupons from the Seattle EB. This was quite handy when taking relatives out for casual bites after my great-nephew's chaotic Little League games. I had two EBs by then, because they'd gone on sale mid-year.

As previously noted, I don't come close to using all the coupons in the book. That's why I recently put my Entertainment Books up for grabs on Freecycle. Within hours people were lining up, electronically speaking, to take them off my hands. Even though the coupons had less than a month before they expired, they were still valuable.

The EB isn't for everybody. But it could be just the thing to help you stretch your budget. And dang, those pretzels are tasty.

More from MSN Money:

Oct 29, 2010 5:24PM

We bought an entertainment book a few years ago, thinking that it would be an inexpensive way to try some of the local restaurants where we had never eaten before.


The coupons (mostly BOGO) said that the coupon must be presented before ordering.


 At restaurant #1, after showing the hostess the coupon, we were shown to the worst table near the kitchen door, even though the restaurant was only about 20% full. Service was unfriendly and slow. We had originally planned to tip based on the full price of the meals without the discount. But after being treated in this way, we ended up leaving a very small tip, and we don't plan to eat there again.


At restaurant #2, the fried chicken was dried out, as though they had reheated it from the day before. When we complained, the person in charge was indifferent to our complaint. He seemed to think we should not expect any better since we were getting one of the meals free.


We threw the entertainment book away after that, since we'd already used the two most interesting coupons and had not enjoyed either one. I wonder why the businesses put out these coupons if they don't want to treat people who use them like regular customers?

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