Is MOGL the best dining rewards program?

Dining rewards programs can be a great way to rack up extra benefits for money you’d spend anyway. Virtually every airline and hotel program participates in iDine (or something similar), whereby you can earn bonus miles/points for dining at select restaurants.  They sometimes run lucrative promotions beyond the standard earning rate, which can make it quite rewarding.

I was just made aware of MOGL, which seems way more generous than any of the other dining rewards programs I’ve seen. Basically they offer you 10% cash back for dining at any of their partner restaurants if you’re paying with a credit card linked to MOGL. And keep in mind that’s in addition to the points you’d otherwise earn on a credit card. So you can still use a credit card that accrues bonus points for dining (like the Chase Sapphire Preferred). Another cool thing they do is donate a meal to someone in need when you spend a minimum of $20 at a MOGL restaurant.

You get paid monthly to your debit/credit card as long as your balance is at least $10. If your balance is below $10, the amount rolls over to the following month.

The only catch is that as of now they only have restaurants in California (mostly San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco).

The way I actually found out about this is that last week I had a blog dinner in San Francisco, and the restaurant we ate at, TXOCO, actually belonged to the program. One of the attendees pointed out she received cash back through this, so I feel like a total idiot for us not getting cash back on the entire check.

And for those of you that think this sounds too good to be true, check out this Huffington Post article which seems to explain their business model:

To do that, MOGL offers three separate incentives to customers — cash back in the amount of 10 percent of each purchase, deposited into a customer’s bank account at the end of each month; a food donation to a local charity each time a customer spends at least $20; and a monthly jackpot, typically ranging from $25 to $500, which goes to the MOGL user who spends the most at a location in any given month.

To simultaneously reap the three rewards, customers just link any credit or debit card to MOGL and then use that card to pay for a meal at a participating restaurant in one of the three West Coast cities where the service is currently available. MOGL takes a 15 percent cut of users’ spending from restaurants, with 10 percent going back to each customer in the form of cash back, 4 percent going to MOGL, and 1 percent going toward the monthly jackpot.

“We’ve designed something that’s working exceptionally well,” says Carder, citing a study that the company conducted on 89 participating restaurants and 2,000 users in the network. “We compared those MOGL customers to the restaurants’ typical customers, and our users spent about 71 percent more.”

MOGL also offers a referral bonus. New members get $10 credit just for being referred to MOGL, and the person doing the referring gets $10 after the new member does their first dine. You can sign up through my link in order to earn the $10 referral bonus at, though feel free to post your own link below as well so others can use it.

To those of you that live in a city with MOGL restaurants, have you used them yet?

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  1. I think if there are restuarants you like, it’s a good deal, more lucrative than iDine. But in general, it’s only restuarants that are hurting that sign up for iDine and similar things.

    15% off the top is HUGE for a restaurant. The average iDine restaurant is one that isn’t doing well financially. While there are a couple that I would go to anyway, probably 1 out of 20 dinners out is at an iDine place (less at Mogl).

    Also, registering your credit card of the moment is a pain.

    On the other hand, if you like fast food and other really casual places (as opposed to fine dining), then this could be good for you – Johnny Rockets, Ihop, etc.

  2. Thanks for the headsup Ben! Wasnt aware of this website. I see a few places near me listed so this is definitely an added bonus!

    FYI, your link still doesnt work, but I used your referral by entering your name in.

    Here is my link should any choose to use it:

  3. @ beachfan — Agree with your assessment, though you really switch cards often? It’s all AmEx Prepaid for me, all the time. 😀

  4. Hi Beachfan,
    I work at MOGL and we work really hard at getting some of the cities best restaurants on board. We target the highest rated on Yelp and Zagat and sometimes we even say no to a restaurant if it just doesn’t have good enough customer ratings.

    We’ve got places like TXOCO, Waterbar and EpicRoadhouse and 250 other great restaurants in San Francisco and in San Diego (where we started) we have over 700 restaurants, many of them are amazing, iDine only has about 170 in San Diego so don’t let your experience with iDine keep you from enjoying MOGL. 🙂

  5. I’m in San Diego and have to say the local restaurants on MOGL and way better than the lame offerings on iDine. I see quite a few places on there that I regularly eat at. Thanks for the heads up on this one.

  6. @ Lucky

    The prepaid card doesn’t do all that muchfor me as I do better than 5x when I’m working on spend requirements (primarily AA Citibank, but lately bottomfeeding with HHonors). However, now with Bluebird, which gives me points for things I couldn’t do with cards, I’m trying to jump on the bandwagon, but no Vanilla cards in my local OD.

    Are you finding availability as good where you are as it was in Tampa?

  7. @ beachfan — Availability definitely isn’t as good here as in Tampa, sadly, so I’m having my folks back in Tampa buy them for me.

  8. @ Jon Carder:

    Here are the restaurants that I usually go to in SF : One Market, Boulevard, Anchor and Hope, Perbacco, Slanted Door, Quince, Ame, Piperade, Delfina, etc. Others I’d like to try: RN74, Masa, etc.

    Didn’t see any of them listed but perhaps other folks have other favorites that are listed.

    @ Lucky

    How was dinner at TXOCO? I like basque food

  9. @ beachfan — It was pretty good. Not my favorite restaurant as their menu isn’t very big and their options were all pretty “creative,” though if you like that type of food it’s definitely worth checking out.

  10. How does it work if a restaurant is on MOGL and idine? Or is it the same thing? There are a few I can see in SF.

  11. @ Nick — That’s a good question. I believe you can only earn one bonus or the other, so I’d guess the program registered first would get the credit.

  12. I sometimes use idine to try new restaurants. For new restaurants its a good marketing tool to get feet in the door. If they are any good they usually leave the program after a few months though.

  13. Lucky, there’s another card, the Passport Card, that offers “one meal free with purchase of two or more”. They have quite a few excellent restaurants in the San Francisco area, as well as the Seattle and Portland areas.

  14. Any plans for MOGL to come to Canada I have four locations and would love to have this option for my guests.

  15. I started in December and got immediate rewards and loved it. In January, nothing. Except I did get an email from the restaurant through Mogl saying it missed me and wanted me back. I eat at this restaurant paying with my card linked to mogl four times a week so I’m a little bummed that for the entire month of January it appears I have lost the benefit.

  16. Might you allow me to offer an alternative perspective if you’d be so kind?

    I became aware of Mogl in my community about 3 years ago. As an operator of a small business naturally I was approached by a sales rep and he gave me the break down.

    Theres this amazing new movement everybody is getting behind (paraphasing the pitch here to the best of my recollection) we’ve created a way to drive thousands of new customers (<that part is important here. make a note) and you only pay when we produce for you.
    (^this was the script. stay with me)

    Mogl for atleast the first two years it was in existence bought its members. You could've been walking through the mall or down the board " hey buddy wanna make 20 bucks in as little as 2 mins?" (admittedly not the best approach with strangers) All you had to do was register your credit card ( as you all know the process) and they credited your card twenty bucks and you walked away 20 bucks richer and access to this app and some new way to trickle some change in the way of a giftcard for a penny on every dollar spent ( I think it was. again its been a few years)

    Heres the scary thing. Once you sign up they dont care what you do. Dont ever open the app delete it. whatever. But they're gonna go to a local business (Corporate entities are a rather involved sale as the dealings are done through the home office so this is going to be a local franchise or your neighborhood mom and pop or even that family restaurant a few blocks down) and say, " hey look we've got over a million consumers looking to us to send them to a restaurant; your restaurant. Try us out for 30 days and see what we can do for you " They get you onboard and that is it ( I'm not painting a portrait of a malicious corporate entity here. Please dont read any kind of jaded structure to my tone). They are done they dont have to do single thing. Except sign more accounts. -admittedly my favorite part is the dashboard " this month we gave you over 2000 mentions in our eblasts. We directed 34 people to your website." There is no way to verify this information.

    Now I'm not sure if you're aware or ever thought of it but those little cash incentives have to come from somewhere. The business right? why not? that's the service they have to pay for it. mogl charges, according to my last invoice i just looked it up here in the office. 12.9% was what I was being charged. now on top of that anytime you use a credit card at a business that business pays a merchant proccessing fee for the three to five hands, depending on their structure, that that money has to pass through to get from your bank to theirs . Debit is a flat rate charge. Credit is, you guessed it another percentage. rates very depending on a myriad of factors and depending on the card. I can tell you I pay almost double when I run an AMEX or discover instead of a visa or mastercard. I've seen these rates range from 1.7% all the way to 5/nearing 6% lets land it at 2.1 right now for the sake of mathematical ease. Now for every Mogl customer I'm shelling out $.15 for each dollar they spend. Additionally for those that are actually there because of Mogl it guarentees to offset the cash card ratio and I'll be paying more fees.
    Hang with me a little longer in this is quite the rabbit hole. Notice how I said those that are actually there because of mogl? what about those that signed up and never looked at anything again? (how often do people get gym memberships and never go? that credit monitoring nightmare from the free credit checks. how long do you just mean to cancel it because you never actually look at your mothly statement and end up going screw it its just one more 14 dollar charge)
    This program is so passive you could've signed up 3 years ago and every gas station or sandwich shop you happen by those guys are shelling out cash to mogl who in turn gives you peanuts of the take.
    Apply this to a little beach community like mine. you get five major restaurants on board. People are going, but not because of mogl. PErfect example I've got a regular Justin comes in 4 days a week for breakfast and a chat about the newspaper. Justin is a mogl member. I pay 5 dollars everytime Justin sits down even though He's been coming here since before the founder of Mogl graduated high school.

    Now I know you're probably like 'So? doesn't affect me.' Here's where it does. Again, and to grab attention in this verbose little diatribe

    HERE'S HOW MOGL IS COSTING YOU MONEY (just a little eye grabber on the page there)
    Restaurants are cost engineered from the bottom up. it's called zero based financing (or bootstrap financing) To cut the course short basically you build blocks up through this simple algorithm and thats how you get your menu price. Your food cost should max out at 30% Labor at 20% (that part takes constant attention and with obamas payroll tax increase that hehehe menu prices went up). Facilities takes a portion, then theres your insurance business tax blah blah blah. You're a business you have to produce a profit right? so what do you do? You have no idea how many mogl charges you're going to get hit with any given day. Transaction fees are illegal in my state and frowned on in general (imagine a mogl fee) So you've got to build that cost into your menu prices. Honest operations will try to tweak a fraction amount evenly and not charge everyone the 15% increase. Not everyone in this business is honest. so now those five major restaurants have all raised their prices. That corner store used to sell canned soup for $.89 now it $1.05 . It's peanuts the one time but when you look at a 15% increase across a handful of your regular prime vendorsdepending on the buisness and your habits you could be looking at hundreds and hundreds of dollars a year. But hey, You just earned enough points to claim that $10 gift card. thats actually really worth $8.5 because you inflated the cost of goods.

    Chew on it for awhile then ask yourself is the Kohl's sale really a sale? OR are they marking up brands they have exclusivity contracts with to outlandish values (because you've never seen someone else selling an APT. 9 shirt. you dont know its worth. mark up hundred then cut 70.
    Go to Bevmo on the last couple of days of the 5 cent wine sale. Write down (if you have to) a couple labels and prices. come in a couple days later and compare prices. Bevmo is getting sued again over the 5 cent sale being more expensive.

    In summation. there's no such thing as a free lunch my friend

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