Applebee's Date Night Pass Is A Secret Goldmine

The new Applebee's Date Night Pass offers you free food and drinks weekly for a whole year.

One-time-purchase subscription passes can net you some pretty good deals at chain restaurants. Take, for example, the former Taco Bell Taco Lover's Pass, where a single transaction of $10 entitled the holder to one free taco per day for 30 days. Then there was Olive Garden's Never-Ending Pasta Pass, where a one-time $300 purchase netted you free pasta every single day. Now, Applebee's has announced the debut of its own Date Night Pass, which promises free food for a year. Let's take a closer look to see if it's worth buying.

What is the Applebee’s Date Night Pass?

Applebee's new Date Night Pass is a limited-edition pass that goes on sale January 22 at 12 p.m. ET. It costs $200 for a one-time purchase. Once you drop the cash, you'll be entitled to $30 worth of free food and non-alcoholic beverages each time you use the pass—and it can be used once per week for a full year. That's 52 uses, so the total possible value of what you're getting with this $200 pass is $1,560 in food and drinks.

The Date Night Pass, as the name implies, is meant to put a dent in date night, which Applebee's fancies itself a good location for. After all, the hit Walker Hayes song "Fancy Like" is all about going to Applebee's on a date night (got that Bourbon Street steak with the Oreo shake / Get some whipped cream on the top too). This is one way for the brand to capitalize on its unexpected rise in popularity among Gen Z diners.

Looking at the fine print, the Applebee's pass is good for both dine-in and to-go orders. However, if you don't use the entire $30 on one visit, or you forget to goto Applebee's one week, the value doesn't roll over to the following days or weeks. In short, to get the maximum value out of the pass, you need to use it weekly, and on each visit you need to order at least $30 of food and/or non-alcoholic drinks.

Is the Applebee’s Date Night Pass a good deal?

Despite these caveats, this isn't a bad dining pass deal at all, provided you don't live too far from an Applebee's location. Technically you're not allowed to use the Date Night Pass in combination with any other offers—but we found an interesting alternative use for the pass.

Applebee's has confirmed to The Takeout that you can use the pass to order the 2 for $25 deal, which includes an appetizer and two entrees for $25 (with select appetizers and entrees at an upcharge). Considering entrees typically range $12-$18 each, this is a good deal, and a savvy way to use the Date Night Pass.

The secret way to get the most value out of Applebee’s Date Night Pass

Here's where things get even more fun: Dates are one thing, but maybe you're single, or you find meal prep at home to be a chore. In that case, there's another great way to make the Date Night Pass worth it: Applebee's has confirmed to The Takeout that you can use the Date Night Pass credits on catering menu items.

At the Applebee's location near me, there are a large number of catering items (17, by my count) that hover under or around the $30 mark, including boneless wings, salads, sides, dessert, and beverages. Most trays are designed to feed six to eight people. If you purchase any of these for carryout with your Date Night Pass, you can bring home a meal big enough to portion out and eat all week. Suddenly that $200 purchase has more utility beyond dining out.

In my opinion, Applebee's broad menu has enough variety so you won't get super bored throughout the year of weekly visits. If you put the pass toward date night as intended, it admittedly seems a little tricky to avoid surpassing $30 for two people after tax and gratuity, and you'll definitely end up shelling out additional cash if either of you want to order an alcoholic drink. Still, If you think you'll use it even once every few weeks, it can ultimately save you a significant amount of money in the long run.

Play your cards right, and the Date Night Pass will pay for itself in seven visits, at which point you'll have redeemed $210 in value. Applebee's hasn't disclosed how many passes will be available for purchase, and I'm guessing they'll sell out quickly, but you can try your luck by going to the Date Night Pass webpage when they go on sale January 22 at 12 p.m. ET. If you're one of the lucky people to snag one, as long as you visit even just once a month, you'll be sure to get your money's worth out of the thing. And as a bonus, you could potentially even get some meal prep out of the way.