I’ve written before about searching for deals and promotions on the Dianping website, but I recently discovered a nifty feature within the Dianping app: instant meal discounts upon checkout. This feature is so useful it has become a regular part of my dining out experience.
The only caveat is that the bill must be paid in its entirety through the Dianping app using a mobile payment method like WeChat Wallet or Alipay. Note that the app works best for Chinese restaurants and is entirely in Chinese.
Once you’ve created an account, find your restaurant (check my previous post for instructions on how to do this). Make sure it’s the right branch.
The restaurant page lists its address, contact details, overall rating, user reviews, and current promotions. You can save venues to your favorites by tapping the star icon on the top right corner of the screen.
Scroll down until you see a little orange icon with a lightning bolt and the word 惠 hui. Next to it is the phrase 闪惠买单 shan hui maidan (“lightning discount checkout”).
Underneath is a list of the restaurant’s current promotions. In this case, Xiangcao Xiangcao offers a 22 percent discount between 11am and 4pm and a 15 percent discount between 4pm and 10pm.
There are sometimes additional promos; for example, Xiangcao Xiangcao offers new users an extra RMB 50 rebate for orders of RMB 500 or more and existing users an RMB 12-50 rebate for orders of RMB 390 or more. (I’m not sure how the latter discount is calculated.)
When you’re ready to maidan, click on 闪惠买单.
A word on discounts: In Chinese, discounts are expressed as a percentage of the original price. That means “7.8折” (zhe) is 78 percent of the original price or 22 percent off and “8.5折” is 85 percent of the original price or 15 percent off.
Enter the bill total under 消费总额 xiaofei zong’e (“total amount”) and the relevant promotions will be automatically applied.
Some menu items, such as alcohol and meal sets, aren’t eligible for discounts; you can enter the total for these separately by checking the box underneath the main line: 输入不参与优惠活动金额（如酒水，套餐）shuru bu canyu youhui huodong jin’e (ru jiushui, taocan (“enter amount non-eligible for discounts”).
You can also use vouchers or promo codes under 代金劵／抵用券／优惠码 daijin juan/diyong juan/youhui ma. For example, here I have several Spring Festival vouchers that expire on March 1. However, note that lightning checkout promotions can’t always be used in combination with vouchers or discount codes.
All told, the total for this bill amounts to around 25 percent (RMB 390 down to RMB 294.2) – not bad at all.
Next, select a payment method (WeChat Wallet, Chinese debit card, QQ Wallet, or Alipay) and tap 确认买单 queren maidan (“confirm payment”).
Once payment is completed, the wait staff will usually write down the Dianping confirmation number for their records.
If you like lightning checkout, there’s a whole category dedicated to the feature on the Dianping home screen. Selecting it will give you a list of participating cafes and restaurants sorted by proximity to you. Happy exploring!
Sijia Chen is a contributing editor at beijingkids and a freelance writer specializing in parenting, education, travel, environment, and culture. Her work has appeared in The Independent, Midnight Poutine, Rover Arts, and more. Follow her on Twitter at @sijiawrites or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Creative Commons photo courtesy of Yasmina Haryono (Flickr)