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Go ahead, level up

Posted by Rachel Kossman  November 29, 2011 08:24 AM

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It seems group buying has taken over. Every morning, I wake up to a half dozen emails from a range of different companies offering all sorts of group fitness classes, dinner vouchers, and dry cleaning at half price. Some are great deals that are absolutely worth snatching up, others seem more valuable than the actually are. Many are purchased and then sit in my inbox, waiting to be used and then sometimes wasted when I forget about them and they expire.

Lately, I've found myself drawn to a different twist on group buying - The Level Up. The way Level Up works is relatively simple, but not many people have caught on to its concept yet.

Users sign up for the site for free with an email address and are automatically assigned a personal barcode, which they link with their credit or debit card information. The site is geared toward users with iPhones or Androids, but if you're smartphone-less you can opt for a physical card instead of an app that displays your barcode.

levelupmap.jpgYour barcode acts as a personalized coupon at every place that is partnered with Level Up. Hundreds of local businesses in Boston - ranging from salons to restaurants - offer anywhere from $1 to $20 off a purchase if you pay through Level Up. According to their website, there are currently 196 places that are partnered with the company, with more being added every day.

Most recently, I used Level Up to pay at Saus when I went to get my free waffle deal from ScoutMob. My friends and I all got free waffles, then split a large order of their famous frites and a handful of dipping sauces. We got $2 off for paying with Level Up, and all I had to do was whip out my iPhone, present my barcode and the credit card I would have used anyways was charged.

I also used the app at Fajitas and Ritas, one of my favorite tex-mex places in Boston, a few months ago when my girlfriends and I went to grab some nachos and pitchers of margaritas. It worked seamlessly then as well - all I had to do was hand our waitress my phone and we got $5 off and my card on file was charged. Of course it can get tricky if you are paying for a group, so just make sure to warn your friends to bring cash so they can pay you back!

If you keep going back to the same places, you can earn additional credit there. For instance, now that I've been to Fajitas and Ritas, I've wiped out the $5 credit I had there. But if I spend $100 there through Level Up (sounds like a lot, but group dinners and drinks add up!) I earn an additional $10 credit. Each place has a different amount you need to spend to earn a second reward. It's incentive to go back, and means profit for Level Up and the business you're dining at.

I've got a long list of places on Level Up I've been meaning to try, including Grilled Cheese Nation, Sel De La Terre, Four Burgers, and Kickass Cupcakes, to name just a few. Check out the full list of participating vendors.

Cool tip: If you sign up using this link you get $5 toward your first purchase at any of the Level Up vendors! The site is also running a fun holiday promotion -- if you know someone who would love Level Up, use this link and send any of your friends a $10 credit for the site. All you need is their mailing address. Sweet!

Do you use Level Up? Love it? Think it sucks? Where have you used it? What are the best places that have partnered with the company? Comment & tell me!

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

About the author

Rachel Kossman is a California girl and New England transplant who graduated from Northeastern University in 2011. She has a penchant for discovering new restaurants and bars, devouring Mexican food, More »

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