New Meerkat trick: Spend £1ish to get 2for1 at 1,000s of restaurants AND 2for1 cinema tickets for a year

The newly-launched Meerkat Meals* gets you 2for1 restaurant meals for a year when you buy a qualifying product via Compare The Market. What's more, you'll also get the popular Meerkat Movies* deal, giving you 2for1 cinema tickets on Tuesdays or Wednesdays for a year – and we’ve a trick to get all of this for £1ish…

In the three years since Meerkat Movies launched, we’ve been swamped with successes from MSE’rs who’ve done it and saved £££s on trips to the cinema, and we’re expecting the same kind of savings to be seen when it comes to dining out with Meerkat Meals, which gets you 2for1 on starters, mains and desserts (cheapest free), Sun-Thu, for up to six people at participating restaurants.

These include selected branches of restaurant chains such as Pizza Express, Frankie & Benny’s, Pizza Hut, Prezzo, Giraffe, Ask Italian, Zizzi, Handmade Burger Co and Strada, plus over 1,000 independent restaurants. The offer, which is powered by Tastecard, isn’t valid on kids’ meals, daytime special menus, sharing platters, sides or drinks, and unlike Meerkat Movies, it’s only available via the app. You can download the app and search for participating restaurants in your local area as a ‘guest’ before deciding whether you want to buy a qualifying product.

I'm new to this – what's the trick?

Compare The Market won’t always be the cheapest place to get your insurance or energy, and certainly just using it in isolation is rarely a winner (see our Cheap Car InsuranceCheap Home Insurance and Cheap Travel Insurance guides).

So, the question we posed ourselves was: what’s the cheapest possible thing you can sign up for in order to qualify for Meerkat Movies* and Meerkat Meals* You'll be eligible if:

  • You purchase any of the following insurance – car, motorcycle, van, contents and/or buildings, pet, life, landlord or travel insurance
  • You switch any of the following – domestic energy (gas and/or electric), broadband, home telephone or digital TV
  • You successfully apply for – a credit card or loan or mobile phone contract

Car and home insurance were far too pricey – other offers have better rewards and cashback elsewhere. So we homed in on travel insurance. Remember, we’re not necessarily encouraging you to use these policies as they may not provide the cover you need – see our Cheap Travel Insurance guide for more info on picking the policy that’s right for you if you’re going away. The point of this is just getting 2for1 cinema tickets and restaurant meals by paying as little as possible.

So, one night’s UK cover for one person would do the job. Do a quick search on Compare The Market* for a single-trip travel insurance policy.

Top three cheapest quotes when we last tried it:

  • £1.01 – TravelInsurance.co.uk ‘Super Saver’ (2-3 Dec)
  • £1.01 – ERV ‘Lite’ (2-3 Dec)
  • £1.47 – TravelInsurance.co.uk ‘Saver’ (2-3 Dec)

At these prices, the insurance is far cheaper than the price of a second cinema ticket or second main course (both usually at least £6, or much more depending on the venue), so in most cases it’ll save you money even if you only use it once. These are the cheapest we found when we looked, but MoneySavers tell us they’ve had quotes as low as £1.02!

What if I’ve already got Meerkat Movies?

Existing Meerkat Movies users will automatically be gifted Meerkat Meals for the remainder of the year from the date they switched energy or purchased a qualifying product.

If you’ve already been using Meerkat Movies, log in via its app* or website* to see how long you’ve got left. When it runs out, you can opt to get it back by repeating our trick.

Do bear in mind that these Meerkat offers run for 12 months from the date you make a purchase via its comparison site, and you can only have one membership active at once. This means that on subsequent purchases you may not get a full year’s 2for1.

Once I’ve done the trick, how do Meerkat Movies and Meerkat Meals actually work?

Update Tue 6 Nov: As this offer's available at numerous chains and 1,000s of different restaurants, there seem to have been some teething issues arising where some staff either aren’t fully aware of the rules or are interpreting them incorrectly. The 2for1 offer’s available on starters, mains and desserts, for breakfast (where available), lunch and dinner. The cheapest meals are free for up to six diners including the membership holder. Here are some examples* of what you'd get free depending on how many people are in your group and what you order. This is how it should work, but in order to avoid disappointment, before ordering it’s worth checking with the waiter that you’ll get the free dishes you’re expecting.

1. After making a qualifying purchase at Compare the Market (see the full list*), download the Meerkat app to activate your membership. Your 12 months’ 2for1 starts from the date you made the purchase. Activation can take at least 48 hours.

2. Claim your cinema voucher code online or via the app when you want to see a film (as regularly as once a week either on the Tuesday or Wednesday). Or select a restaurant via the app when you want to dine out (as many times per week as you like between Sunday and Thursday). You can use both Meerkat Movies and Meals on the same night.

3. Print the cinema voucher code or show it on your smartphone at a participating cinema. If you're dining out, check to see whether you need to book in advance (this will be indicated clearly when you search for restaurants on the Meerkat app). You should notify the restaurant that you're a Meerkat member when booking. You’ll need to present your digital Meerkat Meals membership number, via the app, to your waiter when you ask for the bill. To get this, click on 'Meals' at the bottom of the app and then click the golden 2for1 in the top right corner.

Generally, your Meerkat Movies 2for1 will be valid every Tue/Wed at all the big chains (eg, Odeon, Vue, Cineworld, Showcase), plus many independent cinemas, though some cinemas may have their own rules on how you can use it and which films, if any, are excluded. If you’re unsure, please check with your local cinema before buying.

Generally, your Meerkat Meals 2for1 will be valid every Sun/Mon/Tue/Wed/Thu, but there are some exclusions, including: Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, plus certain days in December at selected participating restaurants. These exclusions will be indicated clearly when you search for participating restaurants on the Meerkat app.

See our Cheap Cinema Tickets and Restaurant Vouchers pages for related deals.