Top 5 bars & restaurants for alternative payments

CATEGORY / Food & Beverage TAGS / alternative payments, exchange, food, top 5 Fractals LAB / Gourmand DATE / May 17, 2019

Don’t worry if you want to grab a coffee but you forgot your wallet at home: cash and credit cards are no longer the only way to do it.

A new trend is seeing bars, restaurants and hotels offer unusual payment options, such as miles run, knowledge or even your Instagram following base, that can be used as a bargaining chip for food and drinks.

Here are 5 of them worth knowing.

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Ahead of a Spring Marathon, New Balance opened its very first pub in London for people participating in the competition, and the only currency accepted there was miles run. Teaming up with Strava (an app that tracks your fitness activity) the bar launched four challenges, all focused around marathon training milestones. When runners joined the challenges, they’d receive a Runaway Card, which they could add to the wallet on their phone. The card would automatically fill up with the miles they’ve run, and could be used to exchange miles for beers in the pub.

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In this Japanese restaurant in Milan they’ve turned Instagram popularity into currency, meaning the more followers you have, the less you pay. It works like this: once you’re at the restaurant, you’ll have to take a photo of your food and upload it to Instagram with the hashtag #thisisnotasushibar. Then, show your post at the register. They will calculate your discount based on the reach of your followers. If you have 1,000 – 5,000 followers you’ll get one free plate, if you have 5,000 – 10,000 you’ll get two free plates , if you have 10,000 – 50,000 you’ll have four free plates and you’ll get eight five plates if you have 50,000 – 100,000 followers. We’re sorry to inform you that to eat completely for free you should have more than 100,000 followers.


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This Japanese coffee chain, which has 21 stores located mostly in Japan and India and has recently landed to the U.S, gives you free coffee in exchange of your personal data. Their stores are located in university campuses and customers have to be students or faculty members to enjoy the benefits.  
If they decide to provide personal information such as their names, date of birth, nationality, phone number, e-mail and work experience through an online registration process, they won’t have to pay anything for their drinks. The information provided will be in part used by corporate sponsors for advertising, but most of all to get students in contact with companies that could possibly hire them.


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Opening from 20 May-14 June this year, the Trivial Pursuit hotel, located outside Moscow, gives you the chance to ‘pay’ for a luxurious room by simply giving the correct answers to the questions they’ll ask you during your stay. Which basically means: the more you know, the less you pay. In case you’re wondering why are we including it in a list of bars and restaurants, maybe we should tell you that here even the quality of your meal depends on your knowledge. Giving the correct answer to a Trivial Pursuit question could mean the difference  between a lobster feast and a pack of instant noodles.

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In Pasadena, California, you can pay for your hamburger by simply looking at a screen. Thanks to face- recognition technology, customers just need to go to the restaurant and smile at the camera in the ordering kiosk to open their loyalty account, place their order on the touchpad and then pay with a second smile for the camera. For now, they also have to enter the CVV security code from their credit card, but CaliBurger is planning to eliminate this step in the near future.

Have you spotted any other bar or restaurant where you don’t need money to pay for your food and drinks? Let us know by writing at so we can add it to our list!  

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