If you’ve been following money expert Clark Howard for a while, you know that fast food is one of his guilty pleasures — it’s cheap, quick and tastes so good!
Have you downloaded the apps for the places that you visit the most? Maybe you should.
Most of the major fast-food and fast-casual restaurant chains have been aggressively pushing their apps, which allow you to find nearby restaurants, view the menu and even place your order.
The other day there was a line to the door at a popular quick-service restaurant I frequent, but since I ordered and paid through the app, I just went to the counter and picked up my food.
But these apps aren’t just putting the “fast” back into “fast food” — they can also save you money.
These are 10 of the best restaurant apps for free food!
At that same restaurant, I overheard a cashier ask a customer if he was a loyalty club member. The customer said he had a card but never bothered to activate it.
“You and everybody else,” the cashier responded, explaining that he was missing out on rewards.
As you’ll see from our list below, most of these restaurant chains will give you something just for taking two minutes to sign up for their loyalty program — and the rewards only get better over time.
When you sign up for the free Chick-fil-A One membership program, you’ll start earning points with every purchase.
“Every order or scan gives you points that you can use towards available rewards like an Icedream or Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich,” said Kaitlyn White, a leader on Chick-fil-A’s digital experience team.
There are three membership tiers and benefits increase based on how much you spend annually:
- Chick-fil-A One Member: $1 = 10 points
- Chick-fil-A One Silver Member (achieved upon earning 1,000 points in a year): $1 = 11 points
- Chick-fil-A One Red Member (achieved upon earning 5,000 points in a year): $1 = 12 points
All members can count on a free birthday treat every year, plus you may receive surprise rewards from your local restaurant.
Get the door. It’s Domino’s! The chain’s $5.99 menu gets even cheaper when you earn points that lead to free pizza.
Piece of the Pie Rewards is a pretty simple program. You earn 10 points for every order of $10 or more and receive a free medium pizza after you earn 60 points.
This app is best for frequent Domino’s customers since points expire six months after you earn them.
3. Panera Bread
Download Panera’s app to see your rewards and the number of visits until your next one.
4. Firehouse Subs
Firehouse Subs, the restaurant chain founded by firefighters, wants you to celebrate your birthday with a free medium sub!
By signing up for the Firehouse Rewards program, members earn points that can be redeemed for complimentary drinks, meal upgrades, and free subs and salads.
By the way, the free birthday sub is valid on your birthday or within the following six days.
5. Dunkin’ Donuts
Could you use another cup of coffee today? Sign up for DD Perks to receive a free beverage when you add a DD card to your account — and you’ll get a reward on your birthday, too!
With this program, you’ll earn five points for every $1 you spend and every 200 points gets you a free beverage.
6. Starbucks Rewards
Starbucks has made big changes to its popular rewards program that the coffee chain says will allow members to earn and redeem stars for rewards from the first day they sign up.
Members will continue to earn two stars for every $1 they spend when they use their Starbucks card.
With the changes, Starbucks says you’ll be able to earn enough stars to redeem a reward in as few as two or three visits. Here’s how customers can use their rewards to get free items:
- 25 Stars: Extra espresso shot, dairy substitute or additional flavor
- 50 Stars: Brewed hot coffee, hot tea or select bakery items
- 150 Stars: Handcrafted drink, hot breakfast or yogurt parfaits
- 200 Stars: Lunch sandwich, protein box or salad
- 400 Stars: Select merchandise or packaged coffee
Some favorite Starbucks Rewards perks are sticking around. Members will continue to get free brewed hot coffee and tea refills, a free birthday treat and personalized offers to earn stars faster.
If you love the taste of a McDonald’s Big Mac, Chicken McNuggets or anything else on the menu, this app if your key to free food!
You know how you’ll get those McDonald’s coupons in the mail from time to time? You’ll find those offers and more in the deals section of the McDonald’s app.
Here are some of the offers available:
- Buy five McCafé beverages, get one free
- $1 off any purchase of $7 or more
- Buy any two breakfast sandwiches for $4
8. Jamba Juice
Want something a little healthier than most of the other places on this list? Join Jamba Insider Rewards to receive $3 off your next purchase and $3 off with every 35 points that you earn.
Like many of the other chains, there’s a birthday bonus: a free small smoothie!
9. Moe’s Southwest Grill
Founded in Atlanta, Moe’s Southwest Grill is known for its fresh, made-to-order food (no microwaves!) that’s served with free chips and salsa every time you visit.
Moe Rewards members get a free cup of queso for signing up and a free birthday burrito.
10. Auntie Anne’s
Love pretzels? Auntie Anne’s Original Pretzel, with just five grams of fat, may taste even better when it’s free!
The rewards system is straightforward. Pretzel Perks members earn 10 points for every $1 they spend and receive a free pretzel item after every 300 points.
You can score a free pretzel after your first purchase and on your birthday!
What’s your favorite restaurant app?
Did your favorite restaurant app for free food make our list? Tell us your #1 pick in the comments below and please share any tips that you’ve learned to maximize your rewards!