You may not consider yourself to be part of the fast food nation, but chances are that you occasionally need to grab a quick bite at your local drive-through, and you may be able to save some money when doing so, just by downloading an app and signing up for a rewards program.
Fast food definitely is convenient, and even though these restaurants typically are inexpensive, it can't hurt to get even better deals from time to time, and most of the top fast food chains in the country offer deals through loyalty programs that can be managed with mobile apps available for Apple's iOS or Google's Android operating systems. If you eat at one or more chains often enough, it's likely worth it to download that restaurant's app and sign up for whatever loyalty program is offered. It will save you money in the long run
Deals at 10 Top Chains
Most fast food restaurants have had loyalty programs for some time, but instead of needing to carry a membership card, customers can take advantage of their membership perks through a mobile app. Ten of the most popular brands in fast food all are using or testing such mobile apps and connected loyalty programs.
Each of these restaurants offers ways for customers to order their food ahead of time and pay for it right through the app:
- McDonald's: The leader in the fast food industry regularly offers deal available only through its mobile app. When ordering in advance through the app, you also have the option to request curbside pickup—another perk available only to app users.
- Burger King: BK Rewards memberships can be managed through the mobile app, and signing up for BK News entitles you to an additional 350 BK Crowns after spending your first $5. Overall, seven BK Crowns are earned for every $1 spent, and crowns can be redeemed for free items in increments of 210, 350, or 490 crowns, depending on the value of the item. Additional app-exclusive deals show up when you are near a Burger King.
- Dunkin' Donuts: You can sign up for the DD Perks loyalty program through Dunkin' Donuts' mobile app. For every $1 spent, 5 points are earned, and 200 points are good for a free beverage. You receive 200 points just for signing up and a free beverage every year on your birthday.
- Subway: Downloading and installing the mobile app automatically signs you up as a MyWay Rewards member. Every dollar spent at Subway earns four tokens, and when 200 tokens are collected, they are converted to $2 and applied to your account. Subway also occasionally offers opportunities to earn bonus tokens. The app also allows customers to save ordering preferences. For example, if you don't like cheese, save that as a preference, and orders placed through the app will automatically exclude cheese.
- Starbucks: Earn two stars for every $1 spent and receive a reward after earning 125 stars through the Starbucks Rewards program, which can be managed through the mobile app. Members also receive free in-store refills, monthly double-star days, a birthday reward, and occasional members-only deals. The app also offers the ability to identify songs play in stores and save them to playlists on Spotify.
- Taco Bell: Occasional deals are available by signing up for an online account which can be managed through the mobile app. Customers also can schedule pickup times for orders placed in advance. While there is no option to connect a personal payment source to the app, customers can upload gift cards to their account.
- Chik-fil-A: You can set ordering preferences and earn free items by signing up for the One rewards program through the mobile app. The app features a circular gauge that shows how close you are to earning a reward. The app does not offer a way to connect a personal payment source directly, but you can upload funds to your account.
- Panera: Your MyPanera account can be managed through the mobile app, which tracks how close you are to earning your next reward. The MyPanera rewards program also occasionally offers random rewards to customers, including a free beverage or a free bagel every day for an entire month.
Wendy's and Arby's are two of the most popular brands in fast food, but their mobile apps are still being developed. Even so, there are ways you earn rewards or discounts through their websites or by signing up for emails:
- Wendy's: As of 2018, Wendy's is offering mobile ordering through its app only in limited markets, but online ordering is available through a rewards program on the company's website. Signing up will get you a free Dave's Single.
- Arby's: As of 2018, Arby's is testing a mobile app in limited markets, but customers still can receive offers via email by signing up on the company's website.