When my wife and I moved to a new place, we suddenly found ourselves surrounded by fast food. I’m not going to lie, I was immediately tempted to download 21 restaurant apps.
I was surprised to find out how much free food these restaurants give out – immediately upon registration and without the need to accumulate points.
Here is a summary of how and where to get free nomes.
- Free set of 10 nuggets upon registration.
- Complimentary pancakes, vanilla cone, macchiken or cheeseburger after first visit.
- BOGO or 100% free item almost every day.
- French fries for $1 each day.
- 100 points for every dollar spent; 1500 points = 1 free McChicken.
Mickey D’s is the undisputed king of dining apps. I’ve never seen a fast food chain give me so much free food that I sincerely wonder how they make money.
First, you’ll get 10 nuggets just for signing up, and then another free meal after your first visit. After that, I’m not kidding when I say that every time I logged in, I got something for free.
In addition to the BOGO option set, there’s almost always a new coupon for a free large fries, a free double cheeseburger, a free iced tea, or even another free set of 10 – all without the need for a purchase.
On top of all the free food, McDonald’s gives you 100 points for every dollar you spend. The reward thresholds are a little high – 1,500 points for a $1 McChicken, 6,000 points for a Quarter Pounder – but still, I honestly forgot about accumulating points with all the free meals.
- Renewable $1 and free offers.
- 10 points for every dollar spent; 250 points = 1 free crispy chicken sandwich.
Wendy is not as generous as Ronald McDonald, but she still has nice deals from time to time.
Download the Wendy’s Restaurant app and you’ll get an ever-changing list of BOGOs, discounts and random freebies. Some recent events: $1 Dave’s Singles all month long and free Junior Bacon Cheeseburgers all week in honor of Burger Day (May 28).
To underscore this last point, most of Wendy’s top offerings are renewable. I think I got five Dave’s Singles that month, a dollar each (usually around $6). As soon as I redeemed my free Junior Bacon Cheeseburger, I was sure it was over, but amazingly, it reappeared on the app 24 hours later.
3. Red Robin
- Free burger the month of your birthday.
- Every 10th item is free.
- $20 for the 6th visit within the first 5 weeks.
The Red Robin rewards are good enough to become an RR fan if you haven’t already.
That’s because, for starters, you’ll get a free burger anytime during the entire month of your birthday. On top of that, you’ll get every 10th item free forever, including burgers, salads, sandwiches, and entrees. On top of that, if you buy five items within the first five weeks, you’ll get $20 to apply to your sixth visit.
If all this free goodness isn’t enough, Red Robin will also surprise you with free rewards throughout the year.
And let’s not forget the best thing about Red Robin: bottomless fries!
4. Jimmy Jones
- Free 8″ subwoofer after first order.
- Randomized rewards after every few orders.
Jimmy John’s offers what is essentially BOGO for registration. Download the Jimmy John app, sign up for Freaky Fast Rewards, buy a sandwich and you’ll be instantly rewarded for another free sandwich.
After that, things get a little weird. Unlike the points-based system of almost every other app, Jimmy John’s offers random rewards at random intervals. Your next reward could come after two, three, or five visits (the app tells you), and it could be anything from another free sandwich to a simple bag of chips.
Anyway, if you’re a JJ fan, it’s not a problem. If you just want to dine on a budget, the initial BOGO is definitely worth it.
5. Caribou coffee
- Free drink after first visit.
- Free birthday reward.
- 2 points for every dollar spent; 150 points = 1 free drink or egg sandwich.
If coffee is king for you, then you should know that Caribou Perks are much more generous than Starbucks Rewards. If you’re only going to work at one coffee shop, this is the one for you.
You’ll receive a free drink just for signing up, a free birthday reward, and 2 points for every dollar spent. Rewards start at just 25 points and include a free upgrade or espresso. 50 points will get you a free coffee or tea, and 150 will get you a full free drink.
- Free chips and salsa or soft drink with every purchase over $5.
- Rotating discounts and promotions.
If you’re already a chili fan, you can get free chips and salsa every time you visit.
Chili’s will also issue a reward or discount to your account from time to time, regardless of the points you have accumulated. I haven’t been to Chili’s for a month and they still accidentally gave me a coupon for a free snack with purchase. I happily traded it in for an $11 plate of hot wings with my bacon burger.
If there’s a Chili’s restaurant near your house, it’s worth downloading the restaurant app to see what you get.
7. Bread panera
- Free treat or bagel on first purchase.
- Random rewards and unexpected offers.
Panera Bread, a great supplier of carbs and cream cheese, is waiting for an instant freebie in their lunch app. Download the Panera Bread App and sign up for MyPanera Rewards, and you’ll receive a free treat or bagel on your next purchase.
Plus, you’ll receive $0 shipping for the next 30 days until your order totals $10.
Finally, if you’re a Panera fan, you should check back regularly for random freebies and surprise deals.
8. Fire department submarines
- Free big drink at check in.
- 100 points for every dollar spent; 6000 points = 1 free small subscription.
Firehouse Subs doesn’t just use firefighters as their unofficial mascot for branding purposes. They actually donate a portion of their income to provide life-saving equipment to these brave men and women.
In terms of food rewards, download the Firehouse Subs app and you’ll instantly receive a free large drink with any purchase. Plus, you’ll get a free medium subscription on your birthday and a free small subscription when you spend $60 (6,000 points).
- 10 points for orders over $10; 60 points = 1 free medium pizza with two toppings.
It’s been 14 years since Domino changed her recipe and I Still trying to convince friends that it’s good now. Hell, maybe instead of hopelessly promoting it, I’ll just give them a slice of my free pizza.
Domino’s won’t give you free food just for signing up, but you’ll get 10 points for every order over $10. Then, once you reach 60 points, you will be eligible for a free dual peak environment.
It’s essentially an unlimited six-get-one-free sale, or 15% off seven pies. Not bad.
10. Taco Bell
- Free Doritos Locos tacos upon check-in.
- Get a free Mountain Dew Baja blast freezer on your birthday.
- 10 points for every dollar spent; 250 = 1 free taco.
Finally, T-Bell barely saves itself from honorable mentions by having a free signup bonus, no purchase required. Download the Taco Bell app and you’ll get free Doritos Locos tacos just for signing up.
After that, the rewards are decent – spending $25 will earn you your first crunchy taco reward.
The Chick-fil-A app is beautiful and well made, but in three months it has never offered me a freebie or even a discount. There is a free points system where spending $60 gets you a sandwich, but nothing special.
To their credit, Chipotle already has excellent value for money. Spending $8 a pound of protein and fresh ingredients is theft in this economy. But unfortunately, their points system isn’t particularly generous – you have to spend $125 to earn a free burrito.
Starbucks Rewards is nowhere near as “rewarding” as the Caribou Coffee app. Currently, there is no sign-up-only freebie and you will have to spend a whopping $150 to earn enough points for the free handmade drink.
Sure, you can double the rate at which you earn points by spending money on a preloaded Starbucks digital card, but I was still surprised by the stinginess of the $31 billion company.
Free food is not only tastier, but also more budget-friendly. Don’t leave free hamburgers, coffee and tacos on the table!
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