HOUSTON – How many times have you downloaded a restaurant app and were disappointed by the lack of features the app had versus how much information you had shared? It’s happened to us more than a few times, so we thought we would break down the highlights and lowlights of some of the most popular fast food chain apps.
From the Golden Arches to Texas-specific chains, we tried out a bunch of fast food apps to see which ones had the best deals, ease of access and best rewards structure. We hope this helps you as you download for fast food in Texas.
The apps could be ranked based on ease of access, rewards structure and ordering (among other things), but who would pit a restaurant against an ice cream shop? We wouldn’t. It just wouldn’t be fair.
Check out our list below and see many of the highlights of each app based on first impressions and as they stand today.
Here are some of the main highlights we’d like to note before you dig into each specific app.
- Apps are primarily geared toward getting your order going, so kudos to those brands that really put some effort to help with the ease of ordering and gaining rewards. We love the apps that offer retroactive rewards gathering with a receipt photo upload offering.
- It’s just easier to get signed up going through social media (like Facebook), but you’ve got to be comfortable with that.
- You’re signing up for a lot when you get an app, and you can get click-happy, so if certain settings (i.e. location services or email sign-ups in particular) matter to you, be careful what you click. There are tons of ways that you’re asked what you want to sign up for -- sometimes buttons, sometimes check marks -- so be sure to think before you click.
- There are A LOT of ways that you can be bombarded by these signups. Your email. Push notifications. It can be a little overwhelming if you’re not careful, particularly if you sign up for a bunch (like we did) at once. If you sign up for more than you want, emails should always have an “unsubscribe” button and texts can always be ended if you write back “unsubscribe.”
- The deals listed below will likely expire soon, or potentially be tailored toward certain users. We included them to show you the type of deals that are offered in the apps, not as a guide for what you actually will be offered.
- These freebies and deals are only available at participating locations in the franchise listed. Please check with the location you plan to visit.
7-Eleven -You can earn points by purchasing certain items in-store, and a number of deals are listed in the Savings area on items from a free Big Gulp to bananas. There are also exclusive deals on things like gift cards to Netflix, Kohl’s and other retailers. Scan your code at the register to earn points. The app also has immediate points for registering that you can put toward a free mini doughnut or pecan pie, cookie, crackers or gum. See the area that says “redeem now” for those items. There’s also a punch card for six drinks and then you get a seventh drink free.
Arby’s – Sign in under the app and receive 50% off a sandwich or wrap to be redeemed in-store. Not finding a rewards program, but there are deals available in the app in the upper right menu.
Auntie Anne’s - One dollar equals 10 points. Every 250 points equals a free pretzel. You can get an additional $2 back for your first mobile order of $12 or more. If you invite your friends to download the app, you’ll get a buy-one get-one pretzel or cinnamon sugar pretzel once they register and make their first purchase.
Baskin Robbins – For signing up, you get a buy one cone, get one free. You can also sign up for a birthday freebie. There’s also a free welcome scoop.
Burger King – Royal Perks is offering free fries of any size, every week all year with any purchase. The perks program also offers a free daily upsize to a small or medium fry, drink, or has brown once a day. Buying $1 equals 10 Crowns. You can redeem Crowns for more than 80 rewards. Royal Perks include exclusive offers, bonus crowns and special promotions. You can earn two times the Crowns during your birthday month. In an email you earn 250 bonus Crowns on your next purchase that could be redeemed for a free cheeseburger, Chicken Jr. or soft serve cone.
Chick-fil-A – Earn points to redeem available rewards. To earn points, scan your code at the register to pay and earn points toward your next reward. “You may even receive some rewards, ‘just because,’ the app reads. For 200-300 points, you can earn a chocolate chunk cookie or a hash browns side, an Ice dream cone, a coffee, a chocolate fudge brownie, a fountain drink, an iced tea, a Kale Crunch side, or a small or medium waffle potato fries. For 400 to 600 points, you can earn a diet or regular lemonade, a Sunjoy drink, a chick-n-minis, a chicken biscuit, iced coffee, a regular or spicy chicken sandwich or chicken noodle soup, side salad, fruit cup, or mac & cheese. The points do expire. For 700 to 800 points, you can get a three-count of chicken strips, an eight-count of Chick-fil-A regular or grilled nuggets, an egg white grill, frosted beverage, Hash Brown Scramble Bowl, Hash Brown Scramble Burrito, a milkshake, a regular or spicy deluxe sandwich, or a Greek yogurt parfait. For 1,200 points, you can get a 12-count of nuggets, four-count chicken strips, six-pack of cookies, a cool wrap, or a grilled chicken club sandwich or regular grilled chicken sandwich. For 1,800 points, you can get a cobb, market or spicy southwest salad or a 10-count of Chick-fil-A chicken minis.
Chipotle – Earn 10 points for every $1 spent, and you can redeem on the Rewards Exchange for food, goods and giving by turning your rewards into a donation. For food – chips are 300 points, chips and salsa are $400 points, a side of guacamole or queso blanco is 425 points, a fountain drink is 450 points. A bottled drink is 600 points. Double protein is 600 points. Chips and queso blanco or guacamole is 700 points. A kid’s meal is 900 points. An entrée like a burrito is 1,400 points, a quesadilla is 1,500 points. To redeem chipotle goods -- $10 is 2,500 points. $20 is 5,000 points and $35 is 8,750 points.
Cinnabon – Deals are listed on the main welcome page -- Give a $25 gift card, get a $5 reward, for instance. One dollar of rewards equals 10 points. You can earn points on each dollar spent in the baker, online or on the Cinnabon app. Once you have 250 points, you can score a classic roll, Minibon or four-count-BonBites. A welcome award is a four-count BonBites.
Cold Stone - When you register for rewards, you get a buy-one, get-one offer right away. You can also get free delivery on the weekend via a code offered via the app. The app doesn’t have a lot of explanation about the rewards or what it offers, but the website has a lot more information. Earn 1 point for every $1 spent. Receive $5 off for every 50 points.
Dairy Queen Texas – You can use the DQ Texas app to earn rewards and receive exclusive deals that are redeemable at participating DQ Texas locations. Collect 5 Red Spoons and earn a $5 reward. Sign up includes a free mini blizzard treat. Connect with Facebook and receive 1 Red Spoon to get started. To earn – tap “earn” and scan the barcode on your receipt or take a picture of your receipt for submission. To earn a Red Spoon, all receipts must be for $5 or more, submitted within 36 hours of purchase. Purchases must be spaced a minimum of three hours apart. Click redeem on the reward or deal you are using and confirm you are ready to redeem. Then select the DQ location you are at and present the seven-digit code to the cashier and then you’re done. Invite friends using your invite code and when they earn their first Red Spoon, you will receive a bonus Red Spoon too.
Dunkin – When you join DD Perks inside the Dunkin app, you are 200 points away from a free beverage. Some other bonuses include two-times the points on the chain’s chocolate croissant and two times the points on Matcha Lattes. You can scan and pay inside the app and also earn points without paying through the app by scanning your code before paying at the store or drive-thru.
Firehouse Subs – Enter your phone number at the register to earn points and redeem rewards. Save up your points to earn more food rewards. Rewards redemption starts at 6,000 points with a small sub with any purchase. A medium sub with any purchase is 8,000 points. A salad with any purchase is 8,000 points. A large sub with any purchase is 8,000 points. A deluxe catering platter is 50,000 points. Only one reward may be used per purchase. It cannot be combined with other discounts.
Freebirds - Scan your receipt from the restaurant, order online or via the app or provide the registered phone number to the restaurant cashier when paying to earn rewards. Redeem rewards in-restaurant with the registered phone number or redemption code. You can redeem online or in-app on the checkout page. Order for pickup or delivery. Points are added automatically. You can redeem a free fountain drink at 25 points, a cookie or brownie at 30 points, a regular chips and dip at 40 points, a pint of your favorite dip or a free burrito at 100 points. To score a free low-carb bowl or vegan chorizo entrée, redeem 125 points. For a Freebird entrée or brisket entrée with chips salsa and a drink, redeem 150 points. A monster burrito with chips salsa and a drink is unlocked at 200 points. You can also have a menu item named after you at 4,000 points. The name and order are subject to approval by Freebirds.
Hopdoddy - Earn a free sharable on your next purchase when you add your card, but you can add rewards via receipts as well. You can set a preferred location. You earn a free shake on your birthday. If you spend $250, you reach a new level of rewards.
IHOP - Receive a birthday gift when you sign up. Every $5 spent earns you 1 PanCoin. You can trade 3 PanCoins for three pancakes. You can see your rewards in the “International Bank of Pancakes” in your “stackholder account.”
Jason’s Deli - Earn $10 for every 250 points. You can scan a QR code or use your receipt. For every dollar you spend, you’ll earn one point.
Jimmy John’s – Earn a free eight-inch sandwich – with some restrictions -- after your first order. The more orders you place, the more rewards you earn. You can earn surprise rewards. Rewards do expire at particular dates. You have to be logged in to earn rewards, so no checking out as a guest.
Kentucky Fried Chicken – Log in to learn about various menu items and deals. I did not locate a rewards program.
Krispy Kreme – Sign in and you can scan for rewards. Not surprisingly, 12 credits equals a free doughnut or coffee. If you buy a dozen doughnuts you can earn a credit toward a free dozen of any kind on the menu. You can also earn toward a specialty drink including lattes, cappuccinos or mochas. You can use your email, phone number or scan to redeem rewards. You can also scan back receipts up to 30 days old to redeem for rewards.
McDonald’s – You get a code to save when you sign into the app. Daily deals can range from $1 off fries to buy-one, get-one for $1 deals. You can also earn MyMcDonald’s rewards on your favorite orders. Earn 100 points for every $1 you spend. You can earn more points to unlock more rewards. To earn rewards, order and pay through the app or provide your new one-time code and order as normal. McCafe Rewards is part of MyMacca’s Rewards so you can earn with every order. To earn a free McChicken, cone, hashbrowns or cheeseburger, redeem 1500 points. You can redeem 3,000 points for a large iced coffee, medium fries, six-piece chicken nuggets or sausage burrito. For 4500 redeemed points, you can get a large fries, a large frappe, a Filet-O-Fish or Sausage McMuffin with Egg. For 6,000 points, you can get a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, a Bacon, Egg and Cheese Biscuit, a Big Mac or a Happy Meal. The app also offers bonuses for your birthday and bonus points for your first rewards purchase. You can also earn double points on any breakfast purchase from 5 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Olive Garden – Once you’re in the Olive Garden app, join eClub to hear about news, events and specials. In this app, you can also sign up for other rewards at fellow Darden Restaurants like Longhorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille and Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen.
Outback Steakhouse (and others) – With Dine Rewards, get five points for every qualified dollar you spend on food and non-alcoholic beverages at Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar. Earn 350 points for dining in, taking out or ordering delivery and it will automatically convert to a $5 off reward. There’s no minimum spend required to earn points. Rewards are valid for 90 days.
Panera – There is a free app; however, the company is promoting the Unlimited Sip Club which will get you free drinks through July 4th. Be aware, this free trial for the Sip Club will become a subscription service that costs $10.99 per month starting on July 31. The free app (not Sip Club) will get you a free pastry or sweet welcome reward up to $4.59 for joining. Rewards show up in the upper right of the app. If you missed a visit, you can enter your code in the app to get credit for your visit.
Pizza Hut - The app has a number of deals available, from dinner boxes to specials on individual pizzas. You can earn rewards for breadsticks, boneless wings, Cinnabon, and pizzas. The points do expire.
Raising Cane’s – No rewards found in the app. It’s designed to help you place your order in advance of arriving at the restaurant.
Salata – Earn salad rewards points with every order. You can also earn catering rewards points with catering orders. Receive 1 point for every dollar you spend. Every 100 points earns you a $7 salad kitchen credit that you can spend on whatever you want. Once you reach 300 points, you are raised to the “Topping Pro” level and unlock bonus rewards opportunities like BOGO salad days, double-points days and rewards dollars, among other things. Provide the cashier with your phone number on your account or log in before making a purchase online or on the app. You can also refer friends to earn an extra 20 points when your referred friend makes a $7 purchase. Points do not expire.
Schlotzsky’s - When you open the app, there’s a buy-one, get-one deal on pizzas listed and a free chips and drink with any entree purchase offered right off the bat. You can scan a receipt barcode or enter the barcode to earn points. You can also scan a QR code to earn points.
Sonic – App has online exclusives like half-price bacon on bacon quarter pound double cheeseburgers and a buy one entrée, get one free. You can also get exclusive half-priced drink discounts when you order ahead with the app or online. Add the drink to your card and the discount will be applied at checkout.
Starbucks – Check for customized offers in the lower right corner of the app. You can get rewards when you add funds and pay with your Starbucks card. When you do this, you earn 2 stars per $1.
Subway – Receive 15% off a footlong when you sign up for an account. Collect 200 tokens to earn a $2 reward.
Taco Bell – The app offers rewards at 250 points, but begins to unlock higher-level rewards at 2,000 points.
Taco Cabana - Join the rewards program and $1 spent is $1 earned. You can scan in store or scan receipts to earn rewards.
Wendy’s – With Wendy’s Rewards, when you spend $1, you earn 10 points – points that you can redeem for free food. An adorable little Frosty will walk you through the steps the first time you enter the app and create your account. You can add your account online or in-store.
Whataburger – Create an account in the app and for every five visits that you scan, you can earn a reward of a small shake, a medium fry, cinnamon roll, honey butter chicken biscuit or taquito with cheese, medium drink or Whataburger Jr.
Wingstop - When you open the app, you’re greeted with a meal deal for boneless wings. There’s not a rewards program that I could detect.
What are your favorite fast food apps? Let us know what you love. And -- did we miss any? Let us know in the comments!