The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
We all know the feeling: you’re driving home after a long day, and as you pass a few fast-food restaurants, the cravings kick in. “I deserve this”, you tell yourself, “I work so hard”. So you take the closest u-turn and jump in line. Whether it’s Chick-Fil-A, Taco Bell, or Starbucks, we all have our fast-food kryptonite. But those little $10 charges add up quickly, so why not make each visit worth your while? A month ago, I downloaded four rewards apps in search of the best one- McDonald’s, Chick-Fil-A, Panera, and Starbucks. Here are my reviews.
The Lord’s Chicken comes out on top in my opinion for three reasons- convenience, variety, and payoff. The app is very easy to manage and the employees at the restaurant are great about holding you accountable for getting points from every purchase. This app has a range of items you can redeem based on how many points you’ve earned, and even with the minimum amount, you could get a brownie, ice cream, coffee, or a small fry for free. You earn 10 points for every dollar you spend, and in my opinion, that’s pretty good. Ever since I downloaded the app, I’ve found myself going to Chick-Fil-A more often because I know I’ll rarely pay full price for a meal. Maybe they’ve trapped me, but I have no problem with that.
Surprised? I was too. I don’t go to McDonald’s very often, but every time I go the first thing they ask me at the drive-thru is if I will be “using the app today”. It definitely made me curious, so this was the one I was most excited to try. In this one, however, you are always eligible for a reward, regardless of the number of points you have. You could get free fries, $2 off of a $10 purchase, a free McCafé beverage… pretty much anything on the menu! You also earn 100 points for every dollar you spend. The only reason I ranked McDonald’s #2 is that you can only use one reward per purchase, unlike Chick-Fil-A, where you could get a whole meal for free if you have enough points. Still, I never pay full price for McDonald’s anymore, which is good enough for me.
The first thing I will say about this app is that it’s probably the cutest, aesthetically speaking. There’s a nice green, yellow and white vibe and it’s very well-organized. The Starbucks point system is all about earning “stars”, however, you only get one star per dollar. It takes 25 stars to redeem anything at all, and even then it’s just free drink customization like a dairy substitute or extra syrup. I’m not the type to go to Starbucks every day so I don’t see myself being able to rack up stars very quickly, therefore I think this app is better for the Starbucks regulars. It is worth mentioning though that if you text “hi” to 78887, Starbucks will send you “good vibes texts” with positive messages for a few days, and at the end, you get 150 bonus stars, which is enough for a free drink of any size. Pretty sweet deal!
Look, I love Panera. Ranking them number four is nothing personal, I would never do anything to diss their godly mac and cheese. I just believe that when ranking these rewards apps, their position is based on the payoff, and Panera, unfortunately, had the least potential in my opinion. There isn’t a point system with their rewards, you simply get an “offer” every two visits. The app also allows you to place mobile orders, send eGift cards, and subscribe to their Unlimited Sip Club, but other than that the offers are just mediocre. For example, the first offer I received was for a free dessert or bakery item. Not bad, but also not impressive compared to my number one pick, Chick-Fil-A. I’m hoping the offers will get better over time, but I wish they had a way to track how many times you have visited and what potential offers you could earn so that you could make the most of your purchases. Still, it doesn’t hurt to get a free muffin every once in a while.