5 Ways to Pay Less at the Fast Food Drive-Thru – The Motley Fool

Group of friends eating fast food burgers and fries

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Don’t spend more money than you have to when you have a fast food craving.


Key points

  • Fast food is tasty, but if you’re not careful, you may spend more than you budgeted.
  • Ordering off the value menu, activating mobile app deals, and using loyalty programs could help you save money on fast food orders.

Ordering fast food is an excellent solution for busy days. While it’s not the healthiest option out there, it’s satisfying and a good option if you’re in a time crunch. If you’re trying to stay on budget, there are ways to keep your spending in check without giving up on your fast food habits. Keep reading to learn how to pay less for your next fast food order.

1. Use mobile apps to get a better deal

Do you use fast food mobile apps? If not, you’re missing out on discounts. You can take advantage of money-saving deals by using these apps. Here’s an example deal that could result in significant savings: You can get a McDonald’s breakfast sandwich for $1 during breakfast hours. You could easily save $2 to $3 or more with this deal by not having to pay the regular menu price. That’s a win for your bank account and your appetite.

2. Avoid ordering a meal

Many fast food eateries try to entice customers to order an entire meal instead of only ordering a sandwich à la carte. The bigger the check you have, the more money the fast food company makes. Unless you were already planning to order a sandwich, side, and drink, ordering a meal won’t save you money. Ordering just a sandwich is an easy way to avoid overspending.

Before placing your next fast food order, look closely at the menu. While the “dollar menu” or its equivalent is mostly a thing of the past, thanks to inflation, you can still score great deals if you order cheaper menu items. Many fast food brands highlight the best deals on their menu. For example, Taco Bell has a few food items on its Cravings Value Menu, many of which cost $2. If you order strategically, you can keep your spending in check.

4. Join loyalty programs to earn valuable rewards

You’re missing out if you’re loyal to a particular fast food chain and aren’t using its loyalty program. You can earn free food or discounts through these programs. As you spend money, you can earn rewards points and may be able to redeem them for free food items or discounts on future purchases. This is a free and simple way to save money at your favorite fast food spot.

5. Give your feedback to earn freebies

Some fast food restaurants collect feedback from surveys so they can improve their customer service. The next time you’re handed a receipt in the drive-thru line, check to see if there is a survey. You may be able to earn free food by giving your opinion. Doing this won’t make you rich, but earning a few freebies a year can be a win for your wallet.

Fast food doesn’t have to cost a fortune

You should never risk racking up credit card debt because you’re craving a burger or fries. Instead, take advantage of opportunities that help you save money, so you can stay on budget and avoid debt. The above methods can help you score a great deal the next time you crave fast food. Check out our personal finance resources if you’re looking for more ways to save money.

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