Best and worst fast food loyalty schemes revealed – how to get FREE food at McDonald’s and Nando’s… – The Sun

FAST food loyalty schemes might seem a lot of effort to save a few pounds – but use them regularly and it could mean a LOT of free food.
Whether you’re a devoted fan of one particular restaurant, or a casual diner of many, it’s worth signing up to loyalty schemes to earn free food, drinks and treats.
From a Greggs sausage roll to a whole chicken at Nando’s – there are plenty of rewards up for grabs.
Most loyalty schemes are very easy to join, and some even reward you with a freebie just for signing up.
There have been two recent additions to the loyalty scheme battle with the arrival of McDonald’s and Burger King – but just how do they stack up against its competitors?
Here’s how some of the top fast food restaurant loyalty schemes work and how easy it is to earn rewards:
It’s free to sign up for My McDonald’s. You’ll be prompted to set up an account when first downloading the app – if you already have it, you should be given the option to join when next signing in.
Each £1 spent at McDonald’s gets you 100 points, and you can claim rewards once you hit 1,500 points, 2,500 points or 4,000 points. This equates to a £15, £25 or £40 spend.
At the lowest threshold of 1,500 points, you can choose between items that cost around £1, including small fries, mini McFlurry and side salad.
For 2,500 points, you can choose between items that usually cost £1 to £2.50, including medium fries, Double Cheeseburger and Bacon Mayo Cheeseburger – although there's also a Veggie Deluxe burger, which usually costs £3.79.
And 4,000 points lets you can claim classic McDonald’s menu items like a Big Mac, six Chicken McNuggets or McChicken Sandwich, each worth more than £3.50.
To collect and redeem points, show or scan your reward QR code found within the app. You can also redeem rewards by ordering food through the app as normal, and adding your chosen freebie.
As a trick to earn rewards a little quicker, scroll down to your "bonus points" offers within the app. These work in the same way as Nectar point bonuses, where buying certain items and scanning your card gets you the extra points.
You can’t earn points from Just Eat, Deliveroo or Uber Eats deliveries though – you’ll need to be present at a restaurant to rack up points.
Your points last for a year after they are earned, so there’s plenty of time to accrue them.
Verdict: Easy to earn your first reward and use bonuses to get more points higher – higher tier rewards offer the best value.
Overall rating: 8/10
The Burger King Rewards scheme is available by downloading the Burger King app and entering your details. You’ll then be given a QR code to use in store.
You’ll receive 10 points for every £1 you spend at a restaurant when you scan your code.
You can start to redeem rewards when you hit 150, 250, 400, 600, 700 or 800 points (anything from a £15 spend up to £80 for the top reward).
The 150 point rewards (including a cheeseburger or regular fries) are worth around £1-2 each.
Hitting 250 points gets you either six onion rings, six nuggets, six chilli cheese bites or a double cheeseburger – worth around £2-4.
At 400 points, you’ll find a free Whopper, Crispy Chicken, Bacon Double Cheeseburger or Chicken Royale (worth around £5).
At 600 points, it's a premium burger such as a Double Whopper, Bacon Double XL or Steakhouse Angus (around £6-7 in value).
And finally, you can turn those normal or premium burgers into a meal including fries and a drink, once you hit 700 or 800 points respectively, worth £7-10.
On signing up, you’ll be gifted 200 points for free – enough for a free cheeseburger, fries or drink straight away (normally you’d need to spend £20 to get those points).
The points you earn expire if you’re inactive for six months – either redeem them or make a purchase to keep your points balance alive.
But fewer than 300 of the 500 UK branches accept the loyalty scheme – so check your restaurant before you spend.
Like McDonald’s, you can’t earn rewards on Deliveroo, Just Eat or Uber Eats purchases – all points much be claimed and redeemed at a restaurant.
Verdict: The 200 points for sign up is a nice bonus, but it's a shame only around half of the restaurants nationwide are signed up.
Overall rating: 7/10
Greggs Rewards is available to use within the Greggs app, which is free to download and sign up to.
Once downloaded, you’ll find separate loyalty cards for different product categories. You earn stamps each time you buy breakfast, drinks, savouries & bakes, sandwiches, sweet treats and hot food.
Each works separately but you can earn multiple stamps in one transaction – so if you buy a sausage roll, sandwich and a coffee… you’d earn one stamp for each category (hot drink, sandwich, savouries & bakes).
Once you have nine stamps in a single category, your next purchase is free – the reward is automatically added to your app's QR code.
Depending on the category, your freebie can be worth between 50p-£5 – but you only have 31 days once the reward is issued to claim it.
You could buy the cheapest item in each category and claim the most expensive item for free when you unlock the reward.
Overall rating: 7/10
Verdict: Nine purchases to get a reward is a lot, but it's good you can earn treats across all product categories. The short window to claim rewards lets it down somewhat.
Nando’s Rewards is free to sign up to – enter your details online and get your own digital loyalty card, which you can add to your Apple wallet.
Every time you spend £7+ on food, you’ll be rewarded with one chilli. You can exchange those stamps for free food once you hit three, six or 10 total chillies.
When you’ve collected three chillies (£21 minimum spend), you can unlock a green reward, which is a choice of starter or a 1/4 chicken. This is worth around £3-5 in value.
Once you’ve collected six chillies (£42 minimum spend), you get an orange reward – a wrap, burger, pitta or 1/2 chicken. This is worth around £7-8.
And finally, if you make it to 10 chillies (£70 minimum spend), you unlock a red reward of a full combo meal of your choice or a whole chicken. This is worth up to £15 in value.
To redeem your rewards, simply scan your QR code when paying, or place an order using your freebie.
While the top reward is good, it takes a long time to reach it. You can only collect one chilli a day, so you’d have to eat at Nando’s on 10 separate occasions to earn enough chillies for the top reward.
It’s also difficult to spend the minimum of £7 when eating at Nando’s – meals are typically at least £10.
If you regularly dine with a partner or friend, get a rewards card each and order separately – that way, you can double your rewards and not waste your extra spends.
Once you’ve earned a reward, you have 366 days to use it.
Overall rating: 5/10
Verdict: Decent reward values, but will take 10 different trips to get you a whole meal for free.
Subway Rewards is free to join through the app, just enter a few details to get your account set up.
You’ll receive a QR code to scan when eating at a Subway restaurant to collect and redeem your points – you get 10 points per £1 spent on food and drink.
To claim rewards, you’ll need to earn a total of 100, 200, 500 or 1,000 points. That equates to a spend of £10, £20, £50 or £100.
For 100 points, you can claim a free regular hot drink of your choice (worth £1-2), while 200 points gets you a free side or soft drink.
Watch out though – some sides such as a cookie or crisps are less than £1, so this would be a bad use of your points.
At 500 points, you can get a 6-inch sub, flatbread or salad of your choice (worth around £3-5), and the biggie of 1,000 points gets you a free footlong (worth around £5-7).
You need to spend quite a lot to get rewards at Subway – look out for double point promotions or join a ‘"Sub Squad" with your friends, which gets you all 50 points any time someone in the squad eats at Subway.
Your points expire if you’re inactive for 12 months – if you make a purchase or redemption, the calendar resets.
Strangely, the best value for money in terms of redeeming your points is on the lowest reward tier of a free hot drink.
Overall rating: 4/10
Verdict: High spends required to redeem a free sandwich, and questionable rewards tiers.
So the new Burger King and McDonald’s loyalty schemes compare well to their high street fast food rivals.
Considering the food is already quite cheap, it’s a welcome bonus to drive the price down further with loyalty rewards.
No matter where you choose to eat, earning rewards for sitting down is a must. There’s also nothing better than chowing down of a plate of free food.
Most reward schemes are now are through apps on your phone, so there’s no excuse to save those extra pounds while you eat.
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