You want (free) fries with that? Here’s how to get your nosh on for free (or cheap):
1. Sign up for company emails and texts.
Tons of companies are happy to give you freebies when you allow them to visit your email inbox. A few companies piling on the greatness include:
Arby’s – Get a free roast beef classic (with any purchase) when you sign up for Arby’s Deals.
Chili’s – Free chips and salsa, guacamole, or skillet queso.
Del Taco – Get 2 free grilled chicken tacos.
Dunkin’ Donuts – Get a free medium beverage.
Quiznos – Join the Q Club and get $1 off your next purchase.
Shari’s Restaurants – Get a free slice of pie.
Texas Roadhouse – Sign up and get a free appetizer.
2. Save up to 20% with Raise.com gift cards.
I refuse to pay full price for fast food (duh), so I keep my eye on Raise.com for the best deals possible. Saving $20 for every $100 spent at McDonald’s is huge savings, especially when I can stack those gift cards on top of my McDonald’s app.
Use code KCL5 to save $5 on a $50 Raise.com purchase.
3. Download restaurant apps for the latest deals and freebies.
Many restaurants will give you freebies and cheapies just for signing up. Get double the savings by downloading the same fast food app on a family member’s phone and make two separate purchases. A few great apps to look for include:
4. Save money buying discounted gift certificate vouchers from Restaurant.com and Groupon.
Whether you’re looking to discover some new, local joints or you’re on the road, Restaurant.com offers some pretty legit deals on local restaurants. Wait to stock up when they run their $3 for a $25 gift certificate promos.
Groupon offers deals from better-known national companies like Burger King and Papa John’s. Make sure to call the featured businesses to ensure they accept the vouchers before you buy…just to be safe.
Pro tip: Use Raise.com to buy discounted Restaurant.com and Groupon gift cards.
5. Use restaurant loyalty programs for free (and cheap) food.
When you use participating stores’ fast food and restaurant reward programs, you can score bonus points, good toward freebies and cheaper food. Three companies where this is available (at participating locations) include:
Carl’s Jr. – Super Star Rewards lets you check in twice a day whenever you’re in Wi-Fi range, worth up to 200 points (good for $1 off of a Super Star with Cheese).
Papa Murphy‘s – Type in your phone number and get a free pizza every 10th visit.
Dairy Queen – Every 5 visits, you earn 5 points, good toward an original cheeseburger, small sundae, or any size ice cream cone.
Red Robin – When you buy 9 cheeseburgers, the 10th is free.
6. Join survey sites that pay you in restaurant gift cards.
Yeah, yeah. Survey sites schmurvey sites. But spend just a few minutes a day answering questions while you’re watching Wheel of Fortune, and you can score up to $25 in gift certificates to restaurants like Starbucks (OpinionSquare), Domino’s (Swagbucks), and Olive Garden (Toluna).
7. Look for restaurants offering freebies on your birthday.
It’s your birthday, and restaurants want to spoil you a little bit! Simply join their email clubs, and these 50 places will treat you to something special on your happy day (you can’t wear your birthday suit to any of these places, however. #sorrynotsorry).
8. Check your receipts for free offers.
Check your restaurant receipt; tons of places now offer BOGOs and freebies in return for taking a short, online customer service survey. McDonald’s gives BOGO Egg McMuffins and Quarter Pounders; Krispy Kreme gives you a free doughnut; other places will give you pie. Pie. It’s like a hug from the universe, and all you had to do was share the love.
9. Become a mystery guest.
When you sign up and grab an assignment, you basically get a free dinner whenever you’re willing to spend about an hour afterward answering questions about the experience. Through sites like iSecretShop, I recently made $50 eating at Cheesecake Factory, but I’ve also been paid to get my free nosh on at Bahama Breeze ($50), Wahooz Fish Taco ($8), and Tucanos ($60).
Pro tip: When you’re traveling, look for opportunities to secret-shop restaurants on the road, too—especially when you’re headed to a bigger city.
10. Ask about student discounts.
Got a student ID? You might be able to score some discounts and freebies! Participation varies by location.
Arby’s — Save 10% at participating locations.
Buffalo Wild Wings — Save 10% at participating locations.
Burger King — Save 10% at participating locations.
Chick-fil-A — Get free drinks with a meal purchase at participating locations.
Chipotle — Get free drinks with a meal purchase at participating locations.
McDonald’s — Save 10% at participating locations.
Pizza Hut — Save 10% at participating locations.
Subway — Save 10% at participating locations.
Waffle House — Save 10% at participating locations.