11 Ways to Save Money at Your Favorite Restaurant Chains

Featured Article, Living & Spending, Shopping Savings
on June 22, 2015
Chipotle
Josh Bassett Photography | Consumerist.com
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Going out to eat, even just for fast food, can burn a hole in your wallet if you’re not careful. But fear not! There are several ways to save at your favorite chains—happy hours, freebies, and rewards systems, for starters. Next time you hit up Starbucks or Sonic on your lunch break, remember these money-saving tips.

Get a MyPanera Rewards Card

Signing up with MyPanera is free, and every time you purchase a new order with your loyalty rewards card, you earn points toward your next reward, which can include free drinks and snack items. All year round, the rewards system will offer various discounts and free items (which do eventually expire) for you to add to your order. You’ll even get a free reward with registration and another on your birthday.

Get the Starbucks App

The Starbucks App will get you started with the My Starbucks Rewards program, which allows you to track purchases made by Starbucks gift cards and will easily allow you to top up each gift card. After five purchases, you will be deemed a “loyal customer” and get free refills of iced coffee or regular coffee while in the store. You’ll also get a free drink or food item (of any cost) on your birthday! Make it to Gold level after 30 purchases, and you will get a free drink after every 12 orders. Warning: for Starbucks addicts only.

Deals at Dominos

Rather than calling and ordering pizza over the phone, most chain pizza places allow you to order online, which allows you to add coupons to your order. Change pizza night forever by adding on deals that may change up your go-to order slightly but will definitely save you a couple bucks.

Sonic Happy Hour

Everyday from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm, Sonic has happy hour that offers half off drinks, slushes, and teas, as well as 99 cent mozzarella sticks, onion rings, tots, and corn dogs. For an even later bonus, go to Sonic after 8:00 pm for Late Night Happy Hour, which promotes half off shakes.

Saving Money at Chain Restaurants | SmartyCents.com

Chili’s All-Day Sunday & Late Night Happy Hour

Chili’s not only has its typical M-F 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm happy hour but also offers a late night happy hour from 9:00 pm to close from Monday through Thursday. You get $2.99 and $4.99 appetizers; $1.99 domestic beers, wines, and wells; and premium beers at $2.99 and margaritas at $3.99. On Tuesdays, kids eat free all day as long as you purchase one adult entree! Finally, Sundays offer all day happy hour from 11 am to 11 pm. So basically, never go to Chili’s on Saturday because you will not get a deal. Any other day of the week? You’re good to go.

P. F. Chang’s Weekday Deals

If you hit up P. F. Chang’s from Monday to Friday from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm, you can find exceptional deals on drinks, sushi, and starters. Most alcoholic beverages range from $2.75 to $6 during these hours, and starters and cost around $3 to $7. Skip lunch and eat early at P. F. Chang’s. You get a lot of bang for your buck!

Applebee’s Double Happy Hour

Applebee’s has not one but two happy hours every night of the week. From 3 pm to 6 pm and 9 pm to 12 pm, you can get $3 to $4 alcoholic beverages and half-off selected appetizers. Plus, on Wednesdays kids eat free all day! Check each day of the week for special deals here.

Free Birthday Ice Cream

Go out for a special treat on your birthday and get free ice cream! TCBY, Pinkberry, Baskin Robbins, Ben & Jerry’s, Marble Slab, Maggie Moo’s all offer free ice cream or frozen yogurt treats on your birthday if you sign up for their loyalty programs. Also, Dairy Queen and Cold Stone offer BOGO deals, so you can treat a friend on his or her birthday (or with a little arm twisting they can treat you). Go to all of them and load up on frozen treats all day long! See more here.

Student Discounts

Participating restaurants such as Burger King, Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, Subway, TCBY, and Waffle House offer 10% to 15% off purchases with a valid student ID. Not every restaurant participates in these kinds of deals, but it never hurts to ask!

Cheers to TGIF

At TGI Friday’s, you can get exceptional drink deals nearly every day of the week. From $3 “Mix it Mondays,” to $5 “Tuesdays with Jack,”  and $3 “Martini Wednesdays,” you can take the edge off with an evening beverage or plan a night out for cheap cocktails. Offers are excluded on Fridays and Saturdays, but this doesn’t mean you can’t mix up your week nights. Get more info here.

Boorito at Chipotle

Once a year, you can get your favorite meal at Chipotle for only $3! That’s right. On Halloween, if you dress up in a costume and go to Chipotle from 5 pm ’til close, you can score tacos, a burrito, a burrito bowl, or a salad for just 3 bucks and guacamole won’t cost extra. It’s a scary good deal that you won’t want to miss.

  • Steve Milano

    Don’t forget the fast-food freebies you get when you fill out surveys (keep your receipts). For example, you get two pieces of Popeye’s chicken and a biscuit free when you buy a large drink after filling out their online survey. McD’s offer a free Quarter Pounder or Egg McMuffin when you buy another, Burger King gives you a free Whopper or Chicken sandwich when you buy small fries and a drink. Arby’s offers a shake or dessert.

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