We Tested 15 Fast Food Loyalty Apps And Ranked Them Worst To Best

Everything has an app these days, and your favorite food outlet is likely no exception. The most downloaded food apps in the U.S. probably won't surprise you, but the applications themselves vary greatly in quality. Some allow you to seamlessly order food, offer you exclusive deals, and give a little back when you use them regularly. Others provide very little in the way of incentives or have a less-than-friendly user interface. Some are even completely broken and will feed you pure frustration instead of a fast food treat.

Here at Tasting Table, we've decided to suffer through that frustration (so you don't have to) by testing and exploring the functionality of the most downloaded loyalty apps, as well as apps from national chains that are widely available. All of the apps we tested are available on Android's Google Play Store and the Apple App Store, so anyone with a smartphone can download them for free. It's ranked with the worst being something you should either avoid altogether or only bother with if you're a regular at the associated fast-food chain. Conversely, the better apps justify using a particular chain more often. The apps were judged on things like functionality, reliability, and how much value a customer gets from using them. Here's what we found.

15. Jimmy John's

Jimmy John's sandwiches taste fantastic, but its loyalty app is one of the worst on the market — and comes in last place as a result. The issue lies in how points are allocated. Instead of adopting a spend-based system, Jimmy John's instead allocates points based on the number of transactions you make. So if you're collecting the office order and slapping the points on your card as a form of compensation, prepare to be disappointed.

To make matters worse, the reward you're redeeming is random. You could potentially spend hundreds of dollars only to get something disappointing like a cookie or a free drink in return. On the plus side, the app will sometimes randomly offer minor rewards like a bag of chips or a not-too-generous $1 off. You can claim a free small sandwich on your birthday, which is nice (though not unique to Jimmy John's). If you're a JJ's regular, it's better than nothing — but just barely.

The company has previously tried to improve the perception of its loyalty program through greater personalization – but the rewards themselves need to improve more than anything. Until that day comes, the app's inconsistent point dispersal and lackluster rewards keep it at the very bottom of this list.

14. Subway

While it's better in terms of redemption options than Jimmy John's, the Subway app is truly awful. The offers it displays are usually pretty bad (though not as bad as Jimmy John's), and Subway's franchisees have a habit of not opting into those offers anyway. After all, acceptance of app-related discounts has been a major point of contention for Subway between franchisees and the corporate office in recent years. So if you want to get one of the app's main benefits, you may have to travel to a store that's pretty far away.

Then there's the points you get. You get around $2 worth of points with every $40 spent, which is around 5% back. While there are worse redemption rates on offer, this isn't particularly generous. A straight "buy 10 sandwiches, get one free" style deal like the sandwich chain originally had would offer double the value of Subway's current points system.

Finally, there's a massive reliability issue. The app will log you out and then not let you log back in. If you do get in, then it's slow, crashes often, and is generally unreliable. The user interface is absolutely awful, as well, and the paltry return isn't really worth the frustration it causes. The sheer fact that Subway's app offers points based on how much you spend (unlike Jimmy Johns) keeps it out of last place.

13. Jersey Mike's

Continuing with the theme of "sandwich stores have terrible loyalty programs," it's time to pay Jersey Mike's a visit. Points seem to be somewhat tied to overall spending, though the number of transactions may play a part. You'll need to spend a lot to see any benefit. There are three rewards available: a small sandwich for 48 points, a regular sandwich for 72 points, and a "giant" sandwich for 144. The regular sandwich is the best value, though you'll not get them too often.

We spent around $82 at Jersey Mike's, including tax, and managed to net enough points for one "regular" sandwich with around six points left over. There's also an "offers" section, but we haven't received a single offer in several months. On the plus side, we had no reliability issues with the app, which puts it well ahead of Subway's offering. While its limited redemption options, lack of offers, and heavy spending requirements cement it near the bottom of our order, the slight improvement over apps from Subway and Jimmy John's kept Jersey Mike's out of the bottom two.

12. McDonald's

Apps should be optional and offer nice perks to the users who bother to download them. Unfortunately, the McDonald's app is pretty much compulsory unless you want to massively overspend on the fast food staple. Now, to be fair, each deal on the app is daily, there's a good variation, and most of them represent a good discount on the menu price. Because of this, it edged out the lower-ranked fast food apps.

However, in reality, all these deals do is allow you to purchase a McDonald's meal at the price a McDonald's meal should be sold for. A Big Mac, fries, and a drink will set you back $6 on the app — not the ridiculous $12 or so you'll be paying without it. But the biggest issue we had with the McDonald's app — besides it being a de facto requirement for McDonald's regulars — is its reliability. It's broken as often as the company's infamous ice cream machines.

On the rare occasions that it does work, the interface is absolutely awful. A company the size of McDonald's should be embarrassed by the state of its app. You should avoid it — and you should avoid McDonald's until it either fixes it or adjusts its in-store pricing to match its in-app offerings.

11. Domino's

If you're really into Domino's pizza, then the Domino's app is a great place to go for deals. Regular offers include combos, discounts, and bundle-style coupons that could see you getting several pizzas for a reduced price. Unfortunately, even after the discounts are on offer, you don't often seem to be getting a ton of food for your money.

Deals vary greatly from store to store, and pickup deals also seem to be better than delivery-based options. You should also be aware that online ordering isn't always available in every location. And if your local store isn't taking online orders? The app is completely useless. Additionally, rewards are order-based, so spending more than $5 gets you 10 points. You can redeem 60 points for a two-topping medium pizza, but those 60 points could cost you anything from $30 to several hundred depending on your average spend.

The two-topping pizza is as good as it gets when it comes to reward redemption. 60 points can also get you a sandwich, dessert, or pasta, though that's a bit of a waste in comparison. 20 points gets you a free dip or soft drink and 40 points will land you some bread twists. Occasionally, you'll get a special redemption offer that lets you grab a reward item at a reduced point cost. On the whole, we'd say the loyalty system needs a rework, and the app needs a contingency so you can get its benefits even when a local store is "offline." But it's still a good option for Domino's fans who regularly patronize the pizza chain.

10. Papa Johns

The Papa Johns app is basically an extension of its website's ordering function and you can use it to put together a pizza for pickup or delivery. This includes selecting from the existing menu items offered or customizing your own pie. There's also a pizza tracker you can keep an eye on, so you know when your meal has been assembled, made it through the oven, and when the delivery driver has set off with it.

More than that, it's a good place to start if you're looking for offers and coupons from the pizza chain. Then again, not all of those offers are app-exclusive. So if you want to stick to ordering online, or even in-store? You won't be missing out on a lot.

Criticisms of the app include the number of things it attempts to upsell, the way it aggressively forces tipping, and orders not matching what was entered into the app. The rewards scheme is somewhat underwhelming, too. Every $75 you spend gets you a coupon for $10 off — though the regular offers that the chain usually has available may match or even beat that discount. It's not the worst fast food app in terms of either deals or interface. But it's hardly the best, which earns it a spot at the back of the pack. 

9. Red Lobster

The Red Lobster app is definitely worth a download. In fact, the only reason it isn't higher up on the list is due to a bit of a technicality: Red Lobster isn't really a fast food chain. More than that, it's somewhere you'll probably eat very occasionally. So while the offers are pretty good — good enough to earn a ninth-place spot — you may be better off going to the likes of Burger King when it comes to cost, speed, and number of locations. 

Red Lobster's reward system is tiered, and a few visits will see you go from "Red" to "Gold." A "Platinum" tier has also been added. Each tier includes things like increased point redemption, free gameplay on the restaurant's devices, and exclusive previews of new menu items. Points are awarded based on spend, and rewards are dished out once certain thresholds are met. Those rewards include things like free starters and desserts.

The app is also a great way to keep on top of Red Lobster's seasonal promotions and specials. Even if you aren't a regular, Red Lobster bombards its members with non-point-based offers of free food often. That means the loyalty scheme is definitely worth signing up for, even if you only visit once or twice per year.

8. Chipotle

Chipotle's app is a decent way to order from the chain's menu. You can have your meal delivered or opt for pickup — and in many locations, it will be waiting for you on a shelf at a set time. However, some users have repeatedly flagged issues with the app's reliability. In some cases, points can't be redeemed, while in others, mistakes are made on the order. Some users even report that the app rarely works at all.

Chipotle isn't particularly generous in terms of rewards, either, but it has started offering customers more freebies through its Freepotle program. Offers are few and far between, so you'll usually be paying full price for your food. And you'll need to spend a small fortune before you hit a low-tier reward like a free guac or some chips. The app's unreliability and lack of value have both condemned it to the lower part of our list. Given the extent of Chipotle's menu and the wiggle room the company's margins give, you would expect something more generous. The positives keep it from falling lower, but the negatives keep it ranked squarely in the middle of this list.

7. Taco Bell

Taco Bell's app is functional and has a somewhat decent rewards system. Certain items, including some cravings boxes, are in-app (or online) only purchases. Points do two things: they up your overall tier, which unlocks better overall rewards, and they unlock said rewards. The tiers are named after the chain's sauces, so you'll go from "Hot" to "Fire" if you collect 2,000 points overall, and so on.

Then there's a different meter that unlocks a random reward every 250 points or so. These rewards appear in the "My Rewards" section. Challenges also crop up occasionally, which boosts the points you receive from a particular purchase. You may also see new menu items randomly appear in the rewards section.

In terms of downsides, the rewards expire after a certain amount of time — which is annoying — and you may roll something that you don't want or enjoy. The Taco Bell app is one of the few that occasionally offers games and challenges that allow customers to win free food, though. With that being said, its infamous coin drop challenge is near impossible, and you're probably better off just paying a couple of dollars for a taco. Between its balance of pros and cons, it comes in the middle at number seven.

6. Starbucks

Starbucks is one of the most downloaded fast food loyalty apps — though this likely says more about the popularity of the chain itself than it does the app. In terms of positives, Starbucks' effort is easy to navigate and allows you to easily order your favorite snack or beverage for pickup at the counter or drive-thru.

In terms of rewards, the system is pretty standard. You collect points on every purchase, which can be redeemed for free drinks or food. Unfortunately, the rewards scheme isn't exactly generous, which is why this app can't quite crack the top five. You have to spend an awful lot to redeem anything notable. Lower-tier rewards involve things like syrup or espresso shots in your drink, with the next step up requiring four times the points and still only landing you an iced coffee. To make matters worse, some items won't earn you any Starbucks stars at all.

You may notice the free drinks and muffins piling up if you're a Starbucks regular, so there's plenty to like about this fast food app. But if you only pop in occasionally, you may as well not bother with the app. The app has an offers section, but we've never seen an offer in it.

5. Dunkin'

Dunkin' is one of the world's most popular coffee chains. Despite its success, the company hasn't skimped on the rewards side of things and shows appreciation to its customers via the Dunkin' app. Now, it's worth noting that the coffee chain has recently changed how reward allocation works. Purchases still get points as always. But instead of being allocated a set reward once certain point thresholds are met, customers can now redeem specific rewards for a set number of points.

While this system is similar to most other loyalty apps on the market and does allow customers to get something they really want, it has proved controversial. Some customers have complained that the new rewards system is less generous than its predecessor, and the system now requires a heavy spend before customers can claim certain items back. Despite the divisive new system, Dunkin' is still worthy of a spot near the top of our list — so it kicks off the top five. 

4. Burger King

Burger King may be the most broad-ranging fast food app available. The offer selection is good, often giving a reasonable discount over menu pricing or bundling popular items together. Reliability is decent, as well, and it rarely breaks. Its points system is also quite generous, and it calls those points "crowns" in an attempt to stay on theme.

But the BK app goes beyond food. It regularly gives you "challenges" which are rewarded with bonus "crowns" or other offers. Occasionally, you'll be able to use those crowns to enter a sweepstake or some other contest and win cold, hard cash (instead of just spending them on more food), which is nice.

In terms of downsides, the crowns expire after six months. Plus, the interface can sometimes make adjusting things like burger toppings or soft drink choices a chore — hence, it ranks fourth on this list. Still, despite the flaws, it's one of the better fast food apps and definitely worth a download (even if you only visit The King on occasion).

3. Panera Bread

Functionality is the name of the game when it comes to soup and sandwich chain Panera Bread's app. You can seamlessly order your favorites for pick up or delivery, saving you time and streamlining your lunch run. Both Apple and Google Pay can also be used to fund the transaction, though you can add a credit card to the app if neither of those is your thing, as well.

The rewards system Panera offers is pretty good (if a bit less substantial than Wendy's or Chick-fil-A). Points stack up fairly quickly, and it doesn't take long before you have enough to get something decent. The company even gives you a free pastry reward on signup to get you started.

There are also games and challenges that crop up on occasion and give customers the chance to win points, menu items, or various other prizes. It's clearly a must for Panera fans and even has benefits for those who only visit the chain on occasion. Panera's app isn't just paying off for its customers, though. The chain relies heavily on its app orders, too, so expect to see it further improving as time goes on — and potentially rise above third place in the future.

2. Wendy's

Wendy's App makes it to second place on our list for one reason alone: the tremendous value it offers. If you pick the right combination of offers and reward redemptions, it's sometimes possible to net borderline obscene amounts of food for under $10. Points are easy to come by, too, and lower-end redemption options are great.

You can grab something like a small Frosty for just 250 points, which basically translates to a free frozen treat on every second or so trip to Wendy's. Offers are routinely updated, and you'll likely receive a push notification if you've enabled those and there is a good one on the table. Said offers can range from cash discounts to two-for-one deals to free menu items like fries or chicken sandwiches.

Online ordering is also fairly seamless. You can browse the menu (which changes depending on the time of day), connect a card, and place an order in minutes. That order can then be collected at the counter, drive-thru, or curbside at some locations. It's tough to beat the Wendy's app — which is why only one fast food chain's app ranked higher.

1. Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A offers more than just great chicken sandwiches and nuggets. Its loyalty app ticks all of the boxes when it comes to a fast food rewards system. You get a good number of points with each purchase, those points are based on total spend, and the rewards get better the more you use the app. Though it may require a bit of spending to unlock a full meal, the tiered redemption options are fair when it comes to point cost.

Where the Chick-fil-A app really stands out is with its airline-like status system. In addition to the standard membership that comes with the app, there are three additional tiers: silver, red, and signature. The higher tiers offer better rewards, point bonuses, and unique perks like the ability to request a tour of Chick-fil-A's Atlanta headquarters.

Beyond rewards, the app has other features, such as a streamlined . This includes the ability to skip the line, take a seat, and order straight to your table. The features, functionality, and redemption options mean Chick-fil-A is our top pick.


We evaluated the most downloaded food apps and tested are available on Android's Google Play Store and the Apple App Store, so anyone with a smartphone can download them for free — this also eliminated anything that was more niche from our list. The apps were judged on things like functionality, reliability, and how much value a customer gets from using them.