There’s a good chance you pass the Golden Arches at some point every day. (Did you know there are more than 14,000 McDonald’s locations in the U.S.?) More than likely, you regularly bite into a Big Mac or dip McDonald’s famous fries in ketchup. And, if you have children, you’ve definitely picked up a Happy Meal or two.
Like us, we bet you most enjoy the convenience of a meal out that does not break the bank – that’s why we’ve rounded up a whole list of McDonald’s hacks and ways to get the most cheap food at McDonald’s.
McDonald’s is a frequent stop for many, whether it’s for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a midnight snack. It’s estimated the chain serves approximately 25 million customers every day at its more than 36,000 restaurants worldwide. The iconic fast-food restaurant is simply part of the landscape.
No matter where you live or travel, a Big Mac tastes the same and that’s part of the wide appeal — along with affordable prices and that enticing Dollar Menu.
The price is always right at McDonald’s, but you can save even more by taking advantage of limited-time discounts and menu specials.
If Ray Kroc’s world-famous burger chain is a regular part of your dining plan, you’ll want to make sure you take our advice on how you can get the best deals at McDonald’s.
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How to save money at McDonald’s
While its menu is popular with customers of all ages, bargain hunters appreciate the chain because McDonald’s offers good value for their dining dollars. You can often get a meal deal at a discount or a menu item for just a buck or two.
Are you using all of the available methods to save money at McDonald’s? We’ve got these hacks for how to get the best deal on your fast food meal and how to get the most food at McDonald’s for your money.
Limited-time McDonald’s specials
The chain regularly offers some sort of special or discount — no coupon or app necessary. It’s typically a buy-one-get-one or twofer (like the 2 for $5 mix and match) offer. Always look for the latest promo sign or ask an employee before ordering. The deals are limited in time — from just one day to several weeks. Many of the specials revolve around a new menu item or change in the menu.
McDonald’s Value Menu
The cheapest items at McDonald’s are found on its popular value menu, called the $1 $2 $3 Dollar Menu. For just a few bucks, frugal diners can pull together a quick meal with a burger, fries and drink. The line-up changes from time to time, but McDonald’s Dollar Menu usually includes several sandwiches (including breakfast, McDouble and McChicken), sides (hash browns, fries and McNuggets) and beverages (McCafé and fountain drinks.)
Once upon a time, the chain regularly offered paper coupons, and consumers could find a weekly insert in the paper or mail with loads of scissors-ready savings. However, those days seem to be long gone, as the company has gone mostly digital. While there may be some print coupons available around the country, they are extremely limited. If you find them, consider yourself McLucky!
The only exception is McDonald’s holiday coupon booklets for children — usually for Valentine’s Day, Easter and Halloween. The booklets sell for $1 and contain 12 coupons, each good for a complimentary treat (hamburger, ice cream cone, etc.) for kids 12 and under. However, it can be difficult to find a participating location selling them. (It’s speculated that they are mostly available at corporate-owned locations.)
McDonald’s introduced its first-ever loyalty club in the summer of 2021, MyMcDonald’s Rewards. Members earn 100 points for every $1 spent. Points can be redeemed for FREE food at various point levels — from 1,500 to 6,000. Members can enjoy 16 different rewards, including fries, vanilla cones, cheeseburgers, Chicken McNuggets, Big Macs, Happy Meals and more.
Points can be earned for both mobile (via the McDonald’s app) and in-restaurant purchases. Plus, members will have opportunities to earn bonus points through various purchases or customer challenges.
In addition, members have access to exclusive, personalized deals every time they visit. Simply check the account for what’s currently available, as the line-up changes often. It’s important to note that you can only redeem one offer per hour.
The app is tied to its loyalty program. By downloading the app and registering, customers automatically become members of the chain’s MyMcDonald’s Rewards.
The best and only place for regular savings at McDonald’s is in its app. Customers will find deals every day in the app, including FREE food, $1 menu items, half-price deals and BOGOs. The offers change on a daily basis, so it’s helpful to check often for the latest discounts.
The deals vary by region, market and location. The only exception are any national offers, which are available to all McDonald’s app users. Be sure to read the fine print. Most offers can be redeemed in-restaurant by scanning a QR code, while others can only be redeemed via the chain’s Mobile Order and Pay system.
And no double-dipping allowed — meaning you can’t redeem two offers in the same visit. Once you’ve redeemed a digital offer, the system will lock you out for 60 minutes until you can use another offer. McDonald’s hack: To get around the limit, savvy shoppers will have a friend or family member use their mobile device to redeem a second offer on the same visit.
For example, one person can get the buy-one-get-one FREE sandwich, and the other person can get the $1 large fries. Then, just share and you each have your very own “cheap” McDonald’s meal — just add two fountain drinks for just $1 each. Two people eating for less than $10!
Because of the app and its wide variety of daily deals, bargain hunters should never have to pay full price at McDonald’s.
McDonald’s free Wi-Fi
Use the chain’s complimentary Wi-Fi to get some work done, check your e-mail or connect with friends. Access the Internet on laptops or mobile devices at more than 11,500 participating locations with Wi-Fi, always FREE of charge. No special login or password is needed — just accept the terms of agreement.
Always connect with the FREE Wi-Fi first before ordering your meal. It’s the best way to access the chain’s app for that day’s discounts and the best deals at each location. With the complimentary Wi-Fi, you should never pay full price at McDonald’s because you have all the necessary tools for saving money at checkout.
Not sure how to connect? When you are within range of a McDonald’s FREE Wi-Fi network, navigate to your device’s Wi-Fi settings and select the McDonald’s network. Then, accept the terms of agreement. If your device settings are turned to connect to networks automatically, you will see a McDonald’s Wi-Fi pop-up with the terms. Simply accept to continue and connect.
The speed may vary by location, based on bandwidth availability. The no-cost Wi-Fi is capped to the lowest network prioritization. Most restaurants offer Wi-Fi; however, some owner-operators may choose to disable the service, and each location may have its own terms and limitations of use.
Breakfast offers some of most popular — and cheapest — menu items at McDonald’s. Breakfast is typically served until 10:30 a.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. on weekends. The breakfast start time varies by location, but it’s usually around 6 a.m. During these hours, the full breakfast menu is available — from hotcakes to McGriddles.
Breakfast was so popular among customers that in 2015 McDonald’s decided to serve the menu all day. (Because of preparation limitations, the full menu is not available at most locations.) Recently, many locations have further limited their all-day breakfast menu. As a result, before you head out midday for an Egg McMuffin, be sure your location is serving breakfast. The all-day breakfast menu is expected to return soon.
The chain regularly offers a breakfast special, usually a twofer — two select breakfast sandwiches or other breakfast menu items at a discounted price. Otherwise, you can usually find a few breakfast menu items on its popular value menu, including a Sausage Biscuit, Sausage McMuffin, Sausage McGriddles and hashbrowns. And, as always, check the app for any breakfast offers for added savings.
Breakfast offers one of the best values at McDonald’s, especially for those needing to grab a quick bite before work or school. With the chain’s “cheap” premium coffee, you can easily enjoy a breakfast for a few bucks. (You can usually get a cup of hot or iced coffee for just $1 at many locations.)
Ordering online and McDelivery
When the craving for a Big Mac or fries hits, you can order food for delivery through the chain’s McDelivery option. Simply download the Uber Eats or DoorDash app to your phone and choose from a selection of McDonald’s menu items for delivery. (The delivery menu includes the full McDonald’s menu with the exception of soft serve cones.)
Simply pay with your Uber Eats or DoorDash account and track your McDelivery order as it’s picked up and delivered to you. The fees may vary by location and/or delivery service. (The total includes delivery fee, service fee and small order fee, so you’ll typically save money by picking up your food in person.)
The deals and discounts for McDelivery differ from those in the McDonald’s app. However, some nationwide specials may also be available for delivery. In addition, check with DoorDash or Uber Eats for discounts or specials specific to McDonald’s, including waived delivery fees. Many delivery offers include specific requirements, such as a minimum purchase amount or the purchase of specific menu items. Always read the fine print first to be sure you qualify for any discounts or waived fees.
If you prefer to pick up your McNuggets personally, check the McDonald’s app for specific “Mobile Order & Pay” offers. These discounts are only available via the option of ordering ahead directly from a specific McDonald’s location for takeout or curbside pick-up — exclusively through the app.
Price and participation may vary
McDonald’s is made up of a combination of corporate-owned and franchised locations. As a result, specials and discounts may vary by region, market and even by individual location. In addition, some “national offers” may not be available at all locations. It’s always a good idea to confirm a specific offer before ordering.
Best deals at McDonald’s
Here’s a rundown of the discount offers currently available nationally and some of the best value deals at McDonald’s:
Free sandwich with app download — Download and register for the McDonald’s app and get a Sausage McMuffin with Egg, McChicken sandwich or cheeseburger for FREE. Valid one-time only. Expires June 27, 2021.
$1 large fries — Get large fries for just $1 in the app. Valid 1x/week. Expires June 27, 2021.
99 cent premium roast coffee — Get hot or iced coffee (any size) for just 99 cents in the app. Valid 1x/day. Expires June 27, 2021.
Free medium fries with a $1 minimum purchase — Get medium fries for just $1 on Fridays via Mobile Order & Pay. Valid 1x/week. Expires June 27, 2021.
McCafé Rewards — Get a FREE beverage after purchasing five McCafé drinks at full price. Expires Dec. 27, 2020.
Most popular McDonald’s menu items
McDonald’s best-known menu item is the Big Mac. Thanks to the memorable advertising jingle in the ’70s, you can never forget what makes up the Big Mac: “Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions – on a sesame seed bun.” The Big Mac is the chain’s most famous burger, and a favorite of many diners.
In addition, McDonald’s makes children of all ages smile with its well-known and highly desirable Happy Meal. It’s a rite of passage for every kid to open the iconic red box and discover the surprise toy. The small toy included in each packaged meal is frequently part of a promotional tie-in to a current television series, film or toy line. Many kids try to collect each toy from their favorite Happy Meal sets. (Remember the McDonald’s Beanie Babies craze?)
Finally, you can’t overlook McDonald’s best-selling menu item: its “world-famous fries.” McDonald’s sells about nine million pounds of fries across the globe each and every day. The fries are at peak flavor and texture for a short window immediately after they’ve been pulled from the fryer. McDonald’s hack: Order the fries without salt, which “forces” employees to make a fresh batch just for you. Then, add your own salt at the table, and you’ll have guaranteed fresh fries to enjoy.
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