There’s a good chance you pass the Golden Arches at some point every day in your travels to work, school or just running errands. There are more than 14,000 McDonald’s locations in the U.S.
So, more than likely, you regularly bite into a Big Mac or dip its famous fries in ketchup. And, if you have children, you’ve definitely picked up a Happy Meal or two.
Everyone on a budget (and that’s most of us) enjoys the convenience of a dining out without going broke. 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 everywhere you go.
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 usually offers good value for their dining dollars. You can often get a meal deal at a discount or a menu item for just a few dollars.
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 with no coupon or app necessary.
It’s typically a buy-one-get-one or twofer offer. Always look for the latest promo sign or ask an employee before ordering.
The deals are limited in time — anywhere from just one day to several weeks. Many of the specials often 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, 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.
Price and participation vary by location. Check first before ordering.
Once upon a time, McDonald’s 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 are 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.)
MyMcDonald’s Rewards Loyalty Program
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 many 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 your account for what’s currently available. It’s important to note that you can only redeem one offer every 30 minutes.
The McDonald’s app is tied to its loyalty program. By downloading the app and registering, you automatically become a member of MyMcDonald’s Rewards.
The best place for 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 often 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, while others can only be redeemed via the chain’s Mobile Order & Pay system. You can choose to pick-up orders via curbside, table service, counter or drive-thru, when you order ahead.
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 30 minutes until you can use another offer. Here’s a hack: To get around the limit, hungry bargain hunters 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. Two people eating for around $10!
Because of the app and its wide variety of daily deals, bargain hunters should never have to pay full price at McDonald’s. Always check the app before ordering!
McDonald’s Free Wi-Fi
Use the McDonald’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 at McDonald’s
Breakfast offers some of most popular — and cheapest — menu items at McDonald’s.
Breakfast is typically served from 6 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. every day. However, hours vary by location. 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. However, since then, the breakfast menu is no longer available all day. They ended all-day breakfast in early 2020. Why isn’t the breakfast menu available all day? Because of preparation limitations, the full menu is not available at most locations.)
The chain regularly offers a breakfast special, usually a twofer or BOGO. Look for offers at your local McDonald’s or check the McDonald’s app. (Bargain hunters know that McDonald’s has offered a $1 breakfast sandwich in the app for years. Check the app to see if it still available.)
Otherwise, you can usually find a few breakfast menu items on McDonald’s popular value menu, including a Sausage Biscuit, Sausage McMuffin, Sausage Burrito and hash browns.
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 coffee for around $1.25 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, service and small order fees.) If you’re looking to save money, you’re better off picking up your food in person at the restaurant.
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 and paying 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 vary by region, market and even by location.
In addition, some “national offers” may not be available at all locations, depending on the franchise owner’s decision to participate. It’s always a good idea to confirm a specific offer before ordering.
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, movie 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 every day.
The fries are at peak flavor and texture for a short window immediately after they’ve been pulled from the fryer.
Here’s a 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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