I know, I know, I’ve said it time and time again. Save money and cook at home. However, sometimes it’s inevitable. You’ve been out all day long and you’re starving! You need something NOW! Save money eating out with these simple yet effective tips.
Some of the best ways to save money eating out are by using rewards, coupons, and more.
*Disclosure to our valued readers: Some of the links below are affiliate links, this means at no cost to you, I could earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Rewards: Some stores use rewards for their customers, this goes for select restaurants as well. That’s a great way to save money eating out! Here’s some of the best rewards programs available:
Buffalo Wild Wings: Buffalo Wild Wings rewards program is relatively new. It’s a great way to save some money dining out. How to earn points:
- Eat & Earn: Spend and earn points, every $10 spent = 100 points, or $5 = 50 points.
- Check In & Play: Limited time, current offer; Play Spring & Win During NCAA March Madness.
- Check In: Check in at your local Buffalo Wild wings and earn 10 points.
- Lunch Bonus: Earn 300 Points for every 5 lunch visits.
- Other ways to earn: Complete your profile.
- How to receive your points: Scan your receipt or have the cashier enter your points using your phone number.
Chilis: When I signed up for the Chilis app reward program I received a free chips and salsa or non alcoholic beverage every visit coupon! How awesome is that?
- Bonus offers: Free kids meal with Purchase of an Entree. Limited time
- How to receive your points?Log in on the Ziosk at chilis or use your mobile app.
Starbucks: Starbucks rewards program has been around for quite some time. You earn “stars” for the money you spend at Starbucks. How to earn stars:
- Earn 2 Stars for every $1 spent.
- Earn 125 stars for your reward (Free food OR drink item).
- Bonus stars can be earned for special promotions: Example- Make 3 purchases within a timeframe to earn 25 Bonus stars.
- Other perks: If you download the mobile app you can order and pay for your coffee before you arrive, just walk in and pick it up! *Only at select locations.
- How to receive your stars: Download the app and have your barista scan the barcode, or use mobile ordering.
Red Lobster: When you sign up for the Red Lobster app/rewards program you get 75 freebie points to start! This is a great way to save money eating out. Plus, who doesn’t like Red Lobster?
- Spend $1 and earn 1 point, 125 points=reward.
- Rewards to choose from: A free appetizer, chocolate lava cookie, or a bowl of clam chowder. 1 chocolate lava cookie please!
- To redeem your rewards you just show your waitress your phone.
- How to receive your points: Use your phone to scan the code on your receipt.
Chick-fil-a: Another new rewards program, and much welcomed. You can earn “treats” by racking up rewards with Chick-fil-a:
- Earn points by spending at your local resturant
- What can you redeem? Large/smaller Icedream Cone, Medium/Small Waffle Fries, or Medium/Small Fruit Cup.
- How to receive your points: Scan your card at the register to earn, or by placing a mobile order.
Panera Bread: When you sign up with the Panera Bread rewards program you get a treat right away! How cool is that? When I signed up I was immediately offered a free pastry or sweet Even Better news, if you forget to present your Panera rewards account you can redeem it later with the code on your receipt! Some examples of rewards are;
- Salad of your choice
- A free pastry
- Free Coffee
- A free sandwhich
- How to receive your Panera Points: Scan your mobile app, or Panera rewards card to redeem your points for purchases you make.
Dunkin Donuts: I love my donuts, but I don’t think they love me. When I decide to get a donut I like that I can get rewarded for it. If I don’t get a donut I usually get a coffee instead.
- At Dunkin Donuts has new special offers for their rewards members each month
- 200 points= a free coffee
- You also get a free coffee the day you sign up, and on your birthday.
- How to receive your points: Earn 5 points for every $1 you spend.
Dominos: I thank the pizza Gods when I have nothing to cook, I’m feeling too lazy to go to the grocery store, and I’m craving pizza. I thank the pizza Gods even more when I see pizza rewards! At Dominos you fill out your Pizza Profile to earn rewards, track recent orders, and to save your payment information.
- Play. Earn. Order.- You can play Piece of the Pie Pursuit to earn points.
- 60 points = one free medium 2 topping pizzas. My mouth is currently watering.
- $10 spent is worth 10 points!
- How to receive your points: log in to your Pizza Profile to earn your your points when ordering.
Pizza Hut: Those pizza Gods are back at it over at Pizza Hut! Pizza is already a great way to save money eating out as it is, so these are great rewards. At Pizza Hut their reward system is call Hut Rewards:
- $1 = 2 Points at Pizza Hut
- Pizza Hut claims, “UNLIMITED POINTS TOWARD FREE PIZZA WITH EVERY DOLLAR YOU SPEND ONLINE.”
- 150 points = A free medium 2 topping pizza
- 200 points = Any free medium pizza! Yay for unlimited toppings
- 250 points = Any free LARGE pizza! HECK YES!
- Other benefits: Birthday reward, exclusive offers, and faster checkout!
- How to receive your points: log into your Hut Rewards at the time of placing your order to redeem points!
7 Eleven: I would have never guess that 7 Eleven has a rewards program! But they do, and it’s pretty awesome!
- You get 800 points just for signing up! $1= 25 points!
- What you can get with 800 points: Big gulp drink, any taquito, any ring donut, medium Slurpee, medium hot beverage or coffee, Fresh Fudge Browie or 2 pack of cookies, back of single serve chips for the 7-select brand, or a medium chiller iced coffee.
- With 1200 points you get: “M&M’S®, SNICKERS®, TWIX®, MILKY WAY®, 3MUSKETEERS® SINGLE SIZE (1.14 – 1.92OZ)”, Frito Lay Single Serve Chips, Pepsi 20 oz drink (excludes: Kickstart), or “¼ BIG BITE® HOT DOG, CHICKEN SANDWICH, SPICY CHICKEN SANDWICH OR CHEESEBURGER”.
- 1500 points: 7 Select water 1L, 28oz Gatorade, Clif or Luna Bar up to 2.4 oz, “7-SELECT® OR 7-SELECT™ GO!YUM PACKAGED BAKERY ITEM, or “M&M’S®, SNICKERS®, TWIX®, MILKY WAY®, 3MUSKETEERS® SHARING SIZE (2.8 – 3.63OZ)”
- Last but not least 2000 POINTS: Any Fresh Salad, Any 120z Red Bull, Fresh Deli or Melt sandwich.
- Bonus Points: You get bonus points of buying specified items, they even offer coupons on select items.
- How to receive your points: Use the app or you 7-Eleven card to get your points.
Sonic: Oh, how I miss Sonic. You lucky people who have sonic locally, I’m jealous!
- One thing I love about rewards is getting rewarded just for signing up!
- When you sign up you get the option of a 1.99 Wacky Pack, or a 1/2 Price Ice Cream Slush. These rewards change often.
- How to receive your points: I’m not 100% sure, and since I don’t have a Sonic anywhere near me I have no way of testing it. It appears that rewards just show up. I don’t know if you build up points for spending at Sonic.
Burger King: Yep, they also have a rewards program! Sign up and spend $5 and you’ll get 50 BK Crowns (that’s their point system).
- Earn BK Crowns for every purchase made.
- When you download the app you can also take advantage of special offers.
- 25 BK Crowns earns a small beverage.
- 50 BK Crowns earns any menu item.
- 75 BK Crowns for any combo meal.
- How to receive your BK Crowns: Use your app to make a purchase, or register for a physical BK rewards card.
Papa Johns: Rewards at Papa Johns are known as Papa Rewards.
- Get one point for every $5 you spend.
- Place your order online to earn your points.
- Earn 10 Bonus points on your birthday.
- For 10 points you can get: Bread sides, or a dessert option.
- 15 points gets you: A medium pizza with 2 toppings
- 25 points earns: A large 3 topping or pan pizza.
- 30 points gets a specialty pizza!
- How to receive Papa Rewards: Order online or with the app to earn your rewards.
Subway: When I’m feeling a little healthy, I opt for Subway. Even if Subway isn’t always the healthiest, it’s better than some places.
- Every 200 tokens = $2 rewards
- I like that I can order from my phone instead of telling them every individual thing.
- How to receive your points: Use the app to order or scan your phone at the restaurant.
Coupons: Another great way to save money eating out.
McDonalds: With the McDonalds app you can order, and pay! To pick up your order you can either park in their designated mobile ordering stall, go inside, or go through the drive thru. So what about the coupons? They’re actually pretty legit, which is great considering McDonalds is already cheap.
Here are some examples:
- Buy a medium smoothie, get one free.
- Buy a Quarter pounder get one free.
- Large fry for $1.
- Buy a Big Mac and get one free.
- Buy a Filet-O-Fish get one free.
Wendys: Choose your location, and you pickup method if you would like to order using the mobile app. They have pretty good offers to choose from on their mobile app. You can use the offers at the restaurant or when placing your mobile order.
- BOGO Daves Single
- $2 off any full size salad
- Free Dave’s Single with ANY purchase
- BOGO Chicken Sandwich
- $5 Daves Double Combo
- You can find some great dining deals on Groupon and Living Social.
- Usually you pay X amount for dinner for two, or four. Depends on the restaurant and the location.
Restaurants.com: You begin by typing in your zip code, and then looking at the deals offered in your area. You then proceed to buy your certificate, here’s how it works;
- Buy a $25 certificate for $10
- Buy a $15 certificate for $6
- Buy a $10 certificate for $4
- NOTE: Each restaurant offers different certificates the amount they charge for each certificate varies.
- 2nd NOTE: Each restaurant also has a minimum purchase requirement.
Check your local newspaper, and mail flyers for additional restaurant coupons.
Have any other ways to save money eating out? Let know know