McDonald’s is expanding its loyalty program

You’ll be able to snag more free stuff, but you have to order via the app.

hand holding phone app
Photo: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket (Getty Images)

Along with its chicken sandwich, McDonald’s is updating its loyalty program. My McDonald’s Rewards is a new system that will be replacing the current My McCafe Rewards, and it’ll add free stuff to your account for being a regular customer. Insider has the details.

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Here’s how it works: You accrue points whenever you order food via the app, or scan your your phone in person when placing an order. Each dollar you spend nets you 100 points, and once you hit 1,500, you can redeem a freebie. If you have points floating around the current system, of which I have a few, they’ll automatically roll over to the new one. (Hopefully I’ll have a bunch of free burgers hiding inside my phone that I don’t even know about. I know there’s a free Baconator rattling around in my Wendy’s app somewhere too, which I’ll redeem when I have the stomach space for it.)

New users signing up for the program can automatically get a free cheeseburger, hash browns, McChicken, or vanilla ice cream cone after their first order is placed, plus an order of free fries. If your app isn’t showing the new features, don’t worry: The new system isn’t in place nationwide yet, however, and should be rolling out later this year.

The competition, even in this rewards space, is fierce. Popeyes recently launched its own loyalty program, Chipotle’s has been a success by all measures, reaching 20 million users within two years, and Starbucks has found similar successes with its own program. So I’d say McDonald’s is just playing catch-up with the cool kids—though the chain has been exploring changes like dicey AI drive-thru ordering models (which may or may not be legal in Illinois). Any way for these corporations to keep you coming back and spending your hard earned bucks is a win for them.

DISCUSSION

By
XPDNC

Not that I eat enough fast food for it to be worth my effort, my objection to apps and the rewards programs is that I have to offer up so much personal info from my phone in order to take advantage. So I’m offering this idea to some app developer: Create a virtual machine app that the store apps run in, limiting how much personal data can be sent back to corporate. The virtual machine could hold several store apps, and that would be fine, let them measure BK against McD against CFA. I just don’t want them grabbing up my search history, location data, etc.