The MyMcDonald’s Rewards program was a little late to the game; other fast food chains had already been rewarding frequent customers for years. The program rolled out last summer as part of the mobile app, offering an incentive for advance mobile orders. Just like other rewards programs, it’s broken down into tiers: 100 points for every dollar spent, and enough points can score you various freebies like drinks, fries, and sandwiches. But in each level of this four-tiered rewards system, the freebies vary in monetary value. So which of these items are actually worthwhile?
Below are the McDonald’s giveaways most worth spending your hard-earned rewards points on. It’s not just about choosing the one with the highest monetary value; it’s also about utility, deliciousness, or some other unique traits. When it comes to fast food, there are always a multitude of factors to consider.
The first tier rewards are pretty paltry, overall. You can unlock them when you earn 1,500 points, or $15. Beside each item, I’ve listed the price of ordering each one a la carte from my nearest McDonald’s—though of course, prices will vary by location.
- McChicken: $1.59
- Ice Cream Cone: $1.29
- Hash Browns: $1.69
- Cheeseburger: $1.69
Now, you could continue racking up rewards points so you can unlock something a little more flashy in Tier 2, but if you stop here, a free order of hash browns or a cheeseburger are technically the big-ticket items at $1.69 each. You’ll be saving the most money if you get one of those for free.
However, if you want to feel a little more satiated, go for the McChicken. McDonald’s website says it’s got 400 calories and has a little more heft to it than one of McDonald’s tiny cheeseburgers, which have 300 calories and a thinner meat patty. The McChicken is the most satisfying item on the list, no question.
- Large iced coffee: $2.00
- Medium fries: $2.69
- 6 piece Chicken McNuggets: $2.49
- Sausage burrito: $1.79
If you’ve reached 3,000 points (which means you’ve spent $30 ordering via the McDonald’s app), your best value is an order of medium fries, worth $2.69 (according to the prices at my nearest location; yours may vary). As much as I love the fries, I’d rather tack some free McNuggets onto my order, because I’m already guaranteed to be ordering fries with my combo meal of choice.
Again, nuggets are the more filling option, too; while medium fries bests the nuggets in calories, the chicken contains 14 grams of protein to fries’ 5 grams, meaning you’ll feel satisfied longer. The sausage burrito comes in the highest at 310 calories and 13 grams of protein, but you can only get that in the morning. (And, just on a personal level, if I’m stopping by for breakfast hours, I’m going with a McGriddle over a burrito any day of the week.)
- Large fries: $3.69
- Large frappe: $3.49
- Filet-O-Fish: $4.39
- Sausage McMuffin with Egg: $3.69
You reach the third level of McDonald’s rewards when you spend $45, which will net you 4,500 points. This is where you’ll start accessing larger sandwiches beyond McDonald’s puny cheeseburger.
Not only is the Filet-O-Fish by far the best economical reward from Tier 3 at $4.39 (second place is fries or a McMuffin at $3.69, based on prices at my nearest location), it’s definitely an underrated sandwich on the McDonald’s menu. Take advantage if you can.
- Quarter Pounder With Cheese: $4.89
- Big Mac: $4.59
- Bacon, Egg, Cheese Biscuit: $3.79
- Happy Meal (Six-piece Chicken McNugget): $4.69
If you’re a McDonald’s regular and you’ve spent $60, you’ll have racked up 6,000 points, unlocking the coveted Tier 4 rewards. I know seeing a Big Mac on the list is exciting, but stop and think about this for a minute. Technically, the best deal out of the four items available at this tier is a free Quarter Pounder With Cheese, at $4.89 (price based on my nearest location). But beyond that, the Quarter Pounders is the best item on McDonald’s menu, period.
Not only is the Quarter Pounder a substantial quantity of beef, it’s also the only McDonald’s burger that uses fresh, not frozen, meat—a distinction that makes a big difference. A bigger difference than, say, Special Sauce and extra bun. None of that hits as hard as a Quarter Pounder with Cheese does. At the highest level of McDonald’s rewards program, take advantage of the best it has to offer.