Which fast food chains have mobile apps worth using?

Which fast food chains have mobile apps worth using?

Not all rewards apps are created equal. Which ones actually offer the best deals?

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Overhead view of McDonald's fries, burger, apple pie, and coffee
Photo: Scott Olson (Getty Images)

Much like the universe itself, the fast food industry is ever expanding. Its latest innovations might once have sounded like pure science fiction. Just a few short years ago, there were no robots in the kitchen, no drive-thrus manned by artificial intelligence, no standalone outposts dedicated to mobile-only ordering. My oh my, how quickly things have changed.

Today nearly every fast food brand has a mobile app; not only do these apps help the restaurants run smoother, they also supply these companies with valuable data about their customers. But as long as you’re aware of the terms and conditions, downloading a fast food chain’s app can be as useful for the customer as it is for the company, because it can save you money in the long run.

We took a look at several major fast food rewards apps to see what exactly they promise their customers and how they reward frequent purchases. Read on to see which ones are right for you, and which ones are a waste of your phone’s storage space.

Note to desktop users: If you’d like to view this story in a scrolling layout, you can narrow your browser window. You can also click “List Slides” at any time to see the full list and navigate to particular apps.

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McDonald’s

McDonald’s

Three screenshots of McDonald's McRewards Ordering App
Screenshot: McDonald’s App

McDonald’s Loyalty Program

In the McDonald’s app, you earn 100 points for every $1 spent. Points can be put toward free menu items, and the more points you save, the bigger the free menu items that are unlocked. Here’s what you can earn at each tier:

1500 McDonald’s Points ($15 spent)

  • Vanilla Soft-Serve Cone
  • Hash Browns
  • Cheeseburger
  • McChicken (best value)

3000 McDonald’s Points ($30 spent)

  • Medium Fries (best value)
  • 6-piece Chicken Nuggets (best value) 
  • Sausage Breakfast Burrito
  • Large Iced Coffee

4500 McDonald’s Points ($45 spent)

  • Large McCafe Frappe
  • Sausage McMuffin with Egg
  • Filet-o-Fish (best value)
  • Large Fries

6000 McDonald’s Points ($60 Spent)

  • Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Biscuit
  • Big Mac
  • Happy Meal ($3.99 Hamburger or 4-piece Nuggets meal; $4.39 6-piece Nuggets meal)
  • Quarter Pounder with Cheese (best value)

Deals and discounts

McDonald’s app has a dedicated “Deals” section with offerings tailored to the time of day and your purchasing history. These deals are always changing, but to get an idea of what you can expect, here are some recent ones we’ve encountered:

  • Free large Fries with any purchase
  • $3 off any purchase of $15 or more
  • $1 off any purchase of $7 or more
  • $3 10-piece Chicken McNuggets
  • Buy one Big Mac, Quarter Pounder with Cheese, 10-piece Chicken McNuggets, or Filet-O-Fish, get any size Fries free.
  • 50% of Apple Pie
  • Buy a Crispy Chicken Sandwich, get Medium Fries and Medium Soft Drink free.
  • $0.99 any size Premium Roast or Iced Coffee
  • $1 large Fries

Other benefits

McDonald’s app offers mobile ordering for pickup or in-restaurant dining using Apple Pay or credit card. To use McDelivery (seriously, that’s what it’s called), the app will require you to open an Uber account, because McDonald’s has an exclusive partnership with Uber Eats. After creating one, you can place your order through the McDonald’s app.

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Wendy’s

Wendy’s

Screentshots from Wendy's mobile ordering and rewards app
Screenshot: Wendy’s

Wendy’s Loyalty Program

In the Wendy’s app, you earn 10 points for every $1 spent. Points can be put toward free menu items, and the more points you save, the bigger the free menu items that are unlocked. Here’s what you can earn at each tier:

150 Wendy’s Reward Points ($15 spent)

  • 4-piece Chicken Nugget (best value)
  • Small Frosty
  • Small Coffee

200 Wendy’s Reward Points ($20 spent)

  • Sausage Biscuit
  • Small Fry (best value)
  • Small Breakfast Potato

250 Wendy’s Reward Points ($25 spent)

  • Small Chili (best value)
  • Crispy Chicken Sandwich

300 Wendy’s Reward Points ($30 spent)

  • Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger
  • Double Stack (best value)

400 Wendy’s Reward Points ($40 spent)

  • Kids’ Meal (best value)
  • Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit

450 Wendy’s Reward Points ($45 spent)

  • Maple Bacon Croissant
  • Breakfast Baconator
  • Dave’s Single (best value)

500 Wendy’s Reward Points ($50 Spent)

  • Classic or Spicy Chicken Sandwich

600 Wendy’s Reward Points ($60 Spent)

  • Dave’s Double

650 Wendy’s Reward Points ($65 spent)

700 Wendy’s Reward Points ($70 spent)

  • Fresh Made Salad (best value)
  • Baconator

Deals and discounts

The Wendy’s app has a dedicated “Offers” section that offers deals based on your purchasing history. These special offers are always changing, but to get an idea of what you can expect, here are some recent ones we’ve encountered:

  • Free any size soft drink with purchase
  • $2 off any Breakfast Combo
  • Free small Frosty with any size French fry purchase
  • Free small chili with any size French fry purchase
  • $2 off any Premium Combo
  • Free Baconator with mobile purchase

Other benefits

The Wendy’s app offers mobile ordering for pick-up, delivery, or in-restaurant dining using Apple Pay or credit card. Wendy’s delivery is not available at all restaurants, and is offered by third-party companies, like Grubhub and Seamless, though Wendy’s sets its own delivery rates.

If you decide to order from a cashier or kiosk and forget to scan your frequent customer code, you can scan your receipt with the Wendy’s app within 24 hours to receive your Wendy’s Reward Points.

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Burger King

Burger King

Image for article titled Which fast food chains have mobile apps worth using?
Screenshot: Burger King

Burger King “Royal Perks” Loyalty Program

In the Burger King app, you earn 10 “Crowns” for every $1 spent. Points can be put toward menu items, and the more points you save, the bigger the free menu items that are unlocked. Here’s what you can earn at each tier:

250 Burger King Crowns ($25 spent)

  • Hamburger
  • Cheeseburger
  • Chicken Jr.
  • Spicy Chicken Jr.
  • 4-piece Nuggets
  • Value French Fries
  • Value Onion Rings (best value)
  • 4-piece Jalapeno Cheddar Bites
  • 3-piece French Toast
  • Small Hash Browns
  • Sausage Biscuit
  • Burrito Jr. (best value)
  • Small Frozen Fanta Wild Cherry or Coke
  • Soft Serve Cup or Cone
  • Value Soda
  • Small Hot Coffee
  • Capri-Sun Apple Juice
  • Small Vanilla Iced Coffee (best value)

400 Burger King Crowns ($40 Spent)

  • Bacon Cheeseburger
  • Double Cheeseburger
  • Whopper Jr. (best value)
  • 10-piece Nuggets
  • Small Fries (best value)
  • Small Onion Rings (best value)
  • Hershey’s Sundae Pie
  • 8-piece Jalapeno Cheddar Bites (best value)
  • 4-piece Mozzarella Sticks
  • 5-piece French Toast
  • Medium Hash Browns (best value)
  • Small Soda
  • Medium Coffee
  • Large Coffee
  • Medium Vanilla Ice Coffee
  • Low-fat Chocolate Milk
  • Fat-free Milk
  • Orange Juice

550 Burger King Crowns ($55 Spent)

  • Whopper Jr. w/ Cheese
  • Double Bacon Cheeseburger (best value)
  • Medium French Fries
  • Large French Fries (best value)
  • Medium Onion Rings
  • Large Onion Rings (best value)
  • Egg & Cheese Biscuit
  • Egg & Cheese Croissan’wich
  • Pancake Platter
  • Large Hashbrown
  • Large Vanilla Ice Coffee
  • Medium Soda

750 Burger King Crowns ($75 spent)

  • Whopper (best value)
  • Ch’King; Regular or Spicy (best value)
  • 9-piece Chicken Fries
  • Sausage, Egg, & Cheese Biscuit
  • Bacon, Egg, & Cheese Croissan’wich
  • Ham, Egg, & Cheese Croissan’wich
  • Sausage, Egg, & Cheese Croissan’wich
  • 8-piece Mozzarella Sticks
  • Shakes

1000 Burger King Crowns ($100 spent)

  • Big Fish
  • Impossible Whopper (best value)
  • Original Chickn Sandwich
  • Whopper w/ Cheese
  • Egg-Normous Burrito
  • Double Sausage, Egg, & Cheese Croissan’wich
  • Fully Loaded Croissan’wich

1400 Burger King Crowns ($140 spent)

  • Bacon King (best value)
  • Double Stacker King
  • Double Whopper w/ Cheese
  • Double Whopper

Deals and discounts

Burger King’s app has a dedicated “Offers” section that offers deals based on your purchasing history. The offers are always changing, but to get an idea of what you can expect, here are some recent ones we’ve encountered:

  • New app users: Free Whopper, Croissan-wich, or Original Chicken Sandwich with any purchase of at least $3
  • Whopper Wednesday: $2 Whopper or Impossible Whopper
  • Free 3-piece French Toast Sticks with any purchase
  • BOGO Double Quarter Pound King
  • $1 any size French Fries, Onion Rings, or Hash Browns
  • $1 any size Hot Coffee, Iced Coffee, or Soft Drink

Other benefits

The Burger King app offers online ordering for pick-up, delivery, or in-restaurant dining using Apple Pay or credit card.

Burger King delivery is not available at all restaurants, and is offered by third-party companies, like Grubhub and Seamless. Food prices are higher for delivery than they are in restaurants. Fees are subject to change based on date, distance, and special promotions.

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Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A

Image for article titled Which fast food chains have mobile apps worth using?
Screenshot: Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A Loyalty Program

In the Chik-fil-A app, you earn 10 points for every $1 spent. Points can be put toward menu items, and the more points you save, the bigger the free menu items that are unlocked. Here’s what you can earn at each tier:

200 Chick-fil-A points ($20 spent)

  • Hash Brown Side
  • Icedream Cone
  • Chocolate Chunk Cookie (best value)

300 Chick-fil-A points ($30 spent)

  • Kale Crunch Side
  • Small or Medium Waffle Fries (best value)
  • Fountain Drink (best value)
  • Sweet or Unsweetened Iced Tea (best value)
  • Coffee
  • Chocolate Fudge Brownie

400 Chick-fil-A points ($40 spent)

  • Lemonade, Diet Lemonade, or Sunjoy

500 Chick-fil-A points ($50 spent)

  • 4-piece Chick-n-Minis (best value)
  • Chicken Biscuit
  • Iced Coffee

600 Chick-fil-A points ($60 spent)

  • Chicken Sandwich, Regular or Spicy (best value)
  • Cup of Chicken Noodle Soup
  • Side Salad
  • Small or Medium Fruit Cup
  • Small or Medium Mac & Cheese

700 Chick-fil-A points ($70 spend)

  • 3-piece Chick-n-Strips
  • 8-piece Chick-fil-A Nuggets
  • 8-piece Grilled Nuggets (best value)
  • Egg White Grill
  • Frosted Beverages
  • Hash Brown Scramble Bowl or Burrito
  • Milkshakes

800 Chick-fil-A points ($80 spent)

  • Chick-fil-A Deluxe Chicken Sandwich
  • Spicy Deluxe Chicken Sandwich (best value)
  • Greek Yogurt Parfait

1200 Chick-fil-A points ($120 spent)

  • 12-piece Chick-fil-A Nuggets
  • 12-piece Grilled Nuggets
  • 4-piece Chicken Strips
  • Cool Wrap
  • Grilled Chicken Sandwich
  • Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich
  • 6-pack Chocolate Chunk Cookie (best value)

1800 Chick-fil-A points ($180 spent)

  • Cobb Salad
  • Market Salad (best value)
  • Spicy Southwest Salad (best value)
  • 10-piece Chick-fil-A Chick-n-Minis (Chick-fil-A One Red Members only)

3000 Chick-fil-A points ($300 spent)

  • 30-piece Chick-fil-A Nuggets (Chick-fil-A One Signature Members only)

Other benefits

Using the Chick-fil-A mobile app you can order Sweet Tea, lemonade, and Sunjoy by the gallon, as well as Chick-fil-A Original, Garden Herb Ranch, Polynesian, Honey Mustard, and Barbecue dipping sauce in 8-oz. plastic bottles.

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Taco Bell

Taco Bell

Image for article titled Which fast food chains have mobile apps worth using?
Screenshot: Taco Bell

Taco Bell Loyalty Program

In the Taco Bell app there are two tiers of rewards: Hot and Fire. New app users begin at Hot Tier, where they earn 10 points for every $1 spent. After accumulating 2,000 points in a year, customers are promoted to “Fire Tier,” where every dollar spent nets them 11 points. Points can be put toward menu items, and the more points you save, the bigger the free menu items that are unlocked. Here’s what you can earn at each tier:

250 Taco Bell points, Hot Tier ($25 spent)

  • Bean Burrito (best value)
  • Chips & Nacho Cheese
  • Cinnamon Twists
  • Crunchy Taco
  • Medium Drink

250 Taco Bell points, Fire Tier ($22.73 spent)

  • Bean Burrito
  • Chips & Nacho Cheese
  • Cinnamon Twists
  • Crunchy Taco
  • Medium Drink
  • Chalupa Supreme (best value)
  • Doritos Locos Tacos
  • Nachos BellGrande (best value)
  • Regular Mountain Dew Baja Blast Freeze

Online Exclusives

In a unique move, Taco Bell has made some of its most popular items available only through online ordering. They are:

  • Quesarito
  • Black Bean Quesarito
  • Black Bean Chalupa
  • $5 Cravings Box

The $5 Cravings Box is a customizable 4-item combo meal, and one of the best deals on the Taco Bell menu. Customers choose one item from each of the following categories for five dollars:

Specialty Item:

  • Chalupa Supreme
  • Cheesy Gordita Crunch
  • Crunchwrap Supreme
  • Black Bean Chalupa
  • Black Bean Crunchwrap Supreme

Classic Item:

  • Crunchy Taco
  • Soft Taco
  • Beefy 5-Layer Burrito
  • Bean Burrito
  • Spicy Potato Soft Taco
  • Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco (50-cent surcharge)

Side:

  • Chips and Nacho Cheese Sauce
  • Cinnamon Twists
  • Cheese Fiesta Potatoes

Beverage:

  • Medium Fountain Drink
  • Large Fountain Drink (10-cent surcharge)
  • Aquafina Bottled Water
  • Orange Juice (10-cent surcharge)
  • Hot Coffee
  • Blue Raspberry or Wild Strawberry Freeze (60-cent surcharge)
  • Wild Strawberry Lemonade Freeze (70-cent surcharge)
  • Mountain Dew Baja Blast Freeze (80-cent surcharge)

Other benefits

Taco Bell’s app offers online ordering for pick-up or in-restaurant dining, and Apple Pay or credit card. The app also has a link to Taco Bell’s online swag shop, and an employment portal for job seekers.

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Popeyes

Popeyes

Three screenshots from Popeyes mobile app
Screenshot: Popeyes

Popeyes Loyalty Program

In the Popeyes app you earn 10 points for every $1 spent. Points can be put toward menu items, and the more points you save, the bigger the free menu items that are unlocked. Here’s what you can earn by opening an account on the app, and at each points tier:

Offers for new app users

  • Free 2-piece fried chicken

Offers for all app users

  • Happy Hour: $1 regular sides every Tuesday and Thursday from 5-9 PM
  • Bonus Points: Earn 50 bonus points on select combo meals and 100 bonus points on family meals

200 Popeyes Points ($20 spent)

  • Regular Fries (best value)
  • Small Mashed Potatoes (best value)
  • Apple Pie

300 Popeyes Points ($30 spent)

  • Regular Cole Slaw
  • Regular Red Beans and Rice

500 Points Points ($50 spent)

  • Single order Popcorn Shrimp

550 Popeyes Points ($55 Spend)

  • 8-piece Chicken Nugget
  • Chicken Sandwich (best value)
  • 2-piece Bone-In Fried Chicken

600 Popeyes Points ($60 Spent)

  • 3-piece Chicken Tenders

650 Popeyes Points ($65 Spent)

  • 3-piece Bone-In Fried Chicken

700 Popeyes Points ($70 Spent)

  • Large French Fries
  • Large Mashed Potatoes with Gravy
  • Large Coleslaw
  • Large Red Beans and Rice
  • 8-piece Chicken Nugget Dinner with one regular side
  • Chicken Sandwich Dinner with one regular side (best value)

800 Popeyes Points ($80 Spent)

  • 2-piece bone in Fried Chicken Dinner with one regular side and a biscuit
  • 4-piece bone-in Fried Chicken (best value)

850 Popeyes Points ($85 Spent)

  • 5-piece Chicken Tenders

950 Popeyes Points ($95 Spent)

  • 3-piece Chicken Tender Dinner with one regular side

1800 Popeyes Points ($180 spent)

  • 8-piece bone-in Fried Chicken

2400 Popeyes Points ($240 spent)

  • 12-piece bone-in Fried Chicken

Deals and discounts

The Popeyes app has a dedicated “Offers” section with deals based on your location and purchasing history. The offers available on Popeyes’ app are always changing, but to get an idea of what you can expect, here are some recent ones we’ve encountered:

  • $8.99 Tenders 2 Can Dine, Dine-in or Pick Up Only: 6 Tenders, 2 regular sides, and 2 biscuits
  • $12 Tenders 2 Can Dine, Delivery Only: 6 Tenders, 2 regular sides, and 2 biscuits
  • $8.99 Signature Chicken 2 Can Dine, Dine-in or Pick Up Only: 5-piece fried chicken, 2 regular sides, and 2 biscuits
  • $12 Signature Chicken 2 Can Dine, Delivery Only: 5-piece fried chicken, 2 regular sides, and 2 biscuits
  • $2.99 3-piece Tenders
  • $6 3-piece Tender Combo, with regular side, biscuit, and small soft drink
  • $24.99 14-piece Signature Chicken Family Meal, with 2 large sides, and 7 biscuits
  • $19.99 10-piece Signature Chicken Family Meal, with 2 large sides, and 5 biscuits
  • $19.99 14 Tenders Family Meal, with 2 large sides and 5 biscuits
  • $2.99 Popcorn Shrimp
  • $1.99 Biscuit and Apple Pie
  • FREE 2 Tenders and Biscuit with any beverage purchase
  • $3.99 2-piece Bone-In Chicken & Biscuit

Other benefits

The Popeyes app offers online ordering for pick-up, delivery, or in-restaurant dining using Apple Pay or credit card.

Popeyes delivery is not available at all restaurants, and is offered by third-party companies, like Grubhub and Seamless. Food prices are higher for delivery than they are in restaurants. Delivery is currently free with any purchase over $10.

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Chipotle

Chipotle

Screenshots from Chipotle mobile ordering and rewards app
Screenshot: Chipotle

Chipotle Rewards

In the Chipotle app you earn 10 points for every $1 spent. Points can be put toward menu items (or, at the higher tiers, merchandise), and the more points you save, the bigger the free menu items that are unlocked. Here’s what you can earn at each tier:

250 Chipotle Points ($25 spent)

  • Small bag tortilla chips

325 Chipotle Points ($3.25 spent)

  • Small chips and salsa

400 Chipotle Points ($40 spent)

  • Fountain drink
  • Small side guacamole
  • Small side queso blanco

485 Chipotle Points ($48.50 spent)

  • $1 donation to one of the following charities: Farmlink, National Urban League, Young Farmers Coalition

600 Chipotle Points ($60 spent)

  • Bottled drink
  • Double protein on any entree order

650 Chipotle Points ($65 spent)

  • Chips and queso blanco
  • Chips and guac

900 Chipotle Points ($90 spent)

  • Kids Meal

1250 Chipotle Points ($125 spent)

  • Burrito
  • Burrito Bowl
  • Salad
  • Tacos

1350 Chipotle Points ($135 spent)

  • Quesadilla

2500 Chipotle Points ($250 spent)

  • $10 off Chipotle merch

5000 Chipotle Points ($500 spent)

  • $20 off Chipotle merch

8750 Chipotle Points ($875 spent)

  • $35 off Chipotle merch

Online Exclusives

Chipotle occasionally offers popular items exclusively through online ordering. Currently, this includes:

  • Quesadilla

Other benefits

Chipotle’s app offers mobile ordering for pickup or in-restaurant dining using Apple Pay or credit card. Using the Chipotle app you can place group orders and divide the check between multiple Chipotle accounts.

If you decide to order from a cashier or kiosk and forget to scan your frequent customer code, you can scan your receipt with the Chipotle’s app within 24 hours to receive your Chipotle Points.

In the app’s “My Real Footprint” section, Chipotle shows environmental stats on your order history to help you keep tabs on your carbon footprint.

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SONIC

SONIC

Screenshots from Sonic App
Screenshot: Sonic

SONIC does not yet have a loyalty program built into its app, nor does it offer much in the way of daily deals or discounts. The most notable perk of downloading the SONIC app is that it is always Happy Hour, with all soft drinks, iced teas, lemonades, limeades, Ocean Water, and Slushes at half price. Note that candy, real fruit, and flavor add-ins cost extra, and are not discounted.

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Dairy Queen

Dairy Queen

Screenshots of DQ app
Screenshot: Dairy Queen

Dairy Queen’s Loyalty Program

In the DQ app, you earn 10 points for every $1 spent. Points can be put toward free menu items, and the more points you save, the bigger the free menu items that are unlocked. Here’s what you can earn at each tier:

150 DQ points ($15 spent)

  • Free regular fries or onion rings

200 DQ points ($20 spent)

  • Free small regular or dipped cone
  • Free Soft Pretzels and Zesty Queso

250 DQ points ($25 spent)

  • Free Mini BLIZZARD Treat

300 DQ points ($30 spent)

  • Free small Shake, Malt, or MISTY Treat

500 DQ points ($50 spent)

  • Free any size BLIZZARD
  • Free regular Rotisserie-Style Chicken Bites Basket

2500 DQ points ($250 spent)

  • Free 8-inch or 10-inch BLIZZARD Cake

Deals and discounts

Dairy Queen’s app has a dedicated “Offers” section that offers deals based on your purchasing history. The offers are always changing, but to get an idea of what you can expect, here are some recent ones we’ve encountered:

  • $1 off any size Shake or Malt
  • Free Kid’s Meal with purchase of a regular sized Combo (excludes Meal Deals)
  • Buy one 6-pack of Dilly Bars, get one for $0.99
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Domino’s

Domino’s

Screenshots of Domino's pizza app
Screenshot: Domino’s

Domino’s Loyalty Program

In the Domino’s app, you earn 10 points for every $1 spent. Once you earn 600 points, you can redeem them for a free medium 2-topping pizza.

Deals and discounts

Domino’s app offers two different types of coupons: local, and national. Local coupons offer the most variety, but differ not only from city to city, but from store to store. National offers are always changing, but to get an idea of what you can expect, here are some recent ones we’ve encountered:

  • Mix & Match Deal: Choose any two or more of the following for $5.99 each: Medium 2-topping pizza, Bread Twists, Stuffed Cheesy Bread, Marbled Cookie Brownie, Specialty Chicken, 8-piece Boneless Chicken, Oven-Baked Sandwich, or Pasta.
  • Carryout Deal: All 3-topping pizzas or Domino’s Dips & Twists, if ordered through the app, are $7.99 each
  • Perfect Combo Deal: Two medium 2-topping pizzas, 16-piece Parmesan Bread Bites, 8-piece Cinnamon Twists, and a 2-liter soft drink for $19.99

Other benefits

Domino’s app offers mobile ordering for curbside pickup, home delivery, or delivery to one of Domino’s Hot Spots, which are located in public places like parks and beaches.

Through the app’s Dinner Bell feature you can place group orders and divide the check between multiple Domino’s accounts.

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