How to Save Money on Dining During Road Trips

The summer season is fast approaching and that means more road trips. With more road trips inevitably means more fast food dining, and these costs can quickly add up with a family of 5. With the ubiquity of the internet and smartphones, these dining options can be a whole lot cheaper. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the ways that you can save by using apps and other options on your road trip. We’ll talk about a few of the popular options: McDonald’s, Burger King, Starbucks, and Wendy’s. If you have more tips, feel free to share them in the comments below.

McDonald’s

The McDonald’s app is the most well developed app out of all the fast food apps. It allows deals and orders to be made in store, at the drive-thru, or in app. The app also has the most quality and quantity deals out of any other app. Depending on where you are located they will also have regional deals as well. In Los Angeles they offer deals when the Kings, LA Clippers, or Dodgers score a certain point or whatever they deem as the promotion during that period.

San Francisco deals

 

Los Angeles Dodgers shoutout from McDonalds

Some deals are specific to mobile order only, while others allow for both restaurant order and mobile order. To redeem the deal with mobile order, simply add the deal to your mobile order and continue with the order at the payment page. To use at restaurant, pull up the deal with the app and scan it when paying at the restaurant. 

Buy One Get One 1/4 Pounder

 

Burger King

The one breakfast deal that I always go for on the Burger King app is the $4 for 2 Croissan’wich, 1 small hashbrown, and 1 small coffee. I can’t even get the ingredients to cook all those things for $4!

Once you redeem a coupon, you will have 15 minutes to use the coupon code. Simply order in store or at the drive-thru and tell your cashier the 4 digit code prompted on the screen and they will have the order ready for you. 

The Burger King app offers Mobile Payment option where you can add a PayPal account or a BK Crown Card. However, there’s no option to order online. It seems like Burger King has some catching up to do on their app development.

Main Burger King page

Starbucks

Starbucks are located throughout the US and in most airports so it makes it very easy for you to use Starbucks rewards. The difference between Starbucks and the other ones listed here is that Starbucks works on a reward scheme. You have to earn points in order to be able to redeem for free items.

As a rewards member you earn 2 points for ever $1 you spend. However, they often have promotions which fast track your earnings to redeem for items much quicker.

Example of a “star challenge” listed below.

Star dash details

Often times Starbucks has additional promotions where they offer certain amount of stars for loading your card with money. These are some of the best promotions as you don’t have to spend any money to get stars.

In order to redeem these points you will tell your cashier that you want to redeem your points for a reward – which can be redeemed for any menu item. It’s important to note that any redemption costs 125 stars – so even if you are deciding between redeeming for a small coffee or a sandwich, both will cost 125 stars.  I usually use my rewards for something more than a drink – either a panini or a salad. My favorite panini option is: Chicken & Double-Smoked Bacon.

Wendy’s

Note that Wendy’s is one of the few fast food chains that does not serve breakfast menu. They also generally has less offers and less value saving in their offers. But it’s still money saved by using these coupons. 

The same code ordering scheme is used at Wendy’s as it is at Burger King. Follow the instruction on the app to retrieve the offer code and provide it to the cashier.

Wendy’s offer screen

The app has an “Order” button but when I click on it, it could not find any locations near the Bay area that offers online ordering. However, it is available in SoCal at one location in Burbank so we suspect this feature is still being tested and not available nationwide yet.

Gift Cards

One topic that isn’t discussed much in this article are gift cards. If you carefully craft your road trip, you will know which fast food or dining options are in the area. In this case, you can save even more by pre-purchasing gift cards for these particular chain establishments from places such as Costco, Giftcardbin, Ebay, and other various websites. If you stack these gift card purchases with the coupons and rewards programs listed above, it will save you a ton of money.

Alternatively, you can also use apps like Swych / Gyft to buy Fast Food Chain gift cards. These will code as 5x the points with cards like Chase Ink Plus. Chase’s Ultimate Rewards points, when redeemed for travel, is valued highly due to the lucrative nature of travel redemption. These gift cards can be used with coupons as well because they are treated as cash / debit cards.

Buying gift cards on Ebay

 

Gift cards on Costco’s website – instore offerings may be different

 

Gyft App screenshot

 

Swych App screenshot

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *