FAST-FOOD fans can get their hands on an array of “freebies” by joining loyalty schemes – but some require you to spend up to £45 just to get a deal.
The old saying goes that loyalty never pays, and when it comes to broadband, insurance and energy we’re always advising readers to check if they can save by switching.
But are restaurant and takeaway loyalty schemes worth it?
We’ve taken a look at schemes offered by GBK, KFC, Nando’s, Papa John’s, Subway, and Toby Carvery to find out.
With all of these loyalty programmes, you also need to keep on top of when your points expire.
You don’t want to go to redeem your freebie only to find out you’ve left it too late.
KFC – completely free side
Our top pick is KFC, as this is the only fast-food outlet we found offering a genuine freebie with no minimum spend or previous purchase required.
As long as you’ve got a smartphone, you simply need to download the KFC app, which will automatically reward you with three stamps.
Three stamps is enough to then get a free side with no minimum spend. Sides include two hot wings, a small popcorn chicken, a regular fries, soft drink, hot drink or sundae.
Prices vary by KFC store so we can’t say exactly how much this is worth in cash, but still, a freebie is a freebie – hats off to the Colonel.
Earn more stamps and your freebies get even better, all the way up to £5 off when you collect 11 stamps.
Subway – £5 for a free hot drink
Next up is Subway, where you only have to spend £5 to qualify for its smallest freebie – a hot drink.
The sandwich chain sells freshly ground coffee, tea and hot chocolate but again, prices vary by store so we can’t say exactly how much the freebie is worth.
You also need to jump through a few hoops to get the free hot drink the cheapest way.
So, you’ll need to register your card to make sure you get 10 points for every £1 spent rather than the usual five.
You then need to buy at least five items costing at least £1 each over five separate transactions. Make these purchases in the first 28 days or at least once every seven days and your points will be doubled.
This gets you the 100 points needed for a free hot drink.
Earn more points and you’ll get bigger rewards, all the way up to 1,000 points for a free 12″ Sub or flatbread.
GBK – £7 for a free side
Sign up to the GBK app and refer a friend and you’ll both get a free side. As sides are worth up to £4.25 each – for sweet potato fries or truffle cheese fries – this is a great deal.
But there is a catch – you do need to spend at least £7 to get the offer. The cheapest main on the menu over £7 is a classic burger for £7.15.
So this loyalty scheme is only worth it if you’re planning to go to GBK anyway – don’t make a special trip.
Loyalty app customers also collect one stamp for every £7 spent, which will eventually get your a free burger once you have five stamps.
Nando’s – £14 for a quarter chicken or starter
Get a Nando’s card – sadly this one is red and not the black card celebs are often rumoured to have – and you’ll earn one chilli for every £1 spent.
Once you hit three chillies you get a free quarter chicken worth £3.95 or a “fire-starter” worth £3.70 – a cheeky deal indeed.
But as you also get one stamp simply for signing up to the scheme, that means you only need to spend £14 to get your first freebie.
Save up to 10 chillies and you’ll get a whole chicken worth £13.25 or a single combo meal with regular sides where prices vary depending on what you choose.
Papa John’s – £42.99 for a free side
If you want a slice out of Papa John’s loyalty scheme you need to be prepared to spend at hefty £42.99 before you get a freebie.
That’s because the takeaway chain requires you spend £4 to get one point with a minimum of eight points (£32) needed before you can get a free side, such as garlic pizza sticks or potato wedges.
Save 25 points and you’ll get a free large pizza. As Paper John’s prices vary by location it’s hard to say how much its loyalty scheme is worth.
But the sting in the tail is that you need to spend at least an additional £10.99 on other items when you come to redeem your points.
Toby Carvery – £44.95 for a free pud
The carvery chain has the least generous loyalty scheme of the restaurants we checked, making loyal customers pay a minimum of £44.95 before they can get their first freebie.
While prices vary by location and by day of the week, carvery prices start at £8.99 – and you need to buy five on different days before you can get your first freebie of a pudding.
Save an additional five points and you’ll finally get a free roast, but it’ll cost you nearly £100.
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