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17 Restaurant Apps for Free Food and Drinks

Sign up to score freebies and earn rewards points at your favorite places to eat

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There may be such a thing as a free lunch after all — at least at restaurants with their own apps.

One of the biggest perks of downloading the app for your favorite restaurant is that often you can get access to freebies — everything from a free drink or appetizer to a free entrée or dessert. You can find apps for dozens of fast-food restaurants, casual dining chains and even some local restaurants.

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“You don’t have to spend a ton to earn the freebies,” says Julie Ramhold, a consumer analyst with comparison-shopping website DealNews. Those freebies can help you maximize your dining budget, especially as inflation has pushed up the cost of dining out by 6.5 percent in the past year. 

The rewards requirements for each app are different, but expect some freebies simply for downloading certain apps. Others require you to spend a certain amount over time. And some offer extras on your birthday.

Look for a link to download an app on a restaurant’s website or check the app store on your smartphone. These apps are free, but you’ll typically need to set up a username and password to get started.

One pro tip for using restaurant apps: If you haven’t been to the restaurant recently, make sure to log in to the app and update it before you get seated at the establishment.

“You don’t want to be frantically punching at your phone or trying to remember your password when you’re ready to pay or you need to use a coupon,” says Cherie Lowe, who runs the blog site

Here’s a look at some popular restaurant apps for free food. All of these details are subject to frequent change and are accurate as of Sept. 15, 2023.

1. Arby’s

Reward members get a free classic roast beef sandwich when you buy a full-price menu item. You’ll find more than 3,400 restaurants in all states but Rhode Island and Vermont. Through the app you’ll get a free small fries every week and money-saving coupons, such as $3 off $10 or $5 off $20.

2. Bob Evans

Receive a free Dinner Bell plate with a meat, potato and vegetable when you spend $15 before sales tax and the discount when you download the app. The restaurant chain with more than 400 locations in 18 primarily Midwestern states also offers birthday rewards such as free hotcakes and incentives for referring friends. 

3. Buffalo Wild Wings

Earn 100 points for every $10 you spend, plus score additional points for completing in-app tasks such as checking in at the bar or playing games. Coupons also are available in the app. Trade in points for free food. The chain with more than 1,200 locations in all 50 states and the District of Columbia will give you six free wings during your birthday month.

4. Chili’s

If you make sure to visit at least every 45 days, the My Chili's Rewards app gets you free chips and salsa or a free nonalcoholic drink, as long as you spend $5. In addition, you’ll get personalized reward offers for things like free kids meals, appetizers and desserts, as well as free dessert on your birthday. App members also enjoy free in-restaurant Wi-Fi at the chain’s more than 1,200 locations in every state but Oregon.

You also might like: If you’re closer to an Applebee’s, its discounts are offered through email rather than an app. Enroll in the Club Applebee’s rewards program and you get a free appetizer with a $15 purchase. The chain has more than 1,500 restaurants in Puerto Rico and every state except Hawaii. 

5. Chipotle

Enjoy free guacamole for signing up along with extra deals on your birthday at the burrito chain’s more than 3,000 restaurants located in D.C. and every state except Alaska and Hawaii. You’ll earn 10 points for every $1 you spend, which you can trade in for free food or Chipotle merchandise.

6. Dine Rewards

Four restaurants with a common parent company — Outback Steakhouse with almost 700 locations in more than 45 states, Carrabba’s Italian Grill with more than 200 locations in 29 states, Bonefish Grill with 175 locations in 30 states and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar with more than 60 locations in 25 states — share the Dine Rewards app, which gives five points for every dollar you spend on food and nonalcoholic beverages at the restaurants. Every 350 points you earn converts to a $5 reward to spend in the next 90 days.

Depending on where you enroll in the rewards program, you’ll earn a free Bloomin’ Onion from Outback, a complimentary calamari appetizer from Carrabba’s or $10 off a future purchase at Bonefish. 

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7. Einstein Bros. Bagels

Einstein Bros. Bagels with over 600 locations in 43 states and the District of Columbia will give you a free bagel and shmear (think: cream cheese) with purchase for joining its rewards program. One purchase a month through Einstein Bros. Rewards will give you unlimited free hot or iced coffee the next month when you order through the app or on the website.

You’ll earn two points for every dollar spent, and you can choose rewards once you’ve earned 30 points. On your birthday, you’ll receive a free egg sandwich with purchase.

You also might like: Similar deals from Bruegger’s Bagels, nearly 200 locations; Manhattan Bagel, more than 70 locations; and Noah’s New York Bagels, more than 50 locations. All four are part of Panera Brands Cos. 

8. Firehouse Subs

Receive a free large drink with a sub sandwich purchase when you join Firehouse Subs Rewards and get a free medium sub when you make a purchase of at least $1 on your birthday. Every dollar you spend after discounts and before taxes earns 100 points that you can redeem for free subs and salads. The chain has more than 1,200 locations in more than 45 states and Puerto Rico. 

You also might like: Subway, which revamped its loyalty program in early September, creating a three-tier Subway MVP Rewards to incentivize more frequent eaters. It has more than 20,000 sandwich shops in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. 

9. The Halal Guys

This expanding restaurant chain specializing in chicken, gyros and falafel platters offers a free fountain drink and side item with the purchase of a sandwich or platter to reward members. Every dollar you spend on a qualifying purchase at the more than 100 restaurants in 16 states and the District of Columbia is worth one point, and you can start redeeming points at 50.

10. McDonald’s

Rewards members receive a Big Mac with a $1 purchase. Show your four-digit code in the app before ordering or order in the app to accumulate points. Earn 100 points for every dollar you spend, and you can start redeeming at 1,500 points. McDonald’s has more than 13,000 restaurants in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. 

11. Moe’s Southwest Grill

Receive a free cup of queso when you sign up for Moe Rewards and download the app. On your birthday, you’ll get a free burrito. You’ll also find surprise rewards as you accumulate points, one point for each dollar you spend. One hundred points gets you $10 to spend next time you’re in. Moe’s has more than 600 locations in 36 states and the District of Columbia. 

12. Noodles & Company

Use your Noodles Rewards account online or in the app to buy any item within 30 days of signing up and you’ll receive a reward for a free regular entrée to redeem within 30 days. The chain’s three-tier rewards program earns you eight points per dollar spent early on and you’ll get a free dessert on your birthday. Spend more in total at the chain’s almost 475 restaurants in 31 states and graduate to more points per dollar and better birthday rewards, such as a small entrée or a regular entrée.

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13. Panera Bread

Get a free pastry or bagel, maximum value $4.59, with any purchase when you register, and you can receive free delivery on online orders for the first month after you sign up. You may also see surprise offers and personalized rewards based on your purchases, such as free bagels for a month. You’ll get daily deals during MyPanera Week, Oct. 1 to 7. Panera has more than 2,000 locations in the District of Columbia and every state except Alaska and Hawaii.

14. Popeyes

Receive a free apple pie, small drink or regular side item with a $5 minimum purchase when you sign up for Popeyes Rewards. Earn 10 points for every dollar you spend online or in the app and get bonus points on combos and family meals. You can begin redeeming at 150 points but might want to save up for something bigger that gives you more value for your stash. Popeyes has nearly 3,000 locations in the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and every state except Vermont and Wyoming. 

15. Starbucks

Earn “stars” through the app — usually one star per dollar but two stars per dollar if you load money on a registered Starbucks card or digital Starbucks Card in the app — that you can trade in for free coffee or merchandise. You’ll also get a free coffee or food item on your birthday, and free coffee and tea refills while you’re in the store. The coffee company has more than 16,000 stores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. 

16. TGI Fridays

Get a free appetizer with the purchase of an entrée for signing up for the Fridays Rewards app, plus free chips and salsa once a day while dining at participating locations. You’ll find nearly 300 restaurants in 32 states. Earn one point for every dollar you spend, which you can trade in for a range of rewards — from a free nonalcoholic drink at 30 points to a premium entrée for 175 points. You’ll also get one free dessert on your birthday month. 

17. Zaxby’s

Sign up for Zax Rewardz and get five chicken fingers with any $5 purchase. You’ll earn 10 points for each dollar you spend online, or you can scan the barcode on your receipt to get credit for in-store or drive-through orders. You’ll get additional deals on the app, and if you divulge your birthday, you’ll get free cookies the week of the occasion. Zaxby’s has more than 900 locations in 17 states, primarily in the Southeast but including Utah.  

Don’t ignore delivery apps

In addition to restaurant-specific apps, you may find occasional deals and freebie offers for food through DoorDash or Uber Eats.

“Individual restaurants will often have offers within those apps, including free sides when you place a minimum order,” says Kristin McGrath of RetailMeNot, a coupons and deals company. “You’ll also sometimes find free delivery offers, which is almost as good as getting free food.”​

Be aware that you probably won’t be able to double dip, getting points in a restaurant reward program and a delivery app. Most eateries tell you in the fine print that’s not possible.

Bonus: AARP Now

AARP’s app for news, features, benefits and events won’t give you free food for a download. But when you’re registered for AARP Rewards, you can earn points toward discounted gift cards for restaurants and other businesses. When members enable location access, the app will look for nearby benefits, including restaurant discounts. 

This story, originally published Sept. 19, 2022, was updated to reflect changes in restaurant apps’ free food offers and corrected to include the number of states in which Zaxby’s is located. Linda Dono contributed.

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