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Restaurant loyalty programs: 10 successful examples (2024)

Learn about loyalty programs in the restaurant world, what it takes to make them work, as well as how top restaurant companies have designed and implemented theirs.

Restaurant loyalty programs: 10 successful examples (2024)

Izabela Grochowska
Izabela Grochowska
Content Manager
Restaurant loyalty programs blogpost cover picture.

There are more than 200,000 fast food restaurants in the US alone and taste isn’t the sole key to success. To create a lucrative love brand among fast food chains and keep customers coming back, you need to give people more than just a tasty snack. That’s where special plans for loyal customers come in handy.

‍Today, we look at the 10 most successful restaurant loyalty program ideas, and analyze the secret behind their success. We also discuss how the restaurant industry is changing with regards to customer loyalty programs, what the goals of restaurant loyalty programs are, in addition to 10 best examples from the industry. Finally, we compare them and determine the key features of successful restaurant loyalty programs.

How is marketing in the restaurant industry changing?

In 2023 alone, fast food restaurants in the US brought in $292.73 billion at a compound annual growth of 7.2% when compared to the previous year. And over 50 million Americans eat fast food daily, and that’s just the United States alone.

The US is the biggest market for QSRs (quick service restaurants), but we have seen the biggest names in almost every country in the world. The most popular is, of course, McDonald’s, with over 40 thousand restaurants in 119 countries, with plans to grow to over 50,000 locations by 2027. Plus, with market value of 216.5 billion in 2023, McDonald’s is standing firm as the leading fast food giant.

However, with each brand working to differentiate themselves from one another, brand strategists need to find more effective ways to make their brands stand out. That is precisely why restaurant brands try to entice customers, by introducing a customer loyalty program alongside going digital. Each of the QSRs we will talk about later also has a mobile app.

As has been the case with many other industries, the COVID-10 pandemic only accelerated the digitalization of QSR loyalty programs, bringing with it more delivery channels. Fast food restaurant owners had more experience in omnichannel than regular restaurants and used that advantage to secure repeat business and keep sales numbers high even during lockdown.

The top 10 examples of best loyalty programs in restaurant industry

Now that you have a brief overview of the QSR market, it’s time to look at the best examples from the industry. Below is a list of top 10 best restaurant loyalty programs. As you’ll find, the top 10 examples come from the most popular fast food brands, which isn’t a surprise given their international presence and success.

1. Hut Rewards from Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut, the famous hut-shaped pizza restaurant chains and local pizzerias started back in 1958 in Kansas by two brothers, quickly became one of the most popular franchises in the US. Since 2014 they have had a steady revenue around $12 billion USD per year.

In 2017, the company introduced the Hut Rewards, a fast track to free pies. This restaurant loyalty program was designed to increase visit frequency and loyalty of Pizza Hut customers.

“The new Hut Rewards loyalty program enables customers to earn unlimited points as well as a free pizza in as little as one order, which is why we believe it is the best loyalty program in the category" said Jeff Fox, Chief Brand and Concept Officer at Pizza Hut.

Customers can earn unlimited points through the Hut Rewards program with just one visit and get free Pizza Hut pizza in as little as one visit.
Customers can earn unlimited points through the Hut Rewards rewards program and can earn a free pizza in as little as one visit

The Pizza Hut loyalty program was designed to keep things simple and keep customers engaged. New customers can join by visiting PizzaHut.com, clicking on the Hut Rewards loyalty program to create an account and enrolling in the program. Existing customers can simply sign into their account and choose to opt in to the Hut Rewards program.

Once enrolled, customers can begin earning points and reap program benefits immediately. Every dollar spent on food online goes toward a free pizza. Other benefits include exclusive offers, birthday rewards, and more. Hut Rewards points can be earned and redeemed during mobile and online ordering only, for delivery or carryout.

Members have access to targeted offers, along with Birthday Rewards and daily deals including free pizzas
Members have access to targeted offers, along with Birthday Rewards and daily deals, including free pizzas

Unlike other pizza loyalty programs, Hut Rewards customers can earn a free pizza with just one visit, and they also earn points for every dollar spent. Each dollar spent online on food will earn you two points that can be redeemed pizzas of various sizes. A Medium ANY™ Pizza (any recipe, any toppings) for 200 points; or a Large ANY™ Pizza (any recipe, any toppings) for 250 points.

For each $1 spent, the customer earns 2 points in the restaurant loyalty program. 200 points are needed for a free medium-size pizza. That means you eat a free meal for every $100 spent at the restaurant.
For each $1 spent, the customer earns 2 points in the restaurant loyalty program. 200 points are needed for a free medium-size pizza. That means you eat a free meal for every $100 spent at the restaurant

The Hut Rewards plan is simple and easy to use. The dollar-to-point ratio is easy to calculate and with no hidden rules. The rewards program only offers 5 rewards, which makes it easy for loyal customers to follow rules and choices, and can quickly pick what they want.

An example of the Hut Rewards revenue-based loyalty scheme that is based on earning points.
An example of the Hut Rewards revenue-based loyalty scheme that is based on earning points.

2. Subway MVP Rewards™ 

Subway, a restaurant serving famous sandwiches founded in 1965 today employs over 400,000 people all over the world with annual revenue over 16.1 billion USD. Subway sandwiches spark many controversies around their taste. Love them, or hate them, they are yet another example of a good QSR customer loyalty program.

Subway’s MVP Rewards restaurant loyalty program

‍Subway’s MVP Rewards was launched in 2023 to replace the MyWay™ loyalty program and is designed to offer a personalized discount system to Subway guests. Boasting over 32 million users, is one of the largest restaurant loyalty programs in the world.

What makes the rewards program a successful customer loyalty program is the way in which it was designed. The loyalty program was developed after Subway surveyed its previous loyalty program and decided on implementing certain changes.

Subway® MVP Rewards switched from tokens to points, introduced Subway® Cash, improved the program benefits, enhanced app and website experience, and added tiered membership with three levels - Pro, Captain, and All-Star. These tiers are used to award higher points and unlock extra benefits for users as they level up. And best of all, former Subway® MyWay Rewards program members do not have to sign up for MVP Rewards - they are automatically added to the new program.

"Subway fans are the best in QSR and to thank them for their loyalty, we're giving them the star treatment as MVP Rewards members," said Mike Kappitt, Chief Operating and Insights Officer at Subway.

‍

Subway MVP Rewards application
Subway MVP Rewards application

Membership tier levels are based on how much members spend in a calendar year. Members start off as Pros, and those who spend $200 in a calendar year earn Captain status. Those who spend $400 in a calendar year will obtain All-Star status, however, members must meet the qualifying amounts for a particular tier level each year to maintain their status.

As far as birthday rewards are concerned, Pro members will receive their choice of free cookie, Captain members receive a free 20-ounce fountain drink and their choice of a free cookie, and All-Star members receive a free 6-inch sub of their choice. Birthday rewards are good for 2 weeks after the members birthday and can be redeemed in the Subway® app, online, or in-restaurant.

An example of the Subway loyalty scheme that is based on collecting tokens.
An example of the Subway loyalty scheme that is based on collecting points

3. Chick-fil-A One®

One of the largest US fast food chains that specializes in chicken sandwiches, Chick-fil-A was founded in 1946 in Hapeville, GA. They have almost 3000 locations in the US and Canada and employ more than 30,000 people. In 2024, their CEO’s Dan Cathy net worth is estimated at 11.2 billion USD.

To acknowledge their devoted customers, the restaurant launched a loyalty program in 2016 called Chick-fil-A One®. Chick-fil-A restaurant loyalty program is an app and web-based tiered membership program.

Chick-fil-A One points are based on membership tier.
Chick-fil-A One points are based on membership tier

The higher your membership tier is the more points you earn per each dollar. The number of points each Chick-fil-A One member earns determines their membership tier:

  • Chick-fil-A One Member: starting tier
  • Chick-fil-A One Silver Status: achieved upon earning 1000 points in a year
  • Chick-fil-A One Red Status: achieved upon earning 4000 points in a year
  • Chick-fil-A One Signature Status: achieved upon earning 10000 points in a year

When loyalty members purchase qualifying items online or through a mobile order, scan their Chick-fil-A One QR code, or create an account, they will receive points for qualifying purchases at participating Chick-fil-A® restaurants. Here’s how it works:

  • Members receive points with every qualifying purchase.
  • Chick-fil-A One Members receive 10 points while Chick-fil-A One Silver, Chick-fil-A One Red and Chick-fil-A One Signature Members receive 11, 12 and 13 points for every dollar spent.
  • All Chick-fil-A One Members can sign up to receive a gift for a birthday reward and are able to use their points to redeem available rewards.
  • Chick-fil-A One Silver, Chick-fil-A One Red and Chick-fil-A One Signature Members can hand their rewards to family and friends.
An example of the Chick-fil-A loyalty scheme that is based on creating and managing tiers.
An example of the Chick-fil-A loyalty scheme that is based on creating and managing tiers

4. Starbucks Rewards

Starbucks was founded in 1971 and for a brief moment in history was the favorite place to document in an Instagram photo. Their iconic logo featuring a mermaid against a green background became a symbol of modern lifestyle and remote work (at least before COVID popularized working from home).

Today Starbucks has more than 30,000 stores in 80 countries, half of them in the US. In 2023, their revenue reached an impressive $35.976B.

Starbucks Rewards ad.
Starbucks Rewards ad

It was an obvious path for the coffee chain to introduce their own restaurant loyalty program to keep frequent customers from switching to other popular brands and local cafés. The Starbucks loyalty program enjoys 30.4 million members in the US, making it one of the most successful customer loyalty programs ever introduced. 

Starbucks Rewards is not only available via your smartphone, but also offers a prepaid card that can be used to pay for items from the Starbucks menu. Customers using Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Card earn their loyalty points faster than when paying with traditional bank cards.

That’s because you can pay with this card everywhere - at your grocery store, while shopping for new clothes, or on holiday. For every dollar spent with Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Card, you get 1 Star and you can redeem a prize with as little as 25 Stars.

Using Starbucks Rewards Visa Card can earn you rewards every time you shop.
Using Starbucks Rewards Visa Card can reward customers every time they shop

The Starbucks loyalty program is divided into two tiers: Green and Golden. Green Status is reserved for those who register for the loyalty program; whereas Golden Status is for anyone with 300 stars.

A number of features and benefits are available through the rewards program for Green and Golden Status holders:

  • Free add-ons, drinks, and food items
  • Order ahead and pay using the smartphone app
  • Free refills on brewed coffee and tea
  • A free birthday reward every year
  • Bonus reward days

You can earn "stars" in a number of ways that can be redeemed for free items:

  • Earn 2 stars for every dollar spent when you purchase at a Starbucks location using a registered Starbucks gift card or Starbucks mobile app.
  • Earn stars for Starbucks brand products purchases like packaged coffee, cups, prepared beverages and sandwiches.
  • Buy Starbucks branded coffee online and connect the purchase to your Starbucks rewards account.
  • Get bonus stars by taking part in games and special offers in the app and your email.
An example of the Starbucks loyalty scheme that is based on tiers.
An example of the Starbucks loyalty scheme that is based on tiers

5. MyMcDonald’s Rewards

McDonald’s is the king of fast food restaurants. It is the biggest restaurant chain revenue-wise, having generated over $25.494B in 2023. There’s even an ongoing joke that wherever people appear on the planet, a McDonald’s location is soon to follow.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the most popular fast food chain also boasts a digital restaurant loyalty program - and a successful one at that!

McDonald’s Rewards tier-based loyalty program.
McDonald’s Rewards tier-based loyalty program

For each $1 spent for McDonald’s products, the customer earns 100 points in the QSR restaurant loyalty program scheme. The points can be later exchanged for free meals. The more points you have, the higher tier you are in and therefore can redeem more valuable prizes.

The rewards program is split into four points-based tiers: 1500, 3000, 4500, and 6000 points for different rewards from the 16 menu items.

McDonald’s Rewards program based on tiers

There are also other ways loyal customers can earn points via the rewards program. For example, if you link your credit or debit card to the McDonald’s mobile app you automatically get 1500 bonus points. This means that if you decide to pay via the app, you get a free McChicken sandwich or a classic Cheeseburger.

The rewards program is simple and easy to use, which is undoubtedly one of the key elements of all the best restaurant loyalty programs.

An example of the McDonald’s loyalty scheme that is based on earning points.
An example of the McDonald’s rewards program scheme that is based on earning loyalty points

6. Wendy's Rewards™

For a tasty hamburger treat, fast food enthusiasts often turn to Wendy’s. An international brand now headquartered in Dublin, Ohio, though originally from Columbus, OH.

Wendy’s founder, Dave Thomas, was also known for being in more advertisements than any other company founder in history. At the time of his death, Thomas net worth was 4.2 billion USD.

Wendy’s points-based loyalty system where users are given 10 points for every dollar spent, which can then be redeemed for food from Wendy’s menu.
Wendy’s points-based customer loyalty system where loyal customers are given 10 points for every dollar spent, which can then be redeemed for food from Wendy’s menu

Almost 20 years after the passing of its father, Wendy’s launched a loyalty program called Wendy’s Rewards™. It has similar principles as some of the previously mentioned customer loyalty programs - for each dollar spent on a company's food, loyalty members get 10 points. The points can be redeemed for various items from Wendy’s menu, from free dessert to cheeseburgers and salads. Let’s say a customer spends $10 dollars at a Wendy’s. For their purchase, they can claim a small frosty alongside their meal.

Wendy’s loyalty program app interface featuring a QR code, which is scanned upon purchase to claim points. The app also shows a selection of free food rewards that repeat customers can redeem.
Wendy’s restaurant loyalty program app interface featuring a QR code, which is scanned upon purchase to claim points. The app also shows a selection of free food rewards that repeat customers can redeem

To collect the points, loyalty members can either pay via the Wendy’s app, or scan the QR code at the counter. And if they don’t have their phone with them, or aren’t able to scan the QR code, you can just scan the receipt to make sure they get the points.

The points can be later exchanged for free meals and special deals at Wendy’s. The list of prizes is constantly changing to keep things fresh. Occasionally, Wedny’s also gives users various offers and extra rewards within the app, whether that be a discount or an extra treat. By offering a wide variety of of rewards to choose from, Wendy’s not only effectively maintains a high level of customer retention, but also turns one-time clients into loyal customers.

7. Chipotle Rewards

Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. is one of the youngest fast food restaurants on this list. It was founded in 1993 by Steve Elis and for the past 20+ years they have been climbing to the top. Today they can boast 7.5 billion USD in revenue (2021), almost 3000 locations, and almost 100 000 employees.

Chipotle’s points based rewards program allows customers to redeem their points for food

In 2019, they launched the Chipotle Rewards loyalty program that offers 10 points for each dollar spent in the restaurant. At the beginning, customers had to gather 1250 points for a free meal, which means you could eat for free every time you spend $125 on Chipotle food.

Chipotle’s restaurant loyalty program, which gives customers a number of ways to earn more points that can be redeemed for prizes

In September 2021, Chipotle extended the loyalty program with additional features. In the press release they have claimed the Chipotle Rewards helped to surpass 2 billion USD in digital sales that year. New perks include Extras - extra challenges that allow users to gain points faster.

"Offering new ways to engage with Chipotle is essential to the ongoing evolution of our digital business," said Chris Brandt, Chief Marketing Officer. "The new Extras feature gamifies Chipotle Rewards through special challenges and allows Rewards members to celebrate their achievements with special badges."

Under Chipotle’s new loyalty scheme - Rewards Exchange - customers no longer have to wait until they have collected 1250 points. Instead, they are able to get an order of tortilla chips for as little as 250 points, a side of guacamole for 400 points, and a bottled soft drink for 600 points.

The range of rewards is also more varied and includes things such as Chipotle merchandise. The new loyalty program also gives loyal customers the chance to use their points towards noble causes, such as supporting nonprofit organizations helping farmers, struggling communities, local business, and many more.

To promote their updated loyalty scheme, Chipotle launched an online video game “Race to Rewards Exchange”, available to all Chipotle Rewards members. Players were able to generate points while playing and later exchange them for food and additional rewards.

Chipotle’s “Race to Rewards Exchange” game released just before the launch of Chipotle’s novel loyalty scheme. The game allowed customers to collect points and add them to their Chipotle Rewards account.
Chipotle’s “Race to Rewards Exchange” game released just before the launch of Chipotle’s novel loyalty program scheme. A gamification option for maintaining customer retention makes Chipotle's restaurant loyalty software one of the more unique loyalty programs on our list. The game allowed loyal customers to collect points and add them to their Chipotle Rewards account

Chipotle Rewards topped 30 million members last year and is one of the fastest growing QSR customer loyalty programs.

An example of Chipotle’s revenue-based loyalty scheme that is based on earning points.
An example of Chipotle’s revenue-based customer loyalty scheme that is based on earning points

‍

8. DD Perks® from Dunkin Donuts

Dunkin’ Donuts is an American-based coffee and doughnut company now available in 36 countries. They too participate in restaurant loyalty programs believing it to be central to customer retention and future revenue.

Dunkin’ Donut’s rewards program allows members to earn points on every dollar spent

Upon making a purchase, new and existing customers collect points that can be later exchanged for rewards. DD Perks® earn 5 points for every dollar spent at Dunkin’ Donuts. 200 points can be exchanged for a free drink of any size.

Moreover, loyalty program members who make three purchases during one week, you are eligible for a free beverage of choice. As part of their loyalty program, Dunkin’ Donuts frequently run different campaigns and reward customers with perks, such as a free donut with any drink purchase, free coffee with food purchase, or bonus points.

The company also sought to replicate Starbucks’ success with regards to digital payment cards, and has therefore teamed up with Masterpass to offer its repeat customers cards that can be used to pay at Dunkin’ Donuts and other restaurants participating in the DD Perks® program. Loyalty programs that offer perks at other participating businesses often see an increase in customer retention and greater ticket spend.

DD Perks® rewards program helped the Dunkin’ Donuts mobile app surpass 12 million downloads from loyal and new customers.

9. MyPanera Rewards

Another successful example of a restaurant loyalty program is MyPanera Rewards by Panera Bread Company.

Panera Bread was once the favorite place for Americans to get free Wi-Fi. Today they have over 2000 locations in the US and Canada and an estimate of 5.3 billion USD in sales. They started in Missouri and quickly spread through the rest of the States becoming one of the most popular casual bakeries there.

MyPanera Rewards is one of the oldest customer loyalty programs on this list, as it started as early as 2010. Even before they had a mobile app. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the loyalty program grew to 40 million members. More than 50% transactions now come from the loyalty program members.

Panera Bread’s loyalty program is all about getting to know their customers. Over time, its loyalty program members receive personalized treats and rewards, from free bagels or savings on salads and sandwiches.

As part of the program, loyalty program members also receive birthday surprises tailored to their likes, in addition to access to Panera Bread’s unlimited coffee subscription.

Panera Bread’s loyalty program rewards its members according to the number of visits they have paid to the restaurant (both online and in person). A cool feature is the choice to share rewards with friends.
Panera Bread’s loyalty program rewards its members according to the number of visits they’ve made to the restaurant (both online and in person). An original feature of this restaurant loyalty software is the option to share rewards with friends

The MyPanera Rewards scheme isn’t point-based like many loyalty programs. Instead, the program is used to reward customers according to their number of visits, or receive free rewards and offers within the app. A unique feature of the program is that members can share their rewards with their friends, which is a great way to also encourage them to become new customers themselves.

Panera Bread’s loyalty program represented in Open Loyalty Campaign Language.
Panera Bread’s loyalty program represented in Open Loyalty’s Campaign Language

10. Costa Club from Costa Coffee

Costa Coffee, the British coffee house founded in 1971, has now almost 4000 locations and over 6000 Costa Express vending facilities worldwide. In 2019 it was sold to The Coca-Cola Company for almost 4 billion GBP.

Similarly to its competitors such as Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and other restaurants offering coffee, Costa boasts a successful loyalty program. The restaurant loyalty software is run via an app, as well as a digital loyalty punch card that customers can use to claim their points. This option not only makes it more convenient to reward customers, but also encourages repeat business. 

Costa Coffee’s Costa Club rewards customers with a free cup of coffee for every eighth drink they buy.
Costa Coffee’s Costa Club rewards customers with a free cup of coffee for every eighth drink they buy, which is an effective way to incentivize customers

Costa Club is a QSR customer loyalty program for all Costa Coffee lovers that want to earn rewards for their repeat business. The rewards structure is simple. Members earn a free drink for every 8 beverages purchased. Additionally, Costa Club offers free birthday cake and some exclusive rewards available via the mobile app. Just like many other loyalty programs, Costa Coffee’s restaurant loyalty software focuses on customer engagement and long-term repeat business.

What’s more, Costa Club collects valuable customer data for rewarding customers for their brand loyalty. Members can earn personalized offers based on their purchasing history and repeat business, as well as more ways to earn extra beans, previously called reward points, throughout the year.

Costa also rewards its environmentally conscious customers using reusable cups with a free beverage after only 4 drinks purchased.
Costa also rewards its environmentally conscious customers coming in with reusable cups with a free beverage after only 4 drinks purchased

What do successful restaurant loyalty programs have in common?

Now that you’ve had a chance to get acquainted with some of the best examples of customer loyalty programs, you can find out what lies behind the success of each project.

First of all, it has to be very simple to use. All of the above mentioned loyalty programs use a mobile app that allows you to scan codes or make payments for food. It connects with real shopping patterns - you come to the restaurant, pay with the app, and get points automatically. You don’t have to sign anything extra. An easy, in-and-out process makes repeat business and attracting new customers to your program a breeze.

While earning points is extremely easy (the customer just needs to make a payment), redeeming the prizes has to be also effortless. Scan the app, get the reward - it should be that simple. Loyalty programs that fail to do so will see significantly less customer engagement and repeat business. 

To incentivize customers, most of the example loyalty programs offer special deals available only for customers using their app or restaurant loyalty software. As a frequent customer, it pays off to take advantage of loyalty programs built into apps. Plus, loyalty programs offer the perfect messaging platform between businesses and their customers. App-based loyalty programs allow businesses to send messages about their latest offers and announcements (via e-mail newsletter or push notifications on mobile). 

But most importantly, digital loyalty programs are a data hub for customers. With information on points they’ve collected, new offers, purchase history, and much more, clients are in the loop on your latest offers, while you’re boosting customer engagement almost hands-free. But bear in mind that restaurant loyalty programs work as long as the rules are simple and easily accessible via the companies’ web pages. You can quickly check the page to find the FAQ and other useful advice.

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Get more inspirations from the Top 100 Loyalty Programs report or see what’s the future of the loyalty programs at Loyalty Trends 2024 research.

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Restaurant loyalty programs: 10 successful examples (2024)

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Izabela Grochowska
Content Manager
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There are more than 200,000 fast food restaurants in the US alone and taste isn’t the sole key to success. To create a lucrative love brand among fast food chains and keep customers coming back, you need to give people more than just a tasty snack. That’s where special plans for loyal customers come in handy.

‍Today, we look at the 10 most successful restaurant loyalty program ideas, and analyze the secret behind their success. We also discuss how the restaurant industry is changing with regards to customer loyalty programs, what the goals of restaurant loyalty programs are, in addition to 10 best examples from the industry. Finally, we compare them and determine the key features of successful restaurant loyalty programs.

How is marketing in the restaurant industry changing?

In 2023 alone, fast food restaurants in the US brought in $292.73 billion at a compound annual growth of 7.2% when compared to the previous year. And over 50 million Americans eat fast food daily, and that’s just the United States alone.

The US is the biggest market for QSRs (quick service restaurants), but we have seen the biggest names in almost every country in the world. The most popular is, of course, McDonald’s, with over 40 thousand restaurants in 119 countries, with plans to grow to over 50,000 locations by 2027. Plus, with market value of 216.5 billion in 2023, McDonald’s is standing firm as the leading fast food giant.

However, with each brand working to differentiate themselves from one another, brand strategists need to find more effective ways to make their brands stand out. That is precisely why restaurant brands try to entice customers, by introducing a customer loyalty program alongside going digital. Each of the QSRs we will talk about later also has a mobile app.

As has been the case with many other industries, the COVID-10 pandemic only accelerated the digitalization of QSR loyalty programs, bringing with it more delivery channels. Fast food restaurant owners had more experience in omnichannel than regular restaurants and used that advantage to secure repeat business and keep sales numbers high even during lockdown.

The top 10 examples of best loyalty programs in restaurant industry

Now that you have a brief overview of the QSR market, it’s time to look at the best examples from the industry. Below is a list of top 10 best restaurant loyalty programs. As you’ll find, the top 10 examples come from the most popular fast food brands, which isn’t a surprise given their international presence and success.

1. Hut Rewards from Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut, the famous hut-shaped pizza restaurant chains and local pizzerias started back in 1958 in Kansas by two brothers, quickly became one of the most popular franchises in the US. Since 2014 they have had a steady revenue around $12 billion USD per year.

In 2017, the company introduced the Hut Rewards, a fast track to free pies. This restaurant loyalty program was designed to increase visit frequency and loyalty of Pizza Hut customers.

“The new Hut Rewards loyalty program enables customers to earn unlimited points as well as a free pizza in as little as one order, which is why we believe it is the best loyalty program in the category" said Jeff Fox, Chief Brand and Concept Officer at Pizza Hut.

Customers can earn unlimited points through the Hut Rewards program with just one visit and get free Pizza Hut pizza in as little as one visit.
Customers can earn unlimited points through the Hut Rewards rewards program and can earn a free pizza in as little as one visit

The Pizza Hut loyalty program was designed to keep things simple and keep customers engaged. New customers can join by visiting PizzaHut.com, clicking on the Hut Rewards loyalty program to create an account and enrolling in the program. Existing customers can simply sign into their account and choose to opt in to the Hut Rewards program.

Once enrolled, customers can begin earning points and reap program benefits immediately. Every dollar spent on food online goes toward a free pizza. Other benefits include exclusive offers, birthday rewards, and more. Hut Rewards points can be earned and redeemed during mobile and online ordering only, for delivery or carryout.

Members have access to targeted offers, along with Birthday Rewards and daily deals including free pizzas
Members have access to targeted offers, along with Birthday Rewards and daily deals, including free pizzas

Unlike other pizza loyalty programs, Hut Rewards customers can earn a free pizza with just one visit, and they also earn points for every dollar spent. Each dollar spent online on food will earn you two points that can be redeemed pizzas of various sizes. A Medium ANY™ Pizza (any recipe, any toppings) for 200 points; or a Large ANY™ Pizza (any recipe, any toppings) for 250 points.

For each $1 spent, the customer earns 2 points in the restaurant loyalty program. 200 points are needed for a free medium-size pizza. That means you eat a free meal for every $100 spent at the restaurant.
For each $1 spent, the customer earns 2 points in the restaurant loyalty program. 200 points are needed for a free medium-size pizza. That means you eat a free meal for every $100 spent at the restaurant

The Hut Rewards plan is simple and easy to use. The dollar-to-point ratio is easy to calculate and with no hidden rules. The rewards program only offers 5 rewards, which makes it easy for loyal customers to follow rules and choices, and can quickly pick what they want.

An example of the Hut Rewards revenue-based loyalty scheme that is based on earning points.
An example of the Hut Rewards revenue-based loyalty scheme that is based on earning points.

2. Subway MVP Rewards™ 

Subway, a restaurant serving famous sandwiches founded in 1965 today employs over 400,000 people all over the world with annual revenue over 16.1 billion USD. Subway sandwiches spark many controversies around their taste. Love them, or hate them, they are yet another example of a good QSR customer loyalty program.

Subway’s MVP Rewards restaurant loyalty program

‍Subway’s MVP Rewards was launched in 2023 to replace the MyWay™ loyalty program and is designed to offer a personalized discount system to Subway guests. Boasting over 32 million users, is one of the largest restaurant loyalty programs in the world.

What makes the rewards program a successful customer loyalty program is the way in which it was designed. The loyalty program was developed after Subway surveyed its previous loyalty program and decided on implementing certain changes.

Subway® MVP Rewards switched from tokens to points, introduced Subway® Cash, improved the program benefits, enhanced app and website experience, and added tiered membership with three levels - Pro, Captain, and All-Star. These tiers are used to award higher points and unlock extra benefits for users as they level up. And best of all, former Subway® MyWay Rewards program members do not have to sign up for MVP Rewards - they are automatically added to the new program.

"Subway fans are the best in QSR and to thank them for their loyalty, we're giving them the star treatment as MVP Rewards members," said Mike Kappitt, Chief Operating and Insights Officer at Subway.

‍

Subway MVP Rewards application
Subway MVP Rewards application

Membership tier levels are based on how much members spend in a calendar year. Members start off as Pros, and those who spend $200 in a calendar year earn Captain status. Those who spend $400 in a calendar year will obtain All-Star status, however, members must meet the qualifying amounts for a particular tier level each year to maintain their status.

As far as birthday rewards are concerned, Pro members will receive their choice of free cookie, Captain members receive a free 20-ounce fountain drink and their choice of a free cookie, and All-Star members receive a free 6-inch sub of their choice. Birthday rewards are good for 2 weeks after the members birthday and can be redeemed in the Subway® app, online, or in-restaurant.

An example of the Subway loyalty scheme that is based on collecting tokens.
An example of the Subway loyalty scheme that is based on collecting points

3. Chick-fil-A One®

One of the largest US fast food chains that specializes in chicken sandwiches, Chick-fil-A was founded in 1946 in Hapeville, GA. They have almost 3000 locations in the US and Canada and employ more than 30,000 people. In 2024, their CEO’s Dan Cathy net worth is estimated at 11.2 billion USD.

To acknowledge their devoted customers, the restaurant launched a loyalty program in 2016 called Chick-fil-A One®. Chick-fil-A restaurant loyalty program is an app and web-based tiered membership program.

Chick-fil-A One points are based on membership tier.
Chick-fil-A One points are based on membership tier

The higher your membership tier is the more points you earn per each dollar. The number of points each Chick-fil-A One member earns determines their membership tier:

  • Chick-fil-A One Member: starting tier
  • Chick-fil-A One Silver Status: achieved upon earning 1000 points in a year
  • Chick-fil-A One Red Status: achieved upon earning 4000 points in a year
  • Chick-fil-A One Signature Status: achieved upon earning 10000 points in a year

When loyalty members purchase qualifying items online or through a mobile order, scan their Chick-fil-A One QR code, or create an account, they will receive points for qualifying purchases at participating Chick-fil-A® restaurants. Here’s how it works:

  • Members receive points with every qualifying purchase.
  • Chick-fil-A One Members receive 10 points while Chick-fil-A One Silver, Chick-fil-A One Red and Chick-fil-A One Signature Members receive 11, 12 and 13 points for every dollar spent.
  • All Chick-fil-A One Members can sign up to receive a gift for a birthday reward and are able to use their points to redeem available rewards.
  • Chick-fil-A One Silver, Chick-fil-A One Red and Chick-fil-A One Signature Members can hand their rewards to family and friends.
An example of the Chick-fil-A loyalty scheme that is based on creating and managing tiers.
An example of the Chick-fil-A loyalty scheme that is based on creating and managing tiers

4. Starbucks Rewards

Starbucks was founded in 1971 and for a brief moment in history was the favorite place to document in an Instagram photo. Their iconic logo featuring a mermaid against a green background became a symbol of modern lifestyle and remote work (at least before COVID popularized working from home).

Today Starbucks has more than 30,000 stores in 80 countries, half of them in the US. In 2023, their revenue reached an impressive $35.976B.

Starbucks Rewards ad.
Starbucks Rewards ad

It was an obvious path for the coffee chain to introduce their own restaurant loyalty program to keep frequent customers from switching to other popular brands and local cafés. The Starbucks loyalty program enjoys 30.4 million members in the US, making it one of the most successful customer loyalty programs ever introduced. 

Starbucks Rewards is not only available via your smartphone, but also offers a prepaid card that can be used to pay for items from the Starbucks menu. Customers using Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Card earn their loyalty points faster than when paying with traditional bank cards.

That’s because you can pay with this card everywhere - at your grocery store, while shopping for new clothes, or on holiday. For every dollar spent with Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Card, you get 1 Star and you can redeem a prize with as little as 25 Stars.

Using Starbucks Rewards Visa Card can earn you rewards every time you shop.
Using Starbucks Rewards Visa Card can reward customers every time they shop

The Starbucks loyalty program is divided into two tiers: Green and Golden. Green Status is reserved for those who register for the loyalty program; whereas Golden Status is for anyone with 300 stars.

A number of features and benefits are available through the rewards program for Green and Golden Status holders:

  • Free add-ons, drinks, and food items
  • Order ahead and pay using the smartphone app
  • Free refills on brewed coffee and tea
  • A free birthday reward every year
  • Bonus reward days

You can earn "stars" in a number of ways that can be redeemed for free items:

  • Earn 2 stars for every dollar spent when you purchase at a Starbucks location using a registered Starbucks gift card or Starbucks mobile app.
  • Earn stars for Starbucks brand products purchases like packaged coffee, cups, prepared beverages and sandwiches.
  • Buy Starbucks branded coffee online and connect the purchase to your Starbucks rewards account.
  • Get bonus stars by taking part in games and special offers in the app and your email.
An example of the Starbucks loyalty scheme that is based on tiers.
An example of the Starbucks loyalty scheme that is based on tiers

5. MyMcDonald’s Rewards

McDonald’s is the king of fast food restaurants. It is the biggest restaurant chain revenue-wise, having generated over $25.494B in 2023. There’s even an ongoing joke that wherever people appear on the planet, a McDonald’s location is soon to follow.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the most popular fast food chain also boasts a digital restaurant loyalty program - and a successful one at that!

McDonald’s Rewards tier-based loyalty program.
McDonald’s Rewards tier-based loyalty program

For each $1 spent for McDonald’s products, the customer earns 100 points in the QSR restaurant loyalty program scheme. The points can be later exchanged for free meals. The more points you have, the higher tier you are in and therefore can redeem more valuable prizes.

The rewards program is split into four points-based tiers: 1500, 3000, 4500, and 6000 points for different rewards from the 16 menu items.

McDonald’s Rewards program based on tiers

There are also other ways loyal customers can earn points via the rewards program. For example, if you link your credit or debit card to the McDonald’s mobile app you automatically get 1500 bonus points. This means that if you decide to pay via the app, you get a free McChicken sandwich or a classic Cheeseburger.

The rewards program is simple and easy to use, which is undoubtedly one of the key elements of all the best restaurant loyalty programs.

An example of the McDonald’s loyalty scheme that is based on earning points.
An example of the McDonald’s rewards program scheme that is based on earning loyalty points

6. Wendy's Rewards™

For a tasty hamburger treat, fast food enthusiasts often turn to Wendy’s. An international brand now headquartered in Dublin, Ohio, though originally from Columbus, OH.

Wendy’s founder, Dave Thomas, was also known for being in more advertisements than any other company founder in history. At the time of his death, Thomas net worth was 4.2 billion USD.

Wendy’s points-based loyalty system where users are given 10 points for every dollar spent, which can then be redeemed for food from Wendy’s menu.
Wendy’s points-based customer loyalty system where loyal customers are given 10 points for every dollar spent, which can then be redeemed for food from Wendy’s menu

Almost 20 years after the passing of its father, Wendy’s launched a loyalty program called Wendy’s Rewards™. It has similar principles as some of the previously mentioned customer loyalty programs - for each dollar spent on a company's food, loyalty members get 10 points. The points can be redeemed for various items from Wendy’s menu, from free dessert to cheeseburgers and salads. Let’s say a customer spends $10 dollars at a Wendy’s. For their purchase, they can claim a small frosty alongside their meal.

Wendy’s loyalty program app interface featuring a QR code, which is scanned upon purchase to claim points. The app also shows a selection of free food rewards that repeat customers can redeem.
Wendy’s restaurant loyalty program app interface featuring a QR code, which is scanned upon purchase to claim points. The app also shows a selection of free food rewards that repeat customers can redeem

To collect the points, loyalty members can either pay via the Wendy’s app, or scan the QR code at the counter. And if they don’t have their phone with them, or aren’t able to scan the QR code, you can just scan the receipt to make sure they get the points.

The points can be later exchanged for free meals and special deals at Wendy’s. The list of prizes is constantly changing to keep things fresh. Occasionally, Wedny’s also gives users various offers and extra rewards within the app, whether that be a discount or an extra treat. By offering a wide variety of of rewards to choose from, Wendy’s not only effectively maintains a high level of customer retention, but also turns one-time clients into loyal customers.

7. Chipotle Rewards

Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. is one of the youngest fast food restaurants on this list. It was founded in 1993 by Steve Elis and for the past 20+ years they have been climbing to the top. Today they can boast 7.5 billion USD in revenue (2021), almost 3000 locations, and almost 100 000 employees.

Chipotle’s points based rewards program allows customers to redeem their points for food

In 2019, they launched the Chipotle Rewards loyalty program that offers 10 points for each dollar spent in the restaurant. At the beginning, customers had to gather 1250 points for a free meal, which means you could eat for free every time you spend $125 on Chipotle food.

Chipotle’s restaurant loyalty program, which gives customers a number of ways to earn more points that can be redeemed for prizes

In September 2021, Chipotle extended the loyalty program with additional features. In the press release they have claimed the Chipotle Rewards helped to surpass 2 billion USD in digital sales that year. New perks include Extras - extra challenges that allow users to gain points faster.

"Offering new ways to engage with Chipotle is essential to the ongoing evolution of our digital business," said Chris Brandt, Chief Marketing Officer. "The new Extras feature gamifies Chipotle Rewards through special challenges and allows Rewards members to celebrate their achievements with special badges."

Under Chipotle’s new loyalty scheme - Rewards Exchange - customers no longer have to wait until they have collected 1250 points. Instead, they are able to get an order of tortilla chips for as little as 250 points, a side of guacamole for 400 points, and a bottled soft drink for 600 points.

The range of rewards is also more varied and includes things such as Chipotle merchandise. The new loyalty program also gives loyal customers the chance to use their points towards noble causes, such as supporting nonprofit organizations helping farmers, struggling communities, local business, and many more.

To promote their updated loyalty scheme, Chipotle launched an online video game “Race to Rewards Exchange”, available to all Chipotle Rewards members. Players were able to generate points while playing and later exchange them for food and additional rewards.

Chipotle’s “Race to Rewards Exchange” game released just before the launch of Chipotle’s novel loyalty scheme. The game allowed customers to collect points and add them to their Chipotle Rewards account.
Chipotle’s “Race to Rewards Exchange” game released just before the launch of Chipotle’s novel loyalty program scheme. A gamification option for maintaining customer retention makes Chipotle's restaurant loyalty software one of the more unique loyalty programs on our list. The game allowed loyal customers to collect points and add them to their Chipotle Rewards account

Chipotle Rewards topped 30 million members last year and is one of the fastest growing QSR customer loyalty programs.

An example of Chipotle’s revenue-based loyalty scheme that is based on earning points.
An example of Chipotle’s revenue-based customer loyalty scheme that is based on earning points

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8. DD Perks® from Dunkin Donuts

Dunkin’ Donuts is an American-based coffee and doughnut company now available in 36 countries. They too participate in restaurant loyalty programs believing it to be central to customer retention and future revenue.

Dunkin’ Donut’s rewards program allows members to earn points on every dollar spent

Upon making a purchase, new and existing customers collect points that can be later exchanged for rewards. DD Perks® earn 5 points for every dollar spent at Dunkin’ Donuts. 200 points can be exchanged for a free drink of any size.

Moreover, loyalty program members who make three purchases during one week, you are eligible for a free beverage of choice. As part of their loyalty program, Dunkin’ Donuts frequently run different campaigns and reward customers with perks, such as a free donut with any drink purchase, free coffee with food purchase, or bonus points.

The company also sought to replicate Starbucks’ success with regards to digital payment cards, and has therefore teamed up with Masterpass to offer its repeat customers cards that can be used to pay at Dunkin’ Donuts and other restaurants participating in the DD Perks® program. Loyalty programs that offer perks at other participating businesses often see an increase in customer retention and greater ticket spend.

DD Perks® rewards program helped the Dunkin’ Donuts mobile app surpass 12 million downloads from loyal and new customers.

9. MyPanera Rewards

Another successful example of a restaurant loyalty program is MyPanera Rewards by Panera Bread Company.

Panera Bread was once the favorite place for Americans to get free Wi-Fi. Today they have over 2000 locations in the US and Canada and an estimate of 5.3 billion USD in sales. They started in Missouri and quickly spread through the rest of the States becoming one of the most popular casual bakeries there.

MyPanera Rewards is one of the oldest customer loyalty programs on this list, as it started as early as 2010. Even before they had a mobile app. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the loyalty program grew to 40 million members. More than 50% transactions now come from the loyalty program members.

Panera Bread’s loyalty program is all about getting to know their customers. Over time, its loyalty program members receive personalized treats and rewards, from free bagels or savings on salads and sandwiches.

As part of the program, loyalty program members also receive birthday surprises tailored to their likes, in addition to access to Panera Bread’s unlimited coffee subscription.

Panera Bread’s loyalty program rewards its members according to the number of visits they have paid to the restaurant (both online and in person). A cool feature is the choice to share rewards with friends.
Panera Bread’s loyalty program rewards its members according to the number of visits they’ve made to the restaurant (both online and in person). An original feature of this restaurant loyalty software is the option to share rewards with friends

The MyPanera Rewards scheme isn’t point-based like many loyalty programs. Instead, the program is used to reward customers according to their number of visits, or receive free rewards and offers within the app. A unique feature of the program is that members can share their rewards with their friends, which is a great way to also encourage them to become new customers themselves.

Panera Bread’s loyalty program represented in Open Loyalty Campaign Language.
Panera Bread’s loyalty program represented in Open Loyalty’s Campaign Language

10. Costa Club from Costa Coffee

Costa Coffee, the British coffee house founded in 1971, has now almost 4000 locations and over 6000 Costa Express vending facilities worldwide. In 2019 it was sold to The Coca-Cola Company for almost 4 billion GBP.

Similarly to its competitors such as Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and other restaurants offering coffee, Costa boasts a successful loyalty program. The restaurant loyalty software is run via an app, as well as a digital loyalty punch card that customers can use to claim their points. This option not only makes it more convenient to reward customers, but also encourages repeat business. 

Costa Coffee’s Costa Club rewards customers with a free cup of coffee for every eighth drink they buy.
Costa Coffee’s Costa Club rewards customers with a free cup of coffee for every eighth drink they buy, which is an effective way to incentivize customers

Costa Club is a QSR customer loyalty program for all Costa Coffee lovers that want to earn rewards for their repeat business. The rewards structure is simple. Members earn a free drink for every 8 beverages purchased. Additionally, Costa Club offers free birthday cake and some exclusive rewards available via the mobile app. Just like many other loyalty programs, Costa Coffee’s restaurant loyalty software focuses on customer engagement and long-term repeat business.

What’s more, Costa Club collects valuable customer data for rewarding customers for their brand loyalty. Members can earn personalized offers based on their purchasing history and repeat business, as well as more ways to earn extra beans, previously called reward points, throughout the year.

Costa also rewards its environmentally conscious customers using reusable cups with a free beverage after only 4 drinks purchased.
Costa also rewards its environmentally conscious customers coming in with reusable cups with a free beverage after only 4 drinks purchased

What do successful restaurant loyalty programs have in common?

Now that you’ve had a chance to get acquainted with some of the best examples of customer loyalty programs, you can find out what lies behind the success of each project.

First of all, it has to be very simple to use. All of the above mentioned loyalty programs use a mobile app that allows you to scan codes or make payments for food. It connects with real shopping patterns - you come to the restaurant, pay with the app, and get points automatically. You don’t have to sign anything extra. An easy, in-and-out process makes repeat business and attracting new customers to your program a breeze.

While earning points is extremely easy (the customer just needs to make a payment), redeeming the prizes has to be also effortless. Scan the app, get the reward - it should be that simple. Loyalty programs that fail to do so will see significantly less customer engagement and repeat business. 

To incentivize customers, most of the example loyalty programs offer special deals available only for customers using their app or restaurant loyalty software. As a frequent customer, it pays off to take advantage of loyalty programs built into apps. Plus, loyalty programs offer the perfect messaging platform between businesses and their customers. App-based loyalty programs allow businesses to send messages about their latest offers and announcements (via e-mail newsletter or push notifications on mobile). 

But most importantly, digital loyalty programs are a data hub for customers. With information on points they’ve collected, new offers, purchase history, and much more, clients are in the loop on your latest offers, while you’re boosting customer engagement almost hands-free. But bear in mind that restaurant loyalty programs work as long as the rules are simple and easily accessible via the companies’ web pages. You can quickly check the page to find the FAQ and other useful advice.

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Get more inspirations from the Top 100 Loyalty Programs report or see what’s the future of the loyalty programs at Loyalty Trends 2024 research.

Restaurant loyalty programs: 10 successful examples (2024)

Izabela Grochowska
Izabela Grochowska
Content Manager
Restaurant loyalty programs blogpost cover picture.

There are more than 200,000 fast food restaurants in the US alone and taste isn’t the sole key to success. To create a lucrative love brand among fast food chains and keep customers coming back, you need to give people more than just a tasty snack. That’s where special plans for loyal customers come in handy.

‍Today, we look at the 10 most successful restaurant loyalty program ideas, and analyze the secret behind their success. We also discuss how the restaurant industry is changing with regards to customer loyalty programs, what the goals of restaurant loyalty programs are, in addition to 10 best examples from the industry. Finally, we compare them and determine the key features of successful restaurant loyalty programs.

How is marketing in the restaurant industry changing?

In 2023 alone, fast food restaurants in the US brought in $292.73 billion at a compound annual growth of 7.2% when compared to the previous year. And over 50 million Americans eat fast food daily, and that’s just the United States alone.

The US is the biggest market for QSRs (quick service restaurants), but we have seen the biggest names in almost every country in the world. The most popular is, of course, McDonald’s, with over 40 thousand restaurants in 119 countries, with plans to grow to over 50,000 locations by 2027. Plus, with market value of 216.5 billion in 2023, McDonald’s is standing firm as the leading fast food giant.

However, with each brand working to differentiate themselves from one another, brand strategists need to find more effective ways to make their brands stand out. That is precisely why restaurant brands try to entice customers, by introducing a customer loyalty program alongside going digital. Each of the QSRs we will talk about later also has a mobile app.

As has been the case with many other industries, the COVID-10 pandemic only accelerated the digitalization of QSR loyalty programs, bringing with it more delivery channels. Fast food restaurant owners had more experience in omnichannel than regular restaurants and used that advantage to secure repeat business and keep sales numbers high even during lockdown.

The top 10 examples of best loyalty programs in restaurant industry

Now that you have a brief overview of the QSR market, it’s time to look at the best examples from the industry. Below is a list of top 10 best restaurant loyalty programs. As you’ll find, the top 10 examples come from the most popular fast food brands, which isn’t a surprise given their international presence and success.

1. Hut Rewards from Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut, the famous hut-shaped pizza restaurant chains and local pizzerias started back in 1958 in Kansas by two brothers, quickly became one of the most popular franchises in the US. Since 2014 they have had a steady revenue around $12 billion USD per year.

In 2017, the company introduced the Hut Rewards, a fast track to free pies. This restaurant loyalty program was designed to increase visit frequency and loyalty of Pizza Hut customers.

“The new Hut Rewards loyalty program enables customers to earn unlimited points as well as a free pizza in as little as one order, which is why we believe it is the best loyalty program in the category" said Jeff Fox, Chief Brand and Concept Officer at Pizza Hut.

Customers can earn unlimited points through the Hut Rewards program with just one visit and get free Pizza Hut pizza in as little as one visit.
Customers can earn unlimited points through the Hut Rewards rewards program and can earn a free pizza in as little as one visit

The Pizza Hut loyalty program was designed to keep things simple and keep customers engaged. New customers can join by visiting PizzaHut.com, clicking on the Hut Rewards loyalty program to create an account and enrolling in the program. Existing customers can simply sign into their account and choose to opt in to the Hut Rewards program.

Once enrolled, customers can begin earning points and reap program benefits immediately. Every dollar spent on food online goes toward a free pizza. Other benefits include exclusive offers, birthday rewards, and more. Hut Rewards points can be earned and redeemed during mobile and online ordering only, for delivery or carryout.

Members have access to targeted offers, along with Birthday Rewards and daily deals including free pizzas
Members have access to targeted offers, along with Birthday Rewards and daily deals, including free pizzas

Unlike other pizza loyalty programs, Hut Rewards customers can earn a free pizza with just one visit, and they also earn points for every dollar spent. Each dollar spent online on food will earn you two points that can be redeemed pizzas of various sizes. A Medium ANY™ Pizza (any recipe, any toppings) for 200 points; or a Large ANY™ Pizza (any recipe, any toppings) for 250 points.

For each $1 spent, the customer earns 2 points in the restaurant loyalty program. 200 points are needed for a free medium-size pizza. That means you eat a free meal for every $100 spent at the restaurant.
For each $1 spent, the customer earns 2 points in the restaurant loyalty program. 200 points are needed for a free medium-size pizza. That means you eat a free meal for every $100 spent at the restaurant

The Hut Rewards plan is simple and easy to use. The dollar-to-point ratio is easy to calculate and with no hidden rules. The rewards program only offers 5 rewards, which makes it easy for loyal customers to follow rules and choices, and can quickly pick what they want.

An example of the Hut Rewards revenue-based loyalty scheme that is based on earning points.
An example of the Hut Rewards revenue-based loyalty scheme that is based on earning points.

2. Subway MVP Rewards™ 

Subway, a restaurant serving famous sandwiches founded in 1965 today employs over 400,000 people all over the world with annual revenue over 16.1 billion USD. Subway sandwiches spark many controversies around their taste. Love them, or hate them, they are yet another example of a good QSR customer loyalty program.

Subway’s MVP Rewards restaurant loyalty program

‍Subway’s MVP Rewards was launched in 2023 to replace the MyWay™ loyalty program and is designed to offer a personalized discount system to Subway guests. Boasting over 32 million users, is one of the largest restaurant loyalty programs in the world.

What makes the rewards program a successful customer loyalty program is the way in which it was designed. The loyalty program was developed after Subway surveyed its previous loyalty program and decided on implementing certain changes.

Subway® MVP Rewards switched from tokens to points, introduced Subway® Cash, improved the program benefits, enhanced app and website experience, and added tiered membership with three levels - Pro, Captain, and All-Star. These tiers are used to award higher points and unlock extra benefits for users as they level up. And best of all, former Subway® MyWay Rewards program members do not have to sign up for MVP Rewards - they are automatically added to the new program.

"Subway fans are the best in QSR and to thank them for their loyalty, we're giving them the star treatment as MVP Rewards members," said Mike Kappitt, Chief Operating and Insights Officer at Subway.

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Subway MVP Rewards application
Subway MVP Rewards application

Membership tier levels are based on how much members spend in a calendar year. Members start off as Pros, and those who spend $200 in a calendar year earn Captain status. Those who spend $400 in a calendar year will obtain All-Star status, however, members must meet the qualifying amounts for a particular tier level each year to maintain their status.

As far as birthday rewards are concerned, Pro members will receive their choice of free cookie, Captain members receive a free 20-ounce fountain drink and their choice of a free cookie, and All-Star members receive a free 6-inch sub of their choice. Birthday rewards are good for 2 weeks after the members birthday and can be redeemed in the Subway® app, online, or in-restaurant.

An example of the Subway loyalty scheme that is based on collecting tokens.
An example of the Subway loyalty scheme that is based on collecting points

3. Chick-fil-A One®

One of the largest US fast food chains that specializes in chicken sandwiches, Chick-fil-A was founded in 1946 in Hapeville, GA. They have almost 3000 locations in the US and Canada and employ more than 30,000 people. In 2024, their CEO’s Dan Cathy net worth is estimated at 11.2 billion USD.

To acknowledge their devoted customers, the restaurant launched a loyalty program in 2016 called Chick-fil-A One®. Chick-fil-A restaurant loyalty program is an app and web-based tiered membership program.

Chick-fil-A One points are based on membership tier.
Chick-fil-A One points are based on membership tier

The higher your membership tier is the more points you earn per each dollar. The number of points each Chick-fil-A One member earns determines their membership tier:

  • Chick-fil-A One Member: starting tier
  • Chick-fil-A One Silver Status: achieved upon earning 1000 points in a year
  • Chick-fil-A One Red Status: achieved upon earning 4000 points in a year
  • Chick-fil-A One Signature Status: achieved upon earning 10000 points in a year

When loyalty members purchase qualifying items online or through a mobile order, scan their Chick-fil-A One QR code, or create an account, they will receive points for qualifying purchases at participating Chick-fil-A® restaurants. Here’s how it works:

  • Members receive points with every qualifying purchase.
  • Chick-fil-A One Members receive 10 points while Chick-fil-A One Silver, Chick-fil-A One Red and Chick-fil-A One Signature Members receive 11, 12 and 13 points for every dollar spent.
  • All Chick-fil-A One Members can sign up to receive a gift for a birthday reward and are able to use their points to redeem available rewards.
  • Chick-fil-A One Silver, Chick-fil-A One Red and Chick-fil-A One Signature Members can hand their rewards to family and friends.
An example of the Chick-fil-A loyalty scheme that is based on creating and managing tiers.
An example of the Chick-fil-A loyalty scheme that is based on creating and managing tiers

4. Starbucks Rewards

Starbucks was founded in 1971 and for a brief moment in history was the favorite place to document in an Instagram photo. Their iconic logo featuring a mermaid against a green background became a symbol of modern lifestyle and remote work (at least before COVID popularized working from home).

Today Starbucks has more than 30,000 stores in 80 countries, half of them in the US. In 2023, their revenue reached an impressive $35.976B.

Starbucks Rewards ad.
Starbucks Rewards ad

It was an obvious path for the coffee chain to introduce their own restaurant loyalty program to keep frequent customers from switching to other popular brands and local cafés. The Starbucks loyalty program enjoys 30.4 million members in the US, making it one of the most successful customer loyalty programs ever introduced. 

Starbucks Rewards is not only available via your smartphone, but also offers a prepaid card that can be used to pay for items from the Starbucks menu. Customers using Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Card earn their loyalty points faster than when paying with traditional bank cards.

That’s because you can pay with this card everywhere - at your grocery store, while shopping for new clothes, or on holiday. For every dollar spent with Starbucks® Rewards Visa® Card, you get 1 Star and you can redeem a prize with as little as 25 Stars.

Using Starbucks Rewards Visa Card can earn you rewards every time you shop.
Using Starbucks Rewards Visa Card can reward customers every time they shop

The Starbucks loyalty program is divided into two tiers: Green and Golden. Green Status is reserved for those who register for the loyalty program; whereas Golden Status is for anyone with 300 stars.

A number of features and benefits are available through the rewards program for Green and Golden Status holders:

  • Free add-ons, drinks, and food items
  • Order ahead and pay using the smartphone app
  • Free refills on brewed coffee and tea
  • A free birthday reward every year
  • Bonus reward days

You can earn "stars" in a number of ways that can be redeemed for free items:

  • Earn 2 stars for every dollar spent when you purchase at a Starbucks location using a registered Starbucks gift card or Starbucks mobile app.
  • Earn stars for Starbucks brand products purchases like packaged coffee, cups, prepared beverages and sandwiches.
  • Buy Starbucks branded coffee online and connect the purchase to your Starbucks rewards account.
  • Get bonus stars by taking part in games and special offers in the app and your email.
An example of the Starbucks loyalty scheme that is based on tiers.
An example of the Starbucks loyalty scheme that is based on tiers

5. MyMcDonald’s Rewards

McDonald’s is the king of fast food restaurants. It is the biggest restaurant chain revenue-wise, having generated over $25.494B in 2023. There’s even an ongoing joke that wherever people appear on the planet, a McDonald’s location is soon to follow.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the most popular fast food chain also boasts a digital restaurant loyalty program - and a successful one at that!

McDonald’s Rewards tier-based loyalty program.
McDonald’s Rewards tier-based loyalty program

For each $1 spent for McDonald’s products, the customer earns 100 points in the QSR restaurant loyalty program scheme. The points can be later exchanged for free meals. The more points you have, the higher tier you are in and therefore can redeem more valuable prizes.

The rewards program is split into four points-based tiers: 1500, 3000, 4500, and 6000 points for different rewards from the 16 menu items.

McDonald’s Rewards program based on tiers

There are also other ways loyal customers can earn points via the rewards program. For example, if you link your credit or debit card to the McDonald’s mobile app you automatically get 1500 bonus points. This means that if you decide to pay via the app, you get a free McChicken sandwich or a classic Cheeseburger.

The rewards program is simple and easy to use, which is undoubtedly one of the key elements of all the best restaurant loyalty programs.

An example of the McDonald’s loyalty scheme that is based on earning points.
An example of the McDonald’s rewards program scheme that is based on earning loyalty points

6. Wendy's Rewards™

For a tasty hamburger treat, fast food enthusiasts often turn to Wendy’s. An international brand now headquartered in Dublin, Ohio, though originally from Columbus, OH.

Wendy’s founder, Dave Thomas, was also known for being in more advertisements than any other company founder in history. At the time of his death, Thomas net worth was 4.2 billion USD.

Wendy’s points-based loyalty system where users are given 10 points for every dollar spent, which can then be redeemed for food from Wendy’s menu.
Wendy’s points-based customer loyalty system where loyal customers are given 10 points for every dollar spent, which can then be redeemed for food from Wendy’s menu

Almost 20 years after the passing of its father, Wendy’s launched a loyalty program called Wendy’s Rewards™. It has similar principles as some of the previously mentioned customer loyalty programs - for each dollar spent on a company's food, loyalty members get 10 points. The points can be redeemed for various items from Wendy’s menu, from free dessert to cheeseburgers and salads. Let’s say a customer spends $10 dollars at a Wendy’s. For their purchase, they can claim a small frosty alongside their meal.

Wendy’s loyalty program app interface featuring a QR code, which is scanned upon purchase to claim points. The app also shows a selection of free food rewards that repeat customers can redeem.
Wendy’s restaurant loyalty program app interface featuring a QR code, which is scanned upon purchase to claim points. The app also shows a selection of free food rewards that repeat customers can redeem

To collect the points, loyalty members can either pay via the Wendy’s app, or scan the QR code at the counter. And if they don’t have their phone with them, or aren’t able to scan the QR code, you can just scan the receipt to make sure they get the points.

The points can be later exchanged for free meals and special deals at Wendy’s. The list of prizes is constantly changing to keep things fresh. Occasionally, Wedny’s also gives users various offers and extra rewards within the app, whether that be a discount or an extra treat. By offering a wide variety of of rewards to choose from, Wendy’s not only effectively maintains a high level of customer retention, but also turns one-time clients into loyal customers.

7. Chipotle Rewards

Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. is one of the youngest fast food restaurants on this list. It was founded in 1993 by Steve Elis and for the past 20+ years they have been climbing to the top. Today they can boast 7.5 billion USD in revenue (2021), almost 3000 locations, and almost 100 000 employees.

Chipotle’s points based rewards program allows customers to redeem their points for food

In 2019, they launched the Chipotle Rewards loyalty program that offers 10 points for each dollar spent in the restaurant. At the beginning, customers had to gather 1250 points for a free meal, which means you could eat for free every time you spend $125 on Chipotle food.

Chipotle’s restaurant loyalty program, which gives customers a number of ways to earn more points that can be redeemed for prizes

In September 2021, Chipotle extended the loyalty program with additional features. In the press release they have claimed the Chipotle Rewards helped to surpass 2 billion USD in digital sales that year. New perks include Extras - extra challenges that allow users to gain points faster.

"Offering new ways to engage with Chipotle is essential to the ongoing evolution of our digital business," said Chris Brandt, Chief Marketing Officer. "The new Extras feature gamifies Chipotle Rewards through special challenges and allows Rewards members to celebrate their achievements with special badges."

Under Chipotle’s new loyalty scheme - Rewards Exchange - customers no longer have to wait until they have collected 1250 points. Instead, they are able to get an order of tortilla chips for as little as 250 points, a side of guacamole for 400 points, and a bottled soft drink for 600 points.

The range of rewards is also more varied and includes things such as Chipotle merchandise. The new loyalty program also gives loyal customers the chance to use their points towards noble causes, such as supporting nonprofit organizations helping farmers, struggling communities, local business, and many more.

To promote their updated loyalty scheme, Chipotle launched an online video game “Race to Rewards Exchange”, available to all Chipotle Rewards members. Players were able to generate points while playing and later exchange them for food and additional rewards.

Chipotle’s “Race to Rewards Exchange” game released just before the launch of Chipotle’s novel loyalty scheme. The game allowed customers to collect points and add them to their Chipotle Rewards account.
Chipotle’s “Race to Rewards Exchange” game released just before the launch of Chipotle’s novel loyalty program scheme. A gamification option for maintaining customer retention makes Chipotle's restaurant loyalty software one of the more unique loyalty programs on our list. The game allowed loyal customers to collect points and add them to their Chipotle Rewards account

Chipotle Rewards topped 30 million members last year and is one of the fastest growing QSR customer loyalty programs.

An example of Chipotle’s revenue-based loyalty scheme that is based on earning points.
An example of Chipotle’s revenue-based customer loyalty scheme that is based on earning points

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8. DD Perks® from Dunkin Donuts

Dunkin’ Donuts is an American-based coffee and doughnut company now available in 36 countries. They too participate in restaurant loyalty programs believing it to be central to customer retention and future revenue.

Dunkin’ Donut’s rewards program allows members to earn points on every dollar spent

Upon making a purchase, new and existing customers collect points that can be later exchanged for rewards. DD Perks® earn 5 points for every dollar spent at Dunkin’ Donuts. 200 points can be exchanged for a free drink of any size.

Moreover, loyalty program members who make three purchases during one week, you are eligible for a free beverage of choice. As part of their loyalty program, Dunkin’ Donuts frequently run different campaigns and reward customers with perks, such as a free donut with any drink purchase, free coffee with food purchase, or bonus points.

The company also sought to replicate Starbucks’ success with regards to digital payment cards, and has therefore teamed up with Masterpass to offer its repeat customers cards that can be used to pay at Dunkin’ Donuts and other restaurants participating in the DD Perks® program. Loyalty programs that offer perks at other participating businesses often see an increase in customer retention and greater ticket spend.

DD Perks® rewards program helped the Dunkin’ Donuts mobile app surpass 12 million downloads from loyal and new customers.

9. MyPanera Rewards

Another successful example of a restaurant loyalty program is MyPanera Rewards by Panera Bread Company.

Panera Bread was once the favorite place for Americans to get free Wi-Fi. Today they have over 2000 locations in the US and Canada and an estimate of 5.3 billion USD in sales. They started in Missouri and quickly spread through the rest of the States becoming one of the most popular casual bakeries there.

MyPanera Rewards is one of the oldest customer loyalty programs on this list, as it started as early as 2010. Even before they had a mobile app. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the loyalty program grew to 40 million members. More than 50% transactions now come from the loyalty program members.

Panera Bread’s loyalty program is all about getting to know their customers. Over time, its loyalty program members receive personalized treats and rewards, from free bagels or savings on salads and sandwiches.

As part of the program, loyalty program members also receive birthday surprises tailored to their likes, in addition to access to Panera Bread’s unlimited coffee subscription.

Panera Bread’s loyalty program rewards its members according to the number of visits they have paid to the restaurant (both online and in person). A cool feature is the choice to share rewards with friends.
Panera Bread’s loyalty program rewards its members according to the number of visits they’ve made to the restaurant (both online and in person). An original feature of this restaurant loyalty software is the option to share rewards with friends

The MyPanera Rewards scheme isn’t point-based like many loyalty programs. Instead, the program is used to reward customers according to their number of visits, or receive free rewards and offers within the app. A unique feature of the program is that members can share their rewards with their friends, which is a great way to also encourage them to become new customers themselves.

Panera Bread’s loyalty program represented in Open Loyalty Campaign Language.
Panera Bread’s loyalty program represented in Open Loyalty’s Campaign Language

10. Costa Club from Costa Coffee

Costa Coffee, the British coffee house founded in 1971, has now almost 4000 locations and over 6000 Costa Express vending facilities worldwide. In 2019 it was sold to The Coca-Cola Company for almost 4 billion GBP.

Similarly to its competitors such as Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and other restaurants offering coffee, Costa boasts a successful loyalty program. The restaurant loyalty software is run via an app, as well as a digital loyalty punch card that customers can use to claim their points. This option not only makes it more convenient to reward customers, but also encourages repeat business. 

Costa Coffee’s Costa Club rewards customers with a free cup of coffee for every eighth drink they buy.
Costa Coffee’s Costa Club rewards customers with a free cup of coffee for every eighth drink they buy, which is an effective way to incentivize customers

Costa Club is a QSR customer loyalty program for all Costa Coffee lovers that want to earn rewards for their repeat business. The rewards structure is simple. Members earn a free drink for every 8 beverages purchased. Additionally, Costa Club offers free birthday cake and some exclusive rewards available via the mobile app. Just like many other loyalty programs, Costa Coffee’s restaurant loyalty software focuses on customer engagement and long-term repeat business.

What’s more, Costa Club collects valuable customer data for rewarding customers for their brand loyalty. Members can earn personalized offers based on their purchasing history and repeat business, as well as more ways to earn extra beans, previously called reward points, throughout the year.

Costa also rewards its environmentally conscious customers using reusable cups with a free beverage after only 4 drinks purchased.
Costa also rewards its environmentally conscious customers coming in with reusable cups with a free beverage after only 4 drinks purchased

What do successful restaurant loyalty programs have in common?

Now that you’ve had a chance to get acquainted with some of the best examples of customer loyalty programs, you can find out what lies behind the success of each project.

First of all, it has to be very simple to use. All of the above mentioned loyalty programs use a mobile app that allows you to scan codes or make payments for food. It connects with real shopping patterns - you come to the restaurant, pay with the app, and get points automatically. You don’t have to sign anything extra. An easy, in-and-out process makes repeat business and attracting new customers to your program a breeze.

While earning points is extremely easy (the customer just needs to make a payment), redeeming the prizes has to be also effortless. Scan the app, get the reward - it should be that simple. Loyalty programs that fail to do so will see significantly less customer engagement and repeat business. 

To incentivize customers, most of the example loyalty programs offer special deals available only for customers using their app or restaurant loyalty software. As a frequent customer, it pays off to take advantage of loyalty programs built into apps. Plus, loyalty programs offer the perfect messaging platform between businesses and their customers. App-based loyalty programs allow businesses to send messages about their latest offers and announcements (via e-mail newsletter or push notifications on mobile). 

But most importantly, digital loyalty programs are a data hub for customers. With information on points they’ve collected, new offers, purchase history, and much more, clients are in the loop on your latest offers, while you’re boosting customer engagement almost hands-free. But bear in mind that restaurant loyalty programs work as long as the rules are simple and easily accessible via the companies’ web pages. You can quickly check the page to find the FAQ and other useful advice.

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Get more inspirations from the Top 100 Loyalty Programs report or see what’s the future of the loyalty programs at Loyalty Trends 2024 research.

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