Clark Howard: Frustrated with cost of eating out? Here’s how you can save


DAYTON — If you are frustrated with the cost of eating out, you are not alone. But treating yourself does not have to break the bank,

Consumer Advisor Clark Howard takes us with him for breakfast and lunch and shows us how to get the most out of the restaurant.

The average cost of a restaurant meal is up 33% in the last five years, but there are ways your wallet can fight back.

Restaurant apps make grabbing a bit easier and sometimes cheaper. But you have to know how to use them.

Every dollar spent using the McDonald’s app equals 100 points. You’ll need at least 2000 to start earning free rewards but remember points expire after six months.

Using the Chick-fil-A app will get you 10 points for every dollar you spend. Rewards kick in after 200 points. Every year you have to re-earn your status just like the airlines do.

However, Clark Howard’s favorite thing about the Chick-fil-A app is the mobile drive-through. He said, “At this Chick-fil-A, if you have the app, you go to a post and it reads your QR code and then they know it’s time to get your order ready.”

Christ Dibiase runs Clark.com and she likes the Starbucks app, but not as much as she used to. She said, “Before they changed the program if you accumulated 150 points you could use it on any item.”

Now, different star levels get you items based on price. Dibiase said even with the charges, convenience makes the app worth it.

“I like to order ahead because you don’t have to wait in line, Dibiase said.”

If you’re feeding a bunch of people, the Dominos app is fantastic. One order earns you 10 points and 60 points gets you a free pizza and don’t forget to look for coupons.

Restaurant sales are dropping right now. Starbucks just had a really bad quarter of sales and so the apps are becoming more and more important than ever with more and more targeted discounts only to you if you carry the app on your phone.

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