McDonald’s is quietly rolling out a new rewards program that will launch nationwide in July – here’s how to get a free McChicken or burger

FILE PHOTO: The McDonald's logo is seen outside the fast-food chain McDonald's in New York, U.S., October 22, 2019. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
The McDonald’s logo is seen outside the fast-food chain McDonald’s in New York

  • McDonald’s is expanding a new rewards program to launch nationwide this summer.
  • Users will get a free McChicken, burger, or ice cream after their first purchase and amass points on later ones.
  • Rewards programs are becoming more important than ever for fast food chains.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

McDonald’s is expanding a new customer rewards program with plans to launch across the US in July. Signing up for the program can get you a free vanilla cone, cheeseburger, McChicken, or hash browns after your first order. The program is only available in certain areas right now, the company confirmed to Insider.

My McDonald’s Reward will replace My McCafe Rewards, the previous customer loyalty program. Customers who had existing points will still be able to keep them.

Using the app to order food or scanning in-store will rack up points on purchases, which can be exchanged for free menu items. Each dollar spent equals 100 points. Once customers reach 1500 points (about $15 worth of purchases) they’re eligible to redeem a free item.

Read more: How Taco Bell, Burger King, and Chipotle are pushing diners away from DoorDash and Uber Eats and reclaiming customer data

To start collecting points and redeem the free items, customers will need to download the McDonald’s app and set up an account, which also comes with a reward of free fries.

Rewards programs have become nearly essential for fast food chains to attract and keep customers. Popeyes just launched a program that offers some freebies just for signing up. Starbucks has a popular app with customers so loyal that they sparked a backlash when the chain changed how rewards were calculated. Chipotle’s in-app rewards program has been a huge success, reaching 20 million members within two years of launching.

Other chains are launching rewards programs for the first time, while those with the money are investing in better mobile apps and programs, like McDonald’s and Chipotle. Rewards programs seem to be more important than ever as they incentivize return visits and give companies valuable customer data.

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at mmeisenzahl@businessinsider.com.

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