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Food & Drink

14 hacks to get cheap and free McDonald’s

We've all been there, craving a McDonald's but not wanting to fork out more than £5 on a medium meal. Never fear, as we're about to show you how to get your favourites, cheaper!

mcdonalds drink milkshake burger big mac fries receipt

Credit: Elena Schweitzer (background), Lenscap Photography (left), Popartic (top, bottom right) – Shutterstock

You may be thinking: McDonald's is relatively affordable, so how is it possible to get it any cheaper?

Well, where there's a will, there's a way. We've worked out the best ways to get these tasty snacks for less (or get more for your money!).

From free fries and burgers to wombling your way to free and discounted food, we tell you all you need to know in preparation for your next trip. Read on and never pay full price for Maccy D's ever again!

We all love a Friday night fast-food binge, so check out how to save money on your favourite takeaways.

How to get free McDonald's

Here are the best ways to get cheap and free McDonald's:

  1. Double the toppings for free

    One of our favourite burgers has to be the £1.49 cheeseburger. It's satisfying, cheap and a nice little warmer. But what if you could get more toppings for free?

    For ease, you'll need to head to the self-service kiosk to order. Add a £1.49 cheeseburger (or another burger of your choice) and, before you add it to your order, click 'Customise' on the screen.

    You'll be able to add an extra serving of some toppings already in the burger for free, with extra cheese costing 30p and bacon slightly more at 80p. You're also able to add mayo for free, which changes the whole dynamic of the burger (in a tasty way, of course).

    Trust us, this hack is a godsend and will fill you up so much more!

  2. DIY Big Mac for £2.49

    Hungry but don't fancy spending £4.59? You can make your own Big Mac sandwich for £2 less using this trick.

    Just as before, head to the self-service kiosk and order a £2.29 Double Cheeseburger. Click on 'Customise' and add the following: shredded lettuce (20p), onions, pickles, mustard and mayonnaise.

    It won't taste exactly like a Big Mac, but it's pretty close. And, if you're feeling lucky, you could even ask the staff to chuck in some authentic Big Mac sauce for you. Hacks.

  3. Get a Big Mac and fries for £1.99

    mcdonalds fries and big mac burger sandwich

    Credit: 8th.creator – Shutterstock

    If you're anything like us, you'll find that a solo burger doesn't quite cut it sometimes and instead, you head for the 'Meals' section when ordering. Well, get ready to save some serious cash, because we've got a way of getting a Big Mac and fries for less than £2 every time.

    All you need is a receipt from a previous visit to McDonald's receipt. Even if you haven't got one, take a look around the restaurant when you walk in and see if anyone's left theirs lying around.

    Follow the instructions at the top of the receipt to complete a short two-minute survey. You'll then receive a code to write on top of the receipt, which then entitles you to a Big Mac and fries for £1.99 (you may need to order at the counter to redeem the offer).

    To keep the endless cycle going, simply keep the receipt from this order and fill out the survey again. Rinse and repeat for £1.99 Big Macs and fries for life.

    The vouchers are also valid for a Filet-o-Fish or Vegetable Deluxe and a side salad instead of fries.

  4. Chicken Selects hack

    More food for less of your money? Absolutely. A Chicken Selects meal contains three pieces of chicken, but what if you could save on this?

    You'll need to head to the self-service machines again and order the wrap of the day for £1.99. Customise the wrap to remove all sauces and salad, and you'll get two pieces of chicken and a plain wrap.

    If you don't think this will fill you up, you can always add fries and a drink to the wrap for a total of £5.57 – still cheaper than the £7.59 Selects meal!

  5. Get a cheap McChicken Sandwich

    It's a lot smaller, but a Mayo Chicken is very similar to a McChicken Sandwich.

    To make up for the size difference, why not just order two Mayo Chickens at £1.49 apiece, costing you £2.98? This is considerably less than the £4.59 McChicken Sandwich but with pretty much all of the same ingredients.

    Heck, you could even order three Mayo Chickens for less than the price of a single McChicken Sandwich! What a treat.

  6. Get cheap chicken nuggets

    In our humble (and correct) opinion, McDonald's chicken nuggets are the best around. And the good news is that you can get eight extra nuggets for less money, too.

    While two boxes of six McNuggets (that's 12 nuggets in total) will cost you £9.38, a McNugget Sharebox will give you 20 nuggets for just £6.09. The nuggets-per-pound ratio is off the scale here and, despite the name, there's no obligation to share the nugs with anyone else.

  7. Avoid cold fries

    mcdonalds fries

    Credit: Nixx Photography – Shutterstock

    One of the worst things about waiting so long for your order at McDonald's is finally getting served, only for the food to be cold.

    If you order your fries with no salt, either at the tills or on the self-service machine, you'll get a hot, fresh batch of chips. This trick can also be applied when ordering any customised item as they'll have to make them especially for you.

    You don't have to go without salt, either – just ask for it separately and add your own afterwards. It'll take a little longer, but we think it's 100% worth it for hot fries.

  8. DIY cheap chicken salad

    We know McDonald's isn't exactly known for its salads but, if you happen to fancy one, don't bother paying full price. A chicken salad usually costs £3.99, but we've worked out a way to get the same thing for just £2.58.

    First of all, head to the self-service machine (these things have really opened the floodgates for McDonald's hacks). Order a Side Salad for £1.09 and a £1.49 Mayo Chicken. Feel free to add more mayonnaise or remove it altogether if you're a mayo denier.

    And there you have it! All the components of the regular chicken salad, but for £1.41 less.

    In the past, McDonald's gave students a free McFlurry, Saver Cheeseburger or a Chicken Mayo with a Value Meal. Sadly, they no longer do this. We'll keep a close eye on any future McDonald's student discounts and freebies though!
  9. Make an espresso milkshake

    Sure, you've probably tasted a McDonald's milkshake at some point in your life. But, have you ever had a coffee shake? This isn't technically money-saving, but it's too good not to mention!

    All you have to do is order a vanilla milkshake and a separate espresso shot. Wait for five minutes for the coffee to cool down a little and then pour it into your shake. Give it a mix and voilà: coffee milkshake. You are so welcome.

  10. Get your drink without ice

    The drink is the most underrated part of the McDonald's meal – but we find it doesn't last too long. To get more drink for your dollar, be sure to ask for your drink without ice.

    This way, there will be more room for the important stuff (a.k.a. what you're actually paying for).

  11. Get free McDonald's by wombling

    If the only wombles you've heard of live in Wimbledon, we have a few things to teach you!

    Put simply, wombling means acquiring stickers/receipts/freebies when people have left them behind. There's a little more to it than that (and it doesn't just work at McDonald's, either), so check out our full Wombling guide.

    You could collect other people's receipts to fill out the survey and get a Big Mac and fries for £1.99.

    We also find this works well during McDonald's Monopoly. But make sure you wait until people have actually left their table before stealing their stickers tidying up for them.

  12. Use vouchers for cheap meals

    mcdonalds packaging

    Credit: ANGHI – Shutterstock

    Sure, we may be living in the future, but there's still a place for good old-fashioned paper vouchers when it comes to saving money. These are often printed on the back of paper bus tickets (yes, these still exist!), car park tickets or in newspapers.

    Metro and other newspapers often offer a £1.99 Big Mac and Fries, as well as £1.99 Filet-O-Fish with fries and a Quarter Pounder with fries.

    Keep your eyes peeled for these vouchers throughout the year, or join our Telegram and Facebook groups to get alerts whenever we spot them.

  13. Collect points for free hot drinks

    Gone are the days when you could collect stickers on your hot drinks from McDonald's. But luckily, it's still possible to get free coffee with the new MyMcDonald's Rewards app.

    It lets you collect points on all your McDonald's purchases. Every penny spent is worth one point, and there are bonus points to collect for buying certain items. To get a free hot drink, you need to collect 1,500 points.

  14. Use the MyMcDonald's Rewards app for other deals

    As mentioned above, with the MyMcdonald's Rewards app, you earn a point for every penny you spend at McDonald's. You can then use them to get your favourite items for free.

    For example, 1,500 points could get you small fries, a mini McFlurry or a hot drink, while you can exchange 2,500 points for a double cheeseburger, bacon mayo chicken or medium fries. If you get up to 4,000 points, you can get a McChicken sandwich, six chicken nuggets, a Big Mac or a McPlant. All for free!

    But the points aren't the only reason to download the McDonald's app. In the past, it has given us some incredible freebies, including McMuffins, fries, Cheese Melt Dippers, milkshakes and more.

    There's no cost to subscribe, so you'd be mad not to get it. Download the McDonald's app.

Do you still have any of your old Happy Meal toys knocking about? Find out how they could be worth a lot of money nowadays...

* All information is correct at the time of writing based on prices in Victoria, London. Prices vary by store.

Lauren Nash

WRITTEN BY Lauren Nash

Lauren is a deals and discounts expert, and the Digital Marketing Manager at Save the Student. She is passionate about saving money and has appeared on Channel 5 documentaries sharing her money-saving tips. Lauren's work is centred around securing the best exclusive deals for Save the Student and working with great student brands.
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