According to this TikTok user, the hack will get you a full meal for less than $2.
With inflation sending the cost of both groceries and eating out to new heights, more people who may have otherwise gone somewhere else are turning to fast food as the cheapest available option.
Placer.ai researchers calculated that even though restaurant visits fell by 7.6% in July and 13.7% in August, McDonald’s (MCD) – Get Free Report traffic rose by a respective 4.7% and 3.1%. Chipotle (CMG) – Get Free Report‘s foot traffic also rose by 5.5% in October.
Within those fast-food restaurants, many customers are also increasingly looking for various deals and meal bundles. Five dollars has, for years, been the threshold between what many customers consider a “good deal” and a regular menu item.
Private sandwich chain Subway has only recently scrapped its years-long $5 Footlong promotion while Restaurant Brands International (QSR) – Get Free Report‘s Burger King has teetered between the $5 Your Way Deal and the $6 Your Way Deal to some mild customer mockery.
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This McDonald’s Meal Deal Is Not Quite Legit
While most fast-food companies have some version of the dollar menu, one man inadvertently went viral for sharing an under-the-table hack he discovered while using the app.
“This is the $1.79 value meal at McDonald’s,” TikToker Ryan Hufford says in the video in a Southern accent. “I’m going to explain to you how to get this.”
Pointing to a receipt showing his order, Hufford describes using 6,000 loyalty points to pay for a Happy Meal but then altering it to have a large meal and two patties in the cheeseburger.
According to Hufford, the alteration tricks the system to charge $1.79 for the extra patty and the drink while leaving the points intact.
“You’re welcome,” Hufford says to conclude the video. “That’s a McHack for you.”
The video gathered over 700,000 views and 33,000 likes on TikTok as some followers congratulated Hufford’s ingenuity while others scolded him for bragging about gaming the app in public.
“You gave away your secret,” a user identifying as Kevin.f wrote under Hufford’s video. “Now McDonald’s will McCorrect this hack.”
“My man bout to get McCancelled,” wrote another TikTok user.
Are Meal Deals a Sign of Challenging Economic Times?
Despite Hufford’s claims that one can “do this every single day” and “always have your points,” comments saying that McDonald’s fixed the hiccup started appearing not long after the video went viral.
For those already looking for the most affordable way to eat a hot meal, bundles increasingly make a difference. A recent study from insurance company Breeze found that 73% of U.S. households recently cut back on restaurants and takeout while 57% spent less on their groceries as a way to combat inflation.
In the last year, both McDonald’s and Chipotle both raised the prices at their restaurants by approximately 6% but, as the numbers from Placer show, that has not stopped people from coming there — many have simply altered what kinds of things they get.
In a summer earnings call, Chipotle CEO Brian Niccol told analysts that the chain’s higher-income visitors came in more frequently, bought more extras such as queso and guacamole, and generally came out with larger orders than its lower-income customers.
“What we saw was probably not all that different from what people have been saying,” Niccol said. “The low-income consumer has pulled back their purchase frequency. Fortunately, for Chipotle, that is not the majority of our customers.”