December 2, 2023

A person wears a protective face mask outside of McDonald’s in Union Square during the coronavirus pandemic on April 30, 2020 in New York City.

Noam Galai | Getty Images

McDonald’s announced on Wednesday that it has entered the next phase of testing a U.S. loyalty program before rolling out nationwide later this year.

The fast food giant has successful rewards programs in other countries like France, but this is the best there is to get one into its home market. In November, the company began testing in Arizona and Nevada. A few weeks ago restaurants in New England were added to the test. As of Wednesday, around 900 locations in McDonald’s 14,000 US restaurants are part of the test.

Starbucks and Chipotle Mexican Grill are among the restaurant chains that have used rewards programs to expand their loyal customer base and encourage more frequent visits. Customer data from these programs can also help the company personalize promotions for members and encourage consumers to stop by restaurants during less busy times.

Alex Menendez, a Miami-based franchisee, is a member of the operating committee that oversees the testing of the loyalty program.

“It’s no secret that we’re late in loyalty, but I think on the operator side, we’ve wanted to reward our loyal customers for years,” said Menendez.

MyMcDonald’s Rewards members receive 100 points for every dollar they spend and have the opportunity to earn even more points through targeted promotions, such as double points for a visit on a Monday. The program is divided into four levels – 1,500, 3,000, 4,500 and 6,000 points – for different redemption options in 16 menu items.

Members can use and pay for cash and mobile orders to buy their food and collect rewards. If the program launches nationwide, customers can also pay with credit or debit cards.

Alycia Mason, McDonald’s vice president of digital, media and customer relationship management, said the loyalty program is changing the customer experience in a number of ways. McDonald’s employees greet the loyalty members by name as they move through the thoroughfare, and customers receive a personalized email with the offers tailored to them after they have picked up their orders.

“It felt more special and different that way than my normal McDonald’s experience,” said Mason, who tried the program on a recent trip to Arizona.

The rewards aren’t just for McDonald’s customers, however. Employees also have the opportunity to earn points by completing training on the loyalty program. Menendez said that training employees on digital initiatives was not a priority in the past, so franchisees were looking for a way to get their employees involved.

The loyalty program is part of the company’s new “MyMcDonald’s” platform, which connects the various technical investments such as apps and digital menu boards and makes it easier for customers to order and pay for their groceries. Like many other restaurant chains, the coronavirus pandemic has seen a surge in McDonald’s digital orders and further accelerated the pre-crisis trend.

McDonald’s shares are down 2% in the past 12 months, bringing them to a market value of $ 161 billion. While U.S. restaurants recovered from the pandemic relatively quickly, European lockdowns hurt sales in the fourth quarter.