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How Much Are Chick-fil-A Loyalty Points Actually Worth?

A rigorous, conclusive study based on the application of the power of division.

by
Geoff Openshaw

I didn’t love Chick-fil-A when I first tried it. It was many years ago. I was living in my native suburban Southern California and Chick-fil-A was finally expanding to the West Coast. I happened to be near one of the few LA-area locations one day around lunch, so I figured I’d give it a whirl.

The verdict? It was fine; no Pioneer Chicken. (If you know, you know.)

Then my brother, who had spent time living in eastern Tennessee and was well versed in the world of fast-food chicken, told me the Chick was simply better on the East Coast because it had heavier competition. Whether that is actually true is...probably not true.

But I did wind up moving to Washington, DC and decided I’d eat some Chick-fil-A to test his theory. And boy was I hooked after that. (So maybe there’s something to the East Coast/West Coast theory after all.) Whether it was my changing tastes or the significant amounts of MSG, I quickly became a Chick-fil-A fanboy. (I also became a Popeyes lover since the chain was virtually nonexistent out west at the time.)

Frequent patrons of Chick-fil-A are likely members of the Chick-fil-A One rewards program. It’s a program that instead of offering consistent freebies, like with competing chains, allows you to accrue points and tiered levels of status as you dine with the chain (including “Signature status,” which comes after accruing 10,000 points).

But how much are those points worth? Is there a clear correlation between menu price and the number of rewards points that would be necessary to get that item for free?

In short: no, there is not. In fact, the cost ratio of points-per-dollar varies wildly across the menu.

That’s why I’ve calculated the best value items in the Chick-fil-A rewards program. (The prices were taken from my local Chick-fil-A in suburban Washington, DC at the time of writing.)


ACTIONABLE INSIGHTS

As you can see, the item with the best value of dollar to points spent? A small coffee.

Surprisingly, the worst points value on the menu is a small fruit cup, which costs the equivalent of 226.4 points per dollar the item actually costs. You would need to spend $60 at bottom-tier “One” status just to earn a fruit cup. A fruit cup! (It would be about $46 if you have Signature status.)

To think you can spend 600 points on a fruit cup, which has a horrible value conversion, or you could spend the same points on a regular Spicy Chicken Sandwich, which has the second-best value, is pretty interesting.

I’m a big lover of chicken strips. My wife mocks me for this allegedly childish habit, but I don’t care. Strips are great! But you know what I don’t love about strips? The way Chick-fil-A grossly over-values the points needed for a four-count order compared to a three-count, especially when compared to the actual price difference between the two.

A three-count strip order costs 700 points while a four-count goes for 1200! That’s a 71% increase. The cost difference—$4.49 to $5.75—is only 28%. Using points on a four-count order is a bad idea.

The chasm is similar when looking at chicken nuggets. The point values for an eight-count and twelve-count of nuggets are the same as the strips, 700 and 1200, respectively. That 71% increase remains the same, although one could argue you are getting 50% more nuggets for the increase. But the price gap is at least wider between the two, amounting to a 43% increase as you get that 50% quantity boost.

When it comes to items that give you an option on sizes regardless of the point value, always choose the medium. A medium Mac & Cheese, for example, is a much better point value than a small, and they both cost 600 points. (This doesn’t make sense!)

Chick-fil-A’s salads are the most expensive menu items and also among the worst point values. (You probably didn’t go to Chick-fil-A for a salad, anyway.)

And of course, there are a handful of breakfast items placed on biscuits and English muffins that aren’t even available under the point system. At least McDonald’s might throw a free or deeply discounted Egg McMuffin at you from time to time. It’s not clear to me why breakfast items are excepted from the rewards program. Perhaps there isn’t as much margin to spare on biscuits? Maybe Chick-fil-A corporate has determined that they need more people eating lunch and dinner than breakfast?

Knowledge is power. And in this case that knowledge says the thrifty points min-maxer should wash down a Spicy Chicken Sandwich with a cup of hot Chick-fil-A coffee.

Geoff Openshaw is a blogger, podcast host, foreign affairs guru, and moonlights as a fast food enthusiast. He's been featured on Buzzfeed, NPR, Deseret News, and other outlets. A native of Southern California, he's lived in the Washington, DC area for many years, where, along with his wife and kids, he continues his fruitless search for good Mexican food.

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