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Clark Howard says using restaurant apps can help you save big time on your meal

ATLANTA — Channel 2 consumer adviser Clark Howard loves Costco, but he loves a good deal even more.

Clark took us with him for breakfast and lunch to show us how to get the most out of restaurant apps.

The average cost of a restaurant meal is up 33% in the last five years but there are ways your wallet can fight back.

Restaurant apps make grabbing a bite easier and sometimes cheaper, but you have to know how to use them!

Clark decided to start his day at McDonald’s.

“Not in McDonalds or the drive-thru, but on my phone and it’s so easy to use on the app,” Clark said.

He ordered his food using the McDonald’s app.

“It’s so simple. I’m just going to walk in, the order is going to be on the shelf. I grab and walk out,” Clark said. “What would have been $8.07, it dropped to $7.04 because I was using the app.”

Every dollar spent on the McDonald’s app equals 100 points. You’ll need at least 2,000 to start earning free rewards, but remember points expire after 6 months.

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“Just about my favorite app to use for lunchtime -- the Chick-fil-A app,” Clark said.

Every dollar spent on the Chick-fil-A app earns you 10 points. Rewards kick in after 200. Every year you have to re-earn your status like the airlines. They do it just like the airlines do.

But Clark’s favorite thing about the app – is the mobile drive-thru.

“At this Chick-fil-A, if you have the app, you go to a post and it reads your QR code, and then they know it’s time to get your order ready,” Clark said showing how the mobile drive-thru works.

Christa DiBiase runs Clark.Com. She likes the Starbucks app, but not as much as she used to.

“Before they changed the program, if you accumulated 150 points you could use it on any item,” DiBiase said.

Now, different star levels get you items based on price. DiBiase said even with the changes, convenience makes the app worth it.

“I like to order ahead because you don’t have to wait in line,” DiBiase said.

If you’re feeding a bunch of people Clark said the Dominoes app is fantastic.

One order earns you 10 points, 60 points gets you a free pizza. And don’t forget to look at the coupons.

Clark saved $6 on his order.

One of Clark’s favorite places is Costco.

“We are at Nirvana. We are at the Cumberland Costco,” Clark said as he pulled into the parking lot, to round out his day.

There is no app for the Costco food court but $4.33 got him his lunch.

Restaurant sales are dropping right now. Starbucks just had a really bad quarter of sales and so the apps are becoming more and more important than ever with more and more targeted discounts only to you if you carry the app on your phone.

Even if you go to a place infrequently, download the app and you might save money from the very first stop.

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