13 Restaurants You Should Always Ask For A Receipt At And Why

Hand holding receipt yellow background
Hand holding receipt yellow background - Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

When going out to eat at a restaurant, you likely throw away your restaurant receipt without giving it a second thought. But what if we told you that those slips of paper hold the secret to free food? There are actually several reasons you may want to keep your receipt after dining at a restaurant. Depending on the place, you could miss some serious perks if you toss it. Some restaurants have specific policies to protect customers from overcharging or order mistakes, while others offer reward points and guest satisfaction surveys that can get you free food. Restaurants have their own policies to protect you from overcharges or order mix-ups, making those receipts more valuable than you might think. Plus, some dining establishments go above and beyond by offering rewards and satisfaction surveys, leading to free meals or enticing perks like discounts. Imagine indulging in a complimentary appetizer, dessert, or even an entire meal on the house just for holding onto that little piece of paper. To help you get in on this sweet deal, we've identified 13 restaurants where you should always keep your receipt. The next time you dine at one, be sure to ask for and keep that receipt to unlock future savings!

Read more: Things McDonald's Employees Really Want You To Be Aware Of

Buffalo Wild Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings store sign
Buffalo Wild Wings store sign - Jonathan Weiss/Shutterstock

We all love Buffalo Wild Wings, not only for its signature chicken wings, but also for its enormous menu of burgers, nachos, wraps, and other bar food staples. Next time you find yourself devouring some delicious wings at Buffalo Wild Wings, hang onto that receipt -- it has a QR code printed on it that could get you a nifty discount of $5 off a $25 purchase on your next visit. Just locate the code, usually in the center or bottom of your receipt, and scan it using the QR code reader on your phone. After scanning the code, you'll be prompted to complete a customer feedback survey. Once you complete your survey, make sure to keep the original receipt and the survey to prove you're eligible for the free item, and redeem it within 14 days.

Now, if you're a true Buffalo Wild Wings aficionado, here's another ace up your sleeve: Your loyalty pays you back in mouthwatering dividends! Join the Buffalo Wild Wing's Blazin' Rewards program and use your receipts to rack up points for future goodies, freebies, and discounts.

Burger King

Burger King whopper and fries
Burger King whopper and fries - Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Burger King is a great place to stop when you're craving burgers and fries, but one more reason to love it is that you can snag yourself a free sandwich on your next trip, just by hanging onto that receipt. Once you get your receipt, log on to Burker King's customer survey, fill it out within 48 hours of your visit, and receive a free Whopper or Original Chicken Sandwich when you buy any size drink and fries. Or, if you're more in the mood for breakfast, you can get a free Croissan'wich with your purchase of hash browns or coffee. Keep your receipt and fill out the survey after every visit, and those savings can really start to add up.

Of course, some of us prefer to collect rewards in a different way. If customer surveys aren't your thing, you may also want to keep your receipt to receive perks through Burger King's Royalty rewards program. If you dine in-store and forget to scan your BK rewards app during the purchase, you can enter the transaction ID on your receipt into the BK app or online to earn Crowns (points) during your next purchase.


Hot dog and fries with drink
Hot dog and fries with drink - Checker's and Rally's

Depending on where you are located, you may be more familiar with either Rally's or Checkers. But they're practically the same restaurant; Checker's acquired Rally's in 1999 but kept the original familiar theming and established the same menu items at both restaurants. Regardless of which restaurant you eat at, be sure to keep the receipt to earn rewards on future meals.

Get any sandwich free with the purchase of a large drink when you complete the Checkers and Rally's Guest Obsessed survey online. To complete the guest survey and qualify for your free food, enter the 20-digit survey code found on the receipt. After completing the receipt, you'll be emailed a coupon that you can take to either restaurant to receive your free food.

Checkers and Rally's also have a rewards program you can join to get even more bang for your buck. You'll earn 5 points per $1 spent. Earn points by ordering online, in the app, or by scanning your rewards code at the register. But if you forget to scan your receipt at the time of purchase, you can always enter it into the app later.


Chick-fil-A food and drinks
Chick-fil-A food and drinks - Summer_Wind/Shutterstock

Chick-fil-A is famous for its delicious chicken sandwiches, waffle fries, and smiling hospitality. If you want more Chick-fil-A in your life for free, then don't throw your receipt away with the bag! Make sure to keep it and complete the online guest satisfaction survey and you'll be emailed a coupon for a free Original Chicken Sandwich the next time you visit.

You may also want to stay on the lookout for special local events and promotions that can get you free food. Because Chick-fil-A restaurants are all franchise businesses run by members of the community, they may host promotions you won't find at other restaurants across the country, or even across town. For instance, Chick-fil-A has a special promotion that some participating local franchises take part in called Receipt Day. Whatever you purchase on Receipt Day, you can claim again for free sometime in the following year.


Culver's building and parking lot
Culver's building and parking lot - Kristi Blokhin/Shutterstock

Midwesterners know and love Culver's because of its delicious smashed burger patties, the generous helping of cheese curds, and of course, the custard. Served in cups, cones, or its signature Concrete Mixers, Culver's has developed a devoted following of customers who return again and again for that delicious custard. But did you know you could get some of that delicious dessert for free?

Each receipt has a unique code on it. Just keep your Culvers receipt and fill out the guest survey with the included code to receive your coupon for a free single dish or cake cone. You won't get a free burger -- Culver's doesn't usually give out free food in the form of Butterburgers or chicken sandwiches -- but you can easily get your hands on a cup of free custard during your next visit.

Dairy Queen

Dairy Queen building store front
Dairy Queen building store front - Brett_hondow/Getty Images

Who doesn't love free ice cream? If you're craving a Blizzard or sundae from Dairy Queen, then you're on track to earn free food and frozen treats in the future. Next time you're visiting, keep your survey and use it to complete DQ's Fan Feedback survey and receive a free Dilly bar on your next visit. You can also use your receipt to collect points for your account and receive discounts on future purchases. Enter your receipt code into the DQ rewards app to earn points that you can redeem later.

Even better, Dairy Queen is another franchise on this list that has a Receipt Day, at least at some locations. As with Chick-fil-A, not every Dairy Queen franchise location participates in Receipt Day, and each location that does will offer it on a different day. So if you are unsure whether your local Dairy Queen participates, it never hurts to ask!

Firehouse Subs

Firehouse Subs building behind trees
Firehouse Subs building behind trees - Tada Images/Shutterstock

Is there anything better than a sub sandwich during your lunch break? How about a free sub sandwich? When you make a purchase at Firehouse Subs, you can earn points towards free food rewards like free subs and meal upgrades when you join its rewards program. You can earn points when you order through the app, and you'll even receive a free medium sub on your birthday! However, if you didn't use your app to purchase your Firehouse subs meal, don't worry. You can claim points for a recent purchase by sending a picture of the receipt. All the more reason to keep that receipt around!

You should also keep your receipt for a chance to win some cold hard cash. Yep, you heard that right. When you complete the Firehouse Subs guest satisfaction survey, you not only get a coupon for a free medium drink (with the purchase of a sandwich) but you are also entered for a chance to win $500. Just enter the 20-digit code found on your receipt, as well as the takeout total, and complete the survey to be entered and receive your coupon.


IHOP pancakes and coffee
IHOP pancakes and coffee - Andy Sutherland/Shutterstock

The next time you're craving impossibly indulgent pancakes for breakfast, brunch, or dinner (we don't judge), don't stuff that receipt in the bottom of your bag. It always pays to keep your receipt at IHOP, especially when it can earn you points towards free food. "International Bank of Pancakes" is IHOP's rewards program that allows you to accumulate PanCoins, which act as a currency to allow you to receive discounts on future purchases. You earn one PanCoin for every $5 that you spend at IHOP. Keep your receipt and enter the 13-digit code found on it. The receipt will expire after seven days, so don't wait. Redeem your PanCoins for coupons on future purchases.

Of course, you can also work your way towards free food by completing IHOP's feedback survey. The chain doesn't have a central guest survey site like other restaurants, so be sure to follow the link printed on your receipt to get to the correct survey for your region. Then all you have to do is enter the entry code on your receipt, give your feedback, and you'll be granted rewards like a free short stack of buttermilk pancakes on your next visit.


McDonald's store front at night
McDonald's store front at night - Sshaw75/Getty Images

You probably never really look at your McDonald's receipt; it just goes to the bottom of the takeout bag. But if you don't save the receipt, you're missing out on free food. As with other restaurants, McDonald's has a customer satisfaction survey that can help you snag free goodies like an apple pie, McMuffin, or McDouble just for sharing your opinion.

Apart from the discounts and rewards you can earn, McDonald's has a somewhat unique reason for you to always ask for a receipt: It may get you preferential service and cut down on your wait time. McDonald's receives visits from secret shoppers, sometimes called "mystery shoppers" on the daily. Mystery shoppers are paid to visit a McDonald's location, order the food, and then report back on their experience. Since they usually need proof of purchase to turn in their report, mystery shoppers will always ask for a receipt if they're not offered one straight away. While McDonald's employees can't really tell which customers are mystery shoppers, asking for a receipt will tip them off that you might be one, and they'll likely make sure you receive your food faster and it will be fresher.

Panda Express

Panda express meal and drink
Panda express meal and drink - ScannableZebra/Shutterstock

When you're craving Chinese food in a hurry, there's no better place to go than Panda Express. And a visit to the chain is even better when you get free food! Panda Express has a guest satisfaction survey that you can fill out for a free entree item on your next visit. You can also join Panda's rewards program to begin earning points towards even more free food in the future! That's not all -- when you sign up for Panda Rewards, you can receive a welcome discount of 25% off, or up to $10 off your first order.

However, there are other reasons why you should always ask for a receipt. Some Panda Express employees have taken to Reddit to tell customers that they should always ask for and receive a receipt at the time of purchase as this policy is included in the company's five steps of service. One employee noted that if you don't receive a receipt, "...you are technically entitled to a free meal."


Panera Bread store front sign
Panera Bread store front sign - Jetcityimage/Getty Images

Some restaurants use the allure of free food to get you to keep your receipt, but with Panera Bread, it's baked into the company's policy. Every Panera receipt reads: "Accuracy matters. Your order should be correct every time. If it's not, we'll fix it right away, and give you a free treat for your trouble." Make sure to double-check your receipt each time to ensure that your order is correct, and if it's not, turn in your receipt to make it right.

Your receipt can also come in handy if you're a member of Panera's rewards program, MyPanera. Every time you make a purchase, a note will be printed on the bottom of your receipt to let you know how many more visits you have left until you receive a free reward. Rewards include bakery items, recipes, and even exclusive previews. Just be sure to use your rewards within 60 days or they'll expire.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe

Tropical Smoothie drinks by pool
Tropical Smoothie drinks by pool - Tropical Smoothie Cafe

Tropical Smoothie Cafe is the perfect destination if you're looking for a cold and refreshing treat any time of the year. But this smoothie chain also offers plenty of ways for you to save on its products and earn free food in the future. If you remember to ask for a receipt, you can get a $1.99 smoothie with a wrap or sandwich purchase when you complete Tropical Smoothie's guest rewards survey. Just enter the code when you complete the survey and you'll be sent a coupon for your future purchase.

But your receipt can also help you earn points for future visits. Like other restaurants, Tropical Smoothie has its very own rewards program to thank its most loyal customers. If you're a Tropical Rewards member, then you can scan your receipt barcode to earn points towards discounts on your future purchases. Members earn 10 Points for each $1 spent.


Wendy's restaurant and front sign
Wendy's restaurant and front sign - Rivernorthphotography/Getty Images

Whether you're in the mood for a delicious burger, spicy chicken nuggets, a Frosty, or some fries, Wendy's has you covered. But if you're craving a free sandwich, then keep that receipt because you can fill out a survey to receive free food. Your receipt can also be used to earn points on future purchases through Wendy's reward program in the app. If you forget to scan your app barcode at the restaurant, don't worry, you can still get your points by uploading your receipt within 24 hours of your purchase.

However, there may be another reason not to trash that receipt: Employees of Wendy's have reached out on social media sites like Reddit to remind customers to always check their receipts and make sure they haven't been overcharged. One Redditor warned, "I know a store [...] that basically don't give the receipts because they [...]charging [sic] extra to your cards." So be sure to ask for a receipt and check to ensure your total is accurate.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.