3 ways to save money on fast food in Singapore

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Whether you frequently dine at fast food outlets or just reward yourself with an occasional trip, there are several easy ways to spend even less on some of your favourite foods.

From top dining credit cards to simple changes in habit, we've identified 3 opportunities to maximise your savings at fast food outlets.

1. SWITCH YOUR OUTLET: MCDONALD'S BURGERS ARE CHEAPER THAN COMPETITORS

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Fast food is cheap-but not all outlets are equally inexpensive.

While the average cost of a burger in Singapore is about $6.86, you'll understandably spend more than that with some vendors, and quite a bit less with others.

For example, burger-lovers can save $3.10 per a la carte burger (on average) by switching from Carl's Jr to McDonald's.

Within a week, total savings add up to more than the cost of 3 additional McDonald's burgers.

Burger outlets aren't the only establishments with notable price differentials. Fried chicken fast food restaurants sport even larger cost discrepancies. Chicken meal combos, which come with a side and drink, cost $8.11 on average, but can range up to an average of $10.71 at Kentucky Fried Chicken.

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On the other hand, you can save substantially by dining at Jollibee instead, where the average combo cost is just $6.65. Making the switch may not be easy, however; there are 80+ KFC outlets in Singapore, but less than 10 Jollibee restaurants. Convenience, it seems, comes with a price.

2. SWAP A LA CARTE OPTIONS FOR A COMBO MEAL

If you're craving a stand-alone item and nothing more, it makes sense to order a la carte; you'll save money nearly all of the time. However, if you're considering adding on a side or soft drink, ordering a combo meal instead is definitely the way to go.

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Across the market, the average cost of an a la carte item plus a side item is $11.33, and with an added regular soft drink, the total comes to about $14.03. A combo meal, on the other hand, averages just $8.94 and comes with all 3 of these components.

Ultimately, ordering a combo instead can save you as much as $5.09-more than enough to buy another side item.

Some outlets' combo meals are more cost-effective than others. Burger King offers great bundling discounts. While the average cost of an a la carte item (burger, fish or chicken sandwich) comes to $7.14, sides average $2.90 and a regular soft drink costs $2.60. Together, this comes to $12.64.

However, the average cost of a Burger King combo meal containing all of these components is just $8.63-thats $4.01 in savings per meal.

Other outlets, like Arnold's Fried Chicken, offer less impressive bundling discounts. In fact, converting to a combo meal at Arnold's averages just $1.12 in savings.

Given this difference is relatively small, consumers may want to consider opting for just a main item and drink instead (which at Arnold's, would save an average of $2.30 compared to a combo meal).

3. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF CREDIT CARD DEALS & PROMOTIONS

Finally, one of the best ways to save on fast food is by leveraging credit card rewards and partnership discounts. While many credit cards offer miles or cashback for dining in general-which is certainly beneficial, especially if you frequently eat out at restaurants-a few distinctly offer rewards for spending with popular fast food vendors.

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Citi SMRT Credit Card, for example, offers up to 5 per cent cashback at McDonald's, Burger King, Subway, KFC, Pizza Hut, PastaMania and many more.

Those who like to travel may prefer American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Card, which offers 3.1 miles per $1 spend with similar merchants, including McDonald's, Subway and Starbucks.

Ultimately, spending $300 per month on fast food can earn you $15 in cash rebate or 930 miles with these cards.

Fast food is amongst the cheapest of dining options to begin with. By optimising your outlet choice and method of ordering, as well as using the right credit card for your orders, you can easily dine on a limited budget while still enjoying some of your favourite foods.

This article was first published in ValueChampion.

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