Gift card season brings merch and holiday hopes for discounts

Magnum Hermosa
3 min readDec 1, 2022
Gift card season brings merch and holiday hopes for discounts

Photo courtesy of North Italia and Norms.

’Tis the season — or SZN as McDonald’s would put it — for gift cards and there are opportunities (for the very lucky) to win lots of free food this year.

A number of restaurants roll out what are fairly typical gift card promotions this time of year. North Italia, for example, offers a free $20 gift card to those who purchase $100 gift cards. Norms offers a $10 bonus card with the purchase of $50 in Norms gift cards or a $5 bonus for every $30 gift card purchased — plus a $1 donation for every card sold to Make-A-Wish.

Bojangles is offering a “12 Days of Bo” promotion with various surprises and treats, including a free Cajun Filet Biscuit for those who download the app through December 10th. And the chain has tapped TikTok duo Cost ’n’ Mayor to lead a dance challenge based on “Carol of the Bells” in the Bojangles commercial.

But both McDonald’s and Chipotle have gone a little further with their holiday promotions.

Here’s a look:

Photo courtesy of McDonald’s.

McDonald’s on Tuesday unveiled a legitimate version of the fabled McGold Card that guarantees the recipient free McDonald’s for life. Well, actually two meals a week for 50 years when you read the fine print.

Reports of a free-food-for-life card given to various VIPs have been flying for years. Actor Rob Lowe claimed to have one, given as a gift by Egg McMuffin creator and franchisee Herb Peterson, for example, according to Business Insider.

From December 5 to December 25 (“Deling’s SZN”), every purchase made through the chain’s app gives fans a chance to win a McGold Card. And to make it extra special, this year the winners can share access to the mythical card with three family members or friends.

“Our fans have been intrigued by the lore of the McGold card and if it really exists. And now we want to make this McDonald’s legend a reality for our fans by giving them the ultimate Christmas present — a chance to win a card and then share access to it with three of their family or friends,” Tariq Hassan, McDonald’s USA chief marketing and customer experience officer, said in a statement. “Just by using the McDonald’s app, everyone can experience the joy that comes with sharing McDonald’s this holiday season.”

And that’s not all they can win. Using the app also grants access to two exclusive merch drops on December 7th and 14th, which will include gift options such as Chicken McNugget stockings (assuming Christmas stockings), McDonald’s Dream Order PJs, an AM Wrapper hoodie (or a PM) Wrap Hoodie) in an Egg McMuffin or Cheeseburger print, a dipping sauce puzzle, or even a Hamburglar graphic t-shirt, hoodie or beanie.

And then of course there are other discounts, such as free nuggets with the purchase of a Big Mac or Crispy Chicken Sandwich or a 50-cent Double Cheeseburger.

Chipotle, meanwhile, is going for a bit of mystery.

Photo courtesy of Chipotle.

Starting Dec. 1, the chain’s merch site will feature Mystery Boxes filled with goodies that may include the famous Cilantro Soap, which sold out last year in less than 12 hours, and other items. But randomly hidden in some boxes (which are wrapped like a burrito) will be a $500 limited edition stainless steel Chipotle gift card.

Mystery Boxes come in two purchasable sizes: a small has three to five items worth $60, but is priced at $30. The large has four to eight items and costs $50 (though worth $100).

All profits go to support organizations that make clothing and agriculture more sustainable, Chipotle said.

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