El Pollo Loco's revamped loyalty program gives members more to aim for

The new Loco Rewards has a tiered structure and more variety. It's part of a digital overhaul that also includes an upgraded mobile app.
El Pollo Loco exterior
The 490-unit chain has a new rewards program and mobile app. / Photo: Shutterstock

El Pollo Loco has revamped its rewards program and mobile app in an effort to “level up” its loyalty experience.

The key change to rewards at the 490-unit chain is a switch from a straightforward points-based program to a tiered format that allows customers to move into higher tiers at certain point thresholds. They can redeem those points for free food from the fire-grilled chicken specialist.

The refreshed Loco Rewards will be a key feature of the new app, which also streamlines the ordering process and allows customers to save their favorite orders.

Under the new loyalty program, customers get 100 points for every $1 they spend. These points unlock free items at four levels. For instance, once a customer earns 3,500 points (or $35 spent), they can get a free large drink, two churros or a taco. At the top level, 12,500 points ($125), they can choose from a double chicken tostada, a three-piece leg and thigh meal or a double chicken avocado salad.

Meanwhile, accumulating points allows customers to move into different membership tiers that come with their own special perks and benefits. Everyone starts in the Pollito tier, which gives free food and personalized offers, access to exclusive content, a sneak peek at new menu items and a $5 birthday reward.

At 10,000 points (or $100 spent), they graduate to the Pollo tier. The benefits are the same as Pollito, except they get 110 points for every $1 spent.

After they’ve collected 30,000 points (or spent $273), they advance to the El Pollo Loco tier. Here, $1 is worth 120 points, and they get a $10 birthday reward and a “status gift.” 

It’s a far more sophisticated system than the chain’s previous program, which simply gave customers a $5 credit for every $50 spent. When it launched in 2020, the Costa Mesa, Calif.-based fast casual said it was the most competitive offer in the industry.

But the new Loco Rewards is designed to be more engaging, giving customers tiers and targets to aim for and more flexible redemption options.

“Paired with the ease of ordering on our app, we hope to inspire more loyal customers to explore our menu of new and classic El Pollo Loco foods together,” VP of Digital Gabe Alonso said in a statement.

Restaurant loyalty programs in general have come a long way since 2020 as brands look to build stronger connections with frequent guests. Many chains are now offering more personalized offers as well as tiers, badges, subscriptions and more. Just yesterday, Noodles & Co. announced that it will start giving loyalty members a fresh reward every day. 

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