Chipotle Will Begin Temporary Loyalty Program, Chiptopia, This Week

Chipotle needs two things: they need customers to start coming in to buy food, and they need those customers to keep coming back. After mailing and texting out free burrito coupons and buy-one-get-one-free offers earlier this year, the company’s newest idea to turn things around is a limited-time loyalty program.

In a way, the program is similar to the old version of the Starbucks loyalty program, since it will reward more frequent visits to restaurants rather than the amount that customers spend. They want to reward customers for coming back multiple days per month or per week, not for the amount that they buy.

Here’s how the program will work: restaurants will start handing out cards this Friday, July 1. For a visit to count, you have to spend at least $6 before sales tax, so you have to buy a meal. Only one meal per person per day counts, too. After your fourth, eighth, and then eleventh visits in one month, you get a free meal.

The reward tiers will be called Mild, Medium, and Hot respectively, and the biggest rewards are for people who keep the same reward level consistently through July, August, and September. Keeping Mild status for all three months means one more free entrée.

Medium status for all three months means $20 in merchandise from Chipotle’s merchandise store, so you can walk around advertising Chipotle after eating at Chipotle twice a week all summer.

Hot status will get you a Chipotle-catered meal for 20 people, which would make you an office hero and exposes the company’s loyal customers to the chain’s catering services in case they weren’t already familiar.


The good news for loyal Chipotle customers is that this program is a test for a possible permanent or long-term rewards program.

Chipotle needs to do something to turn its fortunes around: last quarter, when the executives first pitched this loyalty program idea, the company was dealing with an almost 30% decrease in comparable-store sales from the year before due to the chain’s food safety crisis. That was an improvement over December, too.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.