Here’s How Chipotle’s Very Complicated New Rewards Program Works

By Mike Pomranz |

© Kristoffer Tripplaar / Alamy

Ever since Chipotle’s highly publicized health issues, the burrito chain has struggled to win customers back. According to Nation’s Restaurant News, despite rebounding sales, Chipotle is still way down from where its numbers were last year: bouncing back from a 36.4 percent decline in same store sales in January to simply a more modest decline of 22 percent the first three weeks in April.

So, after a series of disappointing fiscal quarters, Chipotle is hoping the third quarter of 2016 is when things turn around, thanks to its intense and very complicated “Chiptopia Summer Rewards” program.

Granted, summer started last week, but Chiptopia kicks off on July 1 and runs through to the end of September (a timeframe that probably not coincidentally coincides exactly with the aforementioned fiscal quarter). The good news for Chipotle lovers: The program offers a lot of opportunities to earn free food. Basically, if you buy eight burritos, you get three free, every month. The bad news: It might take you awhile to wrap your head around exactly how those burritos (and other rewards) are earned.

To help explain the complex program Chipotle has even put out a really cheesy 3 minute video and a four column, four row chart to help customers navigate how to earn deals.

You’ve probably played board games with fewer rules. Explained in short (a difficult task), this is how it works:

Each month, diners have the chance to reach one of three different tier levels – mild, medium and hot – by spending a minimum of $6 on repeat visits. You hit mild after four visits, medium after eight and hot after eleven. If customers hit the same status level in all three months, additional rewards kick in—an extra free entrée at the mild level, $20 in Chipotle merchandise at the medium level and the top reward: If you go to Chipotle at least 11 times all three months, you get a $240, 20-burrito party thrown by Chipotle catering at the end of the promotion. That’s a lot of Chipotle.


For people who already love Chipotle, the reward program sounds great.  I could definitely see people popping in for an extra few visits just to reach new reward levels. The problem is, for people who are fearful of going back to the Mexican food chain, eating 33 meals at Chipotle over the next three months probably sounds more like Russian roulette than a great deal.

If Chipotle really wanted to reward us, it’d let us throw rotten tomatoes at the guy who made that promotional video. Winner, winner, burrito dinner!


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