Mar 21, 2023 - Economy

Subway's Footlong Pass is back as more restaurants test subscriptions

Footlong sandwich being cut in half

Subway is selling 250,000 Footlong Pass subscriptions that can be used in April 2023. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

More restaurants, including big chains and small mom-and-pop shops, are using subscription programs to build loyalty and drive sales.

Driving the news: Consumers are increasingly willing to buy multiple subscription services and often underestimate how much they are spending (and sometimes forget they signed up in the first place) which could help boost restaurants' bottom line.

The latest: Subway is bringing back a limited run of its “Footlong Pass” subscription, a move that could bring in $3.75 million if all 250,000 passes are sold.

  • Panera launched a coffee subscription program in February 2020, which rebranded to the "Ultimate Sip Club" last April to include soda and lemonade. It’s now available for $11.99 per month or $119.99 yearly with annual subscribers also getting free delivery.
  • Last year, Taco Bell sold a Taco Lover's Pass where for $10 a month subscribers could get a taco a day for 30 days.
  • P.F. Chang’s updated its loyalty program to add a paid membership option that gets you unlimited free delivery and more rewards points for $6.99 a month.
  • Some restaurants are experimenting with memberships where diners prepay for their visits, the AP reports.
  • Americans spend on average $219 a month on different kinds of subscriptions, which is $133 more than they estimated spending, a survey by C+R Research found.

What's next: Rick Camac, executive director of industry relations at the Institute of Culinary Education, told the AP that he expects many more restaurants will offer subscriptions in the coming years, noting regular monthly income can help restaurants manage their cash flow.

  • However, some subscription experiments haven't worked out the way companies intended. On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina's Queso Club offered free cheese dip for a year for $1 ended after a year, per AP, because the company wasn't making enough to cover costs.

Subway Footlong Pass sale

The big picture: The sandwich chain’s $15 subscription offers 50% off a footlong sub each day in April when ordered on Subway's app or website with daily digital codes. The pass is not available in Iowa.

  • The passes went on sale at 8 am ET Tuesday on a special website and will be sold through 7:59 am ET Saturday, March 25, while supplies last.
  • You have to be a new or existing member of the chain’s MyWay Rewards program to purchase the pass.
  • The pass is only valid in April 2023 at participating locations nationwide.

Between the lines: Subway says if a member used the pass every day in April they’d save an average of $150 or about $5 a day.

  • You would need to use the pass at least three times to break even.

By the numbers: Subway prices vary by location and by sandwich, meaning the potential pass savings also vary, but in some cases, subs will cost less than $5.

Flashback: In August, Subway sold 10,000 passes for the subscription program, which could be used in September. They sold out in less than six hours.

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