Gift cards can make fast food even faster

McDonald’s and Sonic have launched pre-paid, debit-style cards for purchasing food. (Staff illustration: Sharna Johnson)

By Tonya Garner: CNJ staff writer

The fast-food experience seems to be getting faster with the inception of a new payment option at two local restaurants.

McDonald’s has launched The Arch Card, while Sonic is calling its version My Sonic card. Both are pre-paid, debit-style cards.

Lisa McDaniel, 46, was sipping a soda Monday morning at the McDonald’s on 14th Street. The Clovis resident said she had just purchased 30 Arch Cards because she comes from a large family that usually makes gift-giving a hassle.

“I have family spread out all over the country,” McDaniel said, “and I never know what to get my nieces and nephews.”

McDaniel said she was thrilled when she thought of the time and money she was saving by sending the “one size fits all” gift. “I am saving hundreds of dollars in shipping alone,” she said. “Plus I don’t think I can go wrong with burgers and fries.”

McDaniel said she also plans to use the cards as “stocking stuffers” for her two high school daughters. She said giving them to her children will minimize stress during the morning off-to-school” routine. “My girls have open-campus lunch,” McDaniel said. “Now I won’t have to worry about having cash on hand every day.”

Although both cards are being marketed as gift cards for the holidays, Sonic Manager Alex Costa said most customers are purchasing them for personal use. “We have repeat customers coming in to reload their cards,” Costa said, “because they are saving time by paying at the terminal and it’s so convenient.”

Bob and Rose Gruber were traveling through Clovis on Sunday afternoon on their way to Corpus Christi, Texas, and were using their newly acquired My Sonic card to purchase cheeseburgers, tater tots and cherry limeades. The retired couple from Apple Valley, Minn., said they spend approximately seven months out of the year “traveling the states.”

Bob Gruber said their oldest son mailed them a pre-paid Sonic card as an early Christmas present. “We don’t have Sonic in Apple Valley,” Gruber said. “But he knew we always look for good hamburger joints when we are traveling.”

Rose Gruber nodded in agreement, speaking around a mouthful of burger. “It was a perfect gift as far as I’m concerned,” she said. “Now we don’t have to worry about having cash on hand or keeping up with credit-card receipts.”