McDonald's Monopoly is back. It has been one of the chain's most popular promotions since it was first launched in 1987. Each year, millions of people get stuck into peeling stickers off cups and burger wrappers in the hope they can get a free car, a sack of cash, or at least some free fries. And while you have been happily playing the traditional way, those with an eye for a promotion have worked out the best ways to win.
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There are seven handy ways to improve your chances of winning anything from a bowl of porridge to a Mini Cooper.
1. Order the items with stickers
Naturally if you're in McDonalds specifically to buy a Big Mac, you're unlikely to care whether or not there's a sticker attached (there isn't). However, if you're fairly flexible, then you might want to stick with the items that do offer stickers. This means steering clear not only of Big Macs, but also quarter pounders and McNuggets. Be careful not to trade up in price though - check what your alternative costs before you opt for it.
Presenter Ryan Swain has hit on perhaps the cheekiest way of getting free stickers. On his Facebook page he suggests asking for a large tap water, which you'll get for free. Every McDonald's has a supply of cups with no stickers, intended for water, but you might strike it lucky if they simply go for the usual cups, and give you three extra stickers for free.
3. Go online
In each set of three stickers, there's one online game sticker: take the time to go online and enter. Every minute there are two cash prizes up for grabs for anyone who enters their code at the exact 'winning moment'. You can get online for free at the restaurants, it takes two minutes to enter, and you could win up to £100. It's surely worth a couple of minutes of your time.
Blogger Charlotte Burns points out that this competition runs 24-hours a day, and while there will be endless people putting their codes in at lunchtime, there will be far fewer going online in the middle of the night - so you stand a better chance of winning.
4. Collect for a Now TV pass
This year, as well as the games we've seen before, you can collect any ten properties to use on the McDonald's website to get a one-month Now TV Entertainment pass, Kids' pass or a one-day Sky Sorts pass. You can claim this three times during the promotion.
5. Get to know the rare stickers
In addition to the instant prizes, you can collect full sets in order to win bigger prizes. In each set, there are common stickers that are easy to pick up, and rare ones that trigger the win. Even if you're not collecting stickers, it pays to be aware of the rare stickers, and the associated prize.
Old Kent Road – McDonald's medium extra value meal
Euston Road – £30 Boohoo.com voucher
Northumberland Avenue – Wireless speaker
Marlborough Street – £250 Red Letter Days voucher
Liverpool Street Station – Now TV box + pass
Strand – Playstation 4
Coventry Street – £1,500 holiday voucher
Bond Street – Mini Cooper
Mayfair – £100,000 cash
6. Swap stickers
Charlotte Burns runs a Facebook group to buy, sell and swap rare stickers. There are also plenty of people offering to sell or swap the less rare ones, if you want to build up your collection quickly -or get your hands on your three Now TV passes without spending anything at McDonalds.
7. Consider discarded stickers
Moneysaving expert's Jordan Cox swears by this approach. You might not fancy the idea of picking through other people's litter, but if it's out on the table, and the stickers are untouched, there could be a prize awaiting. Plenty of people only play to look for the instant wins, so you will often pick up online game stickers and property stickers. If you know the rare properties to look for, a quick glance will show if it's worth picking up.
The good news is that you don't have to go crazy in order to win. There are more than 45 million food and drink prizes, so there's a decent chance that even without making an effort to maximise your chances, you'll find yourself the lucky winner of a freebie.