Is Water Free At McDonald’s? (Charge for Water?)

is water free at mcdonald's

Does McDonald’s charge for water? Do you know if water is free at McDonald´s? Well, you are at the perfect place to find the answer to such a question.

At most McDonald’s restaurants, you are likely to find water is offered free of charge. However, because each restaurant is able to decide for themselves whether this is something they offer, more and more are beginning to charge for water. In many restaurants, the policy is to serve free water only to paying customers.

In the following article, we will look in more depth at free water at McDonald’s, and some of the reasons it might not be free in some circumstances.

Is water free at McDonald’s?

In a lot of McDonald’s restaurants, water of any size remains free to anyone. However, the past few years has seen this change a lot, with some restaurants charging customers for water. Whether water is totally free or only free in certain sizes is likely to vary from restaurant to restaurant. 

However, a courtesy cup of water should be free in most McDonald’s restaurants. This is typically a tiny paper or plastic cup of water, which some restaurants offer instead of full-sized cups. Courtesy cups should be available for free in most McDonald’s restaurants as long as the cup size is available. 

While a courtesy cup is usually free in McDonald’s, other sized cups are much less likely to be available for free.

Some restaurants currently offer water for free to paying customers only, while others choose to offer free water to any customer, regardless of whether they have made a purchase or not.

Read also: How To Get Free Stuff At McDonald’s (9 Easy and Fast Ways)

What is McDonald’s policy on water?

Unfortunately, McDonald’s does not currently have a policy on water. This means individual restaurants are often left to decide for themselves if they want or can afford to, offer free water.

It also means restaurants are able to set their own prices if they do decide to charge for water, and under which circumstances water will be offered. 

This is not just at McDonald’s. There is currently little regulation when it comes to free water availability, meaning many food chains have no rules to turn to for guidance.

Because of this, there are some differences between retailers on whether to offer free water, how much to charge and under which circumstances water should be available. 

Read also: How Much Do McDonald’s Employees Make a Month? (Updated)

How much is water at McDonald’s?

A courtesy cup of water should cost nothing in most, if not all, McDonald’s restaurants. Currently, a large cup of water retails at McDonald’s for around a dollar, while a small cup costs between 25 and 50 cents.

McDonald’s also offers bottled water for around $2, available to order from the regular menu.

Can McDonald’s deny a customer water?

McDonald’s is not under any obligation to give any customer free water, so they are able to deny anyone a cup.

In most circumstances, many restaurants will not deny a customer water, but there may be a charge depending on the restaurant and their policies on free water.

As there is no regulation on free water in food retailers, there is no legal reason why McDonald’s should have to give water to a customer.

In some circumstances, such as health reasons or severe temperatures, most restaurants will happily give out tap water for free, but there is no obligation to do so.

Why doesn’t McDonald’s offer free water?

One of the main reasons why McDonald’s doesn’t offer free water in all of its restaurants is that fast-food chains are under no obligation to offer it. As we will see, offering water for free can come at a cost to the restaurant.

As there is no obligation for a restaurant to give out free water, many choose not to as a means to offsetting some of the costs.

Another reason that McDonald’s, and many other fast-food chains, choose not to give out free water is that it costs them to do so.

Not only does the cup itself cost the restaurant money, but they also have to pay for the filtration system that is used to clean the water supplied by the drink fountain. Some charge for water to reimburse these costs.

Some people have claimed another reason is that some people were found to be asking for a large cup of water for free, and then filling this up with Coke or another drink they would have to pay for otherwise.

Not only does this cost the restaurant financially and in terms of stock, but it also goes against McDonald’s policies.

Can you get free water when it’s hot?

Many restaurants, including McDonald’s, are likely to be more lenient when it comes to giving out a free cup of water when the temperatures are high.

While there are no rules on this, most restaurants will happily offer a cup of water during the warmer months, even to customers who have not made a purchase.

In cases whether the weather is extremely hot and a customer is experiencing health problems because of it, most restaurants will offer water for free.

Although it might not be a huge amount, the intention is likely to relieve the heat and prevent the customer experiencing further health problems.

Do any fast-food chains give out free water?

The same free water rules that apply to McDonald’s also apply to other fast-food chains, meaning they are under no obligation to give free water.

And many other chains also have no policy in place when it comes to offering free water, so individual restaurants are often left to decide for themselves. 

Most fast-food chains, including Burger King, Starbucks, and Chipotle, will offer courtesy cups of free tap water to any customer, regardless of whether a purchase has been made.

However, a few chains, like Dunkin’ Donuts and Nathan’s Hot Dogs, do not give out free water to anyone unless a purchase has been made.

Final Thoughts

Although some restaurants may give free water out, McDonald’s does not offer free water in all of its restaurants, something which is common among fast-food chains.

As there is no requirement for restaurants to hand out free water, many choose instead to charge. However, it is likely to depend on where you are located.



Lindsey graduated with an MBA in 2009. Since then, Lindsey has worked in the retail and consumer service industry as a manager, advisor, and marketer. Lindsey is also the head writer and Co-founder of Lindsey is based in Morgantown, West Virginia.

Recent Posts

error: Content is protected !!