Is Water Free At McDonald’s? | Surprising Truth

Our most basic need other than food is, of course, some water. Most restaurants you visit, both chains and standalone, don’t charge for water. But, there have been instances where McDonald’s has been charging for water. So, is it water-free at McDonald’s or not? Let’s find out! 

Is water free at McDonald's?

Yes, a cup of water is free at most McDonald’s outlets across the United States. However, some of their locations have been charging for water, significantly larger cups, and some offer free water only to paying customers. 

The McDonald’s menu is pretty vast, but water is not listed on it unless it is packaged water. Many McDonald’s outlets offer complimentary water, while some charge for valid reasons. Once you are done reading this article till the end, you’ll know all about McDonald’s water policy! 

McDonald’s Water Is Free, But Why Are Some Locations Charging? 

McDonalds water is free but why are some places charging

The reason behind McDonald’s locations charging for water is that many customers tend to use empty water cups to refill their fountain drinks! Although you can quickly get a cup of water for free at most McDonald’s locations, some have been charging an amount. 

Even McDonald’s stores that charge for water offer one complimentary cup to all their paying customers. This cup is usually medium or small-sized, as opposed to large-sized ones. Quite a few McDonald’s outlets opted out of giving their customers large cups of water. 

This is because many of the employees noticed that some of the customers would finish their water and then go ahead and fill their large cups with fountain drinks from refill counters. While water can be offered for free, fountain drinks must be paid for! 

So, to avoid issues like these, many locations opted out of giving out free cups of water altogether, while some still offer water for free, but in small cups. Moreover, most decisions for their water supply are taken by individual franchise owners instead of McDonald’s corporations, which is why many outlets have different rules. 

Water Prices At McDonald’s 

The water prices at McDonald’s are as given below: 

Tap WaterSmall CupMedium CupLarge Cup
Price25 cents50 cents$ 1

Every outlet also sells bottled water over and above the cups of water that McDonald’s offers. This bottled water is officially listed on the McDonald’s menu and is priced at $2. 

Is There A McDonald’s Water Policy? 

is there a McDonalds water policy

No, as of now, McDonald’s has no water policy as such. 

Since McDonald’s does not have an official water policy, there are no centralized decisions taken for their restaurants regarding water distribution. Moreover, most of their locations are also franchise owned. 

So, the decision comes down to individual franchise owners. Depending on whether it is feasible for the outlet to give out free water and if customers are using the water cups to refill fountain drinks, each franchise owner is free to decide whether they would like to charge for water or give it to their customers for free. 

Are There Any Other Restaurants That Are Charging For Water? 

Just like McDonald’s, a few other major restaurant chains charge a very minimal amount of money for water. Quite a few restaurant chains do not offer tap water at all and only have bottled water. Some chains offer their customers a glass of free tap water or charge for the same. Here is a list of restaurant chains that demand water. 

  1. Dunkin’ Donuts – This famous donut chain has many chains that offer one free cup of tap water to their paying customers. For the rest, tap water is given at a charge, and they also offer bottled water. 
  2. Nathan’s Hot Dogs – For this restaurant, the water policy is pretty much the same as that of Dunkin’ Donuts, where one glass of water is given for free to paying customers. The rest is charged. 
  3. Subway – Subway does not offer free tap water and only provides bottled water at a price. 
  4. Pret A Manger – Similar to Subway, Pret A Manger has a policy that does not offer tap water. Instead, they have bottled water at a price. 
  5. Tim Horton’s – Lastly, this famous Canadian coffee place offers only bottled water at a cost and does not offer tap water for free due to their company policy. 


McDonald’s locations across the United States offer water for free, as long as it is in a small cup. However, several McDonald’s outlets have started charging for water, especially for a large cup. The reason behind this is a lot of customers use large cups to refill fountain drinks. 

Similar to if their food is processed or not, most people don’t know about the water policy at McDonald’s. But really, McDonald’s does not have a water policy, so it depends entirely on what the franchise owner decides.  

If topics like these intrigue you, you should also check out other articles we have covered. Like the water policy, most people don’t know if dogs are allowed at McDonald’s. McDonald’s also offers free Wi-Fi and is worth checking out! 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do all McDonald’s outlets charge for water? 

No, not all McDonald’s outlets charge for water. 

Does McDonald’s offer a complimentary cup of water to paying customers? 

Yes, quite a few McDonald’s outlets offer a complimentary cup of water to their paying customers, but of a small size. 

How much does McDonald’s charge for a large cup of water? 

McDonald’s charges $ 1 for a large cup of water. 

Does McDonald’s have a water policy? 

No, McDonald’s does not have an official water policy. 

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