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By Martha C. White
July 22, 2016
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

If you’re eating at a sit-down restaurant chain like Chili’s or Applebee’s, you might expect to pay more than if you ate at, say, McDonald’s or Subway. But you might not expect to pay nearly $40 to eat at Panera Bread.

A new study by Certify, a company that processes corporate expense reimbursements, took a look at the most-frequently expensed restaurants and how much business travelers spend there. Panera was the third-most popular chain, behind Starbucks (which is far and away the top breakfast spot) and McDonald’s, respectively. But unlike the average $11.55 tab at Starbucks and $8.75 at McDonald’s — which was the cheapest average bill in the study — Panera tips the scales with an average ticket of $39.52.

At Chipotle, a top Panera rival in the upscale fast-food category the industry has dubbed “fast casual,” the average check was just over half the amount people spend at Panera: $21.45. Even people eating at sit-down places like Chili’s and Applebee’s spent less than Panera customers in the study: Their averages were $34.66 and $35.46, respectively.

And if you’re looking for a true bargain meal, Certify found that McD’s was the lowest, followed by Burger King and then Taco Bell, all of which had average checks of less than $10.

Advertiser Disclosure

The purpose of this disclosure is to explain how we make money without charging you for our content.

Our mission is to help people at any stage of life make smart financial decisions through research, reporting, reviews, recommendations, and tools.

Earning your trust is essential to our success, and we believe transparency is critical to creating that trust. To that end, you should know that many or all of the companies featured here are partners who advertise with us.

Our content is free because our partners pay us a referral fee if you click on links or call any of the phone numbers on our site. If you choose to interact with the content on our site, we will likely receive compensation. If you don't, we will not be compensated. Ultimately the choice is yours.

Opinions are our own and our editors and staff writers are instructed to maintain editorial integrity, but compensation along with in-depth research will determine where, how, and in what order they appear on the page.

To find out more about our editorial process and how we make money, click here.

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