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The 6 Most Overpriced Sandwich Chains In 2024

Customers are fed up with paying significantly more for the same old sandwiches from these popular chains.
FACT CHECKED BY Chris Shott

Remember the $5 footlong? In 2008, Subway introduced a deal that seemed almost too good to be true: pick any 12-inch sub and add all your favorite toppings for just five bucks. The promo was complete with an iconic (and catchy) jingle. It was also highly successful—the deal generated a whopping $3.8 billion in nationwide sales in just one year, according to The Chicago Tribune, making Subway one of the top 10 fast-food brands in the country.

Well, it's not 2008 anymore, and the days of scoring a fast-food bargain are gradually slipping away as chains ramp up their menu prices. Not even sandwich shops are immune to rising food and labor costs, and fans are taking to social media to express their frustration.

Faced with increasingly pricey menu boards, customers point out that fast-food sandwiches have no business costing upwards of $15. (It's not just sandwiches, of course. Fast-food fans are annoyed with the cost of pizza and burgers, too.) Now, price-conscious customers are reconsidering whether their sandwich orders are worth the extra dough for what they get.

These six sandwich chains are pushing the boundaries of what customers want to pay for a simple sub or sandwich.

Subway

Subway
Shutterstock

Out of all the sandwich chains, Subway has been steadily called out for pricey subs lately. "I bought a Subway Sandwich for 21 bucks," one Subway fan wrote on Reddit, adding a skull emoji for extra emphasis. "Subway is absolutely not worth it anymore," one poster replied. "Quality was always dubious but it managed to barely scrape by in the price-quality ratio curve. Now they are charging for them as if they were real subs."

Elsewhere on the internet, one former fan was shocked to pay nearly $15 for a footlong sub. "Why is Subway so expensive?" they wrote, noting that there were no chips, no cookies, no drinks, and no extra meats or cheeses added to the sub.

Other customers noted the price jumps in their go-to picks: "I used to be able to get a roast beef footlong for $6… They were delicious, affordable, and had good options," one Redditor wrote. "Over the last 10 years the price has gone way up and the quality has actually gone down, IMO. Feels like they're giving more bread, less toppings."

Despite the backlash over price increases, Subway announced a successful 2023: a nearly 6% jump in same-store sales across North America. "Subway is a remarkably different brand than it was when we began our transformation journey three years ago — and we're not slowing down," Subway CEO John Chidsey said in a February press release.

 Every New Subway Sandwich Wrap, Tasted & Ranked

Panera

Panera Bread exterior
JHVEPhoto / Shutterstock

Panera is another sandwich shop with prices that make customers hesitant to shell out. "I don't even step foot in Panera anymore unless I'm buying food on work's tab," one former fan wrote on Reddit. "It's good, but it's not nearly as good as it's priced." Some former fans went as far as likening Panera to "overpriced hospital food."

One first-time customer described being "absolutely floored at the cost" after a recent visit. "I spent 20 dollars for a pre-cooked chicken sandwich, drink and a hard ass piece of bread… What an absolute ripoff." In a Reddit thread about the most overvalued fast-food chains, one customer called out Panera specifically: "I got a sandwich, cup of soup (the buy two combo), and chai tea. It was $28. Then I tipped. So $30 for all that. Never again."

In response to the backlash, Panera is now reportedly looking to lower its prices on some items. In February, Panera announced new and improved menu items, bigger portions, and some lower prices for their core menu items, including soups, salad, sandwiches, and mac and cheese. According to a press release, some newer items will be priced at under $10, including the Tomato Basil BLT.

 6 Major Changes You'll See at Panera in 2024

Firehouse Subs

firehouse subs
Photo: Shutterstock

With more than 1,250 restaurants, Firehouse Subs is on an upwards trajectory. Last year, the chain was acquired by Restaurant Brands International Inc., the parent company of Burger King, Tim Hortons, and Popeyes. However, that acquisition may mean higher prices, as RBI announced gradual price increases back in 2022.

At Firehouse, some customers on social media have reported paying between $15 and $18 for a sub, though others say the subs are large enough to make two meals. One diner reportedly paid $25.60 for one large sub and one medium sub.

"Very expensive," one diner wrote on Reddit about Firehouse Subs. They reportedly paid $60 for subs for their family of six, which was mostly bread and meat. Another customer agreed: "super expensive and quality depends on location."

 The 14 Best & Worst Menu Items at Firehouse Subs, According to Dietitians

Jimmy John's

jimmy johns
Photo: Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock

Jimmy John's is among the top four largest sandwich chains in America, but some customers aren't too pleased with the price point. Last year, one former fan posted a screenshot of their go-to Jimmy John's order with the caption "damn inflation man… only 9 days apart." On June 6, they ordered a Little John #5 and a chocolate chip cookie for just $6.35. On June 15, that exact same order cost $8.30.

"Prices are insane," one customer recently posted on Reddit. "The other day I bought a slim 1 and a slim 4 with cheese. $17.50." While some diners are quick to point out JJ's serves up better quality subs compared to Subway, others aren't so sure: "jimmy johns is overpriced subway," one X user posted.

 17 Best & Worst Jimmy John's Subs, According to Dietitians

Jersey Mike's Subs

jersey mike's subs
Helen89 / Shutterstock

This beloved sub chain—which uses fresh-baked bread and cuts the meat in-store—is the fifth-largest sandwich chain in the country. But as the price of subs slowly ticks up, customers are wary of spending too much on Jersey Mike's. Customers are reportedly paying between $13 for a single sub, and $17 for a sub with combo, and have complained about it online.

One Redditor posted that Jersey Mike's is overpriced: "I'm not paying $17 for a sandwich… I don't care about how much better the 'quality' is, deli meat can only taste so much more different than your local reasonably priced butcher. I could make 3 solid ones for that price."

However, commenters were quick to argue that Jersey Mike's is tastier than Subway for a similar price point, and the sub is large enough for two meals: "If you're paying $17 for a sandwich at Jersey Mike's, then you are getting a giant, which is absolutely enough for two meals."

 I Tried the 5 Most Popular Subs at Jersey Mike's & the Best Was a Spicy Behemoth

Potbelly

potbelly sandwich shop
Ritu Manoj Jethani/Shutterstock

This Chicago-based sandwich shop is known for its toasted sandwiches and yummy milkshakes. But even fans of the chain say the price is too high for what you get. One customer posted their go-to Potbelly order on X, which they get multiple times a week: a turkey avocado sandwich on whole grain bread, toasted and topped with provolone cheese, bacon, cucumbers, and hot peppers. The customer described it as "disgustingly expensive."

Consumers have reported paying anywhere between $14 for a single sub and $17 for a sub and soup. "Imagine being Potbelly thinking it's okay to charge $16 for half a sub, soup and drink + cookie ridiculously overly priced," one customer posted on X. Another customer was equally displeased, writing on X last month, "just left @Potbelly and it was expensive trash with little to no meat on it compared to @jerseymikes or @DiBellasSubs so sad."

Despite the social media complaints, the chain is reporting strong sales growth, with a 4.7% bump in total revenues from 2022 to 2023.

Emily Latimer
Emily Latimer is a freelance journalist with a passion for food and restaurants. Read more about Emily