Whether you’re a fan of takeout or prefer to indulge in top-rated restaurants, getting a credit card that earns rewards on your dining costs is as appetizing as the food you’re about to eat.
Sure, there are the usual flat-rate cash back cards or travel rewards cards, but there may be better ways to maximize your earnings. Here are the best rewards credit cards for restaurants, plus how to get the best bang for your buck when it comes to earning rewards on dining expenses.
How to choose the best credit card for restaurants
Choosing the best credit card for dining out depends on a few factors.
Of course, you want to pick a card that offers the highest earning potential; many cards offer a double or triple rewards rate on dining costs. Make sure to read the fine print, as some credit card issuers have different definitions of what counts as a restaurant — you may not earn dining rewards on bakeries, caterers, or hotel food, for example.
Something else to consider is how you can redeem your rewards. Ideally, your credit card issuer offers a flexible rewards redemption, allowing you to redeem your points in a variety of ways. Think options such as cash back, statement credits, merchandise, gift cards, flights, hotels, and other types of travel. With so many options, it’s easy to trade in your points for whatever is most beneficial to you.
If you’ve done some research on rewards credit cards, you’ll know that some do charge annual fees. Annual fees might be worth it if you can maximize the benefits a certain credit card offers. In other words, you want to be able to use a card’s features in ways that far outweigh the cost of the annual fee.
5 best personal cards for dining out
- American Express® Gold Card
- Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card
- Citi Premier® Card
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®
|Card||Annual fee||Why it’s great for dining out|
|American Express® Gold Card||$250 (Terms apply)||Earn up to 4X points per dollar, plus get an annual $120 dining credit, enrollment required|
|Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card||$95||Get up to 8% cash back and special access to premier culinary events|
|Citi Premier® Card||$95||Earn 3X points at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations, and on air travel and hotels; and 1X points on all other purchases|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||$95||Earn 3X points on eligible dining, delivery, takeout, select streaming services, and online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs), plus enjoy exclusive dining experiences|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||$550||Earn up to 10x points per dollar, plus enjoy exclusive dining experiences|
American Express® Gold Card
Yes, there’s a $250 annual fee on the American Express Gold Card. But the perks you get with this travel rewards card are likely worth it if you take advantage of them all.
First, you earn 4X Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year, after that 1X) and at restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., 3X on flights booked directly with airlines or on Amextravel.com, and 1X on all other eligible purchases. If you spend $300 a month at restaurants, that translates into 14,400 Membership Rewards points annually from just dining out.
In addition to bonus rewards in popular spending categories, you also get other Amex Gold benefits, including up to $10 in monthly dining credits at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar, and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment is required for select benefits. Whether you're craving fast food or gourmet dining, this American Express card is an excellent option.
Plus, you can take advantage of the welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you make $4,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of card membership of account opening.
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card
With a lower annual fee of $95, the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Card could be a great choice for those with a lower budget.
Cardholders earn unlimited 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment and Vivid Seats purchases; 4% cash back on dining, entertainment, and select streaming services; 3% at grocery stores (excluding superstores such as Walmart® and Target®), and 1% cash back on all other purchases, which is great for those who prefer earning cashback rewards over points.
This card also offers cardholders unique dining experiences that are often exclusive to Capital One customers. Examples include presale access and special events at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, as well as Capital One passes to the James Beard House in New York City, where you can meet top-rated chefs and enjoy a multi-course meal.
And don’t forget that new cardholders get the chance to earn a $300 cash bonus after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.
Citi Premier® Card
You may not rack up as many points as with the two options above, but with the Citi Premier Card, you can earn a respectable 3X points at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations, and on air travel and hotels; and 1X points on all other purchases. If you spend at least $4,000 in qualifying purchases within the first 3 months, you can earn 80,000 points.
Apart from its valuable bonus categories, one of the biggest perks of the Citi Premier Card is its flexible rewards redemptions. The ThankYou Rewards program currently offers 14 travel transfer partners that you can transfer your points to, or you can book travel directly through the Citi site. Other options include trading your points for cash back or gift cards — or even using your points to pay off your mortgage or student loans.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
With a $95 annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is the more economical Sapphire option, but you can still earn some decent rewards. Earn 5X points on Lyft rides and travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 3X points on eligible dining, select streaming services, and online grocery purchases; 2X points on travel; and 1X points per $1 on all other eligible purchases.
There’s a reason why this card is so popular amongst rewards credit card enthusiasts — you earn Chase Ultimate Rewards, which offer some of the most flexible points around. There are more than a dozen Chase transfer partners where you can transfer your points, including Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, and Marriott.
If you choose to redeem your points via the Chase travel portal, you can earn a 25% bonus. On your card anniversary, you will also earn bonus points equal to 10% of the total purchases you made in the previous year. And there is a $50 annual credit on hotel stays purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Plus, you’ll get free DashPass subscription benefits and access to exclusive culinary events with this card. Past events have included private dining experiences with top chefs and tastings at the hottest restaurants.
Lastly, you can earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
If you can stomach the $550 annual fee and really maximize all of this card’s perks, the Chase Sapphire Reserve could be a great choice. This is especially true for frequent travelers.
Earn 10X points on Lyft rides, Chase Dining purchases, hotels and cars booked via Ultimate Rewards; 5X points on air travel booked via Ultimate Rewards; 3X points on travel and dining; and 1X points on everything else. Plus, cardmembers get $300 in annual travel credits each year and a $60 DoorDash credit in 2021. You'll also get at least one year of free membership to the app's DashPass program.
You’ll have access to most of the same perks as the Chase Sapphire Preferred, but you get 50% more value when you use your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. You can also enjoy other travel benefits, such as car rental insurance, a complimentary Priority Pass membership, and a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit every four years.
And of course, you also get access to special dining events with this card. Take in a private dinner at three-star Michelin restaurant Benu, attend a cocktail event with top mixologists, or indulge in an eclectic Miami tasting menu while enjoying a performance by John Legend. Later in 2021, “Reserved by Sapphire” will be available, featuring exclusive opportunities to make reservations at some of the most highly-rated restaurants across the country.
Lastly, you can earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
Best business cards for dining out
- The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
- Ink Business Cash® Credit Card
|Card||Annual fee||Why it’s great for dining out|
|The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express||$0 (Terms apply)||Earn 2X Membership Rewards points on eligible business purchases up to $50,000 each year, and 1X points on eligible purchases after that|
|Ink Business Cash® Credit Card||$0||Earn 5% cash back at office supply stores and on internet, cable, or phone services (up to $25,000 combined annually); 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants (up to $25,000 combined annually); and 1% cash back on everything else|
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
This business credit card is a great choice if you’re looking for a straightforward earnings option. You don’t need to worry about different rewards categories, so nearly all of your business purchases can rack up rewards.
There’s a $0 annual fee with the Blue Business Plus Card from American Express, and you can earn 2X Membership Rewards points on eligible business purchases up to $50,000 each year, and 1X points on eligible purchases after that. That means whether you pick up the bill on a client dinner or order takeout for late work sessions in the office, you can put your spending to work for you.
Other perks include a 0% intro APR (annual percentage rate) on purchases for 12 months, then 16.24% to 24.24% (variable). This is a useful perk for business owners who are planning a large purchase and can benefit from a no-interest period to pay down existing debt.
Ink Business Cash® Credit Card
With the Ink Business Cash Card, you can earn 5% cash back at office supply stores and on internet, cable, or phone services (up to $25,000 combined annually); 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants (up to $25,000 combined annually); and 1% cash back on everything else. This card also offers 5% cash back on each dollar spent on Lyft rides, which can be great for getting to and from restaurants.
Like other Chase cards, there’s a ton of flexibility in terms of how you can redeem your points. Book travel through the Chase travel portal, get cash back or gift cards, or shop with your points.
There’s a $0 annual fee, and you can earn $750 bonus cash back after spending $7,500 in the first 3 months.
When selecting these credit cards, we considered the bonus rewards you’ll earn when ordering from restaurants or dining out. We also looked at other significant features, such as sign-up bonuses, cardholder benefits, reward redemption options, and the best value when it comes to annual fees.
It’s hard enough deciding which credit card is best for you, especially when you’re researching cards with similar features. The key is to clarify what your lifestyle and spending habits are, and then look for specific card features to get as much value as you can.
For example, if you tend to do a lot of international travel, choosing one of the best travel credit cards with no foreign transaction fees might be a good idea. Or if you hate the thought of paying to use a credit card, there are plenty of low- or no-annual-fee cards out there.
Which credit cards offer bonus points for takeout and dining purchases?
If you’re looking for bonus points for takeout or dining out, some of the best personal credit cards include:
- American Express Gold Card
- Capital One Savor Cash Rewards
- Citi Premier Card
- Chase Sapphire Preferred
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
Some of the best business cards include:
Do food delivery services code as dining purchases on credit cards?
Food delivery services don’t always code as dining purchases, so it’s important to pay attention to your credit card’s terms and services, as well as how the merchants themselves code the transaction.
Do bars count as restaurants on a credit card?
Depending on how the credit card views bars and how the merchant codes the transaction, your credit card might not offer bonus points. That said, it’s possible that a bar could code as a restaurant transaction. If you have specific questions about this, check your credit card’s terms or call the number on the back of your card to speak to a representative.
What is the best travel credit card for dining purchases?
The best credit cards depend on your personal habits and needs. However, both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Chase Sapphire Preferred are solid travel rewards cards. With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’ll get 3X points on travel (not booked through Ultimate Rewards and excluding the $300 travel credit) and dining. And as a Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholder, you’ll get 3X points on eligible dining, delivery, takeout, select streaming services, and online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs) purchases.
What is the best cashback credit card for dining purchases?
When looking for a cash rewards credit card for dining, it depends on your preferences and what you’re likely to use. However, if you have an excellent credit score, the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards and Citi Premier Card are generally good choices for earning cash back on dining.
If your credit score is good and you'd prefer a card with no annual fee instead, you might want to consider the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card. The SavorOne offers 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services, and at grocery stores (excluding superstores such as Walmart® and Target®).
Getting one of the best rewards credit cards can be a smart move, especially if you spend more than the average amount in categories like dining and restaurants. Make sure that whichever card you choose will help you earn rewards for other categories as well so you can optimize your entire spending profile.
And don’t forget: You can combine these rewards with airline or hotel dining programs to earn even more each time you eat at participating restaurants. Here’s to more sweet returns on your dining experiences.
Our #1 Travel Card
Earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
5X points on Lyft rides and travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 3X points on eligible dining, select streaming services, and online grocery purchases; 2X points on travel; and 1X points per $1 on all other eligible purchases
- 60,000 point sign-up bonus
- 5X points on Lyft rides and travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- 25% more value when redeeming rewards for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- 10% anniversary point bonus each year
- $50 annual credit on hotel stays booked through Ultimate Rewards
- Premium travel protection benefits
- Has annual fee
- Typically need to spend thousands to reap rewards
- Earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
- 5X points on Lyft rides and travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 3X points on eligible dining, select streaming services, and online grocery purchases; 2X points on travel; and 1X points per $1 on all other eligible purchases