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 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 double or triple points 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 aren’t necessarily a bad thing but may not be worth it if you won’t maximize the benefits a certain 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.
6 best personal cards for dining out
- American Express Gold Card
- Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards
- Citi Premier Card
- Chase Sapphire Preferred
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Uber Visa Card
|Card||Annual fee||Why it’s great for dining out|
|Amex Gold Card||$250||Earn up to 4X points per dollar, plus get an annual $120 dining credit|
|Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards||$95||Get up to 8% cash back and special access to premier culinary events|
|Citi Premier Card||$95||Earn 3X points on travel, including gas; 2X points on restaurants and entertainment; and 1X points on all other purchases|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred||$95||Earn 2X points on eligible dining and travel, plus enjoy exclusive dining experiences|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||$550||Earn up to 10x points per dollar, plus enjoy exclusive dining experiences|
|Uber Visa Card||$0||5% cash back on Uber, Uber Eats, and JUMP (except purchases of Uber Cash and Uber gift cards); 3% cash back at restaurants, bars, hotels, vacation rentals, and airfare; and 1% cash back on all other purchases|
Earn 4X points at restaurants
Yes, there’s a $250 annual fee on the American Express Gold Card. But the perks you get with this charge 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) and at restaurants worldwide, 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.
Not only that, but you get up to $10 in monthly dining credits at Grubhub, Seamless, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, The Cheesecake Factory, Boxed, and select Shake Shack locations.
Don’t forget the annual $100 airline fee credit, too. Plus, take advantage of the welcome bonus: Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards points after you make $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
Access unique dining experiences
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 tickets purchased through Vivid Seats (through January 2022), 4% unlimited cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores (excludes superstores like Walmart and Target), and 1% cash back on all other purchases, which is great for those who prefer earning cash back 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 $300 cash bonus after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.
Get flexible redemptions and 2X points on dining
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 on travel, including gas; 2X points on restaurants and entertainment; 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 60,000 points.
One of the biggest perks to 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.
Earn valuable rewards and access exclusive culinary events
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 on Lyft rides, 2X points on eligible dining and 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 airline and hotel 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.
Plus, you’ll get access to exclusive culinary events with this card. Past events have included private dining experiences to 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.
Get special dining perks and major travel benefits
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.
Earn 10X points on Lyft rides, 3X points on travel (excluding $300 travel credit), 3X points at restaurants, and 1X points per $1 spent on everything else. Plus, get $300 in statement credits each year for travel-related purchases.
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 a complimentary Priority Pass membership and a statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fees.
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.
Lastly, you can earn 50,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
Get cash back on dining purchases
If you’re a frequent Uber user, then the Uber Visa Card can help you save on dining purchases — whether you're eating out or ordering in.
Earn 5% cash back on Uber, Uber Eats, and JUMP (except purchases of Uber Cash and Uber gift cards); 3% cash back at restaurants, bars, hotels, vacation rentals, and airfare; and 1% cash back on all other purchases.
With this card, there’s a $0 annual fee, plus you can earn 10,000 points (valued at $100) after spending $500 in the first 90 days.
Best business card for dining out
- Blue Business Plus Card from American Express
- Chase Ink Business Cash
|Card||Annual fee||Why it’s great for dining out|
|Blue Business Plus Card from Amex||$0||Earn 2X Membership Rewards points on business purchases up to $50,000 each year, and 1X points on purchases after that|
|Chase Ink Business Cash||$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|
Simple and straightforward rewards
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 business purchases up to $50,000 each year, and 1X points on 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. 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.
Get cash back on your restaurant purchases
With the Chase 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 Ultimate Rewards portal, get cash back or gift cards, or shop with your points.
There’s a $0 annual fee, and you can earn $500 bonus cash back after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.
Why we chose these cards
When selecting these 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, prioritizing a card 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.
Bottom line on the best credit cards for restaurants
Getting a credit card that rewards you for your spending is usually 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.
#1 Premium Travel Credit Card
- 50,000 point sign-up bonus
- 10X points on select streaming services (up to $1,500) from July 1, 2020 to September 30, 2020
- 5X points with Instacart (up to $3,000), and at gas stations (up to $1,500) from July 1, 2020 to September 30, 2020
- 3X points on travel and at restaurants
- $60 annual DoorDash credit in 2020 and 2021
- Priority Pass airport lounge access