Here’s How to Support Local Restaurants - And Earn Major Credit Card Rewards

Use these credit cards to earn bonus rewards as you support local restaurants.
Last updated Sep 15, 2020 | By Ben Walker
Happy couple eating takeout at home

FinanceBuzz is reader-supported. We may receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

Small businesses are continuing to struggle during the pandemic and resulting economic crisis. Restaurants have been hit particularly hard as they’ve had to close their doors to the public while following safety guidelines.

Although dine-in may not be an option, many eateries are still offering takeout and delivery services. We can support our local restaurants by taking advantage of these services and earning valuable rewards along the way.

Many credit cards offer bonus rates when used on restaurant and dining purchases, so it’s an ideal opportunity to help support local businesses and reap some extra rewards. Credit card issuers are even offering limited-time COVID-19 perks on certain credit cards to give cardholders opportunities to earn bonus rewards.

Jump To

4 ways to support local restaurants right now

We don’t want to see our local businesses suffering, least of all our favorite restaurants that we love to frequent. If you’re able to offer support to local restaurants during these difficult times, here’s how you can.

1. Inquire about no-contact takeout and local delivery

Although local restaurants have had to close their doors for everyone’s safety, many of them are still functioning by offering takeout and delivery service. You can inquire about these services by contacting your local restaurants.

Many restaurants are also partnering with food delivery services like DoorDash and Uber Eats to make sure they can continue serving their customers. Fortunately for us, there are credit cards available (see below) that offer terrific benefits and rewards when you use these services.

2. Purchase gift cards

You don’t have to buy food to support a local restaurant. You can buy gift cards for yourself or someone else, whether you’re planning on using them now or in the future. The important thing is the restaurant receives an influx of money to help keep it in business.

3. Purchase meal kits

Even if a restaurant offers takeout or delivery, some of their meals may not travel well. Or, a restaurant can’t afford to have its usual number of staff working, which makes it more difficult to keep operations running smoothly. With meal kits, restaurants can solve these issues and still keep customers happy.

Meal kits typically contain everything you need to make a certain meal. For restaurants, these meal kits would most likely contain all the food ingredients needed to make one of their signature dishes. A recipe will likely be included and specific ingredients may already be partially prepared.

4. Buy some branded merchandise

In order to generate some additional revenue during closures, many restaurants are offering branded merchandise in addition to takeout and meal kits. Some are selling products such as T-shirts, hats, and hoodies through their websites. Proceeds typically go toward supporting restaurant staff and keeping business operational during this challenging time.

Note: Online purchases for gift cards and branded merchandise may not code as restaurant purchases on your credit card, so a cashback credit card could offer a better earning rate.

The 6 best credit cards for restaurant purchases

As you’re making purchases and supporting local restaurants, remember you can use certain credit cards to earn bonus rewards on these purchases. Most dining credit cards will typically offer extra rewards when you make purchases from restaurants, but some may also offer dining credit or food delivery service benefits.

It’s important to note that purchases on food delivery services shouldn’t normally count toward dining bonuses on credit cards, but in practice, they usually do. For a purchase to code on a credit card as a restaurant or dining purchase, the business typically has to sell food as its primary service.

Food delivery services don’t sell food at all, but purchases on their services will often net you bonus rewards with the right cards. Check your credit card’s terms to see whether you’ll receive dining rewards for purchases on food delivery services.

These are the best rewards credit cards for earning rewards on restaurant purchases.

Card name Welcome bonus Reward rate details Annual fee
Chase Sapphire Reserve Earn 50,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months 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 $550
Chase Sapphire Preferred Earn 80,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months 5X on Lyft rides, 2X points on eligible dining and travel, and 1X points per $1 on all other eligible purchases $95
American Express Gold Card Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards points after you make $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months 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 $250
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Earn $300 cash bonus after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months 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 $95
Citi Premier Card Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months 3X points on travel, including gas; 2X points on restaurants and entertainment; and 1X points on all other purchases $95
Uber Visa Card Earn 10,000 points (valued at $100) after spending $500 in the first 90 days 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 $0

Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers 3X points on travel (excluding $300 travel credit) and at restaurants. The standard earnings rate for most credit cards is 1X points on purchases, so getting additional rewards on restaurant purchases is a real bonus.

Even better, Sapphire Reserve cardholders can now enjoy new Chase DoorDash benefits. Cardholders receive a free one-year DashPass subscription (currently valued at $9.99 per month) that allows for unlimited deliveries with reduced fees. You also receive up to $120 in statement credits on DoorDash purchases. Up to $60 until the end of 2020 and up to $60 until the end of 2021.

#1 Premium Travel Credit Card

Benefits

  • 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

Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 2X points on eligible dining and travel purchases. It’s a slightly lower earnings rate than the Chase Sapphire Reserve, but the lower annual fee helps to offset the decreased rewards.

Chase Sapphire Preferred benefits also include a free one-year subscription to DashPass services, allowing for unlimited deliveries at reduced rates.

#1 Travel Rewards Card

Benefits

  • 80,000 point sign-up bonus
  • 5X points on select streaming services (up to $1,500) until September 30, 2020
  • 3X points with Instacart (up to $3,000), and at gas stations (up to $1,500) until September 30, 2020
  • 2X points on eligible dining and travel purchases
  • 25% more value when redeeming rewards for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Premium travel protection benefits

American Express Gold Card

With the Amex Gold Card, you can earn bonus rewards when you dine at restaurants. You can also earn up to $120 in statement credits each year when you pay with your enrolled card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, and participating Shake Shack locations.

Although the specific list of restaurants participating in this program may be small, you can widen your reach by taking advantage of the Grubhub and Seamless food delivery services. Both of these companies operate in hundreds of cities and with thousands of restaurants around the country.

Capital One Savor Cash Rewards

The Capital One Savor Cash Rewards offers cardholders terrific bonuses when they make dining purchases using this card. Capital One counts dining purchases as purchases at restaurants, cafes, bars, lounges, fast-food chains, and bakeries. Cashback rewards for dining are unlimited, so you can take full advantage of using this card to support your local restaurants.

Citi Premier Card

The Citi Premier Card is often labeled as a top travel credit card because of its great earning potential on travel purchases, but frequent diners can also use it to their benefit. This card currently offers a decent rewards rate for purchases at restaurants, but it’s going to get better starting on Aug. 23, 2020. At that point, the dining bonuses will match the bonuses on airfare and hotels.

With the update, the Citi Premier Card will become even more valuable to frequent diners. Citi counts restaurant purchases as purchases made at cafes, bars, lounges, and fast-food restaurants. Bakeries, caterers, and restaurants located inside other establishments are not usually counted.

Uber Visa Card

The Uber Visa Card provides cardholders with great opportunities to earn bonus rewards on dining, especially if you’re a frequent Uber user. All rewards are received in the form of Uber Cash, which can be redeemed for Uber rides, orders with Uber Eats, and Jump bike and scooter transactions.

This card can be incredibly useful for individuals who like to order takeout or delivery using Uber Eats. If you pay for your Uber Eats purchases using the Uber Visa Card, you’ll earn bonus rewards that can then be redeemed for your next Uber Eats order.

Two bonus cards for earning rewards on restaurant purchases

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the massive drop in travel, certain credit card issuers are offering limited time opportunities to earn rewards in specific categories. The benefits vary with each card, but there are at least a couple that are offering bonus rewards on restaurant purchases.

Hilton Honors Aspire

With the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, you can earn 14X points on eligible purchases within the Hilton portfolio, 7X points on qualifying travel purchases made directly with airlines/select car rental companies or Amextravel.com, 7X points at U.S. restaurants, and 3X points on all other purchases.

That’s a great return when using this card to dine in the U.S., but the limited-time opportunity Amex added to the card has made it even better for frequent diners. Now, purchases at U.S. restaurants made between June and August 2020 (including on takeout and delivery) count toward qualifying for the $250 Hilton resort rewards credit.

So for those cardholders who didn’t think they’d be able to use their resort credit this year, you now have plenty of time to use it on food purchases from local restaurants.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant

Similar to the Hilton Honors Aspire, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card is also offering cardholders a bonus opportunity to use their annual credit. Normally, you would receive $300 in statement credit each calendar year for eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.

However, between June and August 2020, eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants qualify for the annual $300 Marriott Bonvoy statement credit. Your normal earning rate is 6X points on eligible purchases at participating Marriot Bonvoy hotels, 3X points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines, and 2X points on all other eligible purchases.

If you combine this limited-time opportunity with the normal dining bonuses, you can enjoy great rewards on purchases from your local restaurants while the economy recovers.

Sign up for the Rewards Network to earn even more

If you want to earn rewards on your takeout purchases, you might also want to consider signing up for the Rewards Network. With a free Rewards Network membership, you can easily earn rewards from your favorite loyalty programs, just by making purchases at participating restaurants.

You can get started in a few simple steps:

  1. Visit the Rewards Network website and sign up for a free membership.
  2. Choose the type of reward you want to receive.
  3. Securely link your credit or debit card.
  4. Make purchases at a participating restaurant with the linked card and reap the rewards.

Rewards Network works with many popular loyalty programs within different industries. You can earn United MileagePlus miles, Southwest Rapid Rewards points, Marriott Bonvoy points, Hilton Honors points, and much more. If you’re interested in supporting local restaurants, you may as well earn some extra rewards at the same time, and this is an easy way to do that.

The bottom line on supporting your local restaurants

It’s a difficult time for millions of people around the world, including business owners in our local communities. For those of us who can, the little we can do to support local restaurants can prove beneficial in the long run. We may not be dining out as often, but we can still help businesses survive by ordering takeout and delivery.

While we do our part to help local restaurants, we can also use our credit cards efficiently. Many credit cards offer bonus rewards for restaurant purchases, so you might as well use these opportunities while helping our economy. If you have a card with a limited-time opportunity that’s useful for restaurant purchases, take advantage of it while you can and enjoy your bonus rewards.

Earn Cash Back Twice

Citi Double Cash Card

Citi Double Cash Card

Citi Double Cash Card

Benefits

  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months
  • 2% cash back on all purchases - 1% when you buy and 1% when you pay
  • No annual fee