2018’s Best Credit Cards for Restaurants
|Card Name||What You'll Earn on Restaurant Purchases|
|Best Card for Travel Rewards||Chase Sapphire Reserve||Earn 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 on dining purchases|
|Best Card for Beginning Travelers||Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||Earn 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 on dining purchases|
|Best Card for Cash Back||Barclaycard Uber Card||Earn 4% back per $1 on dining purchases|
|Best Card with No-Annual Fee||Chase Freedom Unlimited||Earn 1.5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points (1.5% cash back) on ALL purchases|
|Best Card for Overseas Restaurants||Capital One® Savor℠ Cash Rewards Credit Card||Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining purchases|
|Best Card for Business Meals||SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express||Earn 3% cash back when you select US restaurants as your bonus cash back category.|
Y’all know how much I love dining out. Besides my excitement for spicy dishes, I look forward to earning easy bonus rewards just by paying for my meal with the right credit card.
The best card to use for restaurant spending depends on your goals. For example, some folks (like me) prefer to earn flexible miles & points, which add up quickly and help you save money on travel. Others like to earn straightforward cash back, which equates to getting a discount on every meal.
These are the best credit cards for dining out!
10 Best Credit Cards to Use for Restaurant Spending
You can earn bonus rewards with the below cards for your restaurant spending all of the time. Certain cards NOT on the list (like the Chase Freedom) sometimes include restaurants as part of rotating quarterly bonus categories. We’ll be sure to let you know when that’s the case!
If you want to continuously earn bonus miles, points, or cash back when dining out, without the hassle of monitoring quarterly bonus categories, consider using these cards!
And keep in mind, restaurant spending is a broad bonus spending category. For example, purchases at many bars & nightclubs that serve food will often count as a restaurant purchase, even if you only order drinks. And coffee shops typically code as restaurants, too!
1. Chase Sapphire Reserve
Link: Chase Sapphire Reserve
Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders earn 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 on dining purchases. These are my favorite type of flexible points! Because you can transfer them directly to airline and hotel partners, like Hyatt and Southwest, to book Big Travel with Small Money.
This is one reason the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the #1 card team member Keith uses. He loves earning easy and valuable bonus points for dining out! And the card has NO foreign transaction fees. So you can earn bonus points without paying more for your meal when traveling overseas.
When you sign-up, you’ll earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. You can redeem the sign-up bonus for $500 in cash back, or $750 in travel by booking airfare, hotel stays, or car rentals through Chase’s travel portal (with NO blackout dates).
The card has a $450 annual fee, which is NOT waived the first year. But for many folks, the annual fee is worth paying. Because the $300
credit each account anniversary year for travel purchases effectively makes the annual fee $150 ($450 annual fee – $300 travel credit).
There are lots of other perks, which you can read about in my full review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
2. Chase Sapphire Preferred
Link: Chase Sapphire Preferred
Million Mile Secrets team member Scott loves to use his Chase Sapphire Preferred at restaurants and bars (that code as restaurants!). He uses it while in Europe and the Caribbean to earn 2X points on dining with NO foreign transaction fees.
When you sign-up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you’ll earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account.
You can redeem the sign-up bonus for $500 in cash back or $625 in travel when you book through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal. And get potentially more value if you transfer points directly to airline and hotel partners like Singapore Airlines.
The card’s $95 annual fee is waived the first year. So you can keep the card open for ~10 months, and then decide if the card is worth the annual fee.
3. Barclaycard Uber Visa
Folks with the no-annual-fee Barclaycard Uber Visa Card get 4% back for dining purchases. And the card has NO foreign transaction fees.
Remember, the points you earn with this card are worth 1 cent each, and can be redeemed for Uber, cash back, or gift cards. You must redeem at least 500 points at a time for Uber credits, or 2,500 points for cash back and gift cards.
4. Capital One Savor
Capital One Savor cardholders earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining. And redeeming the cash back you earn is easy. You can request a check or statement credit, any time, with no minimum redemption amount.
And when you sign-up for the Capital One Savor card, you’ll earn $150 cash bonus after spending $500 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
This card has NO annual fee and NO foreign transaction fees. So it’s a great option for overseas dining because you’ll earn bonus cash back without paying any extra for your meal!
5. AMEX SimplyCash Plus
With the no-annual-fee AMEX SimplyCash Plus card, you can earn 3% cash back (up to $50,000 in purchases per calendar year) at US restaurants. But you must select US restaurants as your 3% cash back bonus category.
The AMEX SimplyCash Plus small business card offers $250 cash back (in the form of a statement credit) after spending $5,000 or more on purchases within the first 6 months of opening your account. Plus, you can earn an additional $250 cash back after you spend an additional $10,000 or more on purchases within the first year of account opening.
That’s a total of $500 cash back, which is excellent for a card with no annual fee!
Remember, AMEX small business cards do NOT appear on your personal credit report. So they won’t hurt your chances of getting more Chase cards.
6. Chase Ink Business Cash
For a limited time, you can earn $500 in cash back (50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) after opening the Chase Ink Business Cash and meeting minimum spending requirements. That’s by far the highest this sign-up bonus has ever been! So if you’ve been thinking about opening the card, now is a great time.
Folks with the no-annual-fee Chase Ink Business Cash card earn 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points (2% cash back) at restaurants (on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year).
On their own, the points you earn from the Chase Ink Business Cash are only worth 1 cent each for cash back or toward travel.
But your points are worth much more when you also have certain Chase Ultimate Rewards cards, like the Ink Business Preferred, Chase Sapphire Preferred, or Chase Sapphire Reserve. Because you can combine your points and transfer them directly to Chase’s terrific travel partners.
The card also has a 5X bonus spending category. You can read my full review of the Chase Ink Business Cash card for more details!
7. Chase Freedom Unlimited
Link: Chase Freedom Unlimited
The no-annual-fee Chase Freedom Unlimited card doesn’t have bonus spending categories. Instead, you’ll earn 1.5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points (1.5% cash back) on ALL purchases.
Like the Chase Ink Business Cash above, you must have another eligible Chase Ultimate Rewards points earning credit card if you want to combine points and transfer them directly to airline and hotel partners.
When you sign-up for the Chase Freedom Unlimited, you’ll earn $150 cash back (15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) when you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account.
8. Citi Costco Visa
You can earn 3% cash back at restaurants & bars with the Citi Costco Visa card.
The only drawback is you can only redeem your cash back rewards as a check once per year. So if you cancel the card for any reason before receiving the cash back, you’ll lose all the rewards you’ve earned. And some folks prefer the option to redeem cash back rewards at the end of each billing cycle.
The card has NO annual fee, and is only available if you have a Costco membership. And Citi cards offer perks like Citi Price Rewind, purchase protection, and extended warranties.
Check out my full review of the Citi Costco Visa card for more details.
9. Citi Prestige
Link: Citi Prestige® Card
You can earn 2X Citi ThankYou points per $1 you spend on dining by paying with the Citi Prestige card.
Citi ThankYou points are flexible, which means there are many ways to redeem them! For example, you can transfer points directly to airline partners like Singapore Airlines. Then, book an award flight to Hawaii on Star Alliance partner United Airlines.
The Citi Prestige has a $450 annual fee, which is NOT waived the first year. But the card comes with a $250 annual credit for airline purchases, Global Entry credit, and airport lounge access, which can more than offset the annual fee!
10. AMEX Premier Rewards Gold
With the AMEX Premier Rewards Gold card, you can earn 2X AMEX Membership Rewards points on purchases at US restaurants. Cardholders also get access to AMEX Offers, which sometimes include discounts at nearby restaurants. So you can earn bonus points and save money at the same time!
When you apply for the AMEX Premier Rewards Gold card, you’ll earn 25,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account. Lots of folks tell me they’ve received targeted mailers with larger bonus offers. So keep an eye out to see if you can earn more points!
The card’s $195 annual fee is waived the first year.
Earning easy bonus miles, points, or cash back on restaurant purchases is a sweet treat!
The best card to use at restaurants depends on your goals. Some folks (like me) prefer to earn flexible miles & points, which can go toward getting Big Travel with Small Money. But earning straightforward cash back isn’t bad either!
Here’s a summary of the best cards for restaurant spending by category:
- Best Card for Travel Rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Best Card for Beginning Travelers: Chase Sapphire Preferred
- Best Card for Cash Back: Barclaycard Uber Visa Card
- Best Card with No-Annual Fee: Chase Freedom Unlimited
- Best Card for Overseas Restaurants: Capital One® Savor℠ Cash Rewards Credit Card
- Best Card for Business Meals: AMEX SimplyCash Plus
Which card do you use when dining out? Let me know in the comments!