Earn More Miles & Points When Dining Out With These 5 Cards

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Restaurant

The Best Credit Cards For Dining Out – Our 5 Favorite Cards

We’ve covered a lot of top cards for various purchase categories, ranging from gas and groceries, to travel, to other everyday spend that falls outside major bonus categories. There are some solid options for any of these purchases. But what we haven’t looked at yet are the best credit cards for dining and restaurants.

In the age of Postmates and Uber Eats, finding the best dining credit cards can get tricky. Your “dining” may not necessarily code as dining spend. It all depends on the merchant code, so if you order delivery, you’ll need to double check how your purchase codes.

In the more traditional case where you sit down at a restaurant for meal, you should expect your purchase to code appropriately. And you can expect to earn some solid rewards with the right card. Here are our picks for the five best credit cards for dining:

Best Credit Cards for Dining

American Express Gold Card

The American Express Gold Card is an excellent choice for dining spend. The refreshed card may carry a higher annual fee than it previously did, but the earning rates and perks are even better. It is arguably the best “mid-tier” card on the market.

The American Express Gold Card earns 4x Membership Rewards points for dining worldwide and at U.S. supermarkets. This already makes it a powerhouse card, as Membership Rewards points are among my top favorites to collect.

Here is the welcome offer and benefits of the American Express Gold Card:
  • Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. (It may be possible to get a 50,000 point offer via a referral so check there first)
  • 4X Membership Rewards points when you dine at restaurants worldwide.
  • 4X Membership Rewards points at US supermarkets, on up to $25,000 per year in purchases.
  • 3X Membership Rewards points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 annual dining credit (as $10 per month, at select restaurants)
  • $100 annual airline fee credit (on a U.S. airline of your choice)
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $250 annual fee
  • Learn More

The Gold card is an excellent all-around keeper if you’re a big fan of the American Express Membership Rewards program. With the amazing 4x earning at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets and the 3x earning on flights, it covers a lot of bases. This card is at the top of the non-Chase list for me to pick up.

I had my wife apply for the Gold card, but she got the dreaded popup. I may need to employ Mark’s strategy to see if I can make that a non-issue.

Best Credit Cards for Dining

Citi Prestige

While the Citi Prestige is definitely not the powerhouse card it was a couple years ago, it is an excellent card if you’re looking for a great return on dining. The card earns 5x ThankYou points both on airfare and at restaurants, which is excellent if you can maximize their transfer value.

The Citi ThankYou transfer partners aren’t as strong as either the American Express or Chase Ultimate Rewards programs, but they do have a great one in Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles. Other excellent options include Avianca LifeMiles, Virgin Atlantic, and Cathay Pacific Asia Miles.

The other card benefits don’t stack up like they used to, but the best is likely the $250 annual travel credit and a Priority Pass Select membership that allows you to guest in all immediate family into a lounge. Most other cards offering this perk restrict you to two guests.

Here is the current welcome offer and benefits of the Citi Prestige Card:
  • Earn 50,000 Bonus Points after spending $4,000 within 3 months of account opening.
  • 5x ThankYou points on air travel and restaurants
  • 3x ThankYou points on hotels and cruises
  • 1x ThankYou points on all other purchases
  • $250 annual travel credit
  • Complimentary 4th night free for 4-night minimum bookings (excluding taxes and fees, on up to 2 stays per year)
  • Complimentary Priority Pass Select Membership
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $495 annual fee
  • Direct Link

I’ve never held the Citi Prestige card, and with the major changes to the benefits, I’m less interested in picking it up. But that is not to say I’m not tempted at times by the 5x earning on dining and travel. Turkish Airlines is my newest obsession and Citi ThankYou is the only bank program that transfers to Turkish.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is an excellent premium travel card that offers a high return on dining spend as well. Earning 3x Ultimate Rewards points for dining and travel, this is a 4.5% return on travel, at a minimum. The card also offers a very flexible $300 annual travel credit, Priority Pass select membership, and excellent travel protections.

For the frequent traveler, it’s a great card. If you’ve not yet picked up enough cards to be above 5 new accounts in the past 24 months (the “infamous Chase 5/24 rule”), I highly suggest the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Here is the current welcome offer and benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve:
  • 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • $300 annual travel credit
  • 3x Ultimate Rewards points per $1 on travel worldwide (after earning your $300 annual travel credit)
  • 3x Ultimate Rewards points per $1 at restaurants worldwide
  • 1x Ultimate Rewards points per $1 on all other purchases
  • Priority Pass Select Membership
  • Points worth 1.5 cents each booking travel through the Chase Travel Portal
  • Ability to transfer points to hotel and airline loyalty program partners
  • Primary rental car insurance
  • Trip cancellation/interruption/accident insurance and lost/delayed luggage insurance
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit (once every 4 years)
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $450 annual fee ($75 per authorized user)
  • Learn More

If you’re thinking $450 for a premium card is a bit too rich for your blood, consider picking up the Chase Sapphire Preferred instead. With an annual fee of $95 and a welcome offer of 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points, it’s still a fantastic deal. You only earn 2x points on dining, but Ultimate Rewards points can be used for very high value.

Best Credit Cards for Dining

Capital One® Savor Card®

If points aren’t what you’re looking for, then the Savor Card from Capital One might just be the best dining credit card that gives you cash back. It earns 4% cash back on dining and entertainment with no cap on the amount you can earn.

The main turnoff of the card is the annual fee. The intro annual fee is $0, but it increases to $95 after that. You’d have to eat out a lot to justify that sort of annual fee for a card that primarily useful for just dining.

Here is the current welcome offer and benefits of the Capital One Savor Card:
  • Earn a one-time $300 cash bonus once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • 4% cash back on dining and entertainment
  • 2% cash back at grocery stores
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Introductory annual fee of $0, and $95 each year thereafter
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Learn More

I’m more about earning points than cash back most of the time, but 4% back is a solid offer.

Best Credit Cards for Dining

Hilton Aspire Card by American Express

The Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express is one of the best hotel credit cards on the market, and it is also an excellent option for dining. With a $250 annual airline incidental fee credit, a $250 annual resort credit, annual free night, Hilton Diamond elite status, and a Priority Pass membership, the card benefits add up quickly. A welcome offer of 150,000 Honors points is nothing to sneeze at, either.

The Aspire card also offers a 7x Hilton Honors points earning rate on dining at U.S. restaurants. The same earning rate is also applied to airfare booked directly with airlines or through Amex Travel and car rentals booked directly with the provider. The card hasn’t provided much in terms of travel protections, but this is changing soon.

Here is the current welcome offer and benefits of the Hilton Aspire card:
  • 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • 14X Honors points per $1 of eligible purchases on your Card directly with a participating Hilton hotel or resort
  • 7X Honors points for these eligible purchases: flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies, U.S. restaurants.
  • 3X Honors points for other purchases on your Card.
  • $250 annual airline fee credit
  • $250 annual Hilton resort statement credit
  • Free annual weekend night
  • Second free night after $60,000 spent in a calendar year
  • Automatic Hilton Honors Diamond status
  • $450 annual fee
  • Referral Link

The Hilton Aspire is my go-to dining card, and I plan to keep it. Even though it is a hotel card with a massive annual fee, the credits provide plenty of value. Mark has called it hands down the best perks card out there.

Best Credit Cards for Dining

Best Dining Credit Cards: Honorable Mentions

You can certainly get by with other cards. The Uber Visa used to be a decent pick, but the cash back on dining was reduced from 4% to 3%, removing it as one of the front-runners among the best dining credit cards.

If the Hilton Aspire card is too rich for your blood, the Hilton Surpass card from American Express is a great backup option. It earns 6x Hilton Honors points at U.S. restaurants. Keep that in mind. Even though the card has no foreign transaction fees, it will not earn a bonus on dining abroad. This card is also an excellent pick if you can hit the $15,000 annual spend to earn an additional free night.

The Wells Fargo Propel Card (Learn More) is a nice option that doesn’t charge an annual fee. Most of the others on our list hit do carry a fee, although the rewards are richer. The Propel earns 3x points on restaurants and dining, which is ~3% return.

The rotating 5% back cards are great options as well, like the Chase Freedom card. Dining is almost always one of the categories for one quarter per year, and nothing beats earning 5% back. Except maybe earning 5x ThankYou points for transferring to Turkish Airlines. Unless you’re lazy, that is.

Finally, I’ve used my Chase World of Hyatt card plenty of places. This may sound crazy, as I’m earning just 2x points per dollar. But this is at least a 3% return for me, plus I’m accruing spend toward elite nights.

Conclusion

Although we don’t dine out much (except when traveling), I like to keep at least one good card for dining and restaurants in my wallet. My go-to is currently the Hilton Honors Aspire Card, which I plan to keep year-to-year for its excellent slew of benefits. Any of the options on our best credit cards for dining are great, though.

Other posts in this series:

Which credit card is your go-to for eating out?

Miles to Memories has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Miles to Memories and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Nice compilation. One thing that would make it better would be to include some business cards. For business dining, Chase offers some decent options, including the United card with two points per dollar and the Ink Preferred which offers three UR points per dollar. Chase has slipped a bit on point value over the last couple of years, but that’s still not bad.

    • Those aren’t bad options either. Ink is a certainly better choice if you can’t swallow the $450 CSR fee, or if it’s often for business. I’d still take the Presitge 5x over that, though, if I had a choice.

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