Don’t Be Me: How I Have Been Leaving Easy Points On The (Dining) Table

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Dining Rewards Programs

Dining Rewards Programs

One of the best ways to rack up tons of miles and points is to maximize your spend. We try use a card with a bonus category, or welcome offer attached, every time we swipe.  We go through a shopping portal when buying something online or use the in store rewards program if buying it in person. Another such way to earn extra points on your purchases is using airline & hotel dining rewards programs. They can earn you extra points whenever you are eating out, or ordering in. That is where my laziness comes into play, I have been leaving these airline & hotel dining programs points on the table (pun intended). Don’t be me!

What Are Airline & Hotel Dining Rewards Programs?

You may be wondering, what are these airline & hotel dining rewards programs you speak of? They are like a shopping portals but for restaurants.  You sign up for an airline or hotel dining program, attach your credit card number and then you get bonus points when shopping at a participating restaurant.  The restaurants listed can vary widely depending on what area you are in. It usually isn’t the best restaurants in an area either.  But, it is always nice to get one of those bonus earning emails unexpectedly after eating out.

In the past, I would occasionally go out of my way to eat at restaurants in the programs when promos etc. were going on. For the most part it is a set it and forget it type of program though. In the past, I would randomly get an email saying I had earned bonus points. Those emails would always put a smile on my face, and then the emails stopped. More on that later.

Most, if not all, of the dining rewards programs are run by the same company. That means there is no way to double, or triple dip them.  You can not put the same credit card on multiple programs. That restricts you to only earning bonus points in one loyalty program at a time. The earn rates are usually around the same so it is best to pick whichever program you use, or value, the most.

Question Of The Week: Can Upgrades Use Amex Dining Credits In 2021?

List Of Airline & Hotel Dining Programs

The first thing you need to do is choose a program to focus on.  Airline miles are usually worth more than hotel points so I would focus on your favorite airline program. I will say that these programs often have a new member bonus so I would hit up those for each one first. Might as well take the freebies where you can!  After you complete those offers you can go back to focusing on your favorite airline or hotel dining program

Airline Dining Programs

Here is a list of the airline dining programs:

Dining Rewards Programs
Dining in an airplane is always fun, even if it is still on the ground.

Hotel Dining Programs

Here is a list of the hotel dining programs:

Why Have I Been Leaving Points On The Table?

These programs are great, and offer easy points, so why have I been missing out? Laziness to be honest. Over the years my spending has shifted to different cards. I used to go into my favorite program and would add a card when I was working on minimum spend, a spending offer or had a new go to dining card to use. But work, kids and life have gotten in the way and I haven’t dusted off an account in YEARS. Because of that I have left thousands of points on the table. Not any longer! One of my goals of 2022 will be to become more organized and not overlook the little things. Dining programs, and other apps, are going to play a role in that.  So don’t be like me, update your cards and rack up those free points for doing what you were going to do anyway!

Best Credit Cards for Restaurants

Here is a list of some of the best credit cards that earn a bonus for dining purchases. These earnings will stack with the points you get from the dining rewards programs.

Dining Rewards Programs – Final Thoughts

These dining rewards programs are pretty great. They don’t take a ton of effort, unless you really want to focus on participating restaurants, and they give you free points. Another cool perk is they can help keep loyalty accounts active by earning points from time to time. If you haven’t dug into them much then now is the time. Grab those new member bonuses and start earning bonus points on some of your every day spend. Don’t be like me any longer!

Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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13 COMMENTS

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13 COMMENTS

  1. The restaurant’s that are in my area that participate are places that were probably the breeding ground for Covid. I’m wondering if these restaurants are part od the program because they suck so bad.

  2. Can you earn points on multiple programs at the same time? When I look at local restaurants on Delta Skymiles dining and IHG dining they are all the same restuarants.

  3. There aren’t many restaurants in my area either. It was worth signing up for each program just to get the initial point bonus then just sock drawer them with your normal dining card attached to the program you would most want occasional, random points to show up in. Most of the dining programs are related enough that adding your card to one will automatically remove it from another.

  4. 7 Restaurants in the rewards program within 30 miles. 3 are Jack In The Box. Two are a fairly lousy Mexican place (two locations) and 1 is a crepes place and the last a skeevy Peruvian sammich place. Those programs are OK depending on were you are, that is for sure!

  5. To be honest, I generally don’t focus on dining programs because I don’t go out of the way to eat at most of the participating restaurants (they generally suck in my area)

    • That is true. Usually not the best selection but I love when I am on a trip and go into a random place and get that email though haha

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