Ever take a look at how much Americans spend at restaurants every year? We won’t bore you with all the details but let’s just say it’s billions upon billions of dollars, and when you include takeout options like UberEats, it’s even more. You read that right. That’s billion with a big fat B.
That means billions of points and miles should be earned on credit card spending with restaurants, delivery, and take out, but far too many are earning a measly 1% cash back, or nothing at all. Basically: paying cash at a restaurant is missing out on future travel.
With that in mind, here are the best cards for dining purchases, delivery, take out and all things food, whether you want to earn transferable points, airline miles, hotel points or cash back. We’ll even cover a few perks that you might not realize you can use just by having specific cards.
Best Credit Cards For Dining – Top Picks
If you’re looking for the most bang for you buck consistently, look no further than these fabulous rewards credit cards for dining and take out.
These three cards earn transferable rewards points, so you’ll have access to numerous airline transfer partners when it comes time to figure out which luxury airplane cabin you want to convert your dining rewards into, and book an award ticket. Our winners earn between 3X and 5X on all dining purchases which makes a 1% cash back or debit card look pretty silly if you ask us.
American Express Gold Card
The Amex Gold Card earns 4X Membership Rewards points when you use it at restaurants, but also for take out and delivery too! Until mid-2019, Amex Gold actually only earned bonus points on U.S. restaurants a mere 1X when abroad, but now that glorious 4x points is everywhere, including when you want to stay home in your sweatpants. With 4X points, A $100 meal would earn 400 points, et-cetera.
The Gold Card (review) easily one of the most powerful cards you can use when you visit your favorite sandwich shop or splurge on a Michelin-starred meal. Plus, the card now offers up to $120 in annual dining credits, which means money off food every month. Who wouldn’t love that?
What can you do with Amex Membership Rewards Points? Check out some of our favorite ways to redeem Amex points for crazy value.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
If you’re looking for the best place to get started with points and miles, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is a brilliant choice. There are a few reasons for this but a big one is that it earns 3X Ultimate Rewards points which can be transferred to World of Hyatt as well as airline partners. With World of Hyatt, amazing hotel nights start around 10,000 points, so just $3333 in restaurant, take out or delivery spending could unlock a free night.
If you’re considering getting a few different cards, go for this one early. The Chase 5/24 rule prevents you from getting select Chase cards if you open more than 5 credit cards in a 24 month period, whereas other banks don’t have specific policies.
Check out some of the great ways you can use Ultimate Rewards points and you’ll see why 3X points on dining with this card can be such a great proposition. Keep in mind that some food delivery services, like Postmates may not count as dining. Most do, so fear not, but it’s worth testing before you put lots of spend on the card.
The Sapphire Reserve is one of the two best cards for people who love flight deals.
If you dine out a ton, you won’t beat the 5X ThankYou Points you can earn with the Citi Prestige (Learn More). When Citi bumped up the Prestige’s earning rate on restaurant dining in early 2019, it immediately became a go-to card. There are just too many great ways to use ThankYou Points to not earn 5X on dining, when you can.
During covid-19, Citi Prestige is also offering up to $250 in credit for restaurants and delivery, in place of the traditional travel credit.
Of course, Citi has made the decision to keep the Citi Prestige much tougher by pulling all of its travel protections such as trip delay and baggage delay coverage, but as far as earning goes, it’s a big win for big spender. Some third party delivery service may be excluded from 5X, so it’s best to confirm to which delivery providers code as dining, and which don’t.
Best Business Cards For Dining
If you have a small business — even if it’s just a side hustle or you’re a freelancer — then these cards might be of interest to you. Again, we have cards that earn transferable points leading the way with representatives from both Amex and Chase.
American Express Business Gold Card
Similar to the Amex Gold, the Amex Business Gold (Learn More) can also earn 4X Membership Rewards points on dining purchases. You just need to be aware of two things that could prevent you from earning the bonus points on these purchases.
To ensure you earn 4X on dining purchases, the purchase must be at a U.S. restaurant. Additionally, the Amex Business Gold has several 4X bonus categories but only lets you earn the bonus points on the two most used categories during any given billing cycle. If you spend a lot at U.S. restaurants, that could be an easy 4X for you.
Chase Ink Business Cash
Before we dive into this one, keep in mind that the Chase Ink Cash earns cash back unless you have one of the following cards:
If you pair the Ink Cash with one of these cards, you can earn either 2X or 5X on dining purchases. While the 2X won’t mean much if you have either Sapphire card, it pairs nicely with the Ink Preferred which earns 3X on travel but not dining.
However, the Ink Cash has a fun advantage as it earns 5X at office supply stores such as Staples and Office Depot. Why does this matter? Well, these stores sell a variety of restaurant gift cards. So, pick up a gift card to your favorite restaurant and earn 5X for your meal. You can even get a Whole Foods gift card and pick up lunch there.
Best Airline Credit Cards For Dining
Generally, your best bet for earning the most points possible rests with the transferrable points programs. Rewards credit cards from transferrable points earning programs typically offer easier use when it comes time to spend miles, as well as more points per dollar spent.
However, there are a couple of options if you want to earn 2-X4X airline miles and enjoy some of the perks that come with these co-branded airline cards, like being able to beat basic economy fees. Just keep in mind that you’ll be sacrificing some valuable transferable points on dining purchases if you go this route.
Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard
With the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select (Learn More), you can earn 2X American AAdvantage miles on your dining purchases. If you need some American miles, this could be a good option to grab some as the only other way to earn them is to fly or transfer Marriott Bonvoy points.
This card also earns 2X and provides a 25% discount on food and beverage purchased inflight on American Airlines. You’ll also get a free checked bag for you and up to 4 companions when traveling on American Airlines — you don’t have to pay for the ticket with the card to receive this benefit.
Finally, you’ll also get “preferred” boarding which means you’ll board after people with elite status but before non-cardholders, which could help secure overhead bin space.
United Explorer Business Card
The Chase United Business Card earns 2X United miles on dining purchases. However, when you consider that Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to United, think carefully before going with this option. Since the Sapphire Reserve earns 3X and the Sapphire Preferred earns 2X, you can earn as many or more points that can be transferred to United.
The added benefit to earning Ultimate Rewards, of course, is that you aren’t locked into United, but can still transfer points there if you wish. This can protect you from devaluations as you could transfer points to another airline partner instead.
Similar to the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select, United Business cardholders will get priority boarding and a free checked bag. However, the checked bag benefit only applies to the cardholder plus one companion and the card must be used to pay for the ticket.
Sign Up For Airline Dining Programs For Bonus Points
If you want to earn a few extra miles, you can link a card to your preferred airline’s dining program. When you dine at a participating restaurant, you’ll automatically earn miles. The number of miles you’ll earn via airline dining programs will vary based on the airline you choose and how often you dine at participating restaurants. Keep in mind that a specific card can only be linked to one program, so choose your fave.
Here are the sign-up links to some of the most popular airline dining programs:
- Alaska Airlines Mileage Dining Plan
- American Airlines AAdvantage Dining
- Delta SkyMiles Dining
- JetBlue TrueBlue Dining
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining
- United MileagePlus Dining
Best Hotel Credit Cards For Dining
When it comes to earning hotel points for dining purchases, your best bet lies with one of a few Hilton cards issued by American Express. Again, transferable points are our preferred option but Hilton is the best hotel option.
Hilton Amex Cards
With the Hilton Aspire Card From American Express (Learn More), you can earn 7X on dining purchases. Since Hilton points are worth roughly 0.5 cents each and the card carries a $450 annual fee, the 7X isn’t quite as exciting as 4X with the Amex Gold Card. There are, of course, plenty of other reasons to get the Hilton Aspire thanks to a suite of benefits.
Alternatively, you can earn 6X with the Hilton Ascend Card from American Express (Learn More) or 5X with the Hilton Honors Card from American Express (Learn More). The Hilton Ascend has a $95 annual fee with the Hilton Honors Card doesn’t have an annual fee.
Best Cashback Credit Cards For Restaurants And Dining
If you have enough miles and points to cover your upcoming trips but want to earn some cash back to offset some other travel expenses, you might want to earn some cash back. Think of the cash back you earn as a little travel fund.
Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One Savor Card (Learn More) is your best bet to max out cash back on dining purchases as you’ll earn 4% back on each purchase. If nothing else, it’s a 4% discount on all dining purchases plus you can stack it with an airline dining program to earn some miles at select restaurants.
You might even be able to land some more cash back by linking the card to the Dosh cashback app. Clearly, we like squeezing out whatever we can from purchases.
The card comes with a $95 annual fee, but it’s waived the first year. Alternatively, the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card (Learn More) is a no annual fee card that earns 3% cash back on dining purchases.
Citi Double Cash
The Citi Double Cash rewards responsible spending by offer 2% back, 1% when you buy, and the other 1% when you pay your bill.
This allows you to earn a very solid 2% rebate on all dining, which isn’t quite as good as premium cards, but with no annual fee, it’s a very solid way to break into the game, without having to pay $100’s for a credit card.
Cards With Quarterly Bonuses And No Annual Fee
Sometimes, your go-to card for dining won’t even be your best option. That’s because a couple of cards have quarterly bonus categories that can earn you 5X or 5% on your dining purchases.
Chase Freedom And Discover It
Both the Chase Freedom and the Discover It (Learn More) regularly include dining as one of their quarterly bonus categories which earn 5X and 5%, respectively. The catch is, you’re capped at earning 5X/5% on up to $1,500 per quarter, rather than unlimited. Even if that won’t cover all of your restaurant visits, it’s a great way to earn some easy bonus points.
Best Credit Card Dining Perks
American Express and Visa both offer intriguing dining perks beyond just earning points. Whether you’re looking for a Michelin star meal, a discount on a quick bite to eat or a fun wine tour, you’ll be covered.
Amex Platinum – Global Dining Collection
While The Platinum Card from American Express (Learn More) won’t earn bonus points on dining purchases, it can be your key to unlocking some amazing dining experiences with the Global Dining Collection.
How is that? Well, Amex has access to reservations at some excellent reservations that it has made available to Platinum Card members, exclusively. This includes Michelin star restaurants! You can even book tables from the Amex app.
American Express Gold – Monthly Dining Credit
On the other end of the spectrum, if you need a quick bite to eat or something a bit more low-key, the Amex Gold Card provides a $10 monthly dining credit. You can use this credit at a variety of options including Grubhub and Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations.
So, not only do you earn 4X on dining purchases but you can save $120 per year thanks to this clever benefit from Amex. Just make sure you enroll your card in the benefit before making your purchase or you won’t get the credit.
Visa Infinite and Visa Signature – Sonoma Wine Benefit
For wine lovers, Visa Infinite and Visa Signature cards come with some fun perks thanks to a partnership with Sonoma County Vintners. This partnership provides access to the following benefits at over 50 Sonoma County wineries.
Here are the benefits you’ll get according to the terms:
- Purchases 1 tasting and receive a second tasting free (must be of equal or lesser value)
- Preferred pricing on purchases over $50 of non-wine purchases, where applicable
- Discounts on wine purchased same day in the Tasting Room
- Discounts on Reserve tasting or special wine and food pairings
Final Thoughts: Credit Cards For Dining
With how often people are dining out these days, there are plenty of opportunities to earn a bunch of points and miles that you can put toward your next adventure, just from the age old joy of eating food. The key is figuring out which points will be most valuable to you, and what card fits well in your wallet, in terms of annual fee, transfer partners and more.
Whatever you do, just be sure you’re earning a great rebate on all your dining, because travel financed by food is a serious win.