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We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

Best Credit Cards for Restaurants

Lots of folks love to dine out.  Aside from it being a great way to avoid doing any dishes, you can earn easy bonus rewards just by paying for your meal with the right credit card.

The information for the Chase AARP Card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets.  The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Best Credit Card For Restaurants
I Love Earning Travel Rewards by Using the Right Card to Pay for Meals for Friends and Family!

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!

Here’s a list of the 12 best credit cards to use at restaurants!

Best Credit Cards for Dining

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!

That said, because of Chase’s stricter approval rules, we almost always suggest getting any Chase cards you want first.  Chase will NOT approve you for most of their cards if you’ve opened 5+ cards from any bank (NOT counting Chase business cards and these other business cards) in the past 24 months.

But if you qualify for a business card, you could consider any of the small business cards on the list.  Because they will NOT appear on your personal credit report and hinder your ability to be approved for any great Chase offers in the future.

Just remember,  it’s crucial to stay organized when you’re in the miles & points hobby.  Because if you don’t pay your bills on time and in full every month, any interest you accrue will likely negate any rewards you earn. 

You can use sites like MyBankrate to check your credit.  But your credit score isn’t the only factor banks consider when evaluating credit card applications.  They also look at income and financial stability.  And the decision to approve you or not is always ultimately up to the bank!

Top Travel Rewards Cards for Restaurants

1.   Chase Sapphire Reserve

Link:   Apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve

Link:   Our Review of the 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 United Airlines to book Big Travel with Small Money.

This is the reason this is our top pick for anyone looking to earn travel rewards with a premium credit card.

It’s also the reason the Sapphire Reserve is one of the cards I use almost everywhere I go.  I love 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.

Best Credit Card For Restaurants
I Was Recently in Portugal, and Let Me Tell You…the Food Was Absolutely Amazing! I Paid for This Delicious Meal of Portuguese Favorites, Like Fava Beans, Mushrooms and Chorizo, Cod Cakes, and Wine With My Chase Sapphire Reserve. And Earned 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards Points per $1!

When you sign-up, you’ll earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from 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 (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 our full review of the card.

2.   Chase Sapphire Preferred

Link:   Apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred

Link:   Our Review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the #1 card we recommend for beginners in the miles & points hobby.  And with it, you’ll earn 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points with no foreign transaction fees at restaurants and bars (that code as restaurants!).

Million Mile Secrets team member Scott loves to use his Chase Sapphire Preferred while in Europe and the Caribbean.  With almost every purchase, he’s working towards his next (free!) vacation!

Best Credit Card For Restaurants
Cheers to Earning 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards Points and Saving on Foreign Transaction Fees!

You can redeem the sign-up bonus for $500 in cash back or $625 in travel when you book through the Chase 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.   Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

You can earn 2X Citi ThankYou points per $1 you spend on dining by paying with the Citi ThankYou Premier 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.

With the Citi ThankYou Premier card, you can earn 50,000 Citi ThankYou points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. 

Best Credit Card For Restaurants
Use Your Citi ThankYou Premier to Earn 2X ThankYou Points on Dining Purchases and Redeem Points for Vacations to Hawaii!

Plus, the $95 annual fee is waived the first year.

Just remember, you can’t earn the sign-up bonus for any Citi credit card if you’ve either opened or closed a card of the same “brand” in the past 24 months.  So if you’ve opened or closed a Citi ThankYou Premier, Citi Prestige, or Citi ThankYou Preferred card in the past 24 months, you’re not eligible for the bonus on the Citi ThankYou Premier.

4.   Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card

Link:   Apply for the Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express

Link:   Our Review of the AMEX Hilton Honors Ascend Card

With the AMEX Hilton Honors Ascend card, you’ll earn 6 Hilton points per $1 of eligible purchases at US restaurants.  So if you like earning and using Hilton points, this card would be your best option for restaurant spending!

For example, if you spend $500 per month dining out, you can earn 36,000 Hilton points ($500 X 12 months X 6 points per $1) per year just by using the AMEX Hilton Ascend card.

Best Credit Card For Restaurants
Earning 6 Hilton Points per $1 at US Restaurants Can Really Add Up!

Hilton points are generally worth ~0.5 cents each. So 36,000 points is worth ~$180 (36,000 Hilton points X 0.5 cents).  But, you can get more value out of your points depending on how you use them!

The card’s $95 annual fee is NOT waived the first year.  But card’s perks can easily offset the annual fee.

Plus, until June 27, 2018, when you apply for the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card, you’ll earn 100,000 Hilton points after meeting minimum spending requirements.

You can read our full review of the card here.

Note:   The welcome bonus offer for this card is not available to folks who have or have had this product or the Hilton Honors Surpass Card (no longer available to new applicants).

Top Cash Back Cards for Restaurants

1.   Barclays Uber Visa

Link:   Apply for the Barclays Uber Visa Card

Link:   Our Review of the Barclays Uber Card

Folks with the no-annual-fee Barclays Uber Visa Card earn 4% back for dining purchases.  That’s a great return for a card with no annual fee.

And the card has no foreign transaction fees.  So you can earn bonus rewards dining abroad without paying pesky international 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.

Best Credit Card For Restaurants
Earn 4% Back on Dining With the BarclaysUber Visa Card and Redeem Points to Save Money on Uber Rides or Get Straightforward Cash Back

The Barclays Uber credit card comes with a 10,000 point sign-up bonus (worth $100) after spending $500 within the first 90 days of account opening.  Here’s our full review of the card!

2.   Capital One Savor

Link:   Apply for the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Link:   Our Review of the Capital One Savor Card

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.

Best Credit Card For Restaurants
Use the Capital One Savor $150 Cash Sign-Up Bonus to Splurge on a Fancy Meal at a Restaurant Like Angel Oak in Santa Barbara! Or Just Use the Card to Pay and Earn 3% Cash Back!

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!

But if you’re just starting out in miles & points, and plan to apply for lots of cards later, the Capital One Savor card is NOT the best card for you.  Because there are other credit cards with much higher sign-up bonuses that earn more valuable points and have better travel benefits.

3.   Citi Costco Visa    

Link:   Apply for the Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi

Link:   Our Review of the Citi Costco Visa Card

If you spend a lot at restaurants and happen to be a Costco fan, too, this card could make sense for you.  Especially if gas is one of your top monthly expenses.

With the Citi Costco Visa, you can earn 3% cash back at restaurants & bars worldwide.  Plus you’ll earn 4% cash back on on the first $7,000 of purchases each annual reward period (1% thereafter) of gasoline at Costco and gas stations worldwide (excluding superstores, supermarkets, convenience stores, and warehouse clubs other than Costco).

Best Credit Card For Restaurants
Make Your Restaurant Purchases More Rewarding by Earning 3% Cash Back 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.

This card has no annual fee if you have a paid Costco membership.  And Citi cards offer perks like Citi Price Rewind, purchase protection, and extended warranties.  Check out our full review of the card for more details.

4.   US Bank Cash+

Link:   Apply for the US Bank Cash+

Link:   US Bank Cash+ Categories

Each quarter, with the US Bank Cash+ card, you can choose one 2% cash back category (gas stations, groceries, or restaurants) and pick two 5% cash back categories.  So if you dine out frequently, you could earn cash for those purchases by choosing restaurants as your 2% category.

Best Credit Card For Restaurants
With the US Bank Cash+ Card You Can Earn Bonus Cash Back at Participating Fast Food Joints!

Plus, there are lots of 5% cash back categories, including fast food.  So you can earn 5% back at merchants like Chipotle, Panera Bread, Starbucks, and Cold Stone Creamery!  But the 5% cash back you earn is limited to up to $2,000 in spending.  You can check the merchant examples for other qualifying purchases.

With the US Bank Cash+ card, you can earn a $150 cash back bonus after making $500 in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.  The card has no annual fee.  But it DOES charge foreign transaction fees, so it’s not a good choice when traveling abroad.

5.   Chase AARP

Link:   Apply for the Chase AARP Card

Link:   Our Review of the Chase AARP Card

The Chase AARP card earns unlimited 3% cash back at restaurants (and gas stations!), and 1% cash back on everything else.  It has no annual fee.  And you don’t have to be an AARP member to apply for the card!

Plus, you’ll earn a sign-up bonus of 20,000 points ($200 cash back) after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account.

This could be a very good deal for folks who want to earn cash back without paying an annual fee.  Especially if you spend a lot on dining.

Best Credit Card For Restaurants
Good Food Is That Much Better When You Know You’re Earning Cash Back for Your Meal!

That said, Chase offers lots of the top travel rewards cards out there, many of which offer bigger sign-up bonuses.  So you should apply for any other Chase cards you might want first!  Because you don’t want to be affected by their strict application rules.

Top Business Cards for Restaurants

1.   AMEX SimplyCash Plus

Link:   Our Review of the 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.

Best Credit Card For Restaurants
While You’re Closing Deals, Be Sure to Earn 3% Cash Back on Business Lunches by Paying With the AMEX SimplyCash Plus Card!

Also, there’s no welcome bonus, and the card charges foreign transaction fees.

But AMEX small business cards do NOT appear on your personal credit report.  So they won’t hurt your chances of getting more Chase cards.

2.   Chase Ink Cash

Link:   Our Review of the Chase Ink Cash Card

Folks with the no-annual-fee Chase Ink Business Cash card earn 2% (2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points) 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 Ink Business Cash are only worth 1 cent each for cash back or towards travel.  

But your points are worth much more and give you flexibility when you also have certain Chase Ultimate Rewards cards, like the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, Chase Sapphire Preferred, or Chase Sapphire Reserve.  Because you can combine your points and transfer them directly to Chase’s terrific travel partners.

Best Credit Card For Restaurants
Earn 2X Points on Restaurant Spending With the Ink Business Cash. Then, Combine Points With Another Eligible Chase Card to Transfer Points Directly Hotel Partners Like Hyatt to Book Free Stays at the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos in Mexico!

When you sign-up for the Ink Business Cash, you’ll earn $500 (50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.  This is the highest offer we’ve ever seen on this card!  So if you’re considering it, now is the time to apply.  Because we don’t know when the deal will end!

The card also has a 5X bonus spending category.  You can read our full review of the card for more details!

3.   AMEX Premier Rewards Gold 

Link:   Our Review of the AMEX Premier Rewards Gold Card

Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express
AMEX Membership Rewards points are handy because you can transfer them directly to 19 airline and hotel partners to book award travel.

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!

Best Credit Card For Restaurants
Always Remember to Check Your AMEX Offers to See If You Can Save Money When Dining Out!

When you apply for the AMEX Premier Rewards Gold card, you can earn 25,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account. 

The card’s $195 annual fee is waived the first year.

Bottom Line

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:

Which card do you use when dining out?  Let me know in the comments!

Editorial Note: We’re the Million Mile Secrets team. And we’re proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader’s comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! 🙂

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