The 5 Best Credit Cards For Dining Spend

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In order to maximize your points, you’ll want to have a credit card that offers bonus points in the categories you spend most in. There are cards out there offering bonus points on dining, travel, gas stations, grocery stores, etc. Obviously different bonus categories will hold different value depending on your spend patterns.

For example, there are plenty of people who always cook and therefore get lots of value out of earning bonus points at grocery stores. Others have a big commute everyday, so would benefit from bonus points at gas stations (I recently wrote a post about the eight best credit cards for gas station purchases).

Meanwhile in my case, it’s travel and dining that I spend the most on. After all, I spend a vast majority of my time in hotels and on planes, and it’s not exactly practical to cook there.

I’m almost always eating out, either at a restaurant, or otherwise ordering something through Postmates, which also qualifies as dining.

Moscow-Restaurant

With that in mind, I figured I’d talk about the five best credit cards for dining purchases. If you already know the ins and outs of credit cards then by all means skip this post.

Before I go through the list, I should specifically mention that something qualifies as “dining” when the establishment categorizes themselves as such with their merchant code. Dining isn’t simply limited to restaurants — in many cases coffee shops qualify as “dining” as well.

Postmates

The 5 best credit cards for dining purchases

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Reward on dining spend: 2x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent
My valuation: 3.4% (I value Ultimate Rewards points at 1.7 cents each)
Annual fee: $95, waived the first year

You earn double points on all dining purchases, including abroad. The card also has no foreign transaction fees, so this is typically the default card I use for dining.

Citi Prestige® Card

Reward on dining spend: 2x Citi ThankYou points per dollar spent
My valuation: 3.4% (I value ThankYou points at 1.7 cents each)
Annual fee: $450

This is a card I’ve long found to be worthwhile, though it’s certainly not quite as much of a no brainer as it used to be after the upcoming changes. Still, the card has no foreign transaction fees and MasterCard generally has a favorable exchange rate, so it’s a great card to use for dining, especially abroad.

Citi ThankYou Premier Card

Reward on dining spend: 2x Citi ThankYou points per dollar spent
My valuation: 3.4% (I value ThankYou points at 1.7 cents each)
Annual fee: $95, waived the first year

This card earns the same points as the Citi Prestige Card, so similar rules apply. The card has no foreign transaction fees, and since it’s a MasterCard it’s great for foreign purchases as well.

Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

Reward on dining spend: 2x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants
My valuation: 3.4% (I value Membership Rewards points at 1.7 cents each)
Annual fee: $195, waived the first year

This is the only personal Amex Membership Rewards card that offers double points on dining. The catch is that this only applies to U.S. restaurants, so for purchases outside the U.S. you’d only earn one point per dollar spent. Still, if you’re after Membership Rewards points, this is the card to use for your U.S. dining.

Chase Freedom® Card

Reward on dining spend: variable
My valuation: variable
Annual fee: none

The Chase Freedom offers 5x points in rotating quarterly categories. So for most of the year this isn’t the card to use at restaurants. However, from July 1 through September 30 this card is offering 5x points on restaurants, on up to a total of $1,500 of spend.

Other cards offering bonus points on dining

In the interest of being thorough, I figured I’d mention some of the other credit cards that offer bonus points on dining, which may be worthwhile depending on what you value most. These include:

Bottom line

For many of us, maximizing dining can translate to a lot of bonus points. Dining doesn’t just include traditional restaurants, but typically also includes things like Postmates, Starbucks, etc. Personally my go to cards for dining are the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Citi Prestige® Card. I primarily use the former for domestic dining purchases, while I use the latter for international dining purchases, given that MasterCard’s foreign exchange rates are often a bit better.

What’s your go to credit card for dining spend?


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Comments

  1. No, Lucky. I know you don’t get a commission on it, but the FlexPerks gold card with 3x points on dining can actually earn 6% if you maximize it.

  2. @ Tim — It would indeed fall top of the list, though since the card hasn’t been released yet, figured I couldn’t include it.

  3. @ brteacher — Wasn’t even aware of that card, but will update the post to reflect that. Thanks.

  4. Hilton HHonors Card from American Express gives me X12 when I dine at their sponsored restaurants via HHonors Dining Program. Thats 4.8 cents per dollar using your math… May not be beneficial for most, but here in Columbus Ohio has a nice representation of food options. My 2 previous homes in VA Beach and Honolulu, not so much.

  5. what about the AARP card which offers 3x points on dining no cap and you don’t even have to be a member to sign up.

  6. It’s worth noting that in my experience Amex is a bit stricter on what qualifies as dining than Chase is — I’m not sure about Postmates specifically but I’ve seen some other services similar to that which qualify for the dining bonus with Chase (which is presumably dictated by Visa, so other Visa issuers would also be equally generous) but not with Amex, where they are categorized as “Internet services” or similar.

  7. Chase AARP Visa pays 3% cash back at restaurants without a fee. When I got it last fall, it had a $200 bonus for $500 spend. Great deal if it comes around again. The card has a foreign transaction fee so it’s not worth using outside of the US.

  8. Chase Sapphire Reserve card going to adhere to 5/24 or do you think they will waive 5/24 to get some good sign up business?

  9. It’s worth mentioning that the Citi Thank You Preferred card has a $0AF and still gives 2x TY points on dining, just like the mentioned Prestige & Premier.

  10. HHonors American Express Surpass actually accrues 6 points per dollar when dining within the US, not 5. It normally accrues 3 points and doubles for restaurants (gas stations and grocery too). That places the value (based on your calcs) at 2.4%.

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