Credit Cards and Food Delivery: What Are the Rules on Reward Rates?
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In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, American consumers and businesses alike made a drastic shift in dining habits, with a new focus on meal and grocery delivery.
These days, you may be back to wandering grocery aisles and breaking bread inside restaurants. Even so, many of us got used to the convenience of having meals — or the ingredients to prepare them — delivered straight to our doors.
Having credit cards in your wallet that offer elevated rewards on groceries and dining is always useful; you gotta eat, after all. But if you’re a fan of food delivery, it’s worth confirming that those cards' same rich rates also apply to food delivery purchases, whether it's takeout orders made through DoorDash or groceries delivered through Instacart.
For our top credit cards for groceries and dining, here’s a breakdown of what qualifies for the highest reward rates when it comes to food delivery.
Credit cards and their food-delivery reward rules
The Visa and Mastercard payment networks also feature some food delivery benefits: Visa offers a discount with Shipt, while some Mastercard holders are eligible for deals on DoorDash, Hello Fresh and Instacart. But benefits that come from payment networks are different from benefits, like rewards, that come from your credit card's issuer (meaning the lending institution behind the card). Card issuers can sometimes choose to supplement or omit benefits from payment networks.
Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card
Annual fee: $0. (But you must be an Amazon Prime member to get this card, and there is a yearly fee for that.)
5% back at Amazon.com and at Whole Foods Market.
2% back at restaurants.
How those rewards apply to food delivery: The 5% back applies to deliveries placed through Amazon.com and many of its various delivery subsets, including Amazon Fresh, Prime Now and Prime Pantry. It also applies to orders made through WholeFoods.com.
While the the card's 2% back at restaurants applies to delivery or takeout purchases made directly from restaurants, it does not apply to those made through third-party meal delivery services.
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Annual fee: $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95. Terms apply.
Food-related rewards: 6% cash back on up to $6,000 spent per year at U.S. supermarkets (then 1% back). Terms apply.
How those rewards apply to food delivery: In addition to purchases from in-store at U.S. supermarkets, the 6% back also applies to U.S. supermarkets that offer the option of ordering online. You'll also be eligible for the 6% rate when you order through third-party delivery services Instacart and Peapod, as long as the underlying purchase is at an eligible U.S. supermarket. (Note that delivery service Shipt does not qualify for the bonus 6% rate). Terms apply.
Delivery purchases made with Amazon Fresh and FreshDirect also are eligible to earn the 6% back, but meal-kit delivery services are not eligible for that bonus cash back. Terms apply.
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Annual fee: $0. Terms apply.
3% back on up to $6,000 spent per year at U.S. supermarkets (then 1%). Terms apply.
$15 monthly statement credit, for Home Chef meal kits, up to $180 per year. Terms apply.
How those rewards apply to food delivery: The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express has the same eligibility rules on grocery deliveries as the Preferred version, but it features a less robust rewards rate: 3% back on up to $6,000 a year at U.S. supermarkets (then 1%). Terms apply. But unlike the Preferred version, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express offers a $15 monthly statement credit on subscription purchases from Home Chef, up to $180 per year. Enrollment is required. Terms apply. As with the Preferred version, though, meal-kit delivery services aren't eligible for the card's highest rate.
Home Chef meal kits are available in most Kroger-owned U.S. supermarkets. So if you have the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, consider changing your Home Chef subscription to a monthly frequency directly from the provider to maximize that $15 monthly statement credit. Then, you could earn bonus cash back on additional Home Chef meal kits throughout the month by purchasing them — in-store — from your local Kroger-owned supermarket. Terms apply.
American Express® Gold Card
Annual fee: $250. Terms apply.
4 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent at restaurants.
4 points per $1 spent at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in purchases per year).
How those rewards apply to food delivery: Online delivery orders made through stores that are considered U.S. supermarkets qualify for the card’s 4x bonus rate. Purchases made through the grocery delivery services Peapod and Instacart are also eligible for that rate, but only if the underlying grocery store is considered an eligible U.S. supermarket. Delivery purchases made with Amazon Fresh and FreshDirect can also qualify. Terms apply.
The card's 4x rate on dining applies to in-house dining and drive-thrus, but also takeout and delivery, including those made through qualifying meal delivery services like DoorDash and Uber Eats. Terms apply.
» MORE: Full review of the American Express® Gold Card (see rates and fees)
Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card
Annual fee: $0.
Food-related rewards: 3% back in a category of your choice (from a list of six, including "dining" and "online shopping") and 2% back on grocery stores and wholesale clubs for the first $2,500 of combined bonus category/grocery store/wholesale club spending per quarter. (After hitting that threshold, 1% back on these purchases).
How those rewards apply to food delivery: For the dining category, the 3% rate applies to purchases made directly from an eatery, whether you're ordering a sit-down meal, drive-thru, delivery or curbside pickup, as long as the establishment's merchant category code, or MCC, is "dining." That bonus rate also applies if you're ordering through a third-party delivery service like DoorDash or Uber Eats.
Similarly, if you select online shopping as your 3% back category, that rate would apply to any grocery delivery transaction made online (again, assuming the MCC is "grocery").
The card's 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs applies to online grocery orders made through delivery services, such as Instacart, Shipt and Peapod.
With this card, your earnings on groceries can actually vary depending on what 3% category you choose. For example, if you picked “online shopping" as your rotating bonus category, then your online grocery purchases would be eligible to earn 3% back, not 2% (up to the quarterly spending cap and depending on the merchant category code). But if you selected a different rotating bonus category (gas, home improvement, etc.), then a grocery or wholesale club delivery purchase would earn only 2% back, up to the quarterly cap.
Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card
Annual fee: $95.
4% cash back on dining and entertainment.
3% back at grocery stores.
Dining includes purchases made at restaurants, fast-food places, coffee shops, cafes, lounges, bakeries, bars, nightclubs and more.
How those rewards apply to food delivery: Delivery purchases made directly from restaurants as well as those made through most meal delivery services will be eligible for the card’s 4% rate on dining. Likewise, the card’s 3% back at grocery stores applies to online grocery orders made through most delivery services. (Big-box retailers like Target and Walmart are not eligible for the 3% rate.)
For both cash-back categories, earning eligibility will ultimately depend on the delivery service in question. For example, DoorDash is categorized as dining, therefore customers can earn 4% back on purchases made through the service. However, Blue Apron and Instacart fall in the grocery store category, so those earn 3% back.
The $0-annual-fee Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card has similar bonus categories and the same eligibility rules as its more expensive sibling card.
Its rewards on dining are lower, though. With this version of the card, you'll get only 3% cash back on dining and entertainment (but the same 3% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases).
Capital One® Walmart Rewards™ Mastercard®
Annual fee: $0.
5% back at Walmart.com and on purchases made through the Walmart app.
2% back at restaurants.
How those rewards apply to food delivery: The card's 5% rate on online purchases applies to items you buy online for in-store pickup as well as for Walmart Grocery Pickup and Delivery (where available).
As for its 2% back at restaurants, delivery or takeout purchases made directly from restaurants would qualify for the bonus rewards. This 2% rate, however, does not apply to purchases made through third-party meal delivery services.
DoorDash Rewards Mastercard®
Annual fee: $0.
4% cash back on DoorDash and Caviar orders.
3% cash back on dining when purchased directly from a restaurant.
2% cash back on grocery purchases (online or in-person).
How those rewards apply to food delivery: In addition to an uncapped 4% cash back on all DoorDash and Caviar orders, new cardholders get a complimentary year of DoorDash’s subscription delivery service, DashPass. This DashPass subscription, which normally costs $96 for an annual membership, includes a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders of $12 or more.
Beyond DoorDash, cardholders earn 3% cash back on all dining purchases made directly from a restaurant and 2% cash back on grocery store purchases (including online orders and delivery with companies like Instacart).
Annual fee: $0.
5% cash back on grocery delivery through the Instacart.com and the Instacart app.
2% back on restaurant purchases (including eligible delivery services).
How those rewards apply to food delivery: Along with a generous 5% cash back on all orders placed through Instacart.com and the Instacart app, new applicants get a free year of Instacart+ and a $100 Instacart credit upon approval.
Outside the app, cardholders earn 2% cash back on takeout and delivery purchases from all restaurants, as well as qualifying third-party restaurant delivery services. This includes most nationwide delivery apps like DoorDash and Uber Eats, as long as the app’s merchant has correctly coded orders to the “dining” category.
Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Annual fee: $0 (for either card).
3% back on dining.
How those rewards apply to food delivery: The 3% back on dining applies to purchases made directly from restaurants as well as those made through third-party food delivery apps. However, in order to be eligible, the delivery service must be coded as “dining.” This is the case for the major food delivery apps, including DoorDash and Uber Eats.
The Chase Freedom Flex℠ also features 5% cash back in rotating bonus categories on up to $1,500 in combined spending each quarter (activation required). The 5% bonus calendar has historically included categories that are (or can be) related to food delivery options, such as restaurants, grocery stores, wholesale clubs, Amazon.com and more. And according to the issuer, when the bonus category is “grocery stores” or “restaurants,” delivery purchases will be eligible to earn the card’s 5% back — as long as the merchant has set up purchases to be coded under the appropriate category. This applies to both direct purchases made at eligible restaurants and grocery stores as well as those made through external delivery services.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Annual fee: $95.
3 points per $1 spent on dining (including eligible delivery services and takeout).
3 points per $1 spent on online grocery purchases (not including Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs).
How those rewards apply to food delivery: The card earns valuable rewards both for dining and online grocery spending. And fortunately for holders, those rewards rates apply to restaurant and grocery delivery services as well. You'll earn the card’s 3x rate for takeout and delivery orders made directly with a restaurant, as well as those placed through food delivery apps like DoorDash and Uber Eats. Similarly, in addition to online grocery orders placed directly from a grocer, purchases made through third-party delivery services like Instacart will qualify for the card’s 3x back, as long as the service's MCC is classified as "grocery."
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Annual fee: $550.
10 points per $1 spent on Chase Dining purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3 points per $1 spent on travel and dining not booked with Chase.
How those rewards apply to food delivery: When you make dining purchases through the issuer’s portal, you’ll earn the card’s 10x rate for in-person reservations, and for takeout and delivery orders as well.
And like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you’ll earn 3 points per $1 spent on in-person restaurant dining, including takeout and delivery purchases made directly with restaurants as well as purchases made through external food delivery services.
Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
Annual fee: $0. (But you must be a Costco member to get this card, and there is a yearly fee for that.)
3% cash back at restaurants.
2% back at Costco and Costco.com.
How those rewards apply to food delivery: This card's 3% category includes traditional dining establishments, but also cafes, bars, lounges and fast-food restaurants. Delivery, drive-thru or takeout from these places would qualify for the bonus rewards. However, the card's terms do specify a few places that don't qualify for the 3% rate: purchases made at bakeries and certain restaurants/cafes inside department stores, grocery stores or warehouse clubs.
This 3% rate will also apply to purchases made through third-party food delivery services — as long as the delivery service is coded as an eligible “restaurant,” based on its MCC. If a delivery service is classified as "delivery" or another noneligible category, you will not earn the 3% back.
The card's 2% category is straightforward and includes grocery delivery purchases made through Costco.com.
U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card
Annual fee: $0.
4 points per $1 spent on dining, including takeout and delivery.
2 points per $1 spent at grocery stores, including grocery delivery.
How those rewards apply to food delivery: The card’s 4x rate applies to all the big third-party meal-delivery services, including DoorDash, Uber Eats, Grubhub and Seamless. Likewise, cardholders will earn the 2x rate for grocery delivery purchases, including those made through meal-delivery services.
U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card
5% cash back in two categories of your choice (from a list of options that includes "fast food"), on up to $2,000 in combined spending per quarter. See full list of categories below.
2% back in one of three "everyday" categories (including "grocery stores" or "restaurants").
How those rewards apply to food delivery: Unlike most other cards that reward restaurant spending, this card considers "fast food" and "restaurants" as entirely separate categories. That's confusing, but it will be important to remember.
U.S. Bank says the majority of meal-delivery services — including DoorDash, Uber Eats, Grubhub and Seamless — are categorized as fast food and therefore would qualify for earning 5% back (if you choose that as a bonus category). An exception, the issuer notes, is Postmates, which falls under the restaurant category and would therefore be eligible only for the 2% bonus rate (if you choose restaurants as an "everyday" bonus category).
Online grocery delivery orders — including those made through Shipt and Peapod — would qualify to earn 2% back at grocery stores if you choose that "everyday" option. But as noted above, since U.S. Bank considers most meal delivery services like DoorDash and Uber Eats as fast food, those kinds of purchases would not qualify to earn a 2% rate at restaurants (if you choose that as your everyday bonus category).
To view rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, see this page. To view rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, see this page. To view rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, see this page.
Information about the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card, the Capital One® Walmart Rewards™ Mastercard®, and the U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. They are no longer available through NerdWallet. The information related to the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.
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