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NerdWallet’s Best Credit Cards for Restaurants

Nov. 14, 2018
Cash Back Credit Cards, Credit Card Basics, Credit Cards, Rewards Credit Cards, Travel Credit Cards
Best Credit Card Offers for Dining Out
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We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

Food always tastes better when served with a side of credit card points, miles or cash back. And fortunately for foodies, dining is a hot rewards category.

Next time you grab takeout or visit a sit-down restaurant, take one of these credit cards with you to earn top-notch rewards on your tab.

» MORE: How to choose a dining-rewards credit card

For cash back

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

If you’re a big spender and a significant portion of your budget is dedicated to nights on the town, the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card will reward you handsomely. The card earns an unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% cash back at grocery stores, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. The “entertainment” category is broad and includes things like movie tickets, concerts, sporting events, tourist attractions, theme parks, dance clubs, record stores and more. There’s also a sign-up bonus: Earn a one-time $500 cash bonus after you spend $3000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. The annual fee is $0 for the first year, then $95.

Possible alternative: If that annual fee is too rich for your tastes — and if you spend less than $9,500 a year on dining and entertainment — you might be better off with the card’s $0-annual-fee sibling, the Capital One® SavorOne℠ Cash Rewards Credit Card. It’s a step down in terms of restaurant and entertainment rewards: 3% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% back at grocery stores and 1% back on all other purchases. But there’s no cost for carrying the card.

» MORE: Full review of the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Uber Visa Card

The Uber Visa credit card has an annual fee of $0, and its lucrative cash-back categories cover a wide range of expenses:

  • 4% cash back on restaurants, fast food, bars, takeout and UberEATS.
  • 3% cash back on hotels, vacation rentals and airfare.
  • 2% cash back on Uber, online shopping and streaming services.
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Points are worth 1 cent each, and you can redeem your points for cash back, Uber credits or gift cards.

Possible alternative: Earning 4% back on dining out while paying no annual fee is outstanding. But the Uber Visa’s rewards rate for spending on actual Uber purchases is surprisingly low for a co-branded card. You could opt instead for the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card, which earns triple points on a wide range of categories that includes both dining and rideshare options. The card’s annual fee is $0.

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

The $0-annual-fee U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card serves up rewards buffet-style. It earns:

  • 5% cash back on your first $2,000 in combined eligible purchases each quarter on two categories you choose. (As of October 2018, “fast food” was an option.)
  • 2% cash back on your choice of one everyday spending category. (As of October 2018, “restaurants” was an option, along with gas stations and grocery stores.)
  • 1% cash back on all other eligible net purchases.

You must opt in to your bonus categories quarterly to earn those rates (otherwise, you’ll earn only 1% back). So serious foodies could opt for “fast food” in the 5% category — capped at $2,000 in spending per quarter — and then select “restaurants” in the 2% category, which has no spending cap at all. The card also features a New Cardmember bonus: $150 after you spend $500 in eligible net purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

Possible alternative: The U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card offers a lot of freedom for those looking to maximize their spending, but it’s not the most straightforward rewards structure to keep track of. You could opt for a different rotating-bonus-category card like the Chase Freedom® or the Discover it® Cash Back, which offer similar reward structures with a little less complexity.

Restaurants are often featured bonus categories for both cards.

» MORE: Full review of the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

The Marvel Mastercard

Earn extra cash back when your ideal date night is dinner and a movie, regardless of whether the film features an actual Marvel superhero. The Marvel Mastercard earns 3% cash back on restaurants and entertainment categories like movie theaters, amusement parks, theater and concert tickets, game stores and more. Non-bonus-category purchases earn 1% back.

Cash back is awarded as a statement credit. The card’s annual fee is $0.

AARP® Credit Card from Chase

You don’t have to be a card-carrying member of AARP to qualify for this dining card. It gets you an unlimited 3% cash back at restaurants and gas stations and 1% back on all other purchases. Its annual fee is $0, and it comes with a generous sign-up bonus: $100 bonus cash back after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

» MORE: Why credit cards are serving big restaurant rewards

For travel rewards

American Express® Gold Card

The revamped American Express® Gold Card comes with big rewards on dining and more:

  • 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants.
  • 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets for the first $25,000 in spending in this category each year.
  • 3 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with airlines and amextravel.com.
  • 1 Membership Rewards point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Terms apply.

What’s more, cardholders can also enroll to receive up to $10 in monthly statement credits when they use the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House and participating Shake Shack locations. Terms apply.

Plus, apply by Jan. 9, 2019, to receive 20% back as a statement credit at U.S. restaurants within the first 3 months, up to $100 back. The card’s annual fee is $250, but it comes with a generous welcome offer: Earn 25,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Terms Apply.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

You might get the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card for its treasure trove of travel benefits, but restaurant connoisseurs will also appreciate its first-rate dining rewards. It offers an unlimited 3 points per dollar spent on dining and travel and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. Points can be redeemed for travel through Chase for 1.5 cents each, giving it an effective rewards rate of 4.5% on dining.

The card comes with a supersized $450 annual fee, but it’s also got a sizzling sign-up bonus: Earn 50K bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards® .

» MORE: Full review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

If you’re looking for a card with ample rewards and $0 annual fee, consider the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card. You can earn 3 Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards points per dollar spent at restaurants, bars, gas stations, rideshares, transit and more, making your nights out extra valuable. All non-bonus-category purchases earn 1 point per dollar.

There’s also a generous welcome offer: New! Earn 30K bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months that's a $300 cash redemption value. Terms apply.

» MORE: Full review of the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

Citi Prestige® Card

Big changes are coming to this card in January 2019 that will make it more valuable for diners. At that time, cardholders will be able to earn 5 ThankYou points per dollar spent on dining out and air travel purchases, 3 ThankYou points per dollar spent on cruise lines and hotel purchases, and 1 ThankYou point per dollar on all other purchases. The card’s $250 annual travel credit will also be more flexible. Other changes, however, won’t be as positive. For more information, see our story here.

Airline- and hotel-branded cards

Travelers who are loyal to specific brands when they travel can also be rewarded when they dine out. Consider, for example, co-branded cards for American Airlines, United and Hilton.

Both the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® and United℠ Explorer Card have undergone updates in which dining was added as a bonus category. With either card, you’ll now earn 2 frequent flyer miles per dollar spent, instead of the usual 1 mile.

The Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card earns a whopping 6 Hilton Honors points per dollar on eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations. Terms apply. Keep in mind, however, that Hilton Honors points are worth an average of only 0.5 cents each, according to NerdWallet valuations.

Store-branded options

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

If you like your shopping carts like your dining rewards — extra large — the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi is your card. It offers bonus rewards in several categories, including:

  • 4% cash back on gas (up to $7,000 per year, then 1% after that).
  • 3% back on restaurants and eligible travel purchases.
  • 2% back at Costco stores and Costco.com.
  • 1% back on all other purchases.

It doesn’t have a sign-up bonus. Its annual fee is $0, but it requires a Costco membership, which starts at $60 per year.

» MORE: Full review of the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

Sam's Club Mastercard

After using this card to fill up on gas at the pump, you’ll want to tap it to fill up on daily specials at your favorite restaurant. It gets you:

  • 5% cash back on gas bought at Sam’s Club, Walmart and other gas stations (on up to $6,000 per year)
  • 3% back on dining and travel.
  • 1% back on all other purchases.

The annual fee is $0. It requires a Sam’s Club membership, which costs at least $45 a year. It offers a sign-up bonus: Get $45 (covers your Sam's Club membership fee for a year). Offer valid now through January 15, 2019.

» MORE: Full review of the Sam's Club Mastercard

PayPal Extras Mastercard®

The PayPal Extras Mastercard® is designed for people with average credit, but its dining rewards are better than average. You’ll get an unlimited 3 points per dollar spent at restaurants and gas stations, 2 points per dollar spent at eBay and PayPal and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Points are worth 0.83 cent each when redeemed for cash back, and they expire after 24 months. The card doesn’t have a sign-up bonus. The annual fee is $0.

For businesses

SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express

For entrepreneurs with clients to wine and dine, this $0-annual-fee card could be a perfect fit. The SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express offers 5% cash back on U.S. wireless phone services and spending at U.S. office supply stores and 3% back on a category of your choice (on the first $50,000 in combined spending annually) and 1% on all other purchases. Dining enthusiasts can select “U.S. restaurants” as the 3% category. Terms apply.

» MORE: Full review of the SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express

Information related to the Uber Visa credit card and the AARP® Credit Card from Chase has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of these cards.