The 5 Best Credit Cards for Dining Out
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At first glance, dining out would seem to be the opposite of frugality, as it is easy to spend enough in one meal at a restaurant as you could buying a week's worth of groceries. Yet frugal people like me have been able to turn this equation on its head by taking advantage of rewards points.
On a recent night out, I made my reservation with Open Table just before departing in order to receive points worth future dining credits. When I arrived, I presented a coupon from Restaurant.com that took $25 off my $35 bill. Finally, I paid for our meal with my Chase Sapphire Preferred card, which earns double points at restaurants. On other occasions I have used coupons from the Entertainment Book and participated in many of the dining miles programs offered by the airlines. By using coupons and taking advantage of rewards, I might not be able to claim to be saving money over the price of home-cooked meals, but I can come pretty close to the price I would have paid for just the ingredients I would have used to prepare a similar meal. (See also: Best Credit Cards for Groceries)
Restaurant Rewards Credit Cards
No matter what your situation, anyone can save money by using the ideal credit card to maximize the rewards they receive from their dining expenses. Just as with any reward credit card, cardholders must always pay their balances in full and on time in order to assure that interest payments do not overwhelm any rewards received.
Best Credit Cards for Dining Out at Restaurants
These are my picks for the top credit cards to use when dining out.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Chase offers several cards that earn points in its Ultimate Rewards program, but their Sapphire Preferred® Card earns double points for charges at restaurants and for travel. Their current sign up offer includes 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months — that's $625 worth of travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. You can also earn 5,000 bonus points by adding an authorized user and making a purchase within the first 3 months. Cardholders can receive 20% off travel when redeeming travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, or you can transfer your points to partner travel programs at a 1:1 rate. Finally, the card has no foreign transaction fees. The annual fee of $95 is waived the first year.
Discover it chrome - Double Cash Back your first year
With the Discover it® chrome - Double Cash Back your first year Card, you receive 2% cash back on up to $1,000 in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants every quarter, no sign-ups needed. In addition, you'll get 1% cash back on all other purchases you make with the card. As an exclusive offer for new cardmembers, all the cash back you've earned is automatically doubled at the end of your first year. There is no minimum you need to meet before you can start redeeming your cash back rewards, and they never expire. Currently, there is a special introductory offer of 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months (a 3% fee applies to each transferred balance). Then, the standard variable APR of 11.24%-23.24% will apply based on your creditworthiness. The card also offers no foreign transaction fees, no overlimit fee, no penalty APR, and no late fee on your first payment. This card comes with the new Freeze ItSM on/off switch, which allows you to prevent new purchases, cash advances and balance transfers on misplaced cards in seconds by mobile app and online. There is no annual fee.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card offers 2x miles per dollar on every purchase, unlimited! They're also offering a great bonus offer right now: get 40,000 miles after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months (equal to $400 in travel). Apply your points toward your travel purchases — so fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime — with no blackout dates. This card also has no foreign transaction fees. Annual fee: $59, waived for the first year.
Citi ThankYou Preferred Card
The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card from our partner Citi offers unlimited double points on purchases spent on dining and entertainment, and one point spent on other purchases. As a sign up offer right now, you can get 20,000 points after spending $1,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening — this is redeemable for $200 in rewards. Citi also offers special benefits like Price Rewind, where Citi will search hundreds of retailers' sites for 60 days from the date of purchase to help find a lower price and be refunded the difference (see program details for terms and limitations). There is no annual fee.
TD Cash Visa Credit Card
The TD Cash Visa® Credit Card offers simple 2% cash back rewards on dining purchases and 1% cash back on all other purchases. There's no limit to how much you can earn, and your points never expire. Redeem your cash rewards for over 400 options, including cash back, electronics, gift cards, travel rewards, and more. Plus, you can earn $200 cash back when you spend $1,500 within the first 90 days of account opening. This card has no foreign transaction fees and no annual fee. Currently, this card is only being offered in 15 states along the east coast of the U.S.
Without a doubt, most consumers will save money when they prepare their meals at home. Nevertheless, I find a frugal night out to be a needed respite from our family's normal routine of cooking and cleaning. By using all available coupons and discounts, and by choosing the best credit card to pay for your dining expenses, you can have affordable meals that ultimately lead to valuable rewards.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any bank, card issuer, airline or hotel chain.