The Best Credit Cards for Dining Out

By Jason Steele. Last updated 6 December 2018. 19 comments

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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 a credit card that 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, my dining budget can still come pretty close to what I would've spent on a home-cooked 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.

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card awards one of the highest rates of rewards for dining purchases. You earn an unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% on purchases at grocery stores, and 1% on all other purchases. New cardholders can also earn a one-time $500 cash bonus after you spend $3000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. There is a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95. There is no foreign transaction fee for this card. 

Click here to learn more and apply for the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card today!

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase offers several cards that earn points in its Ultimate Rewards program, including the Sapphire Preferred® Card. Earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide. Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $625 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Cardholders can receive 25% 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.

Click here to learn more and apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card today!

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card

The Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card awards an unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on dining and travel purchases and 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases. If you’re a Bank of America® Preferred Rewards client, you can get a points bonus of 25%-75%. You also earn 50,000 bonus points (a $500 value) after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening. This card includes up to $100 in statement credit every four years that you can use for TSA Pre✓® or Global Entry, and up to $100 in credit every year for airline incidental purchases. There are no foreign transaction fees. The annual fee is $95.

Click here to learn more and apply for the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card today!

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card offers 2x miles per dollar on every purchase and unlimited 10x miles on hotels when you pay with your Venture card at hotels.com/Venture. They're also offering a great one-time bonus offer right now: get 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 within 3 months from account opening (equal to $500 in travel). Apply your points toward your travel purchases — so fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime — with no blackout dates. You can also get up to a $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®. This card has no foreign transaction fees. The annual fee of $95 is waived the first year.

Click here to learn more and apply for the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card today!

TRIO® Credit Card from Fifth Third Bank

The TRIO® Credit Card from Fifth Third Bank awards 3% cash back rewards at restaurants and 2% cash back rewards on gas and at grocery stores and drug stores, up to a combined purchase total of $1,500 per quarter. All other purchases and purchases made after you reach the quarterly cap earn an unlimited 1% cash back. New cardholders can earn a bonus of 10,000 bonus points, which can be redeemed for $100 cash back, after spending $1,000 with the card within 90 days of opening your account. There is no foreign transaction fee or annual fee.

Click here to learn more and apply for the TRIO® Credit Card from Fifth Third Bank today!

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.

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The 5 Best Credit Cards for Dining Out

 

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Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Guest's picture
Carl Lassegue

I like the Discover Card. I've been looking for a good credit that offers decent rewards with no annual fee. What would you guys recommend?

Guest's picture
Guest

I would add the Visa Signature SonyCard from Capital One to this list. It offers 3X points on dining out and movies. No foreign transaction fees, no annual fee.

Guest's picture

Also, whatever card you go with, if you register it with upromise.com and you get additional cash back at many restaurants. This cash back can be applied to a Sallie Mae student loan, 529 plan or just a regular savings account if you don't have any education related expenses.

Guest's picture
Timothy Girard

Is the non-student version of the Citi Forward Card still available? I can't find it on the Citi website.

Guest's picture
Guest

yes, discontinued in January 2013 I think

Guest's picture

Thanks for sharing this information and this post! I'm mostly pleased with American Express, have been using it for years and I almost have no problems with it.

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Guest

overlooked is the Costco (American Express) card - 2% on restaurants - cashback paid annually (bummer) plus, of course the Costco membership fee. But, too, the card does 3% on gas.

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Guest

Just use the Fidelity Amex. Its 2% everywhere.

Guest's picture
iKomrad

I agree , Fidelity American Express is the best general purpose card at 2% on every thing no exclusions. Plus it encourages you to invest the cash back to each even more money over time!

Guest's picture
Guest

I still use the Citi Forward Card with 5x point for dining but he Simply Cash Business from Amex looks like a good one..3% back at restaurants.

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Guest

U.S. Bank Cash+. 5% on restaurants if you choose restaurants+fast food as your two 5% categories.

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Guest

U.S Bank has downgraded restaurants to 2% beginning 2015.

Guest's picture
Drew

Amex Costco Card is definitely the best out there. 2% Cash back on restaurants no quarterly limit crap. Eat as much as you want as frequently as you want and you'll get 2% cash back. Just don't forget to exercise :)

Guest's picture

The new Bravo card from Santander is 3% on all restaurant spend.

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Guest

The Paypal Mastercard is offering 3X points on restaurants

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Steven Y

I use to use the Costco Amex as my #1 card for restaurants and gas. I eat mostly all meals out. But since Sams Club came out with there new MasterCard which gives 5% on gas, 3% on travel and restaurants, and 1% on everything else. I switched. While I like Amex look and customer service better, the Sam's Mastercard has superior cash back rewards, and is my new favorite to use in restaurants and gas stations now. I hope Costco competes, however Mastercard is excepted everywhere and Amex is not..

Guest's picture
Guest

Citi double Cash 2% everything

Discover it or Chase freedom sometimes has 5% on restaurants if you feel like dealing with rotating categories.

Many cards have 5% or more on groceries and work for restaurant gift cards. Using this method you are more likely to overspend or lose gift cards.

Guest's picture
Jane

Great analysis but I would add, for the second quarter, to use the Chase Freedom card which gives you 5 x points for restaurants.

Guest's picture
Guest

Chase AARP Visa is 3% on restaurants (and gas), with no limits and no annual fee. No AARP membership required.