August 17, 2022
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One of the best ways to maximize your credit card rewards is to pick a card that offers bonus points in the categories that you spend the most in, whether that’s supermarkets, gas stations, or non-bonused categories.

In this post I wanted to look at the best credit cards for dining & restaurant purchases. While everyone has to eat, admittedly not everyone dines out a lot. Nonetheless, odds are that most people spend a decent amount either on restaurants or grocery stores, so hopefully this is useful for many people.

I know one of the bonus categories that earns me the most rewards is the dining category, so this one is near and dear to my heart. There are lots of great credit cards offering bonuses on dining purchases, whether you want to earn cash back, transferable points, airline miles, or hotel points.

In all cases, I’ll only be looking at cards earning at least 2% back (or the equivalent of that based on my valuation of points).

What’s the best credit card for restaurant purchases?

While I’ll go into a lot more detail below, let me try to provide the simplest advice possible for figuring out which credit card is best to use for dining:

  • For personal cards, if you want to earn travel rewards, it’s tough to beat the American Express® Gold Card, Citi Premier® Card, or Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, as the cards offer 3-4x points on dining globally with no foreign transaction fees
  • For personal cards, if you want to earn cash back, it’s tough to beat the no annual fee Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, which offers 3% cash back on dining globally with no foreign transaction fees
  • For business cards, the American Express® Business Gold Card potentially offers up to 4x points on dining purchases, or alternatively the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card offers 2x points on dining purchases (on the first $25,000 spent per cardmember year), though in both cases I’d only use these cards for restaurant purchases in the United States

I’d say those are among the best, most widely useful cards for this category. However, below I’ll cover lots of other good options.

What qualifies as dining & restaurant spending?

Before going into great detail about the best cards for dining purchases, I think it’s important to talk a bit about what qualifies as dining spending:

  • While it varies by card issuer, generally speaking the dining category includes cafes, bars, lounges, fast food restaurants, takeout, and delivery
  • Generally convenience stores, nightclubs, and restaurants located within other establishments won’t be categorized as dining & restaurants
  • This also all comes down to how particular merchants choose to categorize themselves

The policies will differ based on the specific establishment, so if you frequently make a purchase with the same merchant, I recommend verifying the merchant category.

Cafes are generally categorized as dining for credit card rewards

Best personal cards for dining July 2022

People have different preferences when it comes to earning rewards for credit card spending. Some people prefer to earn travel rewards that they can use towards their next adventure, while other people prefer to earn cash back, which they can redeem however they want.

So, what are the best personal credit cards for dining spending? I’ll share only the cards that are currently open to new applicants (note that the Citi Prestige is also a great option, but it’s not open to new applicants anymore).

1. American Express® Gold Card

Reward for restaurant spending: 4x Amex Membership Rewards points (which I value at 6.8%)
Card annual fee: $250 (Rates & Fees)
Other things to be aware of: The Amex Gold has no foreign transaction fees, and you can earn 4x points on dining globally

Read a review of the Amex Gold, apply for the Amex Gold.

2. Citi Premier® Card

Reward for restaurant spending: 3x Citi ThankYou points (which I value at 5.1%)
Card annual fee: $95
Other things to be aware of: The Citi Premier has phenomenal bonus categories, and being able to earn 3x points on dining globally with no foreign transaction fees is awesome

Read a review of the Citi Premier, apply for the Citi Premier.

3. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Reward for restaurant spending: 3x Chase Ultimate Rewards points (which I value at 5.1%)
Card annual fee: $95
Other things to be aware of: The Chase Sapphire Preferred has no foreign transaction fees, and you can earn 3x points on dining globally

Read a review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred, apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

4. Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Reward for restaurant spending: 3x Chase Ultimate Rewards points (which I value at 5.1%)
Card annual fee: $550
Other things to be aware of: The Chase Sapphire Reserve has no foreign transaction fees, and you can earn 3x points on dining globally

Read a review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

5. American Express® Green Card

Reward for restaurant spending: 3x Amex Membership Rewards points (which I value at 5.1%)
Card annual fee: $150
Other things to be aware of: The Amex Green has no foreign transaction fees, and you can earn 3x points on dining globally

Read a review of the Amex Green, apply for the Amex Green.

6. Bilt Mastercard®

Reward for restaurant spending: 3x Bilt points (which I value at 5.1%)
Card annual fee: $0
Other things to be aware of: The Bilt Mastercard has no foreign transaction fees, and you can earn 3x points on dining globally as long as you have at least five posted transactions per billing cycle

Read a review of the Bilt Mastercard, apply for the Bilt Mastercard.

7. Aeroplan® Credit Card

Reward for restaurant spending: 3x Air Canada Aeroplan points (which I value at 4.2%)
Card annual fee: $95
Other things to be aware of: The Aeroplan Card has no foreign transaction fees, and you can earn 3x points on dining globally

Read a review of the Aeroplan Card, apply for the Aeroplan Card.

8. Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

Reward for restaurant spending: 7x Hilton Honors points (which I value at 3.5%)
Card annual fee: $450
Other things to be aware of: While the Hilton Aspire has no foreign transaction fees, you only earn bonus points for dining at U.S. restaurants

Read a review of the Hilton Aspire, apply for the Hilton Aspire.

9. Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Reward for restaurant spending: 2x Venture miles (which I value at 3.4%)
Card annual fee: $395
Other things to be aware of: The Capital One Venture X offers 2x Venture miles on all purchases globally with no foreign transaction fees

Read a review of the Capital One Venture X, apply for the Capital One Venture X.

10. Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Reward for restaurant spending: 3% cash back
Card annual fee: $0
Other things to be aware of: The Capital One SavorOne has no foreign transaction fees, and you can earn 3% cash back on dining globally

Read a review of the Capital One SavorOne, apply for the Capital One SavorOne.

11. Chase Freedom FlexSM Credit Card

Reward for restaurant spending: 3x points (which I value at 3-5.1%)
Card annual fee: $0
Other things to be aware of: The Chase Freedom Flex offers 3x points on dining, and those points can be converted into Ultimate Rewards points if you have it in conjunction with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card, or Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card; the card has foreign transaction fees, so I wouldn’t use it abroad

Read a review of the Chase Freedom Flex, apply for the Chase Freedom Flex.

12. Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Reward for restaurant spending: 3x points (which I value at 3-5.1%)
Card annual fee: $0
Other things to be aware of: The Chase Freedom Unlimited offers 3x points on dining, and those points can be converted into Ultimate Rewards points if you have it in conjunction with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card, or Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card; the card has foreign transaction fees, so I wouldn’t use it abroad

Read a review of the Chase Freedom Unlimited, apply for the Chase Freedom Unlimited.

13. Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®

Reward for restaurant spending: 2x American AAdvantage miles (which I value at 3%)
Card annual fee: $99, waived the first year
Other things to be aware of: The Citi AAdvantage Platinum has no foreign transaction fees, and you can earn 2x miles on dining globally, so this is one of the better airline cards for restaurant spending

Read a review of the Citi AAdvantage Platinum, apply for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum.

14. Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

Reward for restaurant spending: Varies
Card annual fee: $0
Other things to be aware of: This card offers 5x points in the category in which you spend the most each billing cycle, for up to $500 of spending; restaurants is one of those categories, meaning you could earn 5x points on dining purchases, and you can pool rewards with Citi ThankYou points earned on other cards

Read a review of the Citi Custom Cash, apply for the Citi Custom Cash.

Lots of personal cards offer great bonuses on dining

Best business cards for dining July 2022

As you can see above, there are lots of great personal credit cards for restaurant and dining purchases. What about business cards, though, given that wining & dining is a common business expense? Let’s take a look at the best business credit cards for dining purchases, though I’ll note there aren’t quite as many good options as you’ll find with personal cards.

1. American Express® Business Gold Card

Reward for restaurant spending: 4x Amex Membership Rewards points (which I value at 6.8%)
Card annual fee: $295 (Rates & Fees)
Other things to be aware of: This card offers 4x points in the two categories you spend most in, up to $150,000 per year, and U.S. restaurants is one of those bonus categories

Read a review of the Amex Business Gold, apply for the Amex Business Gold.

2. Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

Reward for restaurant spending: 2x Amex Membership Rewards points (which I value at 3.4%)
Card annual fee: $0 (Rates & Fees)
Other things to be aware of: While there’s no bonus category specifically for restaurants, the card offers 2x Membership Rewards points on the first $50,000 spent every calendar year (and then 1x), which is excellent; the card does have foreign transaction fees, so I wouldn’t recommend using it abroad

Read a review of the Amex Blue Business Plus, apply for the Amex Blue Business Plus.

3. Capital One Spark Miles for Business

Reward for restaurant spending: 2x Capital One Spark miles (which I value at 3.4%)
Card annual fee: $95, waived the first year
Other things to be aware of: While there’s no bonus category specifically for restaurants, the card offers 2x Capital One miles on all purchases with no foreign transaction fees, which is an excellent return

Read a review of the Spark Miles for Business, apply for the Spark Miles for Business.

4. Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

Reward for restaurant spending: 6x Hilton Honors points (which I value at 3%)
Card annual fee: $95 (Rates & Fees)
Other things to be aware of: This is one of the best hotel credit cards for U.S. restaurant purchases; while the card has no foreign transaction fees, the bonus category is specific to U.S. restaurants

Read a review of the Hilton Honors Amex Business, apply for the Hilton Honors Amex Business.

5. Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card

Reward for restaurant spending: 4x Marriott Bonvoy points (which I value at 2.8%)
Card annual fee: $125 (Rates & Fees)
Other things to be aware of: This is one of the best hotel credit cards for restaurant purchases; the card has no foreign transaction fees, and this bonus category applies globally

Read a review of the Marriott Bonvoy Business, apply for the Marriott Bonvoy Business.

6. UnitedSM Business Card

Reward for restaurant spending: 2x United MileagePlus miles (which I value at 2.8%)
Card annual fee: $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $99
Other things to be aware of: This is one of the best airline credit cards for restaurant purchases globally, and the card has no foreign transaction fees

Read a review of the United Business, apply for the United Business.

7. Ink Business Cash® Credit Card

Reward for restaurant spending: 2x points (which I value at 2-3.4%)
Card annual fee: $0
Other things to be aware of: The Ink Business Cash offers 2x points on the first $25,000 spent per year on restaurants and gas stations, and those points can be converted into Ultimate Rewards points if you have it in conjunction with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card, or Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Read a review of the Ink Business Cash, apply for the Ink Business Cash.

Some business cards offer bonus rewards for restaurants

Maximize value by using dining rewards programs

There are several different dining rewards program that help restaurants get extra business by offering points, miles, or cash back by using a linked credit card for your purchase. These are more prevalent in major cities where the restaurant market is more crowded, but it can still be worth joining even if you don’t live in a market that offers this — you never know when you’re going to stumble across one of these restaurants on a work trip or vacation.

Here are the best dining rewards programs available today:

  1. Seated — This app serves major cities, and gives you $15-20 in gift cards (with your choice of Amazon, Starbucks, or Uber) every time you dine out at a participating restaurant
  2. Mogl — Mogl is mostly on the West Coast, and lets you choose between earning cash back, donating to a fundraiser, or converting your rewards to miles and points
  3. Rewards Network — This company partners with major loyalty programs to offer a co-branded dining rewards program; while you may be able to double-dip with Seated or Mogl, for Rewards Network you’ll have to choose whether each of your credit cards is linked to the dining rewards program for Alaska, American, Delta, Hilton, Southwest, or United, but you can participate in all of the programs (this is also a great way to keep miles from expiring!)
Rewards Network Dining Program for all Major Loyalty Programs

Bottom line

Hopefully the above list gives a card for every budget and rewards preference. From a no annual fee card earning 3% cash back, to a premium card earning 4x points, there are lots of great options to choose from for your dining spending.

If you’re looking to earn travel rewards for your personal dining spending, you really can’t go wrong with the American Express® Gold Card, Citi Premier® Card, or Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. If you’re looking to earn simple cash back rewards with no annual fee, you can’t beat the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card.

What credit card do you use for dining purchases?

The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: American Express® Business Gold Card (Rates & Fees), American Express® Gold Card (Rates & Fees), The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express (Rates & Fees), The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card (Rates & Fees), and Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card (Rates & Fees).

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