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Restaurant Credit Cards

Credit Cards for Restaurants

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Do you spend a lot eating out? You can still save money with the right credit card. Compare credit cards for dining out below.

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Credit Cards for Restaurant Rewards

This content is not provided by the card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer. This site may be compensated through the advertiser's affiliate programs.

If you're usually eating out rather than slaving over a hot stove at home, make a point of using a rewards credit card every time you pick up the tab and save up some serious cash.

In fact, most of us could benefit from one of the many credit cards aimed at frequent diners. According to the 2015 Zagat Dining Trends survey, Americans dine out an average of 4.5 times per week and drop close to $40 per person for a meal, which is no small potatoes. Get something back every time you go out, and the rewards will add up quickly.

What to Look For

Picking a credit card that pays you back every time you drop in at your favorite restaurant is a hassle-free way to keep the cost down — and cut down on your guilt for eating out all the time.

But many rewards credit cards focus more on their travel rewards than the fact that they also give rewards for restaurant purchases as well. So you may not view one card over another as a “restaurant credit card.” You need to know where to look (and you’ve come to the right place!), and you’ll need to narrow down your choices because there are quite a few.

We’re going to help with the search and your decision. CreditDonkey has put together a guide to restaurant rewards cards that covers what you need to know about choosing the right card for you.

Restaurant Credit Cards: How Do They Work?

You want to look for a rewards card that lists restaurants as one type of purchase that will give you a higher amount back than other things you can buy with it. You could get 2X points, say, when you dine out rather than just the 1X you get on other purchases. Be sure to check out how the credit card company views restaurants — if you’re a frequent visitor of the takeout counter (we’re not here to judge), then be sure “fast food” will count.

You could either let your points rack up for a one-day splurge at a fancy restaurant or use them for an entirely different purpose than eating.

Here’s what you need to consider during your search:

  • Rewards structure: Look at how many points you can earn for dining out and whether points are awarded for other purchases. For instance, some cards will give you a little something extra back for your restaurant visits as well as every time you spend money on travel or entertainment. Ideally, you want a credit card that will give you their top level rewards across several categories that match your spending habits.

  • Bonus offer: As an incentive to draw in new customers, many card issuers offer bonus rewards for opening an account. These bonuses usually require you to charge a certain amount within the first few months of opening the new credit card. You want to think about how likely you’ll be able to meet the requirement. You don’t want to spend more than you would anyway just to get a bonus — that won’t save you any money on your food budget.

  • Fees and interest: The rule of thumb with rewards cards is the better the payoff, the higher the annual fee (usually). The key is to make sure you're going to be earning enough rewards with the card to offset the cost.

If you normally carry a balance, you also need to look at the APR to see how much you're going to be handing over in interest each month.

At the opposite end of the priority scale are a few other matters that may sway your final decision:

  • Your options for redeeming rewards. How limited are they, and do you understand the terms?

  • If you can use the card for balance transfers. In particular, does it have a promotional offer where you can get 0% APR for a few months (although you’ll likely get charged a balance transfer fee)?

  • If there are any exclusive perks or benefits just for diners.

Which Card Is the Right for You?

With so many options to choose from, nailing down the right one is no easy feat. To make things easier, we've rounded up a few restaurant credit cards that we think represent the cream of the crop.

  • If you're a big spender:
    Chase Sapphire Preferred
    Apply for Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
    Chase Sapphire Preferred: The Sapphire Preferred Card from Chase is a good choice if you drop a lot of cash at restaurants and on travel, and you want to snag a big sign-on bonus. Chase Sapphire Preferred lets you earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's over $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠. Enjoy benefits such as 5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases, and $50 Annual Chase Travel Hotel Credit, plus more.

    Points can be transferred 1:1 to leading frequent travel programs including airline transfer partners. The card has no foreign transaction fees. The card also comes with premium travel and purchase protection benefits (including trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance and auto rental collision damage waiver). There is a $95 annual fee.

    Read our in-depth Chase Sapphire Preferred review to see why this is a top pick.

    If you regularly travel overseas, you won't have to worry about paying foreign transaction fees with this card (it has a $0 foreign transaction fee). Otherwise, all that dining at French cafes would add up much too fast (many cards charge a fee around 3% on every purchase made outside the U.S.).

  • American Express Gold
    Apply for American Express Gold Card
    American Express Gold earns 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months. This card earns 4x points at restaurants, including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and 4x points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000/calendar year in purchases, then 1x). 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or on You can earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly,, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required. There is a $250 annual fee (See Rates & Fees). Terms apply.

    In terms of how the annual fee compares, you're going to pay quite a bit more per year compared to the Sapphire Preferred card. The annual fee is $250.

  • If you want to avoid the annual fee:
    Discover it Chrome: For a no-fuss way to earn rewards at restaurants without shelling out big bucks for an annual fee, the Discover it Chrome card may be right up your alley. The card pays 2% cash back on combined restaurant and gas purchases, up to the first $1,000 you spend at restaurants and gas stations each quarter. There are no rewards tiers to worry about, and there is no need to sign up for the bonus categories, which is great if you like to keep things simple.

    As far as the cost goes, there's no annual fee or foreign transaction fees. You won't get an upfront bonus with this card, but Discover will match all the cash back you earned at the end of your first year as a cardholder to thank you for opening a new account (for new cardholders only).

Final Word

Whether you eat out often out of necessity (who has time to cook at home these days?), you’re usually dining out on the road for business, or you just love to go to restaurants and try new dishes, a restaurant credit card may be a fitting addition to your wallet. You could use it mostly for dining out or you may find it useful for everyday purchases as well.

Do the math to see which card will give you the most benefit (depending on how you’ll likely use it), and start saving up rewards for a nice night on the town.

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 card issuer. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.

For rates and fees of the American Express Gold card, please click here.

Disclaimer: The information for the Discover it® Chrome has been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

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Disclaimer: The information for the Citi Premier℠ Card, Discover it® Chrome, Discover it® Student Chrome, American Express® Green Card, Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi, Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card, Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®, Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, and Discover it® Secured has been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

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Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed on this page are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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