2018’s Best Credit Cards for Restaurants

2018’s Best Credit Cards for Restaurants

Million Mile Secrets2018’s Best Credit Cards for RestaurantsMillion Mile Secrets Team

Disclosure: We get a commission for links on the blog. You don’t have to use our links, but we’re very grateful when you do. American Express, Capital One, Chase, and US Bank are Million Mile Secrets advertising partners. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or endorsed by our partners.

 Card Name What You'll Earn on Restaurant Purchases
Best Card for Travel RewardsChase Sapphire Reserve

Earn 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 on dining purchases
Best Card for Beginning TravelersChase Sapphire Preferred® Card


Earn 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 on dining purchases
Best Card for Cash BackBarclaycard Uber Card
Earn 4% back per $1 on dining purchases
Best Card with No-Annual FeeChase Freedom Unlimited
Earn 1.5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points (1.5% cash back) on ALL purchases
Best Card for Overseas RestaurantsCapital One® Savor℠ Cash Rewards Credit Card


Earn unlimited 3% cash back on all dining purchases
Best Card for Business MealsSimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express
Earn 3% cash back when you select US restaurants as your bonus cash back category.

Y’all know how much I love dining out.  Besides my excitement for spicy dishes, I look forward to earning easy bonus rewards just by paying for my meal with the right credit card.

2018s Best Credit Cards For Restaurants
Feed Me Miles & Points! You Can Earn Easy Rewards by Using the Right Card When Dining Out!

The best card to use for restaurant spending depends on your goals.  For example, some folks (like me) prefer to earn flexible miles & points, which add up quickly and help you save money on travel.  Others like to earn straightforward cash back, which equates to getting a discount on every meal!

Here’s a list of the 10 best credit cards to use at restaurants!

10 Best Credit Cards to Use for Restaurant Spending

You can earn bonus rewards with the below cards for your restaurant spending all of the time.  Certain cards not on the list (like the Chase Freedom) sometimes include restaurants as part of rotating quarterly bonus categories.  We’ll be sure to let you know when that’s the case!

If you want to continuously earn bonus miles, points, or cash back when dining out without the hassle of monitoring quarterly bonus categories, consider using these cards!

And keep in mind, restaurant spending is a broad bonus spending category.  For example, purchases at many bars & nightclubs that serve food will often count as a restaurant purchase, even if you only order drinks.  And coffee shops typically code as restaurants too!

1.   Chase Sapphire Reserve

Link:   Chase Sapphire Reserve

Link:   My Review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve

Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders earn 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 on dining purchases.  These are my favorite type of flexible points!  Because you can transfer them directly to airline and hotel partners like Hyatt and Southwest to book Big Travel with Small Money.

This is one reason the Sapphire Reserve is the #1 card team member Keith uses.  He loves earning easy and valuable bonus points for dining out!  And the card has no foreign transaction fees.  So you can earn bonus points without paying more for your meal when traveling overseas.

2018s Best Credit Cards For Restaurants
Pay for Delicious Pizza at Rubirosa With the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Earn 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards Points!

When you sign-up, you’ll earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.  You can redeem the sign-up bonus for $500 in cash back or $750 in travel by booking airfare, hotel stays, or car rentals through Chase’s travel portal (no blackout dates).

The card has a $450 annual fee, which is NOT waived the first year.  But for many folks, the annual fee is worth paying because the $300 credit each account anniversary year for travel purchases effectively makes the annual fee $150 ($450 annual fee – $300 travel credit).

There are lots of other perks, which you can read about in my full review of the card.

2.   Chase Sapphire Preferred

Link:   Chase Sapphire Preferred

Link:   My Review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the #1 card I recommend for beginners in the miles & points hobby.

Million Mile Secrets team member Scott loves to use his Chase Sapphire Preferred at restaurants and bars (that code as restaurants!)  He uses it while in Europe and the Caribbean to get 2X points with no foreign transaction fees.  It’s a Visa card with wide acceptance!

2018s Best Credit Cards For Restaurants
Use the Sapphire Preferred for Meals in France or Other International Destinations to Earn 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards Points and Save on Foreign Transaction Fees!

When you sign-up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you’ll earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account.

You can redeem the sign-up bonus for $500 in cash back or $625 in travel when you book through the Chase portal.  And get potentially more value if you transfer points directly to airline and hotel partners like Singapore Airlines.

The card’s $95 annual fee is waived the first year.  So you can keep the card open for ~10 months and then decide if the card is worth the annual fee.

3.   Barclaycard Uber Visa

Link:   Barclaycard Uber Visa Card

Link:   My Review of the Barclaycard Uber Card

Folks with the no annual fee Barclaycard Uber Visa Card get 4% back for dining purchases.  And the card has no foreign transaction fees.  So you can earn bonus rewards dining abroad without paying pesky international fees.

Remember, the points you earn with this card are worth 1 cent each and can be redeemed for Uber, cash back, or gift cards.  You must redeem at least 500 points at a time for Uber credits, or 2,500 points for cash back and gift cards.

2018s Best Credit Cards For Restaurants
Earn 4% Back on Dining With the Barclaycard Uber Visa Card and Redeem Points to Save Money on Uber Rides or Get Straightforward Cash Back

The Barclaycard Uber credit card comes with a 10,000 point sign-up bonus after spending $500 within the first 90 days of account opening.  Here’s my full review of the card!

4.   Capital One Savor

Link:   Capital One® Savor℠ Cash Rewards Credit Card

Link:   My Review of the Capital One Savor Card

Capital One Savor cardholders earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining.  And redeeming the cash back you earn is easy.  You can request a check or statement credit, any time, with no minimum redemption amount.

And when you sign-up for the Capital One Savor card, you’ll earn $150 cash back after spending $500 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

2018s Best Credit Cards For Restaurants
Use the Capital One Savor $150 Cash Sign-Up Bonus to Splurge on a Fancy Meal at Restaurants Like Nobu Malibu! Or Just Use the Card to Pay and Earn 3% Cash Back!

This card has no annual fee AND no foreign transaction fees.  So it’s a great option for overseas dining because you’ll earn bonus cash back without paying any extra for your meal!

5.   AMEX SimplyCash Plus

Link:   My Review of the AMEX SimplyCash Plus

With the no annual fee AMEX SimplyCash Plus card, you can earn 3% cash back (up to $50,000 in purchases per calendar year) at US restaurants.  But you must select US restaurants as your 3% cash back bonus category.

2018s Best Credit Cards For Restaurants
While You’re Closing Deals, Be Sure to Earn 3% Cash Back on Business Lunches by Paying with the AMEX SimplyCash Plus Card!

The AMEX SimplyCash Plus small business card offers $250 cash back (in the form of a statement credit) after spending $5,000 or more on purchases within the first 6 months of opening your account.  Plus, you can earn an additional $250 cash back after you spend an additional $10,000 or more on purchases within the first year of account opening.

That’s a total of $500 cash back, which is excellent for a card with no annual fee!

Remember, AMEX small business cards do NOT appear on your personal credit report.  So they won’t hurt your chances of getting more Chase cards.

6.   Chase Ink Cash

Link:   My Review of the Chase Ink Cash Card

Folks with the no annual fee Chase Ink Cash card earn 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points (2% cash back) at restaurants (on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year).

On their own, the points you earn from the Ink Cash are only worth 1 cent each for cash back or towards travel.  

But your points are worth much more and give you flexibility when you also have certain Chase Ultimate Rewards cards, like the Ink Business Preferred Credit CardChase Sapphire Preferred, or Chase Sapphire Reserve.  Because you can combine your points and transfer them directly to Chase’s terrific travel partners.

2018s Best Credit Cards For Restaurants
Earn 2X Points on Restaurant Spending With the Ink Cash. Then, Combine Points With Another Eligible Chase Card to Transfer Points Directly Hotel Partners Like Hyatt to Book Free Stays at the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos in Mexico!

When you sign-up for the Ink Cash, you’ll earn 30,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

The card also has a 5X bonus spending category.  You can read my full review of the card for more details!

7.   Chase Freedom Unlimited

Link:   My Review of the Chase Freedom Unlimited

The no annual fee Chase Freedom Unlimited card doesn’t have bonus spending categories.  Instead, you’ll earn 1.5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points (1.5% cash back) on ALL purchases.

Like the Ink Cash above, you must have another eligible Chase Ultimate Rewards points earning credit card to have the ability to combine points and transfer them directly to airline and hotel partners.

2018s Best Credit Cards For Restaurants
The Chase Freedom Unlimited Has a Very Straightforward Rewards System. You Earn 1.5X Chase Ultimate Rewards Points (1.5% Cash Back) on ALL Purchases!

When you sign-up for the Freedom Unlimited, you’ll earn 15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points ($150) when you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account.

8.   Citi Costco Visa    

Link:   Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi

Link:   My Review of the Citi Costco Visa Card

You can earn 3% cash back at restaurants & bars with the Citi Costco Visa card.

2018s Best Credit Cards For Restaurants
Make Your Restaurant Purchases More Rewarding by Earning 3% Cash Back With the Citi Costco Visa Card!

The only drawback is you can only redeem your cash back rewards as a check once per year.  So if you cancel the card for any reason before receiving the cash back, you’ll lose all the rewards you’ve earned.  And some folks prefer the option to redeem cash back rewards at the end of each billing cycle.

This card has no annual fee if you have a paid Costco membership.  And Citi cards offer perks like Citi Price Rewind, purchase protection, and extended warranties.  Check out my full review of the card for more details.

9.   Citi Prestige 

You can earn 2X Citi ThankYou points per $1 you spend on dining by paying with the Citi Prestige card.

Citi ThankYou points are flexible, which means there are many ways to redeem them!  For example, you can transfer points directly to airline partners like Singapore Airlines.  Then, book an award flight to Hawaii on Star Alliance partner United Airlines.

2018s Best Credit Cards For Restaurants
Use Your Citi Prestige to Earn 2X ThankYou Points on Dining Purchases and Redeem Points for Vacations to Hawaii!

The Citi Prestige has a $450 annual fee, which is NOT waived the first year.  But the card comes with a $250 annual credit for airline purchasesGlobal Entry credit, and airport lounge access, which can more than offset the annual fee!

10.   AMEX Premier Rewards Gold 

Link:   My Review of the AMEX Premier Rewards Gold Card

Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express
 

AMEX Membership Rewards points are handy because you can transfer them directly to 20 airline and hotel partners to book award travel.

With the AMEX Premier Rewards Gold card, you can earn 2X AMEX Membership Rewards points on purchases at US restaurants.  Cardholders also get access to AMEX Offerswhich sometimes include discounts at nearby restaurants.  So you can earn bonus points and save money at the same time!

2018s Best Credit Cards For Restaurants
Always Remember to Check Your AMEX Offers to See If You Can Save Money When Dining Out!

When you sign-up for the AMEX Premier Rewards Gold card, you’ll earn 25,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account.  Lots of folks tell me they’ve received targeted mailers with larger sign-up bonus offers.  So keep an eye out to see if you can earn more points!

The card’s $195 annual fee is waived the first year.

Bottom Line

Earning easy bonus miles, points, or cash back on restaurant purchases is a sweet treat!

The best card to use at restaurants depends on your goals.  Some folks (like me) prefer to earn flexible miles & points, which can go toward getting Big Travel with Small Money.  But earning straightforward cash back isn’t bad either!

Here’s a summary of the best cards for restaurant spending by category:

Which card do you use when dining out?  Let me know in the comments!

If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 25,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!

Chase Sapphire Reserve℠

Chase Sapphire Reserve℠

  • 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®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Plus, no foreign transaction fees
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
  • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

More Info

Editorial Disclaimer: Neither the editorial content nor the comments on this site are provided by the companies whose products are featured. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or evaluations provided here are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the Advertiser.

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry, you must be logged in to post a comment.

141 comments

by Newest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Chase Sapphire reserve

CSR unless I’m close to hitting $3000 on my Chase Marriott so I can earn an elite night credit.

For me its the Chase Ink Cash. Getting 2x points at restaurants for a no fee card is already pretty great. But I eat at a lot of chains - like Starbucks (for a lunchtime sandwich) or Chilis or Applebees. And here's where the Ink Cash stands out. I buy gift cards for these establishments at Staples through the Ink Ultimate rewards portal and have them delivered by email. So when I eat at these places and pay with the gift card (stored on my phone) I am actually earning 5x points on the meal. And even better, sometimes the censors at Chase slip and ALSO award me points for shopping through the UR portal. For example, I bought a $100 Starbucks gift card, earned 400 UR points for shopping at the Staples portal and another 500 UR points for using my INk cash card. Sweet indeed.

sarit rothschild

Chase Sapphire Reserve for 3x on dining.

Load more