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Best Credit Cards for Restaurants: Feed Me Miles and Points!

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Best Credit Cards for Restaurants: Feed Me Miles and Points!

Meghan HunterBest Credit Cards for Restaurants: Feed Me Miles and Points!Million Mile Secrets Team

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INSIDER SECRET: Many of these cards earn points not only at restaurants, but at bars, fast food places, and cafes as well. Any place you can grab a drink or snack – or a full meal – will likely put more points in your account!

Best Credit Cards for Restaurants

Lots of folks love to dine out. Aside from it being a great way to avoid doing any dishes, you can earn easy bonus rewards just by paying for your meal with the right credit card.

I love earning travel rewards by using the best credit cards for restaurants to pay for meals with friends and family! (Photo courtesy of SolStock/iStock)

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 best credit cards to use at restaurants!

Best Credit Cards for Dining

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!

Remember, “dining” is a broad category. You’ll usually earn points for most places you eat and drink. (Photo courtesy of Jacob Lund/Shutterstock)

And keep in mind, restaurant spending is a broad bonus spending category. For example, purchases at many bars and 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!

That said, because of the Chase 5/24 rule, we almost always suggest getting any Chase cards you want first. Chase will NOT approve you for most of their cards if you’ve opened 5+ cards from any bank (NOT counting Chase business cards and certain other business cards) in the past 24 months.

But if you qualify for a small business card, you could consider any of the small business cards on the list. They will NOT appear on your personal credit report and hinder your ability to be approved for any great Chase offers in the future.

Just remember, it’s crucial to stay organized when you’re in the miles and points hobby. Because if you don’t pay your bills on time and in full every month, any interest you accrue will likely negate any rewards you earn. 

You can use sites like MyBankrate to check your credit, but your credit score isn’t the only factor banks consider when evaluating credit card applications. They also look at income and financial stability. And the decision to approve you or not is always ultimately up to the bank!

Top Cash Back Credit Card for Restaurants

Capital One Savor

Apply Here: Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Read our review of the Capital One Savor Card

Capital One Savor cardholders earn unlimited 4% 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 apply for the Capital One Savor card, you’ll earn $300 cash bonus after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

Use the Capital One Savor $500 cash bonus to save on your favorite meals, or just use the card to pay and earn 4% cash back. (Photo courtesy of Trendsetter Images/Shutterstock)

This card has a $95 annual fee that is waived for the first year AND no foreign transaction fees.

But if you’re just starting out in miles & points, and plan to apply for lots of cards later, the Capital One Savor card is NOT the best card for you.  Because there are other credit cards with much higher welcome bonuses that earn more valuable points and have better travel benefits.

Top Citi ThankYou Points Credit Card for Restaurants

Citi Premier Card

Read our review of the Citi Premier

 

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

With the Citi Premier card, you can earn 60,000 Citi ThankYou points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. The $95 annual fee is not waived the first year.

Use your Citi Premier card to earn 2X ThankYou points on dining purchases and redeem points for vacations to Hawaii! (Photo courtesy of Shane Myers Photography/Shutterstock)

Just remember, you can’t earn the welcome bonus for any Citi credit card if you’ve either opened or closed a card of the same “brand” in the past 24 months. So if you’ve opened or closed any card that earns Citi ThankYou points in the past 24 months, you’re not eligible for the bonus on the Citi Premier.

Top Business Credit Card for Restaurants

Chase Ink Cash

Read our review of the Ink Business Cash Credit Card

Folks with the no-annual-fee Chase Ink Business Cash card earn 2% (2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points) 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 Business 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.

Earn 2X points on restaurant spending with the Ink Business Cash. Then, combine points with another eligible Chase card to transfer points directly to hotel partners like Hyatt to book free stays at the Hyatt Centric Key West. (Photo courtesy of Rose3663/Shutterstock)

When you apply for the Ink Business Cash, you’ll earn $500 (50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. This is the highest offer we’ve ever seen on this card, so if you’re considering it, now is the time to apply.

The card also has a 5X bonus spending category.  You can read our full review of the Ink Business Cash Credit Card for more details!

Top Credit Card Benefits on Card Earning Restaurant Points

1. Chase Sapphire Reserve

Apply Here: Chase Sapphire Reserve

Read our 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 United Airlines to unlock free travel.

This is the reason this is our top pick for anyone looking to earn travel rewards with a premium credit card.

It’s also the reason the Sapphire Reserve is one of the cards I use almost everywhere I go. I love earning easy and valuable bonus points for dining out. Plus, the card has no foreign transaction fees, so you can earn bonus points without paying more for your meal when traveling overseas.

Best Credit Card For Restaurants
I was recently in Portugal, and let me tell you…the food was absolutely amazing! I paid for this delicious meal of Portuguese favorites, like fava beans, mushrooms and chorizo, cod cakes, and wine with my Chase Sapphire Reserve, and earned 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1! (Photo courtesy of Meghan Hunter)

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

The card has a $450 annual fee, which is NOT waived the first year. 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 our full review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Top Beginners Credit Card for Restaurants

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Apply Here: Chase Sapphire Preferred

Read our review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best first credit card we recommend for beginners in the miles and points hobby. And with it, you’ll earn 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points with no foreign transaction fees at restaurants and bars (that code as restaurants!).

Million Mile Secrets team member Scott loves to use his Chase Sapphire Preferred while in Europe and the Caribbean. With almost every purchase, he’s working towards his next (free!) vacation!

Best Credit Card For Restaurants
Cheers to earning 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points and saving on foreign transaction fees! (Photo courtesy of Scott Lieberman)

When you apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you’ll earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account.

You can redeem the bonus for $600 in cash back or $750 in travel when you book through the Chase travel portal, and get potentially more value if you transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points directly to airline and hotel partners like Singapore Airlines.

The card has a $95 annual fee.

Top Credit Card for Restaurants that Earn Hilton Points

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

Apply Here:  The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

Read our review of the Hilton Aspire

With the AMEX Hilton Aspire card, you’ll earn 7 Hilton points per $1 of eligible purchases at US restaurants. So if you like earning and using Hilton points, this card would be your best option for restaurant spending!

For example, if you spend $500 per month dining out, you can earn 42,000 Hilton points ($500 X 12 months X 7 points per $1) per year just by using the  AMEX Hilton Aspire card.

arning 7 Hilton points per $1 at US restaurants can really add up! (Photo courtesy of Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock)

Hilton points are generally worth ~0.5 cents each. So 42,000 points is worth ~$210 (42,000 Hilton points X 0.5 cents). However, you can get more value out of your points depending on how you use them!

The card’s $450 annual fee is NOT waived the first year (See Rates & Fees), but the Hilton Aspire benefits can easily offset the annual fee.

When you apply for the AMEX Hilton Aspireyou’ll earn 150,000 Hilton points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.

You can read our full review of the AMEX Hilton Aspire card here.

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 your next big award trip. 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 you dine out? Let me know in the comments!

For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express, click here.

For the latest tips and tricks on traveling big without spending a fortune, please subscribe to the Million Mile Secrets daily email newsletter.

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

  • Earn a one-time $300 cash bonus after you spend $3000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases. Plus, earn 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through May 2020.
  • Receive a monthly statement credit for a Postmates Unlimited monthly membership through Dec. 2019 with the Capital One Savor Card
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Capital One cardholders get access to premium experiences in dining, entertainment and more
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, $95 after that

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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This article is surreal. No Citi Prestige, Amex Gold, or Uber card? This is the worst article I’ve ever read on this site.

The AMEX gold gives you 4 points per $1.

Not even mentioned?

My sentiments exactly!

I hate to say it but the quality of this site has gone way downhill. It used to be a must read and I read most their articles. Now, the articles feel like clickbait – “The top 3 card that will AMAZE you!!” – and either tell me stuff I already know or isn’t nearly as “amazing” as they would have had me believe.

Don’t forget that the AMEX Business Blue gives 2 points per dollar spent on all purchases, including restaurants, on up to 50K spend per year.

WTF I didn’t realize until this moment that your articles are not about the truth, but in fact, whatever card is paying you the most at the moment.

“Top Citi ThankYou Points Credit Card for Restaurants”
-Citi Premier Card

Are you f###ing kidding me? You are straight face lying to you readers the Prestige is objectively the best credit card for Citi ThankYou points considering it gives 5x…

“Top Credit Card Benefits on Card Earning Restaurant Points”
-How about the x4 MR points you get from the AMEX Gold?

Five weeks later and this article is still garbage.

The Ink Business Cash does NOT have 2x points for restaurants. Totally inaccurate!

Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year.

Hi J R!

I double checked on the Chase website and confirmed that the Ink Business Cash credit card also earns the following:

“Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year.*”

Hope that helps!