Posted by William Charles on June 10, 2014
Credit Cards

Published on June 10th, 2014 | by William Charles

28

Best Credit Cards For Restaurant Spend

According to the Bureau of Labor statistics the average spent on food away from home was $2,698 for 2012/2013, this number was higher for those with incomes of $70,000 or above (who spent an average of $4,602). It’s no wonder that people want a credit card that earns at a high rate for restaurant expenses. Below we look at some of the best options for consumers.

Contents

Top Restaurant/Dining Credit Cards

Citi ThankYou Premier 2x ThankYou Points, $95 Annual Fee Waived First Year

This card earns at a rate of 2x ThankYou points per dollar spent on restaurant expenses. The annual fee of $95 is waived for the first year. The value of this card is really going to depend on how much you value ThankYou points at.

American Express Premier Rewards Gold: 2x Membership Rewards Points, Annual Fee Of $195 Waived First Year

This card earns 2x membership rewards points on all purchases made at U.S restaurants, the annual fee is waived the first year and it also comes with a $100 airline incidental credit to help offset the high annual fee. do

Mercedes-Benz: 2x Membership Rewards Points, Annual Fee Of $95 Not Waived

This card earns 2x membership rewards points on all purchases made at U.S restaurants, unfortunately the annual fee of $95 is not waived.

U.S Bank American Express FlexPerks 2x Points, No Annual Fee

Points are worth up to 2¢ a piece when redeeming for airline and 1.5¢ when redeeming for hotels. Note: this is only available on the American Express version of this card.

TD First Class Visa Credit Card 3x Points, $89 Annual Fee Waived First Year

The TD First Class Visa offers 3x points on all restaurant purchases with no limit on the amount of points that can be earned. Points are worth 1¢ each when redeeming against restaurant or travel expenses. The card also earns 3x points on all travel expenses.

Santander Bravo 3% Cash Back, $49 Annual Fee

The Santander Bravo MasterCard earns 3% cash back on all restaurant purchases. It earns at this rate for the first $5,000 in purchases per calendar quarter (15,000 points/$150 cash back). Unfortunately there is also a $49 annual fee associated with this card which greatly reduces it’s usefulness.

Huntington Voice 3% Cash Back, First $2,000 Per Quarter

The Huntington Voice card allows you to choose one 3% cash back category per quarter. Restaurants are one of the categories you can choose from. The card has no annual fee.

InFirst Federal Credit Union 3% Cash Back, No Annual Fee

Read our full review

Also earns 4% on travel and points can be worth more than 1¢ each bringing the value of the card up.

AARP 3% Cash Back No Annual Fee

The AARP card is offered by Chase and one of their less well known credit cards. It earns at a flat 3% cash back on all gas & restaurant purchases. There is also another version of this card that earns at a flat 3% on all travel purchases. You must be a member of AARP to apply for this card which is a $16/yr fee and you must be over 50 years of age. According to JJ this is not necessary, you can sign up and then just cancel, you might not even need to sign up. Update: You don’t even need to sign up at all.

Golden 1 Platinum Rewards Visa 3% Cash Back, No Annual Fee

Our full review

Card earns 3% cash back on all gas, grocery and restaurant charges. There is no earning limit, although your cash back is only paid out once yearly. No annual fee and earns 1% cash back on all purchases.

Sam’s Club, 3% Cash Back No Annual Fee, $5,000 Cash Back Limit Annually

This card also earns 5% cash back on gas ($6,000 spending limit) and 3% on all travel expenses as well. You can earn a maximum of $5,000 cash back in any calendar year.

Points are worth up to 2¢ a piece when redeeming for airline and 1.5¢ when redeeming for hotels. Note: this is only available on the American Express version of this card.

Citi Costco Anywhere Visa 3% Cash Back, No Annual Fee

Read our full review

This card gives you 3% cash back with no limits and no annual fee.

Chase Sapphire Reserve – 3x Points, $450 Annual Fee

Our full review

This card earns the most valuable points and at a 3x rate for restaurant purchases. It does come with a massive annual fee, but this is somewhat offset by the $300 annual travel credit.

U.S Bank American Express FlexPerks Gold 3x Points, $80 Annual Fee Not Waived

Read our full review

Points are worth up to 2¢ a piece when redeeming for airline and 1.5¢ when redeeming for hotels.  So this can be worth up to 6% back on restaurant spend.

VantageWest Credit Union Connect Rewards Credit Card – 5x, No Annual Fee ($15 Joining Fee), $1,500 Limit Per Quarter

Our review

Card lets you choose one category to earn 5x points in. Unfortunately there is a limit of $1,500 per quarter.

Honorable mentions:

Citizens Bank 10% Cash Back First 90 Days Only, No Annual Fee

This card earns a massive 10% cash back, unfortunately it’s only for the first 90 days after account opening. During this 90 day period it also earns 5% on all gas, grocery & drug store purchases. After the 90 days is up it only earns at a rate of 1%, making it useless.

This card could still be useful for those spending an extremely high amount on restaurants each month (you could also stock up on gift cards at restaurants that you frequent). There are gas credit cards that earn 5% as well, so this feature wouldn’t be particularly enticing.

Chase Freedom 5% – 5.5% Cash Back, Select Quarters Only, No Annual Fee

The Chase Freedom earns 5% in rotating categories. Since 2012, the Chase Freedom has had restaurants as a category at least once per annum. This means you can earn 5% cash back on the first $1,500 in qualifying purchases per quarter. This was not included in our regular list as this card will only earn 1% when restaurants are not a category bonus. You can view which quarters have had or will have restaurants by clicking here.

It’s also possible to get an additional 10% on all points earned if you have a Chase checking account open, you can also earn an additional bonus for opening this checking account. It’s also possible to turn your cash back into airline miles or hotel points if you have another Chase card that gives you that ability (e.g Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Bold or Chase Ink Plus)

Discover it 5% Cash Back, Select Quarters Only, No Annual Fee

The Discover it card is similar to the card offered by Chase, in that it earns 5% on the first $1,500 in purchases per quarter on selected rotating categories. For those with bad credit it’s also possible to get a secured version of this card, but you must apply for the regular version first. Discover has always offered restaurants as a 5% cash back category for Q1 each year.

Chase Sapphire Preferred 2.14-3.21x Chase Ultimate Rewards Points, $95 Annual Fee

This card earns 2 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent at restaurants. On the first Friday of each month it earns an additional one point per $1 spent, bringing the total to 3. You also get a 7% annual dividend bonus on all points earned, which brings the total to 2.14/3.21 points depending on whether it’s the first Friday or not. The card does come with a hefty fee of $95 which is waived for the first year. This should really only be used as an option when the Chase Freedom isn’t earning 5 points per $1 spent.

Club Carlson Premier Rewards Targeted 10x Promotions, $75 Annual Fee Not Waived

This card regularly sends out targeted promotions where you can earn 10x points on all of your restaurant spend. How often you’re targeted seems to vary a lot of from cardholder to cardholder, but most people seem to get targeted at least once per year. The annual fee is not waived, but the card does come with an anniversary bonus of 40,000 points as well, so it’s worth keeping after the first year.

Business Credit Cards

There are a number of business credit cards that offer a high rate on all restaurant purchases, unfortunately none of them come close to the 5-10% that can be gained from personal cards. Here are the top business cards in descending order:

United MileagePlus Explorer Business Card, 2x United Miles, Annual Fee Of $95 Waived First Year

This card earns at 2x on all restaurants, gas stations, office supply stores & purchases made directly from United.com. This option should really only be attractive if you value United Miles highly (e.g at least 1.5¢ each) otherwise you’ll be better off with a cash back card.

Lowe’s Business Rewards Card 3x Back in Gift Cards, No Annual Fee

This card earns 3x points on all restaurant purchases, office supply stores & telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers. Points can be redeemed for Lowe’s or American Express gift cards at a rate of 1 point = 1 cent, it carries no annual fee.

American Express SimplyCash 3% Cash Back, No Annual Fee

Amex’s SimplyCash card allows you to choose a 3% category and one of the options is restaurants, you also get 5% on allS. office supply stores and on wireless telephone services. The card has no annual fee.

Citi Costco Anywhere Visa 3% Cash Back, No Annual Fee

Read our full review

This card gives you 3% cash back with no limits and no annual fee.

Chase Sapphire Reserve, 3x Chase UR Points, $450 Annual Fee

Read our full review

This card earns valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards points (worth at least 1¢, but can be converted to travel partners or worth 1.5¢ per point towards travel) at a rate of 3x per $1 spent at restaurants. It does come with a massive annual fee of $450, but it has a lot of benefits as well. If you spend a lot on restaurants and get value from these benefits, it could be worth paying this annual fee.

MasterCard 4%+ Cash Back

If you enroll your business MasterCard’s in the Easy Savings program, then you can get 4% cash back at select restaurants. You also get whatever the card usually earns on restaurant purchases. Here are some options:

  • CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® World MasterCard: 1x AAdvantage miles
  • Cash Rewards for Business MasterCard credit card: 2% cash back on restaurant purchases

Cards That Didn’t Make The Cut

The following cards didn’t make the cut for the best restaurant credit card list. We’ve included them below as some people might still find this information interesting:

This page does not contain any affiliate links. We always provide you with the best cards, if you think we’ve missed a great restaurant credit card then please let us know in the comments as it wasn’t intentional! You also might enjoy our other posts in this series:

Before you make any restaurant purchases, you should always check to see if that restaurant sells gift cards.

If they do, chances are you can purchase these for a discount greater than 5% by looking at a gift card reseller.



28 Responses to Best Credit Cards For Restaurant Spend

  1. Electroman says:

    The U.S Bank American Express FlexPerks card mentioned may have not had an annual fee back in the day, but it does now. There were some (probably targeted) offers for a version of this card with an annual credit to offset this fee; I don’t think that offer is around any more.

  2. jj says:

    You do not need to be 50+ or pay the yearly fee for the AARP. You can sign up, get the AARP card, and immediately cancel your membership (I’m not even sure if you need to signup). The AARP card is fully functional.

  3. Hongwei says:

    A report on AARP. I bought a cup of coffee at 7-11. Then after a while I found the transaction was recognized as “gas station”. Interesting 3x bonus points.

  4. Jeff says:

    What about the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Credit Card? 5% at Fast Food and 2% at Restaurants. No AF and No minimum redemption of cash back.

    • Jeff H says:

      I see another Jeff beat me to nominating for honorable mention U.S Bank Cash+, 5% Cash Back, $1,500 Per Quarter Limit, No Annual Fee could make the cut IF you select Fast Food as one of your two 5% Cash Back category options.

      2% at most sit down restaurants like Golden Corral.

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  8. Seabass says:

    Citi Costco now has the .03 per dollar for restaurants.

  9. Lrdx says:

    You might want to fix Freedom and Sapphire Preferred, as there is no dividend any more.

    Also, you could add Marvell MasterCard to the list of 3% CB on dining list.

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  11. NinjaX says:

    would be awesome if you overhauled this list and all other lists to update everything. the game has changed a lot now. but of course, you are a busy guy. haha. thank you man!

  12. Jeff H says:

    Santander Bank Bravo Earn 3x rewards points on supermarket, gas station and restaurant purchases; Up to 15,000 points per calendar quarter; 1x point otherwise.
    Yes, there is a $49.00 annual fee waived the first year. IF you sign up for a Santander Bank no minimum balance only one required transaction checking account, the annual fee for the Santander Bank Bravo MC is waived each of the following years.

    https://www.santanderbank.com/us/personal/credit-cards/bravo

  13. Jay B says:

    Infirst Rewards is also missing as it gives 3% back in the form of CU rewards.

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