Best Credit Cards for Dining

Our objective rating of the best credit cards with dining rewards

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In recent years, a number of rewards credit cards—from airline and general travel cards to ones that offer cash back—have begun singling out dining as a category eligible for bonus rewards. And, what better time to offer to pick up the tab than when you're out for dinner or drinks? It can make you look altruistic, while also giving you an opportunity to score bonus rewards from your card. 

Out-of-home dining expenses, whether incurred at a sit-down restaurant, fast-food drive-thru, food truck, or bar, represent a considerable portion of most Americans' monthly budget. While some of these costs have decreased during the coronavirus pandemic, food takeout and delivery spending has gone up significantly. Card issuers realize they can entice new customers with the prospect of earning bonus rewards on this significant spending category.

Best Credit Cards for Dining for April 2021

Best Overall, Best No Annual Fee : Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards

Rating as a Credit Card for Dining
4.8
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
Current Offer

Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus once you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.49% - 25.49% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 3% cash back on dining, 3% on entertainment, 2% at grocery stores, and 1% on all other purchases.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 15 Months
Balance Transfer Fee 3% of the amount of each transferred balance that posts to your account at a promotional APR that we may offer you. None for balances transferred at the Transfer APR.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • Why We Chose This Card:
  • Pros & Cons
  • Highlights:
Why We Chose This Card:

The Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards card is our choice as the best overall card with dining rewards and the best option with no annual fee because of its unlimited 3% bonus cash back on all dining purchases. This card can be a great option for those who want to maximize their earnings on restaurant spending without having to spend enough to justify paying a hefty annual fee. It is also an excellent option to pair with another rewards card that earns bonus rewards on other spending categories.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Generous cash rewards on dining and entertainment

  • Doesn’t impose some frequent fees

Cons
  • 0% APR introductory offer is less generous than most

  • Small introductory cash bonus

  • Excellent credit recommended

Highlights:
  • Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus once you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores, and 1% on all other purchases.
  • Rewards don't expire for the life of the account, and you can redeem cash back for any amount.
  • 0% Intro APR on purchases for 15 months.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Read the full review: Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards.

Best for Students : Bank of America Cash Rewards for Students

Rating as a Credit Card for Dining
4.7
Bank of America® Cash Rewards for Students
Current Offer

$200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 13.99% - 23.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 3% cash back in the eligible category of your choice, 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. You’ll earn 3% and 2% cash back on the first $2,500 in combined categories each quarter, then 1%.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 12 Billing Cycles
INTRO BALANCE TRANSFER APR 0% for 12 Billing Cycles
Balance Transfer Fee Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 3%
  • Why We Chose This Card:
  • Pros & Cons
  • Highlights:
Why We Chose This Card:

The Bank of America Cash Rewards for Students card is our pick for best dining rewards card for students because it lets you choose restaurants as your top bonus category. Restaurant meals are a major spending category for many college students, and this card has the advantage of enhanced dining rewards. The card has no annual fee and offers a one-time bonus worth $200 once its initial spending requirements have been met.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • 3% cash back on the category of your choice and 2% on groceries up to a quarterly combined spending cap

  • 12-month 0% APR offer on purchases and balance transfers from the time of account opening

  • Overdraft protection and rewards bonuses for banking customers

Cons
  • Foreign-transaction fee is less than ideal for those studying abroad

  • Highest rewards earnings are capped

  • Relatively high spending ($1,000 in the first 90 days of account opening) required for $200 introductory one-time bonus

Highlights:
  • Online $200 cash rewards bonus after making at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening.
  • 3% cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings.
  • 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs.
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • You’ll earn 3% and 2% cash back on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter, then earn 1%.

Read the full review: Bank of America Cash Rewards for Students.

Best for Points : Citi Prestige

Rating as a Credit Card for Dining
4.5
Citi Prestige®
Current Offer

Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within 3 months of account opening.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Excellent
Regular APR (%) 16.99% - 23.99% variable
Annual Fee $495
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 5 points per dollar at airlines, travel agencies, and restaurants, 3 points per dollar at hotels and cruise lines, and 1 point per dollar on other purchases.
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • Why We Chose This Card:
  • Pros & Cons
  • Highlights:
Why We Chose This Card:

The Citi Prestige Card is our choice as the best card for dining rewards points because of its 5X points on restaurant purchases and the average value of its points—worth 1.22 cents each by our estimates—which provide a more than 6% return on this important category. There is a hefty $495 annual fee, but there's also a one-time bonus worth more than $600 once spending requirements are met and the ongoing points earning opportunities should justify the cost if used as a primary card.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Generous, flexible travel rewards

  • Offers premium benefits

Cons
  • Steep annual fee

  • Most redemption options are ho-hum

Highlights:
  • Indulge in exceptional travel and hotel rewards with the Citi Prestige Card, one of Citi’s ThankYou rewards credit cards designed for avid travelers.
  • 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points are redeemable for $500 in travel, anytime, with no blackout dates when booked through the ThankYou Travel Center.
  • Complimentary fourth night at a hotel of your choice after a minimum 4 consecutive night booking through ThankYou.com
  • Up to $250 travel credit every calendar year

Read the full review: Citi Prestige.

Best Bonus : Chase Sapphire Preferred

Rating as a Credit Card for Dining
4.2
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Current Offer

Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year after account opening.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.99% - 22.99% variable
Annual Fee $95
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 2x total points on up to $1,000 in grocery store purchases per month from November 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021. Includes eligible pick-up and delivery services. 2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • Why We Chose This Card:
  • Pros & Cons
  • Highlights
Why We Chose This Card:

We chose the Chase Sapphire Preferred card as the dining rewards card with the best bonus. It offers unlimited 2X points at restaurants globally as well as for spending on travel and groceries. It features the largest spending bonus—potentially valued at $1,000. Ultimate Rewards points with Sapphire Preferred have a value of 1.25 cents each when redeemed for travel through Chase or for statement credits against grocery, dining and home improvement purchases. Sapphire Preferred carries a reasonable $95 annual fee relative to its bonus value and ongoing rewards-earning opportunities.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Generous rewards for travel and dining

  • Outstanding one-time bonus for new cardholders

  • Enhanced, 25% points redemption value on travel booked through Chase

Cons
  • $95 annual fee

  • No introductory 0% APR offer

  • Fewer travel benefits than some competing cards

Highlights
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards(R). Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals, and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022.
  • Transfer points 1:1 to eligible Ultimate Rewards airline and hotel partner programs.
  • With Pay Yourself Back(SM), your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.

Read the full review: Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Best for Business : American Express Business Gold

Rating as a Credit Card for Dining
3.7
American Express® Business Gold Card
Current Offer

Earn 70,000 Membership Rewards(R) points after you spend $10,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Gold Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 14.24% - 22.24% variable
Annual Fee $295
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 4 Membership Rewards points per $1 on the 2 eligible categories where your business spent the most each billing cycle, plus earn 1 point per $1 on other purchases.
Cash Advance Fee This card does not offer cash advances
  • Why We Chose This Card:
  • Pros & Cons
  • Highlights:
Why We Chose This Card:

We chose the American Express Business Gold Card as the best dining rewards card for small-business owners. That's because of its 4X points per dollar on two select categories where businesses spend the most (up to $150K per year in combined spending), which could include restaurants. Given our average valuation of Membership Rewards points—1.2 cents each—those points can provide a nearly 5% return on business dining. There is a $295 annual fee but also a substantial initial spending bonus of 70,000 points after spending $10,000 in the first three months of account opening.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Excellent and flexible rewards in categories in which you spend the most

  • Flexible limits and payment options

Cons
  • Few or no premium travel perks

  • High annual fee

Highlights:
  • Earn 70,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $10,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Gold Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • 4X points that adjust to your spending. Solutions to meet business needs.
  • Flexibility to pay eligible charges over time with interest, or pay your full balance, whichever is best for your business.
  • American Express can now be accepted at 99% of places in the US that accept credit cards.

Read the full review: American Express Gold Card

FAQs

How Do Dining Rewards Credit Cards Work?

When you use your credit card, the card issuer recognizes restaurant purchases from the merchant code transmitted to it during the charge settlement process. That way the issuer can apply a bonus dining reward to the total purchase amount.  

What Are the Different Types of Dining Rewards?

  • Dining points: Typically offered in multiples or 2, 3, or 4X points per dollar
  • Dining miles: Generally 2 miles per dollar
  • Dining cash back: 2%, 3%, or 4% cash back per dollar spent

What Are the Pros and Cons of Dining Rewards Cards?

Pros
  • Compelling earnings on dining purchases

  • Rewards usually apply to cost of alcoholic beverages purchased in bars and restaurants

  • Often provide bonus rewards on other spending categories, too

Cons
  • Eligible spending may be capped

  • Interest rates can be higher than non-rewards cards

Pros Explained

  • Compelling earnings on dining purchases. Cardholders can automatically earn multiple points or miles, or bonus cash back percentages, on restaurant purchases.
  • Rewards usually apply to cost of alcoholic beverages purchased in bars and restaurants. Food and beverage purchases at bars as well as drinks at restaurants generally earn enhanced rewards with these cards.
  • Often provide bonus rewards on other spending categories, too. It's rare for dining rewards cards to offer bonuses only on that one category. Most also provide enhanced earnings on other spending, such as gasoline, groceries, etc.

Cons Explained

  • Eligible spending can be capped. Some dining rewards cards cap total eligible restaurant spending either by itself or in combination with another bonus spending category, which can limit your annual earnings.
  • Interest rates can be higher than non-rewards cards. Rewards are an expensive feature for card issuers to provide, and the more lucrative programs that involve bonuses on big spending categories like dining can mean that other aspects of the card, such as its interest rates, will be more costly.

What Kind of Credit Is Required for Dining Rewards?

Generally, you need good or excellent credit to qualify for credit cards that offer bonus rewards on dining. This goes for almost all rewards credit cards, regardless of bonus categories, as card issuers can only afford to offer top-line rewards to customers who have a very low risk of paying late or defaulting on any balances they owe. However, some secured credit cards make an exception, as described in the next section.

Can You Earn Dining Rewards With Bad Credit?

While dining rewards cards typically require strong credit, there are several cards available for those with bad credit or no credit. These cards are secured—meaning they require that the cardholder make a security deposit with the issuer, which protects the issuer if the cardholder defaults on the debt. A few secured card issuers offer cash back or points on dining purchases, which can help cardholders justify any annual fees they have to pay and also save a bit on the cost of dining out.

Methodology

Information Gathering

In order to track and assess the entire U.S. domestic credit card market, we gather scores of data points on nearly 300 cards. This data is collected manually from both card-issuer websites and publicly available sources. 

To ensure our information is as up-to-date as possible, we deploy automated tools that monitor changes in such key data as annual percentage rates, introductory rates, introductory periods, bonus offers, rewards earnings rates, fees, and card benefits. We then rapidly make any needed updates to our card listings, reviews, and recommendations to ensure that readers have the most reliable information and advice. 

Initial Scoring

Once we collect credit card data we organize it in our database according to features, which roll up into feature sets (such as rewards, interest, fees, benefits, and security/customer service). Each individual card feature is assigned a star rating score on a 1 to 5 scale using a prescribed formula. For instance, for a one-time bonus score we would use a formula like: If bonus is $500 or greater, then assign a score of 5; if $300-$499, then 4; and so forth.

Weighting of Scores

Once all of a particular card’s features have received a score, we apply a weighting factor to each feature to arrive at a weighted average score for that card (according to the general category in which it resides, such as balance-transfer). 

This weighting process allows us to assign significantly more emphasis to the attributes important to a particular category and downplay those that are less relevant to it. That lets us objectively identify cards that stand out in their category and indicate why they do. For example, for balance-transfer cards we apply significantly higher weight to such key category attributes as interest rates or fees than to travel-specific features such as airport lounge access or primary rental car insurance, which might be more strongly considered for other categories, such as travel-rewards cards.

Earnings Rates

Another critical factor we consider when rating and ranking rewards cards is the cards’ effective earnings rates. We first calculate the average value of points or miles for all the rewards cards in our database, a painstaking process that entails collecting all airline fare data by carrier across scores of popular domestic and international city-pairs, along with per-night hotel charges at all major hotel brands. 

The required points and miles for air travel or hotel stays from the various reward programs is then used to calculate an effective earnings rate for each card. That allows our readers to make the most informed choices. By putting a card’s large one-time bonus or earnings rates into context across many dimensions and card features, readers can more readily weigh the card’s benefits relative to its costs. Uncovering the true but often opaque redemption value of rewards points or miles is, we feel, the only reliable way to make cogent choices among competing value-based cards.  

Card Features We Score

As mentioned in our methodology explanation, we put significant weight on certain features in determining our ratings for each rewards card. Specifically, we base over 50% of our overall assessment score on the combination of the following factors:  

  • Maximum value of any one-time bonus, whether in points or miles.
  • Initial card spending required to earn any bonus.
  • Redemption value of the bonus miles or points.
  • Global card acceptance, as detailed by the four card networks (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover).
  • Options to redeem points or miles with travel partners, both airline and hotel.

Another consideration is the cards’ coverage, if any, in these travel-related areas: 

  • Car-rental collision insurance, whether primary or secondary.
  • Travel accident insurance.
  • Lost or delayed luggage insurance.
  • Insurance for trip cancellation, interruption, or delay.
  • Cell phone loss or damage coverage.
  • Roadside assistance and towing.
  • Emergency travel medical/dental benefits.

General, non-travel related features that we consider and score include:

  • Interest rates, including both introductory and regular APRs for purchases and balance transfers.
  • Fees, including those for annual membership, late payments, cash advances, and foreign transactions.
  • Security/customer service features.
  • Other non-travel benefits, such as access to credit scores, ID theft protection, and contactless payment capability.

How We Reach Our Final Assessments

We rely primarily on the objective scores created by our rating algorithms to determine which card is chosen as the best in each category or subcategory.

However, we may make some adjustments from time to time, to both features and weightings that could affect rankings, based on subjective input from our credit card experts. Any potential modifications will be consistent with Investopedia’s belief that consumers are best served by cards that:

  • Provide superior value in earning awards.
  • Charge reasonable interest rates in the event that the cardholder carries a balance from month to month.
  • Charge fewer and/or more reasonable fees.
  • Provide solid customer service, based on the number and quality of customer service features.
  • Have helpful and protective security features.