The best credit cards for restaurants and dining out of October 2021

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The best credit cards for dining and restaurants of October 2021

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Whether you’re eating at restaurants in person or ordering takeout, using a credit card that earns bonus rewards for dining can help you earn extra points, miles, or cash back.

The best credit card for your restaurant spending depends on the types of rewards you like to earn and if you’ll use the card for other purchases. Some cards offer a high earning rate on dining but might not be a good fit for your other spending, while others come with a decent rate of return at restaurants and additional everyday spending categories.

If you’re planning to apply for a new credit card to use on restaurant spending, you should also consider the welcome bonus – some cards currently come with record-high offers – as well as the annual fee, benefits, and redemption options.

Here are some of the best credit cards for dining right now.

We’re focused here on the rewards and perks that come with each card. These cards won’t be worth it if you’re paying interest or late fees. When using a credit card, it’s important to pay your balance in full each month, make payments on time, and only spend what you can afford to pay.

Best for foodies: American Express® Gold Card

American Express American Express® Gold Card

The American Express® Gold Card is an excellent choice whether you like dining out or prefer eating at home. Along with a welcome bonus of American Express® Gold Card, you’ll earn:

4x points at restaurants and on up to $25,000 in spending per calendar year at US supermarkets per year (then 1x)3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through Amex Travel1 point per dollar on most other purchases

The American Express® Gold Card has a American Express® Gold Card annual fee American Express® Gold Card – Rates & Fees, but two benefits can help you offset most of the yearly cost. You’ll receive up to $120 per calendar year (up to $10 per month) in Uber Cash credits you can use toward eligible US Uber rides or Uber Eats purchases (the Gold Card needs to be added to the Uber app to receive the Uber Cash benefit).

Read more: 3 reasons why the Amex Gold card is an easy choice for foodies, travelers, and even beginners

In addition, cardholders get up to $120 in annual dining credits** (up to $10 per month) with participating food delivery services and restaurants. These include purchases with Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. Here’s our Amex Gold card review for all the details.

The American Express Membership Rewards points you earn with the card are incredibly flexible, too. You can redeem them for travel through the Amex Travel portal, transfer them to airline and hotel partners, or trade them in for gift cards, cash back, merchandise, and more.

Amex Membership Rewards points are worth, on average, 1.8 cents each based on Insider’s points and miles valuations – but the exact value you’ll get depends on how you redeem your rewards.

Best premium card: Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® earns 5x total Chase Ultimate Rewards points on air travel and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards® (after earning the $300 travel credit) and 3x points on other travel and dining. It’s currently offering Chase Sapphire Reserve® after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Cardholders receive up to $60 in statement credits toward DoorDash purchases in 2021, along with a complimentary year of DashPass membership, which waives delivery fees and offers lower service fees on orders of $12 or more (activation required by December 31, 2021).

Read more: Chase Sapphire Reserve card review

While the Chase Sapphire Reserve® charges a $550 annual fee, it comes with premium benefits and rewards that can be well worth it if you take advantage of them. Cardholders receive $300 in credits toward eligible travel purchases made with their card each account anniversary year, and because of the pandemic, gas station and grocery store purchases also qualify for the credit through December 31, 2021. You’ll also get a complimentary Priority Pass airport lounge membership and excellent travel and shopping protections.

With the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you’ll earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points which you can transfer to airline and hotel partners, such as United Airlines, Hyatt, and Air Canada Aeroplan. When you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, your points are worth 1.5 cents each (50% more) when you use them to book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal or redeem through Pay Yourself Back (including toward dining purchases).

Best for dining and travel: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

If you want to earn Ultimate Rewards points but you don’t want to pay the hefty annual fee for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a great alternative. It also offers a free year of DashPass membership with DoorDash, and it earns 3x points on dining.

Right now, it’s offering a welcome bonus of Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Your points are worth 1.25 cents apiece when you use them to book travel through the Chase portal or with Pay Yourself Back, or you can transfer them to airline and hotel partners to potentially get even more value.

Read more: Chase Sapphire Preferred card review

With an annual fee of $95, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a good choice if you want solid dining and travel perks without breaking the bank.

Insider’s points and miles valuations peg Chase Ultimate Rewards points as worth, on average, 1.8 cents apiece – in part because you can often get outsized value from your points when you transfer to partners for award travel.

Best for cash back: Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card is a great pick for maximizing your restaurant spending if you prefer earning cash back to travel rewards. You’ll earn 4% back on all dining purchases, entertainment, and eligible streaming services, 3% back on groceries, and 1% back on everything else with no caps.

It’s currently got a solid welcome offer: Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card.

Read more: Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card review

There’s a Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card annual fee, but if you prefer a no-annual-fee card, the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card is also worth a look. You’ll get a slightly lower rate of return on dining, select streaming, and entertainment – 3% instead of 4% – and you’ll still earn 3% back on groceries and 1% back on everything else.

Best for cash back with no annual fee: Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Flex℠Chase Freedom Unlimited®

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Freedom Unlimited® are marketed as cash-back cards, but they actually earn rewards in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

Each of these cards offers a bonus of Chase Freedom Flex℠. In addition, new cardholders can earn 5% cash back (5x points) at grocery stores (excluding Target and Walmart) on up to $12,000 in spending during the first year of account opening (then 1x).

Read more: Chase Freedom Flex card review

Both cards earn bonus rewards in a variety of categories, including dining. You’ll earn 3% back (3x Chase Ultimate Rewards points) at restaurants and drugstores, and 5% cash back (5x points) on travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards.

The cards differ in how they earn other rewards. With the Chase Freedom Flex℠, you can earn 5% cash back (5x points) on up to $1,500 in combined spending in categories that rotate every quarter (then 1x) when you activate the bonus. For example, the Chase Freedom 5x categories for the third quarter of 2021 (July through September) are grocery stores and select streaming services.

Read more: Chase Freedom Unlimited card review

If you don’t want to worry about rotating categories, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers a simpler rewards structure. Outside of restaurants, drugstores, and Chase Travel purchases, you’ll earn 1.5% back on all purchases (1.5x points) with no caps. Here’s our comparison of the Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited to help you decide which card is better for you.

Pairing a Freedom card with a Chase travel card, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve®, can help you maximize your points by unlocking more redemption options.

Best for restaurants and other bonus categories: Citi Premier® Card

Citi Premier® Card

The Citi Premier® Card flies under the radar as a credit card for restaurant spending, but if you’re looking for an all-purpose card that earns bonus rewards in lots of categories – including dining – it’s an excellent pick. Even better, the card is currently offering an all-time-high bonus of Citi Premier® Card.

Read more: Citi Premier credit card review

With the Citi Premier® Card, you’ll earn 3x points at restaurants, gas stations, supermarkets, hotels, and on airfare, and 1 point per dollar on all other eligible purchases. Citi ThankYou points don’t always get as much attention as other rewards currencies, but they’re incredibly versatile – you can transfer them to airline partners, use them to book travel through the Citi ThankYou portal, or redeem them for gift cards, cash back, merchandise, and more.

The Citi Premier® Card is one of the cards in the Citi Trifecta – a trio of cards that can earn you maximum points on every purchase you make.

Best if dining is your top spending category: Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

The Citi Custom Cash℠ Card is the newest offering from Citi, and it’s unique in that cardholders earn 5% cash back on up to $500 in purchases in the eligible category they spend the most in each billing cycle (then 1%), and 1% on all other purchases.

Restaurants are one of the eligible categories – along with gas stations, grocery stores, select travel, select transit, select streaming services, drugstores, home improvement stores, fitness clubs, and live entertainment. If dining out and ordering in are big expenses for you, using the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card for your purchases could earn you up to $25 in bonus cash back per month ($500 x 5% back).

Read more: Citi Custom Cash card review

The Citi Custom Cash℠ Card is also offering a welcome bonus of Citi Custom Cash℠ Card. For a card with a Citi Custom Cash℠ Card annual fee, this is a good deal. Just remember it only earns 1% back outside of your highest spending category each month, so other cards – like the Citi Premier® Card – may be a better fit if you want to earn more rewards in multiple categories.

Best for students: Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card

The new Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card is a great choice if you’re new to credit and looking for a cash-back card that earns bonus rewards in popular categories. Student credit cards are often easier to get approved for if you don’t have a long credit history, and this card doesn’t charge an annual fee or foreign transaction fees.

Cardholders earn 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, eligible streaming services, and grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart and Target), and 1% back on everything else.

Read more: Capital One launched student versions of its popular SavorOne and Quicksilver cards, and they’re worth considering if you have a limited credit history

It doesn’t currently offer a welcome bonus, but unlike some student credit cards, the Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card comes with a decent range of benefits, including price protection***, extended warranty***, car rental coverage***, and complimentary concierge services. As with other Capital One cards, you’ll automatically be considered for a higher credit line in as little as six months from account opening.

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