Best Pick For: Going Out or Eating In
American Express® Gold Card
Most travel cards are focused on, well, travel. And dining seems like an afterthought. But the American Express® Gold Card doesn’t pass on the opportunity to serve a great benefit.
You’ll earn more points on food than anything else with this card – at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (the latter up to $25K spent annually). So any foodie will be ready to go out or take up the mantle of chef.
It even has a $120 dining credit each year. The eligible restaurants are scarce, but some popular meal delivery services are included, so it shouldn’t be too hard to use.
- Capital One Savor Rewards Credit Card
- Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card
Best Pick For: Nights Out on the Town
Capital One Savor Rewards Credit Card
Dinner, drinks and a movie? One card to rule them all – the Capital One Savor Rewards Credit Card gives you 4% cash back on all three. It even earns 8% back at Vivid Seats (a marketplace for concerts, sports and theater), so there’s no excuse for being bored.
You’ll have an annual fee, however. If you won’t use the card enough to make it worth the yearly cost, there’s an alternative. Consider the less rewarding but no-annual-fee version – the Capital One SavorOne Rewards Credit Card.
Best Pick For: Point Rewards
U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card
For an inexpensive way to earn a lot of points at restaurants, it’s hard to beat the U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card with 4X per dollar. Some other cards offer just as many points, or close to it, but they also come with an annual fee.
In this case you can earn points for no cost whatsoever, as long as you avoid interest and other fees. Along with your restaurant rewards you’ll get 2X points in a number of useful categories, and 0% intro rates for purchases and balance transfers.
There’s even a $15 annual credit for streaming services, like Netflix. Credits are rare finds on cards with no annual fees.
Best Pick For: No Annual Fee
Capital One SavorOne Rewards Credit Card
No annual fee? No problem. The Capital One SavorOne Rewards Credit Card is unassuming, but it packs a punch. It features four bonus categories that earn 3% cash back, which is a bit unusual for a card without an annual fee (in a good way).
The appeal of this card is simple: If you like the reward categories, it could be a contender. Otherwise, check out the runners up.
- Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Card
- U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card
Best Pick For: Premium Travel (Point Transfers)
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® gets a lot of praise because it has features and perks travelers absolutely love.
The card includes 3X points on dining and some excellent point redemption and transfer opportunities, which can boost your effective earnings quite a bit. Combine that with the same good rate on travel (after using up the annual travel credit), plus airport lounge access and primary rental car insurance to help you get around. With all that, you’ll have one of the best travel credit cards on the market.
- American Express® Gold Card
Best Pick For: Occasional Travel
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
If you’re not ready to spring for the Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card makes an excellent restaurant card for the occasional traveler.
You won’t get a lot of fancy perks, but you will get 2X points on dining and travel, plus a comprehensive selection of shopping and travel benefits. They’re not as flashy as big statement credits and lounge access, but they can be valuable in their own right, especially the primary auto rental insurance. And you’ll get some excellent point transfer opportunities too.
- Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card
- American Express® Green Card
Best Pick For: Hotel Rewards
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
Hotel credit cards aren’t only good for hotels – they often have other bonus categories as well, although they’re not always very valuable. But some, like the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, award quite a few points per dollar for dining. For this card it’s 6X, but only at U.S. restaurants.
It’s true that hotel cards are usually best used at their co-branded hotels. But if you’re getting a good rate and will use those points to book rooms wisely, using hotel cards at restaurants can be a rewarding strategy.
- Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
- Hilton Honors American Express Card
- Marriott Bonvoy BrilliantTM American Express® Card
- The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
Best Pick For: Bad Credit
Discover it® Secured Credit Card
With bad credit you may have fewer opportunities. But that doesn’t mean you have to scrape the bottom of the barrel for a credit card.
Where many secured credit cards don’t come with any rewards at all, the Discover it® Secured credit card has a solid 2% category for restaurants and gas stations. It’s limited to $1,000 in combined spending per quarter, but that’s still top notch for a secured card.
Not only that, your first-year rewards are all doubled – so you can get a 4% cash back equivalent on dining and gas in the first year and 2% back for everything else in the first year after the Cashback Match.
Best Pick For: Small Business Owners
American Express® Business Gold Card
Small business owners have a few choices when it comes to restaurant cards – the right card for you really depends on what you need it for. Spending a lot of time on planes and in hotels? Or is it more for trips to the office supply shop? What about internet and phone services, or Amazon purchases?
The American Express® Business Gold Card is flexible, automatically providing 4X points in the two categories out of six you spend the most in each month. And yup, one of those is U.S. restaurants.
So you’ll only earn 4X points at U.S. restaurants if it’s one of your top two spending categories for the month. If that’s true, you’ll probably be earning a lot of points. But otherwise you’d only earn 1X point, and if that’s the case we suggest checking out the runners up.
- Bank of America® Business Advantage Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card
- Ink Business Cash® credit card
- Capital One Spark 2% Cash Plus
- Marriott Bonvoy BusinessTM American Express® Card
- The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
- Amazon Business Prime American Express Card
Best Pick For: Students
Capital One SavorOne Rewards for Students
As a student with limited credit you likely don’t have a ton of options, but some of those options are pretty good. The Capital One SavorOne Rewards for Students has some solid rewards, and it comes with a nice selection of bonus categories most college students should find handy.
- Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students
- Discover it® Student Cash Back
- Discover it® Student chrome
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best restaurant credit cards?
Do you want to earn points or cash back? Are you willing to pay an annual fee?
There are excellent restaurant cards no matter what you’re looking for, like:
- American Express® Gold Card: With 4X points at restaurants and some nice travel perks, this card can take you places.
- Capital One Savor Rewards Credit Card: For nights out on the town; you’ll earn 4% cash back on dining – and entertainment too.
- Capital One SavorOne Rewards Credit Card: No need to pay an annual fee, but you’ll still earn 3% back at restaurants and in some other useful categories.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Earn 3X points on dining (and travel, after using your $300 credit), with great point transfer opportunities.
- Discover it® Secured: Even if your credit is in bad shape, you can still earn 2% cash back at restaurants (on up to $1,000 spent per quarter).
- American Express® Business Gold Card: Small business owners can earn 4X points in the two categories they spend the most in each month – including U.S. restaurants.
How do restaurant and dining credit cards work?
Restaurant credit cards, also known as dining credit cards, have bonus categories that let you earn more credit card rewards at restaurants. They typically work like any other cash back or rewards card.
You can find many restaurant cards with features like these:
- 3% cash back at restaurants
- 4X points per dollar for dining
Most reward cards earn at least 1% cash back or 1X point per dollar for everything you buy, but restaurant cards have special categories that let you earn more. Some cards offer points, while others offer cash back, but there’s usually not much difference between the two types.
Do restaurant credit cards work for bars, fast food and food delivery?
Most restaurant credit cards will include bars and fast food in their “restaurant” category. If you’re not sure, you can test any particular merchant with a small purchase, or contact your card issuer to ask.
Food delivery is another matter, however. Some credit card issuers will include food delivery services, and others won’t. Furthermore, some food delivery services may be included, while other services may not be.
Since there’s so much variability here, we recommend testing with a small purchase or contacting your card issuer.