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Love to eat but hate to cook and clean up? You’re in luck: Issuers are chasing after restaurant lovers right now — with a ton of new rewards cards. To put it in perspective: Last year, Chase capitalized on Americans’ appetite for dining out with the launch of the Chase Sapphire Reserve. The card’s generous 3x Ultimate Rewards points payout on all dining purchases (along with loads of other perks for frequent travelers) turned the heads of hungry cardholders. Over the past year, the financial industry has recognized that the path to many customers’ wallets starts in their stomachs.

From fine dining to taco trucks, credit cards are adding a tasty dessert of reward points. Image courtesy of Michael Berman via Getty Images.
From fine dining to taco trucks, credit cards are adding a tasty dessert of reward points. Image by Michael Berman via Getty Images.

In September, American Express and Delta teamed up to launch the Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express with on-the-ground eating in mind. Cardholders earn 2 miles per dollar spent at US restaurants. The earning potential is lower than the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s, but so is the price tag; the card has no annual fee. According to Sandeep Dube, Delta’s Vice President of Customer Engagement and Loyalty, Delta’s loyal passengers love to eat. “With more than a third of these consumers saying dining is their top choice for spending,” Dube said when the card launched in September, “earning two miles per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants is an appealing way to earn more miles.”

Image by John Mottern/Getty Images.
Customers can earn 2 miles per dollar spent with the Blue Delta SkyMiles Credit Card. Image by John Mottern via Getty Images.

The offerings from Chase and American Express target customers who love to eat and also love to travel. What about the cardholders who tend to stay closer to home? Earlier this month, Capital One unveiled its new Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card, which pays an unlimited 4% cash back on all restaurant expenses. The card also rewards those who opt for staying in the kitchen, with 2% cash back on all grocery purchases. Customers earn 1% on all other purchases, making this card ideal for people who really like to eat and prefer getting money back in their wallet to earning transferable rewards points.

Even more recently, Uber teamed up with Barclaycard to introduce the no-fee Uber Visa Card, which offers 4% back on restaurants, takeout and bars (including UberEats). This applies to purchases both in the US and abroad, and the 4% rate is even higher than what the card offers for Uber rides (2%). You can redeem rewards toward Uber rides or toward statement credits and gift cards, all at a rate of 1 cent per point. Since you’re effectively getting a 4% return on dining spending, this card is among the most rewarding cash-back options for these purchases.

How Much Can You Earn?

The average American household spends more than $3,000 per year at restaurants. Image courtesy of Caiaimage/Paul Bradbury via Getty Images.
The average American household spends more than $3,000 per year at restaurants. Image by Caiaimage/Paul Bradbury via Getty Images.

If you’re searching for a new credit card, you may be asking yourself how rewarding all of these cards can actually be. Of course, that answer depends on how frequently you eat at restaurants. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American household spent $3,008 on food away from home in 2015.

The younger you are, though, the more likely you’re spending a big chunk of your income on food — both at home and at restaurants. Earlier this year, Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyzed credit card spending data for four age brackets. Millennials outspent everyone on food, with nearly 24% of their expenses at restaurants and another 21%  on groceries.

Is a Food-Focused Card Right for You?

These numbers are helpful for understanding why credit card issuers love restaurants, but if you’re considering one of these cards, it’s best to analyze how much you’re already spending on dining out. Exploring new restaurants is fun, but it can also add up quickly. In fact, I just combed through my year-end statements from 2016 and discovered that I spent approximately $9,400 at restaurants throughout the year, which means I’ve learned two valuable lessons while writing this article. First, one of these cards might be a great fit for me. Second, I should start cooking at home more often.

Does extra earning potential for dining out appeal to you? Share your thoughts on how important restaurants are to your rewards strategy in the comments section. And be sure to check out TPG’s most anticipated restaurant openings this fall to add some tasty destinations to your dining list.

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