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School is back in session and that means that family weekday calendars are officially stuffed with school, homework, events and extracurricular activities. For my family, that (unfortunately) means that we end up cooking at home a bit less as the busy evenings don’t always permit us to stay home in front of the stove. It’s not just us. The number of families eating out is on the rise — and to the tune of thousands of dollars per year. From a budget perspective that may be painful, but from a points perspective this isn’t all bad news as there are many credit cards that provide bonus points on dining.
Thankfully, the dining bonus category does not require you to enjoy a four-course sit-down meal; it can also mean drive-through, take-out and even food delivery services. With that in mind, here’s a look at the best credit cards for families who like to eat out — whether that means a to-go order or fancy table for four.
Best Credit Cards for Eating Out
There are lots of rewards credit cards that provide a bonus on dining, which is great, but also potentially confusing. For those interested in a pretty comprehensive line-up, here are several (but not all) of the rewards credit cards that will give you bonus points when eating out. However, I’m going to narrow the list for you because busy families don’t all have time to sort through that many options.
|Dining Bonus||Value of the Points||Total Earned per Dollar Spent||Annual Fee||Notes|
|American Express® Gold Card||4x||2 cents||8 cents||$250 (See Rates & Fees)||4x valid at US Restaurants. Terms apply.|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||3x||2 cents||6 cents||$450|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred Card||2x||2 cents||4 cents||$95|
|Uber Visa Card||4x||1 cent||4 cents||$0|
|Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card||3x||1 cent||3 cents||$0|
|Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card (with Platinum Honors Rewards)||3.5x||1 cent||3.5 cents||$95||Must have at least $100,000 with Bank of America/Merrill Lynch|
|Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card (with Platinum Rewards)||3x||1 cent||3 cents||$95||Must have at least $50,000 with Bank of America/Merrill Lynch|
|Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card||4x||1 cent||4 cents||$95 (waived the first year)|
|Citi Prestige||5x||1.7 cents||8.4 cents||$450|
|Citi Premier Card||2x||1.7 cents||3.4 cents||$95 (waived the first year)|
|Citi ThankYou Preferred Card||2x||1.7 cents||3.4 cents||$0|
|Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card||7x||0.6 cents||4.2 cents||$450 (See Rates & Fees)||Valid at US restaurants only. Terms apply.|
Get 4% Cash Back on Dining and Earn a $300 Bonus
Several new cards that award bonuses for eating out have been introduced in the last year. A few of the newer cards to use when eating out don’t award points, but instead give cold hard cash back on dining charges. The Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card provides unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment purchases — which is also a great bonus category for families. In addition to 4% back on dining, the Savor Card also awards 2% cash back at grocery stores and 1% cash back on all other purchases. Having unlimited 4% back on dining is simple and straight-forward — just the way families like it.
As an added bonus, the Savor Card is also offering $300 in bonus cash back after spending $3,000 in purchases in the first three months. That’s a pretty solid reason to get the card even if you don’t have a ton of upcoming dining purchases! The Savor Card does have a $95 annual fee, but the fee is waived for the first year.
Earn 4% Cash Back on Dining With No Annual Fee
If your family wants to earn 4% cash back on dining without ever paying an annual fee, then believe it or not, the Uber Visa Card is a great card to consider. This card gives 4% back on dining (including UberEATS), 3% back on hotel and airfare, 2% back for online purchases and 1% back elsewhere. There are some other perks associated with the Uber Visa such as a $50 annual subscription credit to services such as Netflix, Hulu or Apple Music when you charge $5,000 on the card each year. We have certainly been “guilty” of loading up some Netflix on our daughters’ iPads while we wait for our food to be ready!
Earn up to 5x Points per Dollar on Dining
If your family values points more than cash back, then the Citi Prestige, Chase Sapphire Reserve, and even the Chase Sapphire Preferred, are hard cards to beat. The Citi Prestige is now at the top of the pack with 5x on dining. The Sapphire Reserve sis also still solid with 3 points per dollar on dining. Not only does the card award 3x on dining, but Ultimate Rewards points are one of the most valuable points currencies. Together, those realities makes this card the top choice when my own family eats out (we don’t have the Prestige). However, the $450 annual fee that comes with the Sapphire Reserve isn’t the perfect match to all families — even though it really can pay for itself when you factor in the earning potential and $300 annual travel credit.
A similar option at a lower annual price point is the Chase Sapphire Preferred. It earns 2 points per dollar on dining and carries with it a lower $95 annual fee.
Both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Chase Sapphire Preferred have welcome bonuses of 60,000 Ultimate Reward points after $4,000 in spending in the first three months. Due to the high value of transferrable Ultimate Reward points, TPG currently values those 50,000 bonus Ultimate Reward points at $1,000.
Another great option within the US is the American Express® Gold Card that awards 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar at US restaurants. Since TPG values Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each, this means 8 cents in value per eligible dollar charged!
Eating out does not have to mean you sit down in a restaurant — it can mean grabbing a meal to go while your family is buzzing from the PTA meeting to soccer to gymnastics. This means that dining bonus categories are extremely relevant for busy families who don’t always have the time to cook at home.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve, Citi Prestige and Amex Gold are all great choices to get as much value from your family’s dining expenses as possible, but there are many other very solid alternatives with lower annual fees. Getting 4% cash back on dining from either the Savor Card or the Uber Visa Card is a simple way to turn those meals-on-the-go into cash back in your pocket.
I’d love to hear what card(s) your family uses to earn rewards when eating out.
Featured photo by Tang Ming Tung/Getty Images
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This cash back card has a focus on dining and entertainment where you can earn unlimited 4% cash back in those spending categories. You can also earn 2% cash back at grocery stores and 1% cash back on all other purchases.
- Earn a one-time $300 cash bonus after you spend $3000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
- Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases. Plus, earn 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through May 2020.
- Receive a monthly statement credit for a Postmates Unlimited monthly membership through Dec. 2019 with the Capital One Savor Card
- No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
- No foreign transaction fees
- Capital One cardholders get access to premium experiences in dining, entertainment and more
- $0 intro annual fee for the first year, $95 after that