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When it comes to bonus categories, one of the most popular ones among TPG readers is dining (travel, unsurprisingly, is another top pick). And if you’re spending a lot on dining, you’ll want to know which credit card will maximize your rewards when enjoying a night out.
But it’s not as easy as just looking at the earning rate on a card and deciding that 3x on dining is better than 2x on dining. The value of the points or miles you’re earning is also an important part of the calculation, as it could mean that 2 points per dollar on one card is actually better than 3 points on another.
So rather than having to slog through every card in your wallet, we’ve done the math for you. For each card that offers valuable bonus rewards on dining, we calculated the bonus multiplier, the value of the points earned based on TPG’s most recent monthly point valuations, the annual fee and noted any special requirements about that card.
|Category Bonus||Value of the Points||Total Earned per Dollar Spent||Annual Fee||Welcome Bonus||Notes|
|American Express® Gold Card||4x||2 cents||8 cents||$250||25,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first three months. Terms Apply.||At US restaurants|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||3x||2 cents||6 cents||$450||50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months|
|Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express||7x||0.6 cents||4.2 cents||$450||150,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months||At US restaurants|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred Card||2x||2 cents||4 cents||$95 (waived 1st year)||50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first months|
|Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card||4x||1 cent||4 cents||$95 (waived 1st year)||$500 cash bonus after you spend $3,000 within the first three months|
|Uber Visa Card||4x||1 cent||4 cents||$0||$100 after you spend $500 in the first 90 days|
|Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card (with Platinum Honors Rewards)||3.5x||1 cent||3.5 cents||$95||50,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days||Must have at least $100,000 with Bank of America/Merrill Lynch|
|Citi Premier Card||2x||1.7 cents||3.4 cents||$95 (waived 1st year)||50,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months|
|Citi Prestige||2x||1.7 cents||3.4 cents||$450||Currently unavailable for new applicants.||Currently unavailable for new applicants.|
|Citi ThankYou Preferred Card||2x||1.7 cents||3.4 cents||$0||Currently no welcome bonus for new applicants.|
|Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card||3x||1 cent||3 cents||$0||30,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first three months|
|Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card (with Platinum Rewards)||3x||1 cent||3 cents||$95||50,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days||Must have at least $50,000 with Bank of America/Merrill Lynch|
As you can see, the American Express Gold Card leads the way. This recently launched card earns 4 points per dollar at US restaurants, equal to a 8% return based on our valuation of Amex Membership Rewards points. The only downside is that the bonus doesn’t apply to dining worldwide.
Meanwhile, the 3x bonus on the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which comes in second, is valid for dining both in the US and abroad. But keep in mind the $450 annual fee of that card. While you can offset a large portion of that fee with the card’s $300 annual travel credit, you’re still going to want to consider whether the points you earn on the card are worth the money you’re paying each year for it. The same goes for the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express, which is a great card for Hilton loyalists but an expensive one if your hotel focus lies elsewhere.
If you’re looking for a cheaper option, the Chase Sapphire Preferred might be your choice — it only earns 2 points per dollar on dining, but comes with a much lower $95 annual fee that’s even waived the first year. And if you don’t like paying annual fees at all, the Uber Visa Card is a surprisingly high #5 on this list. The card earns cash back so you can’t get extreme travel value with it, but at 4% for dining and no annual fee, it’s a card you might consider.
You won’t pay an annual fee in the first year with the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card, making it also a decent contender. Since it earns 4% on all purchases that involve eating establishments — from restaurants to Starbucks to food trucks — it’s another one to consider if you’d rather deal with cash back instead of travel rewards.
The Amex Gold Card takes the cake here, offering the highest return on dining purchases — with the important caveat that this 4x bonus is only for dining purchases in the US, not abroad. For dining internationally, the Chase Sapphire Reserve remains the top pick, offering 3x points. But any of the cards on this list will get more value on dining purchases than a run-of-the-mill credit card, so make sure you pick the right card before you plan that night out — or in, since delivery services like Seamless count as dining with many cards.
This is The Points Guy’s permanent page with the best currently available credit cards for dining, so you can bookmark it and check back regularly for updates. Keep in mind you may see some reader comments referring to older offers below.
With some great bonus categories, the American Express Gold Card has a lot going for it. The card offers 4x points at US restaurants, at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x), and 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com. It is currently offering a welcome bonus of 25,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months.
- Get the American Express® Gold Card in Limited Edition Rose Gold, only available until 1/9/2019.
- Receive 20% back as a statement credit at U.S. Restaurants within the first 3 months, up to $100 back. Offer available to new Card Members who apply by 1/9/2019.
- Plus, earn 25,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first 3 months.
- Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. restaurants. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X).
- Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
- Earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with The Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Shake Shack, and Ruth’s Chris Steak House. This is an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
- $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- Annual Fee is $250.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees