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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). 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 4x on dining is better than 3x. The value of the points or miles you’re earning is also an important part of the calculation, as it could mean that 3 points per dollar on one card is actually better than 4 points per dollar on another.
It’s also important to factor in the net cost of carrying the card in your wallet; many reward cards have high annual fees, but those are sometimes offset by annual travel and dining credits. Additionally, many cards now offer dining-focused perks such as exclusive access to reservations at certain restaurants.
So rather than having to slog through every card in your wallet, we’ve done the math for you. For each of the best cards offering 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. Cash-back cards may be more useful for some readers, and we’ll examine those as well. Here are the best options for the truly dedicated foodie.
The Best Credit Cards for Dining Rewards
|Category Bonus||Value of the Points*||Total Earned per Dollar Spent||Annual Fee||Welcome Bonus||Notes|
|Citi Prestige® Card||5x||1.7 cents||8.5 cents||$495||50,000 points after $4,000 in spending in the first three months||Full card review; annual fee is $450 until September 2019 for existing cardholders|
|American Express® Gold Card||4x||2 cents||8 cents||$250 (see rates and fees)||35,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first three months. Terms Apply.||Full card review|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||3x||2 cents||6 cents||$450||50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months||Full card review|
|Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express||7x||0.6 cents||4.2 cents||$450 (see rates and fees)||150,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months||Full card review; 7x only at US restaurants|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred Card||2x||2 cents||4 cents||$95||60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months||Full card review|
|Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card||4x||1 cent||4 cents||$95 (waived 1st year)||$300 cash bonus after you spend $3,000 within the first three months||Full card review|
|Uber Visa Card||4x||1 cent||4 cents||$0||$100 after you spend $500 in the first 90 days||Full card review|
|Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card||6x||0.6 cents||3.6 cents||$95 (see rates and fees)||130,000 points plus a free weekend night certificate after you spend $4,000 in the first four months. Offer ends August 28, 2019. Terms Apply.||Full card review; 6x only at US restaurants|
|Citi Premier℠ Card||2x||1.7 cents||3.4 cents||$95||60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening.||Full card review|
|The World Of Hyatt Credit Card||2x||1.7 cents||3.4 cents||$95||25,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months, plus an additional 25,000 points after you spend $6,000 in the first six months||Full card review|
|Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card||3x||1 to 1.75 cents||3 to 5.75 cents||$0||30,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first three months||Full card review; points are worth 1.5 cents if you also have a Wells Fargo Visa Signature Card, and are worth 1.75 cents if you spend $50,000 a year or more on the Wells Fargo Visa Signature Card|
|Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card||3x to 5.25x||1 cent||3 to 5.25 cents||$0||$200 cash bonus after you spend $1,000 within the first 90 days||Only if dining is your 3% choice category; only on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter; category bonus depends on how much you have with Bank of America/Merrill; 3% foreign transaction fee|
|Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi||3x||1 cent||3 cents||$0||None||Full card review; must have a Costco membership|
|Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card||2x to 3.5x||1 cent||2 to 3.5 cents||$95||50,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days||Full card review; category bonus depend on how much you have with Bank of America/Merrill Lynch|
|U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card||2x to 5x||1 cent||2 to 5 cents||$0||$150 cash back after you spend $500 in the first 90 days||5x on your first $2,000 on fast food if chosen as one of your 5x categories; 2x at restaurants|
*Value of points based on TPG valuations and not provided by issuers
As you can see, the Citi Prestige leads the way with 5 Citi ThankYou points per dollar spent at restaurants. Since TPG’s latest valuations peg the value of Citi ThankYou points at 1.7 cent each, the Prestige provides an 8.5% return on restaurant spending. Citi defines restaurants as including “cafes, bars, lounges and fast food restaurants.” The Prestige earns 5x points on dining both in the US and abroad, but its $495 annual fee may be a bit much for some. However, 5x earning on airfare, a $250 annual travel credit and other benefits increase the card’s potential value.
The Amex Gold Card comes in a close second by earning 4 points per dollar on dining worldwide, which is an 8% return based on our valuation of Amex Membership Rewards points. In addition to this terrific return, the card offers up to $120 annual in dining credits that you can use at merchants such as Boxed, Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory and participating Shake Shack locations. American Express also recently acquired restaurant-booking service Resy, so cardmembers can expect more dining perks including bonus points for bookings and preferred access to reservations to come. The Gold Card has a $250 annual fee (see rates and fees).
Official Application Link: Amex Gold Card with a 35,000-point bonus
The 3x bonus on the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which comes in third with a 6% return, is valid for dining both in the US and abroad. Dining is defined as “merchants in the restaurant category whose primary business is sit-down or eat-in dining, including fast food restaurants as well as fine dining establishments.” 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.
Official Application Link: Chase Sapphire Reserve with a 50,000-point bonus
The same goes for the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express, with its $450 annual fee (see rates and fees). It is a great card for Hilton loyalists but an expensive one if your hotel focus lies elsewhere. Its 6x return equates to a 3.6% return on dining based on our valuations. This card also comes with access to Amex’s concierge service that may be able to help get you a table at certain sought-after restaurants.
Official Application Link: Hilton Honors Aspire Card with a 150,000-point bonus
If you’re looking for a cheaper option, the Chase Sapphire Preferred might be your choice. While it only earns 2 points per dollar on dining, it comes with a much lower $95 annual fee. And if you don’t like paying annual fees at all, the Uber Visa Card may be the card for you. The Uber Visa earns cash back so you can’t get extreme travel value with it, but at 4% for dining and no annual fee, it’s certainly a card to consider.
Official Application Link: Chase Sapphire Preferred with a 60,000-point bonus
The Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card is also a decent contender, with just a $95 annual fee that’s waived the first year. The Savor Cash earns 4% on all purchases that involve eating establishments — from restaurants to Starbucks to food trucks — so it’s another one to consider if you’d rather deal with cash back instead of travel rewards. Aside from offering a solid return, Capital One has been investing in more unique dining-focused benefits. For instance, in the past it provided access to exclusive restaurant reservations through Resy, and through December 2019, it’s waiving delivery fees on Postmates orders. Most recently, Capital One announced a partnership with the James Beard Foundation that provides cardmembers perks like advanced access to the 2019-2020 Taste America series.
Official Application Link: Capital One Savor Card with a $300 cash bonus
The Citi Prestige and the Amex Gold Card take the cake here with a return of 8% or more on dining purchases. The Chase Sapphire Reserve finishes in third place with a 6% return on dining worldwide. They all offer an unbeatable combination of a strong earning rate on dining purchases, a high point value and a reasonable net effective annual cost. 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. There are also worthwhile cash-back cards for those who don’t want to collect and redeem points, most notably the Capital One Savor Cash
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Additional reporting by Julian Kheel.
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.
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With some great bonus categories, the American Express Gold Card has a lot going for it. The card offers 4x points at restaurants worldwide, 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 35,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months.
- Earn 35,000 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 when you dine at restaurants worldwide. 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 a total of $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. This can be 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.
- Choose to carry a balance with interest on eligible charges of $100 or more.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- Annual Fee is $250.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees