These Rewards Credit Cards Can Get You Into the World’s Best Restaurants
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There’s never been a better time to be a foodie. Dynamic, creative chefs the world over are reinventing traditional cuisines and helping diners discover new tastes.
There are also plenty of rewards credit cards that offer lucrative earning bonuses on restaurants and dining out. Beyond the chance to earn double or triple points on your tab, there are a few high-end credit cards that also offer members opportunities to score hard-to-get reservations at sought-after eateries, and even host exclusive events with some of the world’s best chefs.
For true gourmets who take their food seriously and want to mingle behind the scenes with the biggest names in the restaurant world, here are the credit cards that can get you unparalleled access.
This card has many benefits to go along with its $695 annual fee. (See rates & fees.) Among the lesser-known ones is that, like The Business Platinum Card® from American Express and the Centurion Card, the personal Amex Platinum participates in Amex’s By Invitation Only series. Enrollment required for select benefits.
The information for the Centurion Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer
Launched more than 25 years ago, the exclusive invite-only program consists of 80-100 events annually in the fields of art, entertainment, fashion and dining. Amex bills them as once-in-a-lifetime experience for card holders with the opportunity to interact personally with famed artists, designers, entertainers and chefs.
Upcoming restaurant events include an intimate evening with chef Mauro Colagreco of Mirazur on the French Riviera. At another, card holders got to spend a night with the Roca brothers of of the three-Michelin-starred El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain, that included a cooking demonstration with Chef Joan Roca, a wine-tasting of rare cellar entries with sommelier Josep Roca, and a full dinner with wine pairings at the restaurant, including dessert handmade by third brother and the focus of an episode of Chef’s Table, pastry chef Jordi Roca.
Up next? A full day of foraging and feasting in Copenhagen with Chef René Redzepi and his team at the two-Michelin star restaurant Noma on May 15-23, 2020. Though these events are not cheap, they are an intriguing opportunity for folks who really take their food seriously and want face time with their favorite chefs. The Noma event is $1,500 per person, which is a lot to pay for dinner, but considering it involves several activities including a dinner with wine or juice pairings that normally costs around $600, the premium could be worth it.
Apart from the special events of the By Invitation Only series, Platinum card holders can also use Platinum Concierges to score impossible, last-minute reservations at Amex’s Global Dining Collection of partner restaurants, including Eleven Madison Park in New York City, Atelier Crenn in San Francisco, Sur Mésure in Paris and Pierre in Hong Kong.
The one downside to the Platinum Card and Business Platinum Card in terms of dining is that they each only earn 1 point per dollar. If all you’re looking for is an earning bonus on restaurant purchases, you might want to consider the American Express® Gold Card instead, ($250 annual fee. See rates & fees.) which earns 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar on dining at restaurants.
Although folks with various Chase cards have access to events through the issuer’s Chase Experiences program, those with one of the Sapphire cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the more premium Chase Sapphire Reserve can take advantage of the most exclusive dining events, including private dinners and tastings at some of the best-known restaurants in the U.S.
The program offers dozens of experiences per year. Among the upcoming ones is a private dinner at Birdie G’s in Santa Monica, Calif. The event costs $150 per person or 15,000 Ultimate Rewards points, though you’d get better value redeeming points for a travel purchase.
The evening includes an appearance by Chef Jeremy Fox, along with a discussion of the menu, a welcome reception with hors d’oeuvres, a multi-course dinner, taxes, gratuities and valet parking.
The culinary events cost the same whether you have the Reserve or Preferred version of the Sapphire card, so you’re not missing out on anything other than 3 points per dollar with the Reserve versus 2 points per dollar with the Preferred on your purchase if paying rather than redeeming points.
If you have a Citi credit card such as the Citi Prestige® Card or the Citi Premier® Card, you can take advantage of the issuer’s Citi Entertainment events. Along with music, sports and theater performances, card holders can purchase tickets to dining and beverage happenings that are not usually available to the general public, or that offer more perks than what your average consumer can enjoy.
The information for the Citi Prestige Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Among the upcoming opportunities are pre-sale tickets to NYC Winter Outing, which includes exclusive access to events happening for restaurant week, Broadway week and NYC must-see week happening Jan. 21 through Feb. 9, 2020.
Citi card holders get first dibs on the 2-for-1 tickets and prix-fixe meals around town. The tickets for a two-course lunch start at $26 and a three-course dinner starts at $42.
While Citi Entertainment events and tickets are open to pretty much any Citi card holder, the reason we’re highlighting the Citi Prestige in particular is its revamped earning structure that includes 5 points per dollar not only on air travel but also on dining.
Like Amex, Chase and Citi, Capital One has an events portal for card holders, called Capital One Access, that includes a few foodie-focused benefits. The program has recently partnered with OpenTable on a few initiatives to offer cardholders access to hard-to-get reservations. The offer is available in 15 U.S. cities with up to 20 restaurant reservations available in some cities.
While Capital One fields a lot of great credit cards, the best choice for traveling gourmands is the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card. With a $95 annual fee, this card earns a whopping 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, so you can get a lot of value out of it if these are two of your main expense areas. Otherwise, the no-annual-fee Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card earns a respectable 3% back on dining and entertainment.
The information for the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
If you have a Mastercard such as the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard or the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®, you have access to the Mastercard Priceless Cities VIP events and offerings in cities around the world, including tastings, dinners and tours. The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Unlike some of the events from other issuers, you can book many of these any time, though it usually requires a week or so advance notice and only consists of a meal and a quick meet-and-greet with the chef.
For instance, this booking at 71Above in Los Angeles that costs $395 a person includes a six-course meal with wine pairings. Guests will also enjoy aerial views of L.A. while dining. This booking is available to book Sunday through Thursday from now until Dec. 30, 2019.
This experience at Bathtub Gin in New York City includes a briefing of the history of gin, a mixologist demonstration, the opportunity to try making your own fancy cocktail and a live jazz show for $150 per person. At the moment, there are also experiences in New York, Miami, Sonoma, Napa, Paris, London, Vienna, Rio de Janeiro and Singapore, among other locales.
These occasions are less about a one-off evening and more about enjoying some unique experiences and the certainty of getting to talk to the chef in restaurants you might want to visit in major cities around the world.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card or Marriott Bonvoy™ Business American Express® Card
Although you don’t actually need a Marriott Bonvoy credit card to access Marriott Bonvoy Moments listings, you might want to carry one anyway for several reasons. Not least of which is the ability to earn 3 points per dollar at U.S. restaurants with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card ($450 annual fee. See rates & fees.) or an even more attractive 4 points per dollar at U.S. restaurants with the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card.
Marriott Bonvoy™ Business and the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant are offering at least 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. The Bonvoy Business is offering 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Earn up to $150 in statement credits within your first 6 months of Card Membership for all eligible purchases on your Card on U.S. Advertising in select Media. Plus receive complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status for one year (February 1, 2021-January 31, 2022). Offer ends 1/13/21. The Bonvoy Brilliant current offer is up to 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Plus, earn an additional 25,000 bonus points after your first anniversary of Card Membership. Enjoy complimentary Platinum Elite status with your Card for the 2021 status year. Offer Expires 1/13/2021.
In addition to entertainment and sporting events, there is always a rotating selection of culinary experiences on offer that you can use points to bid on. Most auctions start at a reasonable 10,000 points, though the more exclusive or expensive the restaurant, the more you can expect to pay.
For instance, bids for this New Years Eve gala dinner in London is currently up to 377,700 points at press time.
Are these always the best deals? No. But using points not only to secure a guaranteed reservation at one of the world’s most famous restaurants and pay for your dinner there might come in handy if you’ve been hoarding your points or have a stash of new ones thanks to some recent credit card applications.
Beyond earning miles and points, many travel rewards credit cards offer additional value-added perks such as trip protection, car rental insurance and lost luggage reimbursement. But perhaps the most undervalued benefits are the experiences many of them offer, including reservations at some of the world’s best restaurants and the chance to actually meet with the famous chefs behind them. Check the cards you already carry to see what kind of insider access you can get.
Additional reporting by Liz Hund.
Featured image by rawpixel on Unsplash.
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