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Even putting its amazing travel protections like primary car rental coverage and trip delay reimbursement aside, the Chase Sapphire Reserve, and its cheaper sibling, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, are among the best travel rewards credit cards due to their amazing earning rates — 3x points or 2x points, respectively, on all travel and dining purchases worldwide.
Chase’s definition for what counts as a travel purchase is quite broad, including virtually every trip-related charge, from Airbnb bookings to parking fees. But how does its definition of dining stack up? Luckily, it’s quite generous as well.
Here’s how “restaurants” is defined, according to Chase’s website:
Merchants in the restaurants category are merchants whose primary business is sit-down or eat-in dining, including fast food restaurants as well as fine dining establishments. Please note that some merchants that sell food and drinks located within larger merchants such as sports stadiums, hotels and casinos, theme parks, grocery and department stores will not be included in this category unless the merchant has set up such purchases to be classified in a restaurant category. In addition, gift card and delivery service merchants will not be included in this category unless the merchant has set up such purchases to be classified in the restaurant category.
While the term “restaurants” is pretty straightforward, in practice, this category is broader than it appears on the surface. Essentially, any establishment that serves (as opposed to sells) food or drinks counts. As long as a merchant classified itself in a restaurant category when applying to accept credit cards, the purchase will qualify.
For instance, bars (including ones that don’t serve food) and coffee shops like Starbucks typically code as dining purchases. Additionally, in most cases, you’ll earn 3x points for spend with restaurant delivery services like Seamless and Eat24. However, you won’t earn bonus points for spend at grocery stores or meal kit subscriptions like Blue Apron.
If you want to get a sense of what to expect from businesses in your area, you can reference Visa’s handy merchant coding search tool. While it’s uncommon, sometimes restaurants aren’t categorized correctly, so if you feel like an eligible dining purchase didn’t code properly, you can always test your luck and try disputing it with a Chase phone or Twitter representative to get the bonus points you deserve.
To recap, the following are purchases that Chase typically counts as dining:
- Coffee shops
- Fast food restaurants
- Restaurant delivery services (Caviar, Eat24, Grubhub, Seamless but not Postmates)
- University dining halls
- Vending machines
And here are dining-related purchases that Chase typically DOES NOT count as dining:
- Amazon Restaurants
- Catering services
- Food and drinks establishments located within larger merchants
- Grocery stores
- Inflight food and drinks
- Meal kit subscriptions
As with travel purchases, Chase’s definition for what counts as a dining purchase is quite extensive, so Chase Sapphire Reserve and Sapphire Preferred card holders have plenty of opportunities to earn 3x or 2x Ultimate Rewards points. Based on our valuations, that’s a return of up to 6% on these purchases. Plus, you could earn even more rewards by linking your card with dining rewards programs such as an airline dining program, Seated or Visa Local Offers with Uber.
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 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 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.
- 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