What’s the Best Business Credit Card for Dining Purchases?

Jul 31, 2018

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“Reader Questions” are answered twice a week by TPG Associate Editor Brendan Dorsey.

There are a whole lot of business credit cards out there and it can sometimes be difficult to choose the one that best fits you and your business’ needs. So TPG reader Michael wants to know which card will earn him the most points toward travel…

I need a business card and to get the most points to use for travel and hotels… most of the spending on the card would be dining and taking clients out.

TPG Reader Michael

If Michael was asking this question about a personal credit card, I’d quickly recommend the Chase Sapphire Reserve since it earns 3x points on all travel (excluding $300 travel credit) and dining purchases, which can make your points balance balloon quickly. Additionally, Chase Ultimate Rewards points are great to use for travel — either through the Chase travel booking portal or by transferring to one of Chase’s many partners.

However, what about business credit cards specifically? Are there any business cards with great dining bonus categories that earn points toward travel rewards?

Actually, there are a few, though none are quite as good as the CSR. Here’s a chart that breaks down which business cards will earn the most points and give the biggest return on your dining spend (returns are based on TPG’s point valuations):

Credit Card Annual Fee Earn on Dining Purchases Earn on Everyday Purchases Return on Dining Purchases
The Blue Business®️ Plus Credit Card from American Express $0 (see rates & fees) 2x Membership Rewards points* 2x Membership Rewards points* 3.8%
The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card $95 (see rates & fees) 6x Hilton points (at US Restaurants) 3x Hilton points 3.6%
Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express $95 (waived the first year) 4x Marriott points** 2x Marriott points** 3.6%
Marriott Premier Plus Business Credit Card $99 4x Marriott Points*** 2x Marriott points*** 3.6%
SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express $0 (see rates & fees) 3% cash back 1% cash back 3%
United Explorer Business Card $95 2x United miles 1x United mile 2.8%
* On the first $50,000 in spend a year, then 1x points for all further spend
** Starting August 1, 2018
*** Starting August 26, 2018

If you’re trying to maximize your dining purchases — and confining that spend to just one sole business credit card to keep things simple — The Blue Business®️ Plus Credit Card from American Express is truly a great choice, earning 2x Membership Rewards points on every purchase (for the first $50,000 a year; then 1x) with no annual fee. The points can even be transferred to Amex’s airline and hotel partners without needing any other card in the Amex family.

However, the chart doesn’t take into account other credit card combinations and welcome bonuses. For instance, if Michael wants to earn a big chunk of points quickly, he could apply for the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card and get 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first three months of account membership. Those 80,000 points are worth $1,680, according to TPG’s valuations. And while the Ink Business Preferred only offers 1 point per dollar on dining purchases, Michael could add the Ink Business Cash Credit Card to his wallet, which earns 2% back on dining (on up to $25,000 per year). However, when paired with an Ultimate Rewards-earning card (business or personal) like the Ink Business Preferred, that cash back can be converted into Ultimate Rewards points, meaning it would effectively earn 2x points on dining spend.

If Michael used this combo of business cards — similar to the Chase Trifecta or Quartet — he’d be getting a 4.2% return with some of the most flexible travel points out there. The Ink Cash also comes with a $500/50,000 point sign-up bonus after spending $3,000 in the first three months.

Also, when Michael refers to taking clients out, we can assume he’d be spending money on sports, theater or concert tickets. Unfortunately there aren’t any business cards that earn a bonus on entertainment spend — really the only credit cards that have noteworthy category bonuses for entertainment are the Citi Prestige, the Citi Premier® Card and the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card, all of which earn 2x points per dollar for entertainment. But when it comes to business cards, again, the Amex Blue Business Plus is going to be his best bet for these purchases since it earns 2x points on everything.

Bottom Line

If Michael wants to keep it simple and just use one business credit card, the Amex Blue Business Plus is likely his best bet. But if he’s willing to use the Ink Business Preferred and Ink Business Cash combo, he’d be raking in the travel points.

Finally, while Michael’s question focused on the business cards that will earn him the most travel rewards points for dining, it’s also important to consider other aspects of a credit card like travel credits, hotel and airline elite status credits, lounge access, purchase and trip protection. These perks can sometimes be more valuable than the points you’ll earn from the card.

Thanks for the question, Michael, and if you’re a TPG reader who’d like us to answer a question of your own, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at info@thepointsguy.com.

For rates and fees of the Blue Business Plus card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Business card, click here.
For rates and fees of the SimplyCash Plus card, click here.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.