The 5 Best Credit Cards for Dining Out
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At first glance, dining out would seem to be the opposite of frugality, as it is easy to spend enough in one meal at a restaurant as you could buying a week's worth of groceries. Yet frugal people like me have been able to turn this equation on its head by taking advantage of rewards points.
On a recent night out, I made my reservation with Open Table just before departing in order to receive points worth future dining credits. When I arrived, I presented a coupon from Restaurant.com that took $25 off my $35 bill. Finally, I paid for our meal with a credit card that earns double points at restaurants. On other occasions I have used coupons from the Entertainment Book and participated in many of the dining miles programs offered by the airlines. By using coupons and taking advantage of rewards, my dining budget can still come pretty close to what I would've spent on a home-cooked meal. (See also: Best Credit Cards for Groceries)
Restaurant Rewards Credit Cards
No matter what your situation, anyone can save money by using the ideal credit card to maximize the rewards they receive from their dining expenses. Just as with any reward credit card, cardholders must always pay their balances in full and on time in order to assure that interest payments do not overwhelm any rewards received.
Best Credit Cards for Dining Out at Restaurants
These are my picks for the top credit cards to use when dining out.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Chase offers several cards that earn points in its Ultimate Rewards program, including the Sapphire Preferred® Card. Earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide. Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $625 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. You can also earn 5,000 bonus points by adding an authorized user and making a purchase within the first 3 months. Cardholders can receive 25% off travel when redeeming travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, or you can transfer your points to partner travel programs at a 1:1 rate. Finally, the card has no foreign transaction fees. The annual fee of $95 is waived the first year.
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card
The Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card awards an unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on dining and travel purchases and 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases. If you’re a Bank of America® Preferred Rewards client, you can get a points bonus of 25%-75%. You also earn 50,000 bonus points (a $500 value) after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening. This card includes up to $100 in statement credit every four years that you can use for TSA Pre✓® or Global Entry, and up to $100 in credit every year for airline incidental purchases. There are no foreign transaction fees. The annual fee is $95.
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card awards one of the highest rates of rewards for dining purchases. You earn an unlimited unlimited 3% cash back on dining, 2% on groceries, and 1% on all other purchases. New cardholders can also earn a one-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. There is no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee for this card.
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card offers 2x miles per dollar on every purchase and unlimited 10x miles on hotels when you pay with your Venture card at hotels.com/Venture. They're also offering a great one-time bonus offer right now: get 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 within 3 months from account opening (equal to $500 in travel). Apply your points toward your travel purchases — so fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime — with no blackout dates. This card also has no foreign transaction fees. The annual fee of $95 is waived the first year.
Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card
The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card from our partner Citi offers unlimited double points on purchases spent on dining out and entertainment, and one point spent on all other purchases. You get 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months from account opening and 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months from the date of the first transfer. After the promotional period, a variable APR of 15.24%-25.24% applies based on your creditworthiness*. Citi also offers special benefits like Price Rewind, where Citi will search hundreds of retailers' sites for 60 days from the date of purchase to help find a lower price and be refunded the difference (see program details for terms and limitations). There is no annual fee.
Without a doubt, most consumers will save money when they prepare their meals at home. Nevertheless, I find a frugal night out to be a needed respite from our family's normal routine of cooking and cleaning. By using all available coupons and discounts, and by choosing the best credit card to pay for your dining expenses, you can have affordable meals that ultimately lead to valuable rewards.
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