Best Credit Cards for Restaurants & Dining Comparison
|Credit Card||Best For||Annual Fee|
|Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card||No Annual Fee||$0|
|Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa®||Fair Credit||$0|
|Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card for Students||Students||$0|
|Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card||Dining & Entertainment||$95|
|U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Gold American Express® Card||Excellent Credit||$85|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||Travel Rewards||$95|
5 Tips for Picking the Best Credit Card for Dining
- Check Your Latest Credit Score. Your credit standing will tell you what type of credit card you can qualify for. If you don’t know where you stand, check your latest credit score for free on WalletHub.
- Make a Food Budget. With an idea of how much you spend on food each month, both at restaurants and on groceries, you’ll easily be able to determine how much you’ll earn in rewards from each card in those categories. This will also help you figure out whether you need a restaurant credit card or one of the best credit cards for groceries.
- Think About Where You Eat Most Often. Consider not only which restaurants you frequent, but also whether you dine out or prepare your own food for most meals.
- Consider All Types of Rewards Cards. Depending on your spending and dining habits, a restaurant credit card might not save you the most money. In particular, make sure to compare the earnings that you can expect from your favorite restaurant card to those available from the best cash back credit cards.
- Always Pay in Full. Restaurant credit cards are known for rewards, not low APRs. So if you want your card to be a source of savings, don’t carry a balance from month to month.
Best Dining Rewards Programs from Credit Card Companies & More
The best dining rewards programs are Rewards Network, iDine, and the unique dining experiences offered by several major credit card companies. Rewards Network is collection of different dining rewards programs, some of which are affiliated with major airlines and hotel chains. You just pick the type of rewards that you want to earn – such as airline miles, hotel points or cash back – and you’ll find a selection of dining rewards programs to choose from.
Programs like iDine, and the other members of the Rewards Network, can work in tandem with a restaurant credit card’s dining rewards. They don’t nullify card earnings or affect your eligibility for other dining-related benefits your card may offer. That’s important because four of the 10 largest credit card issuers offer unique dining experiences to at least some cardholders. Some experiences are available as a rewards redemption option, while others require you to buy a ticket like normal – being a cardholder simply makes that possible.
Best Credit Cards for Unique Dining Experiences
|Credit Card Company||Offers Unique Dining Experiences?||Example Offer||Eligible Cards|
|American Express||Yes||Dinner and cooking class for two with an award-winning chef
87,600 points or $438
|All credit cards (benefits vary by card)|
|Bank of America||No||N/A||N/A|
|Capital One||Yes||Pre-sale tickets to events at the NYC Wine & Food Festival available for purchase||All Visa and Mastercard credit cards|
|Chase||Yes||Private dinner at a New York or Los Angeles restaurant
25,000 points or $250
|Preferred and Reserve cards|
|Citibank||Yes||$25 off per ticket to the NYC Autumn Wine and Food Festival 2019||All credit cards with a Visa, Mastercard or American Express logo|
American Express Dining Experiences
Many American Express credit cards give you the option to redeem your rewards earnings for unique culinary experiences. Experiences include the chance to dine with award-winning chefs, food tours, special outings at certain restaurants, various types of cooking classes and more.
People with Amex points credit cards have the most dining options available to them. But beware, Amex points are usually worth half a cent each when redeemed for dining experiences. You can check out the latest offers on the American Express Membership Rewards website.
If your American Express credit card is not part of Membership Rewards, you can reserve a spot in various culinary events through the American Express Experiences page.
American Express Offers are another option. Amex regularly makes special deals available for cardholders to claim and add to their accounts for redemption. They’re often related to dining. For example, if you spend $100 through a particular restaurant or culinary brand, you could get $20 back.
Finally, if you have an American Express Platinum or Centurion card, you also get access to the American Express Global Dining Collection. This is a list of restaurants at which cardholders can reserve exclusive reservations and enjoy special experiences.
Capital One Dining Experiences
Capital One often gives cardholders the chance to attend unique culinary events, such as the New York City Wine & Food Festival or chef-hosted dinners put on by the James Beard Foundation. These events are not free, however. Cardholders must usually purchase tickets. These experiences are available to anyone with a Capital One Visa or Mastercard credit card. Store cards issued by Capital One are not eligible.
Chase Dining Experiences
Chase Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve cardholders have more than 20 dining experiences to choose from, including several encounters with celebrity chefs. Cardholders can redeem points to enjoy an experience or charge the purchase to their card. Chase’s Ink Business Preferred and J.P. Morgan Reserve cards are eligible for unique dining experiences, too.
Citibank Dining Experiences
A handful of dining experiences are available to Citi cardholders via Citi Entertainment. They include tickets to food festivals and dining-themed charity events. Cardholders get an allotment of “preferred” tickets, along with discounts. All Citibank credit cards are eligible, except for store cards.
Methodology for Selecting the Best Restaurant Credit Cards
In order to identify the best credit cards for dining, and then keep this menu of restaurant rewards cards up to date, WalletHub’s editors regularly compare more than 1,500 credit card offers based on their ongoing rewards, initial bonus, annual fees, and approval requirements. In doing so, we focus on the net rewards value (after annual fees) that the average person would earn on dining purchases over the course of two years. This is calculated in terms of two-year cost, with negative amounts indicating savings.
How Two-Year Cost Is Calculated
Two-year cost is used to approximate the monetary value of cards for better comparison and is calculated by combining annual and monthly membership fees over two years, adding any one-time fees or other fees (like balance transfer fees), adding any interest costs, and subtracting rewards. Negative amounts indicate savings. When fees or other terms are presented as a range, we use the midpoint for scoring purposes.
Rewards bonuses and credits have been taken into account for two-year cost calculations. However, bonuses applicable to only a very small portion of cardholders are not considered. For example, credits and bonuses awarded for spending or redeeming rewards through a company portal with non-co-branded cards have not been taken into account. Similarly, bonuses and credits related to spending with specific merchants using a non-co-branded card have not been taken into account (for example, if Card A offers credits with DoorDash, this feature would not be factored into calculations because it is hard to assess how many cardholders would use the benefit or exactly how much value they'd get from it).
Cardholder Spending Profiles
Given that different users have different goals and are likely to use their credit cards differently, we identified spending profiles that are representative of different users’ financial priorities and behaviors. For each cardholder type, we have assumed a specific amount of monthly spending by purchase type (e.g., groceries, gas, etc.), as well as an average balance, balance transfer amount, amount spent on large purchases and average monthly payment. Spending assumptions are based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data for consumers and PEX data for businesses.