Top Credit Cards for Dining Out - Running with Miles
Best Point Earning Credit Cards

Top Credit Cards for Dining Out

Chase 5/24
Written by Dustin

There are some pretty solid options out there for earning points while dining out. These are some of the cards I think are at the top of that list.

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I recent finished hitting my $2,000 limit for earning 10x on my American Express Blue for Business credit card. Since I need to use another card for dining out, I figured it’d be good to review some of the top cards for dining out. There are some great cards available to earn bonus points for dining.

Top Cards for Dining Out

These are in no particular ranking order. Even with a card that has a nice bonus category for dining out, there is a possibility to earn more miles with alternative options.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

This is one of the more popular cards available, because Ultimate Rewards are very valuable. Although the Sapphire Preferred may have taken a back seat to it’s bigger brother the Sapphire Reserve, this card is still worth considering.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns 2x on all dining purchases. Which is a nice amount to earn, especially since Ultimate Rewards are a great currency .

The current sign up bonus is 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 90 days. You’ll earn an extra 5,000 points when you add an authorized user as well

The annual fee of $95 is waived the first year, and the Sapphire Preferred has no foreign transaction fees .

Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Sapphire Reserve receives a little more attention than the Sapphire Preferred now. That’s probably due to it superior benefits and ability to earn 3x on dining (and travel).

The current sign up bonus is 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 90 days. I don’t think we will see another 100,000 offer come across again publicly for the Sapphire Reserve. It could make an appearance as a targeted offer.

The annual fee is $450 and is not waived for the first year. If you are looking to add an authorized user, it’ll cost you a cool $75 per person. Although there are ways to add an authorized user and not the fee.

The Sapphire Reserve also can be redeemed for 1.5 cents per point through the Chase portal.

One question to consider when comparing the Sapphire Reserve to the Sapphire Preferred for dining purposes, is the extra 1x worth the extra cost for the annual fee?

Chase Freedom

This card is usually good for 5% (or 5x) one quarter per year, as it is now.  The quarter limit is $1500,which means you’d earn 7,500 Ultimate Reward points, or $75. During this time, the Chase Freedom better than your other Chase cards for earning Ultimate Reward points.

If earning cash back is your currency of choice, then 5% back is pretty hard to beat. But, this might not be the best option for cash back dining right now.

This card should be left at home if traveling abroad, since it does charge a foreign transaction fee. Even  at 5% back, if you are paying 3% foreign transaction fee you are only earning 2% back. There are cards on this list that would be better suited for travel abroad.

Discover It

Just like the Chase Freedom, this card earns 5% cash back one quarter per year for dining (which is happening this quarter). From a pure cash back perspective, I like this card better than the Chase Freedom. That is due to the bonus when redeeming for gift cards through Discover.

If you just received the card or open a new Discover It card, you will have all your cash back double at the end of the 1st year. This makes the Discover It worth 10% when dining out. That is probably better than any point redemption you would receive.

Although this card has no foreign transaction fees, Discover has a smaller footprint when traveling outside of the US. While it might be worth bringing along at 5% cash back, you should definitely bring a back up card in case Discover is not accepted.

There is no annual fee for this card. If you head over to Discover’s website there won’t be any bonus offer. There are links out there for a $50 sign up bonus after first purchase, which will double to $100 at the end of the first year.

Chase AARP

This is one of the cards not affected by the “5/24 rule.”

Check out this article by Doctor of Credit about which cards do not fall under the “5/24 rule.” It’s always good to know which cards you might have a shot being approved for if you are over 5 cards in the last 24 months.

The Chases AARP currently has a sign up bonus of $200 after spending $500 in the first 90 days too (not affiliated link, taken from  AARP website).

This card is definitely for the cash back crowd. The Chase AARP earns 3% on all restaurant purchases. This is a pretty solid amount of cash back earned for dining out.

The Chase AARP has no annual fee, but does comes with foreign transaction fees.

Citi Thank  You Premier

This card keeps appearing on “top card list.” That’s because it is really a solid card.

The Citi Thank You Premier earns 2x Thank You points on all dining purchases. This falls in line with the earning potential of similar cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Currently, if you apply in branch there is a 50,000 point offer after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days. If you apply online the offer is only 30,000 points for $3,000 spend in the first 90 days.

The Citi Thank You Premier has no foreign transaction fees and has a $95 annual fee which is waived the first year. It is also a Mastercard which has a better exchange rate than Visa when making purchases abroad.

American Express Blue Business Plus

Since the sign up bonus on this card went away, so has the attention. Even with American Express issues, they built a winner with this card.

The American Express Blue Business Plus earns a solid 2x Membership Rewards on all purchases (up to $50,000), including dining. To make this even sweeter, it has no annual fee.

The American Express Blue Business Plus does come with a 2.7% foreign transaction fee, so I’d leave it behind.

Using Dining Reward Programs

With all of these options to earn points/cash back with credit, you should also enroll in dining reward program.  It’s a nice way to double dip and earn more miles.

You can choose between airline, hotels, or other programs like Orbitz to save money on your travels. I hope someday Airbnb is added to that list, I would LOVE to earn Airbnb credit for dining out.

To possibly triple dip, you can use an app like Dosh. I’ve noticed many of the restaurants where I dine are part of both programs. This is a great way to stack even more savings on top of what you already would be earning.

Buy Discounted Gift Cards

There are plenty of ways to dine out for less, plus earn points for your purchases. I have become a big fan of buying discounted gift cards to use at restaurants I’ll dine at. Most of these are at larger chain restaurants, but these can still add up to some big savings.

These include places like Cardpool, or CardCash (we both will receive $5 if you sign up with my link). There are others, but those are ones I typically use and have had good experiences with them. You won’t earn bonuses for dining categories, but there are other ways to earn bonus points. If saving money over earning points is your game, this is definitely an avenue you should consider.

For the person a big fan of United Miles, you can download the United MilePlus app. You will earn extra United miles for purchasing gift cards on many retailers, including restaurants.

Conclusion

There are many cards that earn a bonus for dining out. You can definitely have more than one, but as banks change it might be important to pick one you can use for the long term to help you reach your travel goals.

When you start stacking dining rewards, or discount gift cards you can really earn extra points or save more money. If you haven’t looked into these extra programs it is definitely worth it!

What’s your favorite card to use for dining out? Which program do you like to double dip with?

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Editorial Note - Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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About the author

Dustin

After completing 6 years of pharmacy school, I finally had the time to travel. I started investigating ways to travel for less and when I redeemed my first award flight for my honeymoon, I knew I was hooked! Fast forward a couple of years and places I had never dreamed of visiting like Budapest, Honolulu, Bermuda and many other places where all within my reach, and for little to no money out of my pocket. Now, I have collected well over a million points and miles, and try to help people travel for less on their wallet.

8 Comments

  • “The Citi Thank You Premier has no foreign transaction fees and has a $95 annual fee which is waived the first year. It is also a Mastercard which has a better”

    Looks like this sentence was cut off.

  • A way to get the gift card discount and points is to buy them directly at the restaurant when they are on sale. Many chains have 10-20% discounted cards at the holidays or periodically through the year. Eat there, and buy gift cards for future meals; the GC will post as dining. It’s a solid way to get the points plus the discount, and if you can get the GC during the quarterly bonus for cards with that option, you’ll earn 5% on means all year by buying the GC at the right time.

    • Hey SightseeMC,

      That’s a great point! Holiday’s are definitely a great time to stock up on gift cards! Although you can earn 5x with discount gift cards at places like Card Cash when you pay via paypal.

      Both options are definitely solid!

      Thanks for reading! I appreciate it!
      Dustin

    • Hey Eric,

      Which PenFed card are you speaking of? The one’s I know if are 5x on airfare, or 5x on gas and 3x at supermarkets Nothing about dining. I believe a few years ago there was a bonus for dining, but if I remember that is now not the case.

      The Sam’s Club MC and Costco cards, indirectly have an annual fee by requiring a membership. On top of that, they earn 3% cash back, which is no better than the 3% AARP card that has no annual fee. Plus the sign up bonuses are much less/none existent vs AARP.

      Both the Sam’s Club MC and Costco Visa are paid out each February and require in store cash out of your rewards. As opposed to monthly like other cards in the list.

      Why would 2 cards that have an indirect annual fee and earn 3% cash back be rated over a card like the AARP which has no annual fee and earns the same amount? In addition being required waiting a year for your rewards.

      As far as product pushing…I don’t get paid for credit card sign ups.

      If you read other articles of mine, you would see I have a different view point than most on points. I call out popular cards for being overrated, recommend non-traditional cards (such as USAA), and really only talk about cards I think are worth my time. I also give credit where it is due to cards (such as 3x on dining with CSR).

      I appreciate you reading my article,
      Dustin

    • Eric, of course we would welcome suggestions on options you may feel are overlooked but do not be so quick with your accusations next time. You will notice there was not a single affiliate link in this post and we certainly do not push cards here. You must have confused this blog with another one…

  • Premier Dining Rewards from capital one.
    No annual fee. 3x back on dining. 2x back at supermarkets. No fx fee.
    This should be on every dining card list.
    Probably the best card strictly for dining BC of the no fees.

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