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?
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.
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.
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
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.
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!