Best Credit Cards for Restaurant and Dining Rewards

Updated: 5 days ago

Partly because I started spending so much time on planes at such a young age, I’ve never learned how to cook. And my one foray into the world of cooking left me committed to making reservations rather than meals at home whenever possible. So as someone who eats out or orders in 99% of the time, I spend a lot of time thinking about the best credit cards for restaurants, and how to maximize the miles I earn on dining.

Best Credit Cards for Restaurants of 2019

One of the main things to understand about earning bonus points at restaurants is to know that different credit card issuers sometimes categorize merchants differently, based on the agreements that each business has with their payment processor. Merchants choose these categories when they enroll, so sometimes (particularly for companies using Square) your bank might not know you were at a restaurant.

For the most part, however, credit cards that offer bonus points on dining include more than just formal restaurants. Everything from coffee shops to food trucks is usually included as dining, though the little cafe attached to a gas station or the coffee shop inside your hotel might not be recognized as a restaurant.

While the above cards represent the best overall values for dining out, there are other travel credit cards that might make sense for your situation. If you’re trying to rack up hotel points for a big vacation, you may want to use a hotel credit card that offers extra points at restaurants, for example. Here are the best credit cards for restaurant rewards available today:

Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points and a Free Weekend Night Reward

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

Foreign Transaction Fee: None
Annual Fee: $95
Terms Apply.
on American Express' secure site
Why we like this card

Being a cardmember provides you complimentary Gold status, which gets you free breakfast and upgrades at Hilton properties across the world

Read our Review

Card Details

  • Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points and a free weekend night reward after you spend $4,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 4 months of Card membership.
  • Earn a Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
  • Earn 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio.
  • Earn 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • Spend $40,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn Hilton Honors Diamond status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
on American Express' secure site
Earn 90,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points

Hilton Honors American Express Card

Foreign Transaction Fee: None
Annual Fee: $0
Terms Apply.
on American Express' secure site
Why we like this card

This is a great bonus for a no-annual-fee card, and the earnings structure can make this a very rewarding card if you want to earn points for Hilton properties.

Card Details

  • Earn 90,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Card after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio.
  • Earn 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees. Enjoy international travel without additional fees on purchases made abroad.
  • Enjoy complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status with your Card. Plus, spend $20,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn an upgrade to Hilton Honors Gold status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
on American Express' secure site
Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points

Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

Foreign Transaction Fee: 0%
Annual Fee: $95
The card details for the Hilton Honors Business card have been collected independently by OMAAT and have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
on American Express' secure site
Why we like this card

This is a fantastic welcome bonus, especially for a small business card. You'll enjoy complimentary Gold Status just for keeping the card, with great opportunities to earn points and free Weekend Night Rewards.

Current Offer
Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors Business Card after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

Card Details
• Earn 12x Hilton Honors bonus points per dollar for purchases made directly with hotels and resorts in the Hilton portfolio.
• Earn 6x Hilton Honors bonus points on eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchases directly from U.S. service providers, and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
• Earn 6x Hilton Honors bonus points on eligible purchases on your Card for Flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies, and U.S. restaurants.
• Earn 3x Hilton Honors bonus points on all other eligible purchases
• Complimentary Hilton Honors Gold Status for being a cardmember

on American Express' secure site
Earn up to 100,000 miles

United℠ Explorer Business Card

Foreign Transaction Fee: $0
Annual Fee: $95
on Chase's secure site
Why we like this card

This card is great for road warriors as you earn 2 United miles per $1 spend on categories that you tend to have the most expenses on, plus priority boarding for you and companions on the same reservation on United-operated flights, a free checked bag, and two one-time United Club℠ passes each year.

Current Offer
Limited-time offer for small business owners: Earn up to 100,000 bonus miles after qualifying purchases. Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $25,000 total on purchases in the first 6 months your account is open

Card Details
Earn 2 miles per $1 at restaurants, gas stations, office supply stores and on United purchases. Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.

on Chase's secure site
Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 bonus points

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

Foreign Transaction Fee: $0
Annual Fee: $450
The card details for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card have been collected independently by OMAAT and have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
on American Express' secure site
Why we like this card

Current Offer
Earn 100,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Offer ends 04/24/2019.

Card Details
• Earn 6x points on eligible purchases at participating Marriott hotels
• Earn 3x points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines.
• Earn 2x points on all other eligible purchases
• Enjoy up to $300 in statement credits each year of Card Membership for eligible purchases at participating Marriott hotels
• Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary valid for redemption for a single night up to 50,000 points.
• Complimentary Gold Elite Status

on American Express' secure site
Earn up to $500 back

American Express® Business Gold Card

Foreign Transaction Fee: None
Annual Fee: $295
Terms Apply
on American Express' secure site
Why we like this card

Earning 4X Membership Rewards® for small business expenses is an awesome return, and we especially like that it automatically applies to the categories you use most in a billing cycle, rather than having to choose just one or two each year.

Read our Review

Current Offer
Earn up to $500 back in the form of statement credits by purchasing qualifying services with FedEx using your American Express® Business Gold Card within the first 3 months of Card membership. Limited time Offer ends 11/06/2019.*

Card Details
MORE REWARDS: Get 4X Membership Rewards® points on the 2 select categories where your business spent the most each month.** **4X points apply to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these 2 categories each calendar year.*

on American Express' secure site
Earn 10,000 bonus miles

Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Foreign Transaction Fee: 2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars.
Annual Fee: $0
Terms Apply.
on American Express' secure site
Why we like this card

While it might not be the best option for the savvy traveler, it’s nice to see an airline introducing a no annual fee credit card. People often want to have a card from a brand they like, and lots of people like Delta. For a no annual fee card, the card is more generous than I was expecting.

Current Offer
Earn 10,000 bonus miles after spending $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership.

Card Details
• Earn 2 miles per dollar at US restaurants.
• Earn 2 Miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile on every eligible dollar spent on other purchases.
• Receive a 20% savings in the form of a statement credit after you use your Card on eligible Delta in-flight purchases of food, beverages, and audio headsets.

on American Express' secure site
No personal guarantee needed

Brex for Startups

Foreign Transaction Fee:
Annual Fee:
on Brex's secure site
Why we like this card
on Brex's secure site
3% Cash Back On Dining & Entertainment

Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Foreign Transaction Fee: None
Annual Fee: $0
on Capital One's secure site
Why we like this card

This card has a great return for a cash-back card with no annual fee.

Current Offer
$150 Cash Back after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening

Card Details

  • Earn a one-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 16.24% - 26.24% variable APR after that
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 16.24% - 26.24% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No annual fee
on Capital One's secure site
Exclusively for Costco Members: Go Big with Cash Back Rewards

Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card by Citi

Foreign Transaction Fee: 0%
Annual Fee: $0*
on Citi's secure site
Why we like this card

The new Costco Citi cards have a great rewards structure for Costco loyalists. The bonus categories are compelling, and while it’s still not a card I’d personally use for everyday spend this is a solid option for Costco members.

Read our Review

Current Offer
• Discover the only business credit card designed exclusively for Costco members
• 4% cash back on eligible gas for the first $7,000 per year and then 1% thereafter
• 3% cash back on restaurants and eligible travel purchases
• 2% cash back on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com
• 1% cash back on all other purchases
• No annual fee with your paid Costco membership*
• Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, enjoy no foreign transaction fees on purchases*
• Receive an annual credit card reward certificate, which is redeemable for cash or merchandise at U.S. Costco warehouses, including Puerto Rico

on Citi's secure site
Exclusively for Costco Members: Go Big with Cash Back Rewards

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

Foreign Transaction Fee: 0%
Annual Fee: $0
on Citi's secure site
Why we like this card

The new Costco Citi cards have a great rewards structure for Costco loyalists. The bonus categories are compelling, and while it’s still not a card I’d personally use for everyday spend this is a solid option for Costco members.

Read our Review

Current Offer
• Discover one of Citi’s best cash back rewards cards designed exclusively for Costco members
• 4% cash back on eligible gas for the first $7,000 per year and then 1% thereafter
• 3% cash back on restaurants and eligible travel purchases
• 2% cash back on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com
• 1% cash back on all other purchases
• No annual fee with your paid Costco membership*
• No matter where life takes you, experience no foreign transaction fees on purchases*
• Receive an annual credit card reward certificate, which is redeemable for cash or merchandise at U.S. Costco warehouses, including Puerto Rico

on Citi's secure site
Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

Foreign Transaction Fee: 0%
Annual Fee: $99, waived for first 12 months*
on Citi's secure site
Why we like this card

Read our Review

Current Offer
• Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
• Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations*
• Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at restaurants*
• Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases*
• Earn a $125 American Airlines Flight Discount after you spend $20,000 or more in purchases during your cardmembership year and renew your card*
• No Foreign Transaction Fees* • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation*
• Enjoy preferred boarding on American Airlines flights*
• Receive 25% savings on inflight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights*

on Citi's secure site

The Best Dining Rewards Program (2019)

There are several different dining rewards program that help restaurants advertise by offering points, miles, or cash back by using a linked credit card at participating restaurants. These are more prevalent in major cities where the restaurant market is more crowded, but it can still be worth joining even if you don’t live in a dining rewards market — you never know when you’re going to stumble across one of these restaurants on a work trip or vacation.

It’s worth pointing out, however, that these dining rewards programs are taking a sizable commission from the restaurant for marketing their establishment. These can be in the range of 10-20% of the revenue from the dining transaction for dining rewards customers, so restaurants have to be pretty desperate to drum up new business in order to feel participation is worth that expense.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some good restaurants that participate, but there are also some pretty crappy ones.

So if I’d dine at one anyway I of course wouldn’t turn down free miles, but I also won’t go to a restaurant just because it’s on the list. It still makes sense to register your credit card with one of the programs though, and you can find the links to do so below. Here are the best dining rewards programs available today:

  1. Seated – This app serves major cities, gives you $15-20 in gift cards (with your choice of Amazon, Starbucks, or Uber) every time you dine out at a participating restaurant.
  2. Mogl – Mogl is mostly on the West Coast, and lets you choose between earning cash-back, donating to a fundraiser, or converting your rewards to miles and points.
  3. Rewards Network – This company partners with major loyalty chains to offer a co-branded dining rewards program. While you may be able to double-dip with Seated or Mogl, for Rewards Network you’ll have to choose whether each of your credit cards is linked to the dining rewards program for Alaska, American, Delta, Hilton, Southwest, or United, but you can participate in all of the programs. This is a great way to keep miles from expiring!
Loyalty ProgramDining Rewards Program
AlaskaMileage Plan Dining
AmericanThe AAdvantage Dining Program
DeltaSkyMiles Dining
Hilton HonorsHilton Honors Dining
SouthwestRapid Rewards Dining
UnitedMileagePlus Dining

With so many great credit cards offering bonus points at restaurants, combined with the opportunities to double-dip through dining rewards program, you can truly dine for miles no matter where you choose to eat!

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