Best Credit Cards For Restaurants & Dining

Updated: 3 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:

$0 intro annual fee

United Club℠ Infinite Card

Foreign Transaction Fee: $0
Annual Fee: $0 intro annual fee, then $525
on Chase's secure site
Why we like this card

Current Offer

  • $0 intro annual fee, then $525
  • Earn 4 miles per $1 spent on United purchases including tickets, Economy Plus, inflight food, beverages and Wi-Fi, and other United charges.
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on all other travel
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck™ Fee Credit
  • Free first and second checked bags - a savings of up to $320 per roundtrip
  • 25% back as a statement credit on purchases of food, beverages and Wi-Fi onboard United-operated flight when you pay with your Club Card.
on Chase's secure site
125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card

Foreign Transaction Fee: None
Annual Fee: $95
The card details for the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card have been collected independently by OMAAT and have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
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

Current Offer
Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.

Card Details
Earn 12x Honors points at US supermarkets on eligible purchases (May through July 2020) & More!

75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points

Hilton Honors Card

Foreign Transaction Fee: None
Annual Fee: $0
The card details for the Hilton Honors Card have been collected independently by OMAAT and have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
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.

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Current Offer
Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.

Card Details
Additional Temporary Perks through 2020

Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points

Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

Foreign Transaction Fee: None
Annual Fee: $95
The card details for the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card have been collected independently by OMAAT and have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
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.

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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
Additional Temporary Perks through 2020

Earn 75,000 bonus points

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card

Foreign Transaction Fee: None
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.
Why we like this card

Read our review

Current Offer
Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.

From May 1 through July 31, 2020 you'll ">earn 6x Bonvoy points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $7,500 in eligible purchases.

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

Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points

American Express Business Gold Card

Foreign Transaction Fee: None
Annual Fee: $295
The card details for the Business Gold Card have been collected independently by OMAAT and have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
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 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 in qualifying purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.

Card Details
Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points in your top 2 monthly spend categories -- 4X points applies to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these 2 categories each year.

40,000 Bonus Miles

Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card

Foreign Transaction Fee: None
Annual Fee: $250
The card details for the Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card have been collected independently by OMAAT and have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Why we like this card

Read our Review

Current Offer
Earn 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) and 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. In addition, earn a $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months.

Earn 10,000 Bonus SkyMiles

Delta SkyMiles Blue American Express Card

Foreign Transaction Fee: None
Annual Fee: $0
The card details for the Delta SkyMiles Blue American Express Card have been collected independently by OMAAT and have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Why we like this card

While it might not be the best option for the savvy traveler, it’s nice to see an airline with 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.

Read our Review

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

Earn 35,000 Bonus SkyMiles

Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card

Foreign Transaction Fee: None
Annual Fee: $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $99
The card details for the Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card have been collected independently by OMAAT and have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Why we like this card

Read our Review

Current Offer
Earn 35,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership.

Earn 40,000 Bonus Miles

Delta SkyMiles Gold Business American Express Card

Foreign Transaction Fee: None
Annual Fee: $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $99
The card details for the Delta SkyMiles Gold Business American Express 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 40,000 Bonus Miles after spending $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership.

on American Express' secure site
75,000 in Brex Rewards points

Brex for Startups

Foreign Transaction Fee: N/A
Annual Fee: No Fees for Life*
on Brex's secure site
Why we like this card

Read our Review

Current Offer

  • 75,000 in Brex Rewards points upon signup and waived card fees for life (equal to $750+ value)*
  • No personal guarantee needed - we do not ask for a personal credit check or security deposit during the application.
  • Credit limits 10-20x higher than traditional small business corporate cards.
on Brex'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 and 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
• The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 15.24%. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.

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 and 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
• The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 15.99% - 24.99%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.

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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