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The vaccine rollout has finally begun, but it'll be months before we can ease off social distancing and other restrictions. Even with a new stimulus package, those months are going to be tough on a lot of folks, including many of your favorite local restaurants.
If you're in a position to spread some love to your local eateries, now is definitely a good time for some take-out or delivery. And it's easy to boost both local restaurants and your credit card rewards balance. Between regular purchase rewards and short-term bonus offers, you can earn big at restaurants with many popular rewards credit cards.
1. American Express® Gold Card
Anyone with a large food budget should check out the American Express® Gold Card. It may have a $250 annual fee, but restaurant regulars can get a lot of value out of its 4 points per $1 on dining purchases. This category covers dine in, take out, and several popular delivery services. And you can get a lot of value from American Express Membership Rewards®.
Your restaurant perks don't stop at bonus rewards, though. Cardholders also get an annual dining credit of up to $10 a month for select restaurants. These include favorites like The Cheesecake Factory and Grubhub. Plus, Amex recently added monthly credits for Uber and Uber Eats, as well as a complimentary 12-month Eats Pass membership so you can save on every delivery.
2. Citi Prestige® Card
If you want to maximize your rewards and aren't afraid of a big fee, check out the $495-a-year Citi Prestige® Card. You'll earn an industry-high 5 points per $1 on dining purchases, including select delivery services. Citi ThankYou points aren't quite as versatile as, say, Amex Membership Rewards® points -- Citi has fewer transfer partners, for instance -- but you can still get a lot of value, especially at 5 points per $1.
Additionally, while the Citi Prestige doesn't have dedicated restaurant credits or delivery service deals, it does have an annual $250 travel credit. How does that help for restaurants? Well, right now -- and through the end of 2021 -- you can use that travel credit toward dining (and grocery) purchases.
3. Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Of the three-figure-fee cards on this list, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers the fewest restaurant rewards for its $550 annual fee. Nonetheless, the card holds its own with a solid 3 points per $1 on dining purchases and select meal deliveries. Moreover, Chase's Ultimate Rewards® points are valuable, versatile rewards with a wide variety of redemption options.
For delivery devotees, the Reserve's DoorDash partnership could be useful. Cardholders qualify for a year of free DashPass membership (you'll need to activate by Dec. 31, 2021), plus a $60 DoorDash credit for use in 2021. Unlike some other cards, though, you can't use the Chase Sapphire Reserve®'s annual travel credit for restaurant purchases, even temporarily. It does, however, count toward groceries through June 2021.
4. Citi Premier® Card
Of course, you don't need to spend $450 or more on a credit card to get great restaurant rewards. The Citi Premier® Card earns a very respectable 3 points per $1 on dining and charges only $95 a year. You won't get any extra credits or free delivery memberships, but with an affordable annual fee, you likely won't need the extras. You can still get good value and support your favorite restaurants.
5. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is another mid-tier option for affordable dining rewards, earning 2 points per $1. The $95 annual fee doesn't come with dining credits, but it does unlock the same DoorDash membership as the Chase Sapphire Reserve® (and for a fraction of the cost) so long as you activate your membership by the end of 2021.
6. Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card
If you prefer cash back -- or just don't want to deal with an annual fee during a pandemic -- consider the Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card. It earns an unlimited 3% cash back on restaurant purchases, including fast food and take out, which is competitive for a card with no annual fee.
7. Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
For no-annual-fee rewards points, try the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card. You can earn 3 points per $1 on dine-in and take-out restaurant purchases, with no earnings limit. Unfortunately, the points you earn with your Propel card from Wells Fargo aren't transferable to hotel or airline programs. Instead, your Go Far Rewards can be redeemed for things like gift cards and cash back.
Skip the cooking, not the rewards
It's no secret that restaurants are struggling right now, particularly small, local places. If you have a little to spare for your favorite eatery, make tonight a take-out night. Not only will you help your local economy, but you can easily earn some great credit card rewards in the process.