Best Credit Cards for Dining and Restaurants

Lyle Daly is a personal finance writer specializing in credit cards, travel rewards programs, and banking. His work has also appeared on MSN Money, USA Today, and Yahoo! Finance.

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If you’re a foodie who enjoys sampling all your neighborhood’s places to eat, then a restaurant credit card is a must. Instead of earning a ho-hum 1% back when you grab a bite, restaurant cards will reward you with 2%, 3%, and in some cases even more back. Since dining is such a common expense, there are plenty of stellar restaurant credit cards to choose from. Here are the best restaurant credit cards, some of which are from out partners, that give you a bonus every time you dine out.

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On Capital One's Secure Website.

Our Bottom Line

A solid contender with a rich sign-up bonus and among best-in-class cash back for restaurants and entertainment.

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What we Like:
  • 4% cash back for dining
  • Big sign-up bonus
Key Scores:
4.0 5 Perks
4.0 5 Fees
3.0 5 APR
Perks 4.0/5
Fees 4.0/5
APR 3.0/5
  • Annual Fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that
  • Regular APR: 16.24% - 25.24% Variable
  • Intro APR: Purchases: N/A Balance Transfers: N/A
Highlights
  • Earn a one-time $300 cash bonus after you spend $3000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases. Plus, earn 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through May 2020.
  • 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
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Capital One cardholders get access to premium experiences in dining, entertainment and more
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, $95 after that
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Apply Now
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On Capital One's Secure Website.

Our Bottom Line

Dining and grocery spending will earn premium, unlimited rewards, but that's not the only showstopper. The sign-up bonus, no annual fee, and 0% APR offer can add a ton of value on top of rewards you earn in bonus categories.

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What we Like:
  • Earn up to 3% cash back
  • No annual fee
  • Big sign-up bonus
Key Scores:
3.5 5 Perks
4.0 5 Fees
4.0 5 APR
Perks 3.5/5
Fees 4.0/5
APR 4.0/5
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 15.74% - 25.74% Variable
  • Intro APR: Purchases: 0%, for 15 months Balance Transfers: 0%, for 15 months
Highlights
  • 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; 15.74% - 25.74% variable APR after that
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 15.74% - 25.74% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No annual fee
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Apply Now
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On Discover's Secure Website.

Our Bottom Line

A clear cash-back leader with a laundry list of perks that reads like a novel. You’ll be hard pressed to find a competing card with a matching feature set and no annual fee.

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What we Like:
  • Bonus cash back
  • No annual fee
  • 0% intro APR offer
  • FICO® Score for free
Key Scores:
5.0 5 Perks
4.0 5 Fees
5.0 5 APR
Perks 5.0/5
Fees 4.0/5
APR 5.0/5
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 13.49% - 24.49% Variable
  • Intro APR: Purchases: 0%, 14 months Balance Transfers: 0%, 14 months
Highlights
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • No annual fee.
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Rates & Fees
Apply Now
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On Chase's Secure Website.

Our Bottom Line

One of the most popular travel cards for many reasons. This offer is practically a must-have for travelers seeking a big sign-up bonus and one of the best points programs available on the market.

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What we Like:
  • 60,000 points sign-up bonus
  • 2 points per $1 for travel & dining
  • Flexible points transfer program
Key Scores:
4.5 5 Perks
5.0 5 Fees
1.5 5 APR
Perks 4.5/5
Fees 5.0/5
APR 1.5/5
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Regular APR: 17.74% - 24.74% Variable
  • Intro APR: Purchases: N/A Balance Transfers: N/A
Highlights
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
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Apply Now
Secure lock icon.

On Discover's Secure Website.

Our Bottom Line

Earn double cash back in the first year and secure rich rewards for gas & restaurants to fuel both your car and stomach. The inclusion of no annual fee makes this a hard-to-ignore card in its category.

Read Full Review
What we Like:
  • Double cash back in the first year
  • $20 good grades statement credit
  • No annual fee
  • Bonus cash back
Key Scores:
5.0 5 Perks
5.0 5 Fees
4.0 5 APR
Perks 5.0/5
Fees 5.0/5
APR 4.0/5
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 14.49% - 23.49% Variable
  • Intro APR: Purchases: 0%, 6 months Balance Transfers: 10.99%, 6 months
Highlights
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 14.49% - 23.49%.
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Rates & Fees
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How we picked the winners

Our most important factor in picking winners isn’t going to surprise you -- we looked at which cards earned the most at restaurants.

Coming in second was whether a card had an annual fee, and if so, the amount of that fee. We included plenty of excellent no-annual-fee cards on this list if that’s what you prefer. The cards with annual fees that made the list got there because they had extra perks that can be worth the fee for some people.

Several restaurant credit cards also had impressive sign-up bonus offers. Bonuses only affect the first-year value of a card, so they aren’t our first consideration, but they did play a role in our selections.

Why you can trust me

I’m always looking for ways that I can max out my credit card rewards, so I’ve tried quite a few different credit cards to see how they all compare. Since I write about credit cards, I keep track of the features and bonus offers for just about all of them. In less than two-and-a-half years of accumulating credit card rewards, I earned over $1,000 back and more than 500,000 travel rewards points.

How restaurant credit cards work

Restaurant credit cards earn bonus rewards for all restaurant transactions, and you can find both cash-back cards and travel rewards cards that work like this. For example, the Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card is a cash-back card that earns cash back on dining, whereas the Chase Sapphire Preferred® is a travel card that earns points on dining.

If you’re wondering what counts as a restaurant transaction, the bonus rate will typically apply with any merchant whose business focuses on serving food. Besides traditional restaurants, this can include:

  • Fast food restaurants
  • Bars
  • Cafes
  • Food delivery services (when it’s a service that only delivers food, such as Grubhub, and not a general delivery service)

The technical explanation is that it all depends on the merchant category code. Businesses that accept credit cards choose a four-digit category code based on what type of business they are, and card issuers use these codes to classify transactions. So, if you use your card at a business, and that business has chosen a merchant category code that your card issuer classifies as a restaurant code, you’ll get the bonus rate.

How rotating bonus cards work

Another restaurant credit card option is rotating bonus cards, such as the Chase Freedom® and the Discover it® Cash Back. With these cards, the bonus categories change every three months, and once you activate your bonus category for the quarter, you’ll receive cash back in that category up to the quarterly spending maximum.

With this type of card, you could be earning cash back at restaurants one quarter, and then cash back in a different spending category, such as grocery stores or Amazon.com purchases, the next quarter.

Should you get a card with fixed or rotating bonus categories?

There are two ways you can go in choosing a restaurant credit card. You could get a card with fixed bonus categories, where you’ll always earn a higher bonus rate at restaurants. Or, you could get one of the rotating bonus cards described above.

A card with fixed bonus categories will be better if you like dining out and that’s always an area where you have high spending. You’ll be guaranteed your bonus rate the entire year, so you won’t need to worry about having bonus categories you can’t use during certain quarters.

A rotating bonus card is the way to go if you spend money across many different categories and you want to maximize how much you earn. Since these cards can earn up to 5% back, they offer the potential for big rewards, but only if you can take advantage of all the different bonus categories.

How to pick the best restaurant credit card for you

When you know what to look for, picking the right restaurant credit card won’t take too much time or effort. Here are the most important considerations:

  • Type of rewards -- Do you want to earn cash back or travel points?
  • Restaurant reward rates -- Which card will earn you the most at restaurants?
  • Rewards rates in other categories -- Do the cards have other bonus categories that could be useful for you?
  • Annual fees -- How much does each card cost, and for the cards with annual fees, do the perks make the fee worth it?

After going over those questions, you should be able to narrow down your list of options.

There’s one other feature that could come into play, but only for some consumers -- 0% intro APR offers. Several of the top restaurant cards also include a 0% intro APR offer for purchases, balance transfers, or both.

If you don’t need that type of offer, then it’s a non-factor for you. If you do, then you should make sure that the card you choose has a 0% intro APR offer, that it covers what you need to finance (purchases or balance transfers), and that it will last long enough for you to pay off your balance or at least pay it down as much as possible.

Here Are The Ascent's Picks for Top Credit Cards for Dining:
Card Rating Great For…
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card Graphic of Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5 stars
ToolTip Icon for Star Rating. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
Great For:

Dining and entertainment

Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card Graphic of Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Rating image, 4.0 out of 5 stars.
4.0 stars
ToolTip Icon for Star Rating. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
Great For:

Dining and entertainment

Discover it® Cash Back Graphic of Discover it® Cash Back
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5 stars
ToolTip Icon for Star Rating. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
Great For:

Bonus cash back

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Graphic of Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5 stars
ToolTip Icon for Star Rating. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
Great For:

Dining and travel

Discover it® Student chrome Graphic of Discover it® Student chrome
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5 stars
ToolTip Icon for Star Rating. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
Great For:

Restaurants and gas

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