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Foodies unite: These are the best credit cards for restaurants in 2019

Racking up cash back and rewards at restaurants has never been easier - no matter your credit

Summary

Is eating out part of your everyday routine? Score cash back or rewards points by paying with the right card at restaurants; these cards can help.

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In this world of Instagrammable dishes and celebrity chefs, food has long passed the point of simple sustenance and morphed into a full-blown event.

If you count yourself among the nouveau gourmands dining out every weekend, why not get a return on your investment.

Read on to find the best credit cards on the market if you love earning rewards while you’re eating out – regardless of your credit profile.

See related: Best credit cards for groceries 2019

Best credit cards for restaurants

Best premium card: American Express® Gold Card

Amex Gold kicks off our recommendations for restaurants because it’s the card that gives you the most points of any card on the market when you dine at restaurants or shop at U.S. supermarkets.

At four times the points, it’s hard to find another card that competes when it comes to racking up rewards while you’re eating. As if to underline the point, there’s also a $120 dining credit – up to a total of $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations.

Bonus points and credits on travel give this card a healthy travel and dining combo, making it extremely attractive to those who want to live out their globetrotting dreams.

The annual fee is $250, but the annual travel and dining credits largely eclipse that by themselves.

Here’s a closer look at the card’s benefits:

  • 35,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months.
  • 4X points when you dine at restaurants worldwide.
  • 4X points at U.S. supermarkets up to $25,000 in annual purchases.
  • 3X points for flights booked directly with airlines or through Amextravel.com.
  • Up to $120 dining credit.
  • Up to $100 airline fee credit.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Alternative: Chase Sapphire Reserve

While the Chase Sapphire Reserve only offers three times the points on travel and dining without including U.S. supermarkets, its intro bonus and travel credit is much higher than the Amex Gold card’s.

Plus, the emphasis with the Reserve is much more on travel with a Global Entry credit and complimentary lounge access, so if you like more travel with your dining, this card is for you.

The card’s annual fee is $450, but when you book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal the 50,000 points you get in the first year are worth $750 in travel expenses. That alone more than offsets the annual fee, at least in year one.

Check out Chase Sapphire Reserve’s features in more detail:

  • 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months.
  • $300 annual travel credit.
  • 3X points on travel and dining worldwide.
  • 50 percent more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • Complimentary lounge access.
  • Global Entry/TSA Precheck application fee credit of up to $100 every four years.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Best card for everyday: Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card

While the intro bonus for the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Card is more modest than the premium cards listed here, it includes one of the largest cash back rates on any card for dining and entertainment.

The card also offers a great cash back bonus on tickets from Vivid seats and a decent cash back bonus on grocery store purchases.

However, the $95 annual fee may still turn some cardholders off, even though it doesn’t kick in until the second year you hold this card.

Take a closer look at the benefits Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Card offers:

  • $300 cash bonus when you spend $3,000 in the first three months.
  • 8 percent cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats until May 2020.
  • 4 percent cash back on dining and entertainment.
  • 2 percent cash back at grocery stores.
  • 1 percent cash back on all other purchases.
  • You can redeem cash back for any amount and rewards don’t expire.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Alternative: Discover it® chrome

If you’re looking for a card that gives you cash back on dining with no annual fee, try the Discover it chrome. While its cash back rate for restaurants may be low compared to other cards on this list, it is consistent, and Discover will match all the cash back you earn in the first year.

Plus, Discover it chrome offers a few more benefits:

  • 2 percent cash back for gas station and restaurant purchases (on up to $1,000 in combined spending per quarter, then 1%).
  • 0 percent intro APR for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers, then 13.49 percent – 24.49 percent variable APR
  • FICO score monitoring.

Second alternative: Uber Visa Card

If you want the same rewards rate as the Amex Gold Card in the form of cash back, but you’re a frequent Uber user, this is the card for you.

The travel purchase rate is pretty high as well, but, oddly, the cash back rate for Uber rides is pretty low for something called the Uber Visa. However, some cash back for Uber rides is better than no cash back for Uber rides at all.

As long as you’re comfortable applying for this card on the Uber app, the card as a whole still carries some pretty decent combined cash back.

Here are the Uber card’s details:

  • $100 bonus when you spend $500 in the first three months.
  • 4 points per dollar spent on dining.
  • 3 points per dollar spent on travel.
  • 2 points per dollar spent on Uber rides.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Spend $5,000 annually and get a $50 credit toward online subscriptions.

Best restaurant card for credit builders: Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

The last thing any consumer still working on their credit needs is fees, but that doesn’t mean they should have to sacrifice getting cash back on dining and entertainment.

Capital One’s SavorOne Rewards Card – which requires to have at least good credit apply – gives an unlimited 3 percent cash back rate on dining and entertainment and 2 percent cash back on grocery store purchases with no annual fee.

The intro bonus is pretty modest, but if you’re worried about fees more than you care about your rewards rate, this is the card for the conservative cash back collector.

Here’s a snapshot of all the benefits SavorOne has to offer:

  • $150 one-time bonus when you spend $500 in the first three months.
  • Unlimited 3 percent cash back on dining and entertainment.
  • 2 percent cash back at grocery stores.
  • 1 percent cash back on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee.

Alternative: Discover it® Secured 

Perhaps you’re rebuilding your credit or starting to build credit history and still don’t qualify for the SavorOne above, but that doesn’t mean you should miss out on dining rewards completely.

With the Discover it Secured card, you don’t have to. It allows you to build your credit and receive a consistent cash back rate. Discover will even match the cash back you receive in the first year.

Check out all the details below:

  • 2 percent cash back at gas stations and restaurants up to $1,000 on combined purchases each quarter.
  • 1 percent cash back on all other purchases automatically.
  • Discover it matches the cash back you earn in the first year with no matching limits.
  • Refundable security deposit.
  • Social Security number fraud monitoring and alerts.
  • No annual fee.

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Published: September 3, 2019

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