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Choosing a dining rewards card: Dining in vs. eating out

Summary

Whether you prefer a home-cooked meal or takeout, there is a card for you.

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If you are a food lover, there has never been a better time to sign up for a rewards credit card. Dining rewards cards are saturating the market, with cards like the relaunched Citi Prestige offering more rewards than ever on dining purchases. With so many new options, there are plenty of ways to earn more – whether you prefer to dine out or cook for yourself.

We all have different dining habits, with some cooking every day, enjoying a meal out once or twice a week or relying on takeout for most meals. Whether you are a meal prepper or a menu hoarder, there is a rewards card that fits your spending patterns.

With several rewards cards offering bonus points or cash back on groceries, restaurant purchases or both, it can be hard to know which card is right for you. Here are a few top offerings, based on how you like to eat.

Best card for restaurant dining and ordering takeout: Capital One Savor

If you are the kind of person who eats out or orders in for most of your meals, you could be earning great rewards with the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card. Not only will you earn 4 percent cash back on dining, but for a limited time you can also enjoy a free Postmates Unlimited membership. Through December 2019, when you use your Savor card to sign up for Postmates Unlimited, you can receive a monthly statement credit to cover the membership fee.

With Postmates Unlimited, you’ll won’t have to pay any delivery fees for the popular takeout, grocery and alcohol delivery service. Fees typically average between $3.99 and $5.99, so savings can add up quickly.

The Savor card also has one of the best introductory bonuses of any cash back card, so signing up can add quite a bit to your food budget.

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Capital One Savor CardRewards rate

  • 4% cash back on dining and entertainment
  • 2% cash back at grocery stores
  • 1% cash back on other purchases
Introductory offer

$300 if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months


Why use it?
The Capital One Savor card offers one of the best cash back rates on entertainment and dining, making it a great choice for foodies.Read review
Annual fee

$95 (waived first year)

Average yearly rewards value ($1,325 monthly spend)

$389

Best card for luxury diners: Citi Prestige

The revamped Citi Prestige card comes with the highest rewards rate available on dining purchases – 5 points per dollar. For those who enjoy eating out as well as an indulgent meal on vacation, the Prestige also comes with a slew of luxury travel benefits.

To help you get closer to your next trip and trying local cuisines, the Citi Prestige offers a $250 annual travel credit and 5 points per dollar on air travel purchases. Cardholders also get up to $100 credit toward Global Entry or TSA PreCheck and won’t have to pay any foreign transaction fees.

Citi Prestige Card
Citi PrestigeRewards rate

  • 5 points per dollar on dining and air travel
  • 3 points per dollar on cruise lines and hotel purchases
  • 1 point per dollar on general purchases
Introductory offer

50,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months


Why use it?
The Citi Prestige offers an impressive list of travel protections and benefits that justify its high annual fee, on top of one of the highest rewards rates available for dining purchases.Read review
Annual fee

$495

Average yearly rewards value ($1,325 monthly spend)

$751

While the Citi Prestige does boast the highest rewards rate on dining purchases, it comes with a hefty annual fee. The Savor card’s fee is $400 less and awards only one percentage point less per dollar on dining purchases. To offset the point difference, you’d need to spend around $40,000 a year on dining purchases (presuming you only used the card for dining rewards).

That being said, the travel benefits hold significant value, making this card a great option for those willing to travel the globe for a great meal.

Best card for making your own meals: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

If you prefer cooking at home to dining out, there are still plenty of great rewards cards for you. The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers a generous 6 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1 percent.)

Even with the purchase limit on the bonus category, users can earn 6 percent back on $500 a month in groceries. If you hit the full limit every year, that’s $30 a month back on food alone. For home chefs looking to earn a little extra pocket change, this card can be a great option.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Blue Cash Preferred AmexRewards rate

  • 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1%)
  • 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions
  • 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations
  • 3% cash back on transit
  • 1% cash back on general purchases
Introductory offer

$250 after spending $1,000 in first 3 months


Why use it? 
The Blue Cash Preferred offers one of the highest cash back bonuses you can get when you use your card at U.S. supermarkets.Read review
Annual fee

$95

Average yearly rewards value ($1,325 monthly spend)

$370

 

Best card for balancing eating out and dining in: American Express Gold card

Maybe you like to plan on one dinner out a week, or some weeks are just too hectic to prep your own meals. Either way, a card with rewards on both groceries and restaurant purchases might make the most sense for your eating habits.

One great option for diverse rewards is the American Express® Gold Card. It has a bit higher of an annual fee, but it comes with all sorts of perks that make it a valuable choice for foodies. For example, you can get up to $10 in statement credits per month ($120 per year) for dining purchases at participating restaurants, including Shake Shack, The Cheesecake Factory and Grubhub/Seamless. Even cardholders who only eat out or order in a few times a month can get great savings.

American Express® Gold Card
American Express Gold CardRewards rate

  • 4 points per dollar at restaurants worldwide
  • 4 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in purchases per year)
  • 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com
  • 1 point per dollar on other purchases
Introductory offer

35,000 points if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months


Why use it?
The annual fee is pricey, but if you’re searching for the most rewarding card for food purchases, the American Express Gold Card may be your best option.Read review
Annual fee

$250

Average yearly rewards value ($1,325 monthly spend)

$675

In addition to great dining rewards, American Express Gold cardholders earn 4 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 in purchases per year. This is a much higher spend limit than the Blue Cash Preferred, making it easy to earn rewards on all your grocery purchases.

Bottom line

When deciding which card will get you the most points or cash back on food, think about how often you eat out or dine in. With the surge in popularity of dining cards, there is an option that works for your habits – no matter how you like to eat.

See related: Is the Citi Prestige card the best dining rewards card available?, Enhanced American Express® Gold Card offers a 4-point bonus for foodies

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