How dining out can help you earn more rewards

Dining programs, shopping portals, restaurant merchandise add points, cash back

John Egan
Personal Finance Writer
Writes trendy stories about credit cards.

How dining out can help you earn more rewards

 

When you’re eating out, you can easily rack up a bill for food and drink and miss out on ways to maximize your credit card rewards.

When you’re dining at a restaurant, ordering takeout or getting lunch at a food truck, it helps to be aware of which rewards are fast-food style and which ones are three-star gourmet.

Here are four ways that dining out can help you earn more rewards:

1. Airline and hotel dining programs
Here’s some food for thought: Several airlines and hotel groups serve up miles or points if you’ve signed up for their dining rewards programs.

A member of American Airline’s AAdvantage Dining program, for instance, can earn up to five miles for every $1 spent dining at participating restaurants, including tax and tip. Once you’ve joined the program, just register a credit or debit card and then pay for a restaurant bill – or a club or bar tab – with the card you’ve linked to the program.

The dining rewards program affiliated with the IHG hotel group, which includes Holiday Inns, InterContinental hotels and Staybridge Suites, provides eight hotel points per $1 spent at participating restaurants for an elite member, five points per $1 spent for an online member and one point per $1 spent for a regular member.

Score! These dining program rewards are over and above any cash back or points you earn by paying for your meals and drinks with your rewards card.

2. Shopping portals
Online shopping portals can open the door to meatier dining rewards.

At American Airlines’ AAdvantage eShopping site, you can snag a Groupon for your favorite restaurant and collect three miles for every $1 spent. Or you can score a whopping 12 miles for every $1 you spend on a discounted Restaurant.com certificate at the AAdvantage online mall (through Dec. 31, 2017)*.

On Delta’s SkyMiles shopping site, a Groupon purchase yields two miles for every $1 spent, while the Southwest Rapid Rewards shopping portal gives you nine miles for every $1 spent at Restaurant.com and two miles for every $1 spent on a Groupon.

Bonus: If you use an airline-branded credit card for a Groupon or Restaurant.com purchase, you can stack your rewards (shopping portal restaurant discount + your credit card’s regular rewards).

3. Higher card rewards for restaurants
Do you remember the name of your favorite waiter but forget the name of your least favorite uncle? Chances are, then, you dine out a lot and would benefit from a credit card that boosts rewards for restaurants.

Fortunately, several credit card issuers extend tasty offers for restaurant rewards.

For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card provides 2x points for dining anywhere in the world. Some other cards limit bonus offers like that to restaurants in the U.S.

The Capital One Premier Dining Rewards card, meanwhile, cooks up 3 percent unlimited cash back for dining out, as well as for using the card at bars, clubs and coffee shops.

Need a credit card for your business? If you’re regularly wining and dining your clients, then you’ll likely want to pick a card that enables you to maximize restaurant rewards.
 
One such card is the SimplyCash Plus business credit card from American Express. With this card, you can pick from one of eight categories to earn 3 percent cash back; one of those categories is U.S. restaurants.

4. Gifts and souvenirs
Next time you’re on a business trip or on vacation, skip the airport shops and high-priced boutiques. Instead, pick up gifts and souvenirs – like T-shirts (this one from The Salt Lick barbecue restaurant is on sale), ball caps and coffee mugs – at one or more of the restaurants you frequent while you’re out of town.

Not only will that save you time, but you also might be able to rack up more credit card rewards.

For instance, with the Sam’s Club Mastercard, you earn 3 percent cash back when you dine out, compared with the normal 1 percent cash back reward. So with this card, you could triple your rewards by purchasing gifts and souvenirs at an eatery rather than a store.

Just like menus feature appetizers, entrees, desserts and drinks, using your credit cards for dining offers ways to stack your card rewards with dining portals (earn miles in addition to your card’s rewards), online shopping portals (extra cash back or rewards, especially around holidays) and gifts and souvenirs from your favorite eateries. Some credit cards, too, offer increased rewards for spending at restaurants, too.

You’re going to eat out. It just makes sense to maximize your rewards by thinking outside the pizza box.

*The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date. Please see the bank’s website for the most current version of card offers.

See related: Food trucks leaving cash in the dustBoost rewards with airlines' dining programs


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Updated: 11-21-2017