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The average U.S. household spent $3,365 on dining out in 2017, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
If you’re using one of the best credit cards for restaurants to pay for all those meals, you could get a good chunk of change back in the form of cash back or travel rewards. Here are our top picks for 2019.
- Best for a cash bonus: Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card
- Best for takeout and delivery: Uber Visa Card
- Best for premium perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Best for no annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card
Here’s why: The Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card offers a one-time $500 cash bonus after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after your account opens.
You’ll also earn 4% cash back on dining and entertainment purchases, 2% back on purchases at grocery stores and 1% back on all other purchases.
And you’ll get statement credit toward a monthly Postmates Unlimited subscription, covered through December 2019, when you use this card to pay the fee. Keep in mind, though, that the 4% rewards rate won’t apply to purchases made through delivery apps like Postmates and Uber Eats.
It has no foreign transaction fee and has an annual fee of $0 intro, $95 after first year.
Read our full review of the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card to learn more.
Here’s why: The Uber Visa Card offers 4% back for both dining out and ordering in, including at restaurants and bars, and on takeout and UberEats delivery orders.
You’ll also get 3% back on purchases for hotels, airfare, travel agencies and vacation home rentals. You’ll earn 2% back on many online purchases, including Uber rides, online shopping, and certain video- and music-streaming services, and you get 1% back on all other purchases.
When you first get the card, you’ll earn 10,000 points — redeemable as $100 in Uber credits, cash back or gift cards — after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 90 days after opening the account. The card also offers a handful of other standout perks.
- A $50 credit for certain online subscription services after you spend $5,000 or more each year
- Up to $600 in coverage against cellphone damage or theft if you use the card to pay your phone bill
The card doesn’t charge an annual fee or a foreign transaction fee, either.
Get more details about the Uber Visa Card in our editorial review.
Here’s why: The Chase Sapphire Reserve® doesn’t just offer excellent rewards on dining, but also comes with a suite of elite travel benefits.
Cardholders will earn three points per $1 on qualifying travel (after earning the $300 travel credit) and on dining purchases, and one point for every $1 spent on all other purchases. Plus, when you first open an account, you’ll earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
What makes the card’s rewards so valuable is that they’re worth 50% more if you use them to book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Booking through the Chase portal effectively gives you a rewards rate of 4.5 points per $1 spent on dining and travel purchases. For example, if you were to redeem the sign-up bonus of 50,000 points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, they’d be worth $750.
You’ll also have the option to transfer your points to one of Chase’s airline and hotel partner loyalty programs. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® comes with other travel perks, too.
- A $300 annual statement credit for travel purchases charged to your card
- Statement credit up to $100 every four years for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fees
- Complimentary airport lounge access through Priority Pass Select
- Various trip protections
- No foreign transaction fee
All of these premium perks come at a price though — the card charges a $450 annual fee. So make sure the cost is worth your while.
Read our full review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® to get all the details.
Here’s why: The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card isn’t the only card on our list with no annual fee, but it may provide more value overall for a no-annual-fee card.
For starters, for a limited time you’ll be able to cash in on a sign-up bonus that’s worth $500. Spend $3,000 in the first 3 months after the account opens to earn 30,000 bonus points. And then you can earn an additional 20,000 bonus points after spending a total of $15,000 on purchases in your first year. If you redeem the 50,000 bonus points for cash, the sign-up bonus is worth $500.
You’ll also earn three points per $1 on the following purchases:
- Dining out and ordering in
- Rideshares and transit
- Flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals
- Certain popular streaming services
You’ll earn one point per $1 on all other purchases, along with a few other perks.
- Up to $600 in coverage per claim ($1,200 annually) against cellphone damage or theft if you use the card to pay your phone bill
- Lost-luggage reimbursement
- Advance access to concert, theater and event tickets
- No foreign transaction fees
If you’re considering applying for the card, read our full review of the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card to learn more.
How we picked these cards
The primary factors we considered when picking these credit cards were the rewards you’ll earn when dining out or ordering in from restaurants. But with multiple cards offering rewards at rates of three or four points per $1 on those purchases, we also considered other features, including sign-up bonuses, low or fewer fees, and special perks.
These added features can help serve as a tiebreaker if you’re comparing cards with similar dining rewards rates. They can also help you squeeze even more value out of the card if you have particular needs, such as protecting your phone or traveling abroad.
How to make the most of these credit cards
The best credit cards for restaurants offer high rewards rates on dining out. But some have restrictions for what counts as a restaurant — a restaurant in a hotel or grocery store may not be eligible. Make sure you read the fine print of each card’s rewards agreement to understand which purchases qualify and which don’t.
Another way to maximize your earnings is by signing up for a dining rewards program. Several airlines and hotel chains participate in dining programs that allow you to earn more points or miles with their rewards programs when you dine out. So consider registering your card and finding participating restaurants in your area.
If you go out to dinner often with friends, consider offering to pay the bill with a card that’ll reward you and having your friends pay you back. When you become mindful of these and other ways to maximize your rewards, you can get more value for dollar — whether you’re dining out or ordering in.