Best credit cards for restaurants

5 min read

Whether you’re the type of person who likes to linger over a three-course meal or grab takeout at the end of a long day, you deserve to be rewarded for your restaurant spending.

Here’s Bankrate’s list of the top credit cards for restaurant-related purchases in 2020 broken out by the feature that best defines them. 

Overall value: Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Rewards

  • 4 percent cash back on dining and entertainment
  • 2 percent cash back at grocery stores
  • 1 percent cash back on all other purchases.

Welcome: $300 cash bonus after spending $3,000 in the first three months of card ownership

Annual fee: $0 for the first year, then $95

Editor’s take

The Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card has been a Bankrate favorite for quite some time thanks to its rewards structure. The card earns you 4 percent cash back on dining and entertainment for a $95 annual fee, waived the first year. According to the Capital One website, the 4 percent category includes purchases at cafes, bars, fast-food chains and more.

The welcome bonus requires a higher spending threshold, but you also earn comparably more cash back for doing so: Get a first year $300 cash bonus after spending $3,000 on purchases within your first three months. 

Traveling foodies won’t owe foreign transaction fees for spending abroad, and you can receive your cash back rewards as a check or statement credit or redeem for previous purchases, gift cards and more.

Best for food delivery: Uber Visa Card

Rewards

  • 5 percent back in Uber Cash on Uber, Uber Eats and JUMP bikes and scooters
  • 3 percent back on airfare, hotels, vacation rentals and dining
  • 1 percent on everything else

Welcome bonus: $100 Uber Cash welcome bonus after spending $500 in your first 90 days

Annual fee: $0

Editor’s take

Thanks to its name, the Uber Visa Card may appear to strictly be a transportation rewards card, but you can earn rewards on much more. If you spend a significant amount of money on food delivery through Uber Eats, the 5 percent category awards you Uber Cash on Uber Eats, with no cap on how much you can earn. There’s also a 3 percent category that earns you unlimited Uber Cash rewards on dining. 

The Uber Visa doesn’t charge an annual fee or foreign transaction fees. The one downside of the card is its redemption options; once you earn $50 in Uber Cash, you have the option to transfer your earnings to your Uber accounts (meaning you can only use your rewards toward further Uber-related purchases).

Best for super spenders: American Express® Gold Card

Rewards

  • 4X Membership Rewards® points at restaurants worldwide
  • 4X points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X)
  • 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com
  • 1X points on all other purchases

Welcome bonus: 35,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months

Annual fee: $250

Editor’s take

If you don’t mind paying a significant annual fee, the American Express® Gold Card is one of the best credit cards for dining and can prove especially helpful to world travelers. 

The Gold Card earns you an unlimited 4X Membership Rewards® points when you dine at restaurants worldwide and offers up to $120 in annual dining credits when you enroll. The dining credits perk awards you up to $10 a month in statement credits when you use the card to make purchases at participating merchants, like participating Shake Shacks, Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory and more.

Aside from dining perks, the card offers a handful of travel-related benefits: Up to a $100 airline fee credit each calendar year with one qualifying airline, no foreign transaction fees and various travel protections on luggage, car rentals and more.

Best for fast food purchases: U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

Rewards:

  • 5 percent cash back in two categories (up to $2,000 in combined purchases per quarter)
  • Unlimited 2 percent cash back at gas stations, grocery stores or restaurants
  • 1 percent back on all other qualifying purchases

Welcome bonus: $150 bonus after you apply online and spend $500 in eligible net purchases within the first 90 days of account opening

Annual fee: $0

Editor’s take

Fast food lovers, rejoice. With the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card, you can choose fast food as a category to earn 5 percent cash back in on up to $2,000 in combined purchases each quarter.  Better yet, you won’t have to sacrifice rewards on dining at other places — the card also has the option of choosing restaurants as a category to earn an unlimited 2 percent cash back in. 

The welcome bonus spending threshold is pretty reasonable: You can earn a $150 bonus after applying online and spending $500 in eligible net purchases within the first 90 days. 

There’s no minimum redemption amount and you can cash in your awards any time as statement credit, a deposit into your U.S. Bank checking or savings account and more.

Best for no annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card

Rewards:

  • 3X points on eating out and ordering in
  • 3X points on travel (i.e., flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals)
  • 3X points on gas stations, rideshares and transit
  • 3X points on popular streaming services
  • 1X points on other purchases

Welcome bonus: 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months ($200 cash redemption value)

Annual fee: $0

Editor’s take

The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card is a jack of all trades when it comes to earning you significant cash back on a variety of categories — including restaurant-related purchases. 

If you’re looking to earn rewards on eating out but without the cost of an annual fee, the Propel card is one of the best options for doing so. You earn 3X points on restaurants, bars, fast food, bakeries and caterers. 

The welcome bonus is easily attainable given the number of categories you can automatically earn rewards in and is worth $200 when redeemed for cash. You can use your rewards by redeeming for travel, gift cards and merchandise or by bidding in the Go Far® Rewards auction website or donating to charity. 

How to choose the best restaurant credit card for you

Now that you’ve had the chance to review the best credit cards for restaurants, it’s time to determine which card is right for your lifestyle and spending habits.

Annual fees

When taking a restaurant credit card into consideration, determine whether or not you mind paying an annual fee. 

There are plenty of no annual fee dining credit card options if you’d like to avoid the charge, but you’ll typically get a higher rewards rate and greater overall perks when an annual fee is tacked onto a card.

Flat rate vs. rotating categories

Do you prefer set-it-and-forget-it credit cards or do you enjoy choosing, tracking and activating rotating bonus categories? Restaurant credit cards can come in either form, and the right option for you depends on how you answer the question above.

You’ll also want to consider a card’s cap (if any) on the level of rewards you can earn per quarter or annually. Both flat rate and rotating category cards can come with caps, but they’re more common in cards with rotating categories. 

The U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature’s cap of $2,000 in combined spending each quarter within the 5 percent category, for example, may be too low for heavier spenders. After hitting the cap, you’ll earn 1 percent cash back on your purchases. In this case, a flat rate restaurant card that earns you unlimited rewards may end up earning you more in the long run. 

Redemption options

A card’s rewards redemption options determine how you can utilize the points, cash back or miles you’ve earned. Before deciding on a restaurant credit card, it’s important to double-check that you can redeem the card’s rewards in whichever manner best suits your lifestyle.

Most cards offer redemption options along the lines of cash back, statement credit, checks, gift cards, mechanize through a shopping portal or travel, but some cards’ options are more limited. The Uber Visa, for example, only allows Uber Cash redemption toward further Uber purchases within their transportation or food delivery apps. If you don’t do a high level of dining related spending with specific merchants, it’s best to look for cards with more flexible redemption options.