Best credit cards for restaurants

coldsnowstorm/Getty Images
Bankrate Logo

Why you can trust Bankrate

At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation for . The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired.

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 rewards credit cards for restaurant-related purchases in 2021, 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
  • 4 percent back on popular streaming services, including Hulu, Disney+ and Netflix
  • 3 percent back at grocery stores
  • 1 percent back on all other purchases.
  • Plus, 8 percent back on purchases from Vivid Seats (through Jan. 31, 2023)

Welcome bonus: $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, entertainment and popular streaming services for a $95 annual fee. 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 flexible cash back: Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

Rewards:

  • 5 percent cash back (on up to $500 each billing cycle, then 1 percent) on your top eligible spending category each billing cycle
  • 1 percent cash back on all other purchases

Welcome bonus: 20,000 ThankYou Points — worth $200 in cash back — after spending $750 on purchases in the first three months

Annual fee: $0

Editor’s take

Rather than have a fixed bonus category, the Citi Custom Cash card has a unique value proposition. You can earn 5 percent cash back on up to $500 each billing cycle (1 percent after) on the eligible category you spend the most in. Categories include restaurants (though not third-party dining services), making it a top contender for most rewarding on these purchases.

But depending on your budget, it might make more sense to save the Custom Cash for other kinds of purchases. For instance, you could earn 5 percent in a category like grocery stores or home improvement if you spend more on those transactions in a month.

That said, the same feature makes the Custom Cash a flexible option. You can earn plenty of cash back on dining one month and then choose to cook at home the next and still earn rewards.

Best travel credit card that earns rewards at restaurants: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Rewards:

  • 5X total points on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3X points on dining, including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out
  • 3X points on select streaming services
  • 3X points on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs)
  • 2X points on travel not booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Annual fee: $95

Editor’s take

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a staple in the travel credit card industry for a reason. The combination of a low annual fee, valuable rewards currency and flexible redemption options make it a great card for a beginner traveler or a seasoned pro.

And with recent updates to its rewards structure, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is now even more valuable to the everyday consumer. Starting August 16, 2021, cardholders will earn 3X points on dining, including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out (previously 2X). Cardholders also have access to one year of DashPass, DoorDash’s subscription service (must activate by Dec. 31, 2021).

The card also rewards online grocery purchases at a rate of 3X, so you’ll earn the same boosted rate when you’re cooking for yourself. If you’re looking to turn your dining dollars into airline miles, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is an efficient way to do so.

Best for super spenders: American Express® Gold Card

Rewards:

  • 4X Membership Rewards points at restaurants (including Uber Eats purchases)
  • 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 via AmexTravel.com
  • 2X points on rental cars booked through AmexTravel.com
  • 1X points on all other purchases

Welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first six months

Annual fee: $250

Editor’s take

If you don’t mind paying an 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 unlimited 4X Membership Rewards points when you dine at restaurants and offers up to $120 in dining credits (enrollment required). Specifically, get a total of $10 in statement credits each month when you pay with your Amex Gold at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed and participating Shake Shack locations.

Cardholders can also get up to $120 in annual Uber Cash ($10 per month in Uber Cash, expiring at the end of the month) that can be redeemed for rides or eats orders. You just need to make sure that your Amex Gold Card is linked to the Upper app to automatically receive your monthly Uber Cash.

Amex Gold comes with a $250 annual fee, but if you took full advantage of the dining and Uber Cash credits, you would get up to $240 back in credits.

Aside from dining perks, the card offers a handful of travel-related benefits, including 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 on purchases in two categories (up to $2,000 in combined purchases per quarter, then 1 percent)
  • Unlimited 2 percent cash back at gas stations, grocery stores or restaurants
  • 1 percent back on all other qualifying purchases

Welcome bonus: $200 bonus when you make $500 in eligible net purchases in the first 90 days

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 on up to $2,000 in combined purchases each quarter (then 1 percent). 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 as you can earn a $200 bonus when you make $500 in eligible net purchases in your first 90 days of owning the card.

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

Best for food delivery without the fee: Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Rewards:

  • 5 percent cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 5 percent back on Lyft rides (through Mar. 2022)
  • 3 percent back on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services
  • 3 percent back on drugstore purchases
  • 1.5 percent back on all non-category purchases

Welcome bonus: $200 cash bonus when you spend $500 on your card within three months of account opening

Annual fee: $0

Editor’s take

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is a great cash back credit card option for earning rewards on food delivery-related purchases. You’ll earn 3 percent back on takeout and eligible delivery services and won’t need to pay an annual fee each year to own the card.

Plus, cardmembers get a free DashPass subscription for three months if they activate before Dec. 31, 2021, which includes unlimited deliveries for a $0 delivery fee on orders over $12.

If you’re looking for a card option that can also earn you a decent amount of rewards on non-category purchases, the Freedom Unlimited might be your best bet with its 1.5 percent cash back on all other purchases.

Best for introductory bonus: The Platinum Card from American Express

Rewards:

  • Earn 10X points at eligible restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases during your first 6 months of card membership
  • 5X points on up to $500,000 spent on directly-booked airfare and flights and prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel (per calendar year)
  • 2X points on prepaid car rentals through American Express Travel
  • 1X points on all other purchase

Welcome bonus: 100,000 points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new card in your first six months

Annual fee: $695 (effective Jan. 1, 2022, for existing cardmembers)

Editor’s take

The Platinum Card from American Express is well-known for its luxury benefits, and for good reason. The $695 annual fee might look scary, but the card is absolutely packed to the brim with statement credits and perks that more than make up for it in value. This includes up to $200 in Uber cash per year ($15 per month plus an extra $20 in December), which can be applied to either rides or delivery from Uber Eats.

Perhaps the most eye-catching restaurant-related perk on the card is its introductory offer: You can earn a whopping 10 points per dollar at eligible restaurants worldwide during your first six months of card membership (maximum $25,000 in eligible restaurant and Shop Small purchases.) That’s a rewards rate you won’t find matched anywhere, and for frequent travelers, Membership Rewards can be a great currency to rack up.

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 credit card options for dining-related purchases 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, merchandise through a shopping portal or travel, but some cards options are more limited. 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.

The information about the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card and U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

Written by
Claire Dickey
Editor, Product
Claire Dickey is a product editor for Bankrate, CreditCards.com and To Her Credit. Before joining Bankrate, Claire worked as a copywriter for brands within the telecommunications industry as well as a hybrid marketing and content writer.
Edited by
Senior Editor, Credit Card Product News
Reviewed by
Senior Director of Content