Do you love to eat out frequently? Try new restaurants on a regular basis? If you consider yourself a foodie, you may want to consider picking out a credit card that rewards you every time you dine out. While you may know of credit cards that focus on giving you travel rewards or cash back for gas purchases, you should be aware that there are credit cards out there to enhance your dining experience by giving you rewards for eating out. In this article, we’ll take a look at several factors you should consider when looking for the right restaurant credit card as well as a list of some of the best credit cards to satiate your appetite for great rewards!
What to Look For in a Dining-Out Credit Card
Not every credit card with a rewards program is designed for those that spend a lot of time in restaurants. Here’s a list of items you should look for and other considerations when choosing the right dining credit card:
Rewards Rates and Programs
The most important thing to look for is what the rate of rewards points you can earn for dining out specifically. You should look for a card that lists restaurants as one type of purchase that gives you a higher amount of rewards back than other things (or in addition to) you can buy with it. For example, you may find a credit card that gives you 2x points when you dine out versus 1x points when you gas up your vehicle.
Another factor to consider is the flexibility of the rewards program and whether those rewards points you’ve accumulated can be used for other purchases. Often, your restaurant visits can accumulate points in the same way that you spend money on travel, shopping, or entertainment. You can then choose to spend your points on your balance for eating out. Unless you specifically designate one of your credit cards as your “restaurant card,” you’ll want to find a rewards program that includes top-tier rewards across those a number of types of spending. After all, your spending is likely to encompass more than just eating.
As with any credit card rewards program, you’ll want to dig into the terms and conditions to see how the credit card company views restaurants. For example, does fast food or takeout food count towards earning rewards points? Understanding the fine print will ensure that you don’t lose out on purchases that aren’t eligible.
Lastly, you should look for cards with the capacity to earn unlimited rewards as some cards. Some have no cap to the rewards you can earn (referred to as “unlimited rewards”), while others will limit your rewards points within a spending limit. Any eligible purchases you make beyond this limit revert to a normal rewards tier. This can be significant, as a lucrative 3x points can be reduced to a ho-hum 1x points rate.
Many card issuers offer bonus rewards for opening up a new credit card account to lure in new customers. Typically, these sign-on bonuses will require you to charge a certain amount within the first few months of signing up. If you don’t spend that much on restaurants (and other purchases), you may want to consider how you’ll meet these requirements. You may be enticed by the sign-on bonus, but it makes no sense to overspend just to meet the quota.
Fees and Interest
Most rewards cards that offer better interest rates usually come with higher annual fees. Like a sign-on bonus, you want to make sure you’ll be earning enough rewards with the card to offset those fees.
For those that carry a credit card balance each month, you also need to look at the APR (annual percentage rate) to determine the amount that you will be charged in interest each month. As an example, if you carry a balance of $500, a 15% APR will cost you $75 in interest. At a 2x rewards rate (which usually works out to $.02 per $1 of eligible restaurants), you’d have to spend $3,750 per month at restaurants just to break even.
Would the credit card you choose be able to make up for that? If not, you may want to consider making it a point to paying off your statement in full or not taking out a card until you can pay off your balance to a reasonable level of accrued interest.
If you want to transfer your balance from a card that doesn’t offer as many dining rewards as the one you’d like to use, you’ll want to investigate whether the new credit card includes balance transfer fees or a 0% APR promotional offer. As a rule of thumb, if a card offers no balance transfer fees, it will usually include an APR that may not be favorable; conversely, if it offers an enticing 0% APR for a specified period (ex. 12 months), there may be some balance transfer fees that could influence your decision.
Restaurant Rewards Credit Cards
Once you’ve considered what type of credit card you’re looking for, you can start comparing credit cards that are available to you. Let’s take a look at some credit cards that offer restaurant rewards.
If you qualify for a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you can enjoy the benefits of Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program. Great for those on the go, a cardholder can expect to earn 2x points on travel and dining at restaurants. If you’re an international traveler, you can earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide with no foreign transaction fees.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card also comes with a significant sign-on bonus – you can earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from opening your account (equivalent to $625 in travel-related rewards). Finally, the card has no annual fee for the first year.
Looking to maximize your dining experience? Capital One offers the Venture® Rewards Credit Card, which comes with a lucrative 2x rewards miles per dollar on every purchase. Best of all, these rewards are unlimited.
Currently, this card comes with a sign-on bonus similar to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: opening up an account and spending $3,000 within three months nets you 40,000 miles (equivalent to $400 in travel). This card also comes with no foreign transaction fees and no annual fee during the first year. Afterward, it only charges $59/year.
If you’re looking for a credit card that not only rewards you with 2x points for dining out at restaurants but also makes it easy to transfer your balance, consider the Chase Slate® Card. It comes with a $0 balance transfer fee for transfers made during the first 60 days of opening an account, 0% APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and no annual fee. Eat out guilt-free with the Chase Slate® Card!