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If you’re a credit card reward junkie, no matter if it’s cash back or travel rewards, then you know the importance of using the best credit card to maximize each purchase. Frequently dining out can be expensive, but earning bonus credit card points can help make things easier, especially if you are traveling and forced to eat out most of the time.
Just remember that it’s important to pay off your balance in full each month or the rewards you earn will be less valuable or essentially null and void. (You can see how your credit card use is affecting your credit by viewing two of your credit scores, updated every 14 days, for free on Credit.com.)
Here are four of our favorite credit cards to use for dining out at restaurants.
1. Chase Sapphire Reserve
Anyone looking to get the most bang out of their buck at restaurants will want to look into one of the latest credit cards available, the Chase Sapphire Reserve. This card was introduced earlier this year and has made a huge splash. The reason is because you earn 3x Ultimate Reward points on all purchases made at restaurants. It could be at a fast food chain or it could be at a three-star Michelin restaurant.
To go along with the high earning potential at restaurants, you also earn 3x points on all travel expenses. All other purchases made will receive 1x points. This card has the best public signup bonus right now. You will receive 100,000 Ultimate Reward points after spending $4,000 within the first three months. When it comes time to redeem the points you have earned, you have some choices. Most cardholders prefer to either transfer points to one of many hotel and airline transfer partners, or to book travel directly through the Chase Ultimate Rewards platform (in this last scenario, the signup bonus is worth a cool $1,500).
The Chase Sapphire Reserve card comes with a high $450 annual fee, but you will also receive a $300 travel credit each calendar year. You will also receive a $100 statement credit every four years that is for either Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check. Travelers can receive access to over 900 airport lounges with a complimentary Priority Pass membership. The card has a variable annual percentage rate (APR) of 16.24% to 23.24%, based on creditworthiness.
2. Citi ThankYou Premier
Another great card for anyone that loves to dine out is the Citi ThankYou Premier credit card. When you use this card, you earn 2x Citi ThankYou points at restaurants and on entertainment. You also earn 3x points on any travel expense, which includes gas stations. All other purchases earn 1x points. (Full Disclosure: Citibank as well as Chase and American Express advertise on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.)
To the dismay of many, Citi dropped the signup bonus for the Citi ThankYou Premier credit card earlier in 2016. Recently, however, it announced that the offer had returned. When you sign up for the card, you can earn 40,000 Citi ThankYou points after spending $3,000 in the first three months You will be able to transfer your ThankYou points to quite a few different airline and hotel transfer partners; however, the list isn’t quite as attractive as with the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. You can also book travel through the ThankYou Travel Center and receive a 25% bonus.
Cardholders will receive several travel and purchase protection benefits, as well as access to Citi Price Rewind. With this program, Citi will monitor purchases you make to see if they decline in price with the first 60 days. It may then reimburse you the difference. There is a $95 annual fee, which can be well worth it depending on how you use the card. The card has a variable APR of 16.24% ongoing.
3. Chase Freedom
One of the more popular credit cards available is the Chase Freedom card (see full review here). This card offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 within rotating categories each quarter. It will typically include restaurants during at least one quarter per year. All purchases that don’t fall within the bonus categories earn 1% cash back.
When you sign up for the Chase Freedom card, you can receive a signup bonus of $150 after spending $500 within the first three months. If you would like to add an authorized user to your account, you will earn an additional $25 when they make their first purchase during the same three-month period. If you have another Chase credit card that is part of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, then you can convert your cash back into Ultimate Rewards points. This card doesn’t have an annual fee, which makes it a potential good fit for anyone who doesn’t routinely carry a balance. The card has a 16.49% - 25.24% Variable APR, after a 15-month 0% introductory APR expires.
4. The American Express® Gold Card
A popular card from American Express for both dining at restaurants and on travel is the American Express® Gold Card. When you use this card at restaurants, gas stations, and grocery stores, you earn 2x Membership Reward points. You can earn 3x points when you book airfare directly through the airlines. Any other purchase receives 1x points.
When you sign up for the card, you can receive a welcome offer of 25,000 Membership Reward points after spending $2,000 within the first three months. This card has an annual fee of $195, but it’s waived for the first year. Helping to offset the fee, you receive a $100 airline fee credit each calendar year. This can be used towards baggage fees, in-flight entertainment, or other incidentals that are charged to your card. Since this is a charge card, there’s no APR as you’re expected to pay purchases off in full each month.
At publishing time, the Chase Freedom, Citi Thank You Premier and American Express® Gold Card are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.