Dining credit cards are just that – cards that offers savings, rewards, and discounts when dining out at a restaurant or ordering takeout. Dining or restaurant credit cards can help you save money on your next takeaway, earn points towards a vacation, or even get you an exclusive reservation that all your friends keep missing out on. Here’s everything you need to know about dining credit cards – from how they work, how to use them, how to find the best one for your lifestyle, and everything in between:
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At a Glance
- Dining credit cards typically provide versatile rewards across multiple everyday spending categories.
- Avoid paying an annual fee unless the rewards and bonuses surpass your average spending habits.
- Subprime dining card options include bad credit, secured, and debit card products.
- Dining programs can accelerate your earnings and provide access to exclusive restaurant experiences.
What is a Dining Credit Card?
Dining credit cards are among the most popular rewards credit cards available. A dining rewards credit card is a type of credit card that offers special incentives, rewards, or benefits for spending money on dining-related expenses. These cards are designed to cater to individuals who frequently dine out, order takeout, or enjoy food-related experiences.
Types of Dining Cards
Like any other type of credit card, there are countless options for dining rewards. This wide breadth of features, perks, and payment networks means there is likely a card to fit your foodie needs. Here are several examples of different types of dining cards:
|Cash back||Cash back is the most common type of dining credit card. These cards offer cash back rewards on dining expenses, which can be applied as a statement credit or deposited into your account.|
|Travel||Like a cash back card, travel dining cards provide reward points on eligible purchases that can then be applied towards award travel. Travel dining cards also feature no foreign transaction fees, making them ideal for overseas dining.|
|Co-branded||Co-branded cards are affiliated with specific restaurant chains, food delivery services, or dining establishments. Examples of these cards include the DoorDash Mastercard and the Instacart Mastercard. These types of dining cards often offer enhanced rewards and benefits when you use the card at those partner locations.|
|Rotating category||Rotating category cards offer enhanced rewards on dining expenses during specific periods, often as part of rotating quarterly bonus categories. These cards are usually cash back rewards cards but may offer the option of converting to points.|
|Premium||Premium cards typically come with higher annual fees but offer generous rewards and a range of luxury dining perks. These may include access to exclusive dining experiences, concierge services, and travel benefits, with notable examples including the Capital One Savor and American Express Gold Card.|
|Student||Student cards are specially designed for students, meaning lower credit requirements, smaller credit limits, and tools to help build credit. Some great student cards offer dining rewards, which is a great perk both off and on campus.|
|Secured||Secured cards are great for individuals building or rebuilding their credit. Some secured cards offer rewards, including dining rewards, while requiring a security deposit as collateral. Discover is one such issuer of secured dining cards, along with Capital One.|
|Business||Business cards offer rewards and benefits that cater to business-related dining expenses. They might include features like expense tracking and employee card management. These business dining cards usually provide complimentary employee cards, making it easy for companies to save money.|
Are there Dining Store Cards?
Technically, yes. Cards like the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi and the Sam’s Club® Mastercard® from Synchrony have closed-loop store card equivalents. These stores feature restaurants, making the store cards dining cards by default.
Related Article: The Ultimate Guide to Retail Credit Cards
Are there Dining Credit Cards for Bad Credit?
Yes! As noted above, several quality choices regarding dining rewards and subprime credit exist. There are student dining cards, secured dining credit cards, and versatile cash back cards for subprime and near-prime credit scores.
Here are a few of the best picks for subprime and student dining rewards credit cards:
Discover it® Secured
Capital One SavorOne Student
Bank of America® Customized Cash Secured
|Rewards||2% cash back at restaurants or gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus 1% cash back on all other credit card purchases||Unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®), with 1% on all other purchases||3% cash back in the category of your choice: gas and EV charging, online shopping, cable, phone, and internet plans, select streaming, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings, 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 1% back on all other purchases|
|Minimum deposit required||$200||N/A||$300|
Business Dining Cards
Businesses can benefit greatly from dining credit cards – and especially if they plan to issue multiple employee cards. Business credit cards differ significantly from personal credit cards, however. Here are the biggest key differences:
|Bigger sign-up bonuses||Many business credit cards come with more significant signup bonuses than personal credit cards. Some of the best business cards offer bonuses of 100,000 points or more after meeting a minimum spending requirement.|
|Unique spending categories||Business credit cards occasionally earn bonus points or miles for purchases in categories that personal cards don’t offer. Common bonus categories for business cards include office supplies, internet and telecommunications, advertising, shipping, and more. These categories may align better with your spending habits than other personal bonus categories.|
|Higher credit limits||Most small business credit cards come with substantially higher limits than personal cards. According to Experian, the average credit limit for a personal card is about $30,000; for a small business credit card; however, the average credit limit is $56,000.|
|Expense and spend management tools||Business cards come with a variety of business monitoring tools. These can help streamline your finances, track purchases, and even assist in writing off spending as a business expense.|
|Travel benefits||Some business cards do not charge foreign transaction fees, include a signup bonus worth a free flight after you spend a certain amount within the first few months of card membership, and more.|
Business owners should carefully assess their specific requirements and choose a card that aligns with their business’s dining and financial needs. However, they will find many great options from American Express, Chase Ink, Capital One Spark, and more.
Are There Dining Debit Cards?
While there are no dedicated dining debit cards, there are travel and rewards debit and prepaid cards that can offer savings on dining purchases. The Disney Visa Debit Card, for example, is a Chase debit card with $0 maintenance fees and select savings at Disney locations, including dining:
|10% savings when using the card while shopping at Disney Stores or online at ShopDisney.com.|
|10% off select merchandise purchases of $50 or more at select locations at Walt Disney World® Resort and the Disneyland® Resort.|
|Special photo op access at private Chase Cardmember locations at Walt Disney World® Resort and the Disneyland® Resort.|
|10% off the non-discounted price of select recreation experiences at Walt Disney World® Resort.|
|10% off select dining locations most days at Walt Disney World® Resort and the Disneyland® Resort.|
Other examples of debit cards that provide savings or offer rewards on dining include:
|Earn cash back rewards when you buy groceries, gas, food and more with your Albert debit card|
Yotta Debit Card
|Earn 10% of your purchase amount back in the form of tickets into the following week’s sweepstakes|
|Earn 5X points per $1 on subscriptions, 3X points on food deliver and rideshares, and 1X points on everything else|
Related Article: The Ultimate Guide to Debit Cards
How Do Banks and Issuers Define “Dining”?
Choosing a dining rewards credit card can be challenging. After all, there are tons of options available. At BestCards, for example, we currently have over 140 reviews for credit cards that full under the dining category, so your options are vast.
Despite this, choosing your ideal restaurant credit card can cause headaches for numerous reasons, including confusing welcome offers and sign-up bonuses, application restrictions, and annual fees to consider. Dining rewards can also be tricky, as each issuer defines restaurants, dining, and other related categories.
However, this guide will help you navigate all the intricacies. Here is a quick rundown of how each major credit card issuer classifies dining and restaurant transactions:
As one of the largest credit card issuers in the world, you might expect American Express to have strict rules regarding dining categories – and you would be right. Amex divides dining into two categories: U.S. Dining and Global Dining. The locations that fit into those categories are quite tight, including restaurants, cafes, and other typical places. Remember that not all dining purchases made at a restaurant located within another establishment may qualify. Check your Amex mobile app for a more detailed classification.
Not everything qualifies as dining at Amex, however. The below categories will not earn dining rewards with Amex cards:
Bank of America
Bank of America is another major issuer with a fairly limited view of what constitutes as “dining.” Here is what the issuer considers a dining purchase, according to its website:
|Restaurants (full service)||Fast food||Bars||Taverns|
Like other issuers, Bank of America does not provide an extensive list of what purchases do not qualify as dining. Specialist shops, like bakeries, cafes, or other small stores, may not qualify.
One of the more popular dining credit card issuers is Capital One, and it is easy to see why. The bank issues some of the best dining cards available, including the premium Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Card. This $95 annual fee credit card earns an impressive unlimited 4% cash back on dining, entertainment, and popular streaming services – an earning rate that is tough to match. Still, it’s a trick the bank is good at, with near-prime, and subprime versions available for students and those new to credit.
Capital One is somewhat vague in its terminology, defining qualifying “dining” purchases as follows:
|Bakeries||Cafes||Restaurants (full service)||Bars|
Again, the issuer is vague. Check with your Capital One cardmember agreement, contact customer service, or check out the bank’s mobile app to get the full details on where you may or may not earn rewards.
JPMorgan Chase is one issuer that specializes in lucrative rewards. Chase offers a wide range of premium and no annual fee credit cards that provide great dining rewards. These options include Chase’s proprietary credit cards, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Sapphire Preferred, Chase Freedom Flex, and Freedom Unlimited Cards.
According to Chase, the dining category itself is limited to regular sit-down restaurants and fast-food establishments. Despite that, there is evidence that some Chase proprietary cards (and especially Sapphire cards) allow select transactions as dining. Here is a helpful table highlighting the types of dining purchases Chase usually permits:
|Bars||Cafes||Fast food||Juice shops|
That said, plenty of transactions may not qualify as a dining purchase. Here is what Chase states is not allowed as dining, though what qualifies for dining rewards varies based on the specific merchant category codes (MCC). Here is a quick breakdown of what likely isn’t allowed:
|Amazon dining||Bakeries||Catering||Food & drinks with larger merchants|
|Groceries||In-flight purchases||Meal kits|
Unlike Chase, Citi is much more upfront with its dining categories. Citi clarifies that “merchants in the dining category include fast food restaurants to fine dining establishments” in their terms and conditions. These establishments primarily prepare food and drinks for immediate consumption by consumers, either on the merchant’s premises or packaged for take-out, and include the following:
Please note that some merchants that sell food and drinks located within larger merchants that sell other goods and services may not be included in this category. For example, department store cafeterias or discount store food counters will likely not qualify as dining purchases.
Discover is very straightforward with its merchant categories. The card issuer offers several cash back credit cards, including unlimited rewards and gas and dining options, like the Discover it® Chrome Gas & Restaurants and the secured and student versions of the same card. Those cards earn 2% cash back at gas and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, with the following categories eligible:
Despite that openness, there is no dedicated list of Discover MCCs. Because of this, you might have difficulties with some transactions. Your best bet is to consult the Discover mobile app or a Discover Card Services customer service agent if you have more specific questions.
U.S. Bank is exceptional in communicating to customers with information regarding its MCC classifications. The issuer provides a basic understanding of the types of establishments that qualify for dining purchases and a list of sample services, restaurants, and apps that qualify. These include:
|Applebee’s||Bob Evans||Buffalo Wild Wings||Cracker Barrel|
|DoorDash||Famous Dave’s BBQ||GrubHub||IHOP|
|Longhorn||Olive Garden||PF Chang’s||Perkins|
|Pizza Hut||Red Lobster||Skyline Chili||Sizzler|
|Smashburger||TGI Fridays||Uber Eats||Village Inn|
U.S. Bank provides a wide range of credit cards that offer lucrative dining rewards, including its proprietary Altitude credit card range, its U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card, and co-branded hotel, travel, and retail cards from major brands.
A final major issuer with dining rewards credit cards is Wells Fargo. The bank’s popular Wells Fargo Autograph Card earns 3X points per $1 on dining, travel, gas, transit, streaming, and phone plans. It also earns 1X points per dollar on everything else and comes with 0% intro APR for 12 months on purchases – all for no annual fee.
Wells Fargo also issues the popular Bilt Mastercard®. This unique “rent credit card” earns a mighty 3X points on dining with no annual fee. Cardholders can also double their rewards on Bilt Rent Day on the first of each month.
Wells Fargo relies on payment networks to determine dining. For example, Wells Fargo defines dining as “eating places and restaurants, drinking places, fast food restaurants, and/or caterers.” Here is how Visa and Mastercard classify these categories:
|Eating places||Full service restaurants||5812|
|Drinking places||Bars, beer gardens, breweries, wine bars, comedy clubs, nightclubs||5813|
|Fast food||Cafes, delis, coffee shops, snack shops, diners, pizza shops||5814|
|Caterers||Merchants that contract with consumers to prepare and deliver food and drinks for immediate consumption||5811|
What to Look for in a Dining Credit Card
Choosing any reward credit card requires time and careful consideration. There are multiple factors you need to take into account before selecting a new dining credit card.
How the credit card earns rewards should be number one on your list. Check the card’s rewards rate and what purchases earn additional points or cash back per dollar. Do these categories fit into your overall spending habits or what you want from a new credit card? For instance, a card might offer 3% cash back on dining while another may earn only 1%.
Also, explore how you can redeem the rewards you earn. For example, are there restrictions or blackout dates for flights booked through travel portals? Ensure the redemption options align with your preferences. Some cards offer flexible redemption, while others may limit you to specific dining partners or airlines.
The sign-up bonus is another important consideration. Most cash back credit cards come with a statement credit offer after meeting minimum spending requirements, but other cards may provide bonus loyalty points in airline or hotel programs. Compare these bonuses to maximize your initial rewards.
Other cards might provide differing welcome bonuses, such as additional points for a set period or an extended free trial of delivery services (like DoorDash DashPass or Uber Eats) for becoming a card member. These bonuses can really help you save money – especially when stacked with the existing rewards on the card.
Card acceptance is a bigger consideration than you might think. Some credit cards can’t be used outside of the United States, for instance, meaning you won’t be able to take the credit card on a vacation abroad. This is common with some second-chance credit cards for rebuilding credit.
Cards that are accepted internationally may charge a fee for use overseas. This charge is known as a foreign transaction fee and typically runs around 3% of the transaction amount in U.S. dollars. If you plan to travel, look for a card with no foreign transaction fees. These cards can help you save some bucks while racking up rewards as you hit all the trendy restaurants.
Rates and Fees
Be wary of other fees, including annual fees, charges for late or returned payments, and penalty APRs. Pay attention to the card’s regular purchase APR (Annual Percentage Rate), too, especially if you plan to carry a balance month-over-month. A low APR can save you money on interest charges over time.
What are the Best Dining Credit Cards?
So, what are our best bets for dining credit cards? We’ve broken down more than 140 dining offerings to find the most versatile, rewarding, and exciting dining rewards cards currently available:
DoorDash Rewards Mastercard®
Costco Anywhere Visa®
Citi Custom Cash℠
American Express® Gold Card
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards
Here’s a quick breakdown of what we like about each card:
- DoorDash Rewards Mastercard®: The DoorDash Rewards Mastercard® makes ordering out a breeze thanks to up to 4% cash back earned on DoorDash purchases, 2% back on groceries, a free year of DashPass (a $96 value), and a selection of Mastercard perks and protections.
- Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi: If you’re a Costco member and want to start earning some serious cash back rewards, the bonuses available via the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi – including 4% on gas and EV charging and 2% on your Costco purchases – may be just what you’re looking for.
- Citi Custom Cash℠ Card: The Citi Custom Cash Card is a generous cash back credit card that does not charge an annual fee and rewards 5% back on the top spending category each month, with options including transit, travel, gas, groceries, dining, and more.
- American Express® Gold Card: Foodies, rejoice! The American Express® Gold Card grants you the ability to earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at restaurants worldwide and U.S. supermarkets, and 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or via amextravel.com.
- Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card: Make memories while funding future adventures with the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card. This exclusive entertainment credit card boasts an unlimited 4% cash back on streaming, dining, and entertainment is a great card for couples, families, and social butterflies.
There are several competitive rewards cards are out there, meaning many excellent cards miss out on the top honors – and therefore don’t get the praise they deserve.
PayPal Cashback Mastercard®
U.S. Bank Triple Cash Rewards Visa® Business
The Bilt Mastercard is probably the most noteworthy card in this list, as it’s the first credit card of its kind to earn rewards on rent. The card earns 3X points per dollar on dining, 2X on travel, and 1X on all other purchases. Cardholders also earn 1X points on rent payments (up to 50,000 points each calendar year).
There’s even more value thanks to Bilt Dining, a dedicated dining program that allows Bilt Rewards members to earn points on select dining using the Bilt Wallet in the company’s mobile app. Cardholders can earn up to 5X points per $1 spent with these partners – a great haul you can then apply towards rent – or even a down payment.
Those points on dining are only the start, however. That rewards rate doubles on the 1st of every month, thanks to Bilt’s Rent Day promotion. Cardholders can earn double the points on all eligible purchases (excluding rent). Here’s how the Bilt Rent Day promotion works out:
|Eating at an eligible Bilt Dining restaurant||5X per $1||5|
|Paying with the Bilt Mastercard||3X per $1||
|“Rent Day” bonus||Additional 2X on all purchases*||6|
|11X per $1|
|*Bilt Dining not eligible for “Rent Day”|
For more information on our favorite dining credit cards, check out our Best Credit Cards for Foodies post.
Dining programs are an offshoot of dining credit cards, providing additional ways to save money and access difficult-to-find reservations at the hottest restaurants. These programs (also known as dining clubs) are a lesser-known credit card hack that allows you to earn airline miles or hotel points with any current credit card.
Airline Frequent Flyer and Hotel Dining Programs
These free programs are made up of partnered restaurants, cafes, and other establishments and can earn diners airline miles towards the affiliated airline carrier. In addition, some hotel loyalty programs feature the same scheme, where you can earn points towards future stays just for dining or carrying out.
Seven U.S. airline programs have dining programs:
Hotel chains that have dining programs associated with their loyalty programs include Hilton Honors Dining, IHG Rewards Club Dining, and Marriott Bonvoy’s Eat Around Town. These programs provide additional discounts, points on stays, and welcome bonuses for new members.
Related Article: Dining Programs & How to Earn Airline Miles with Any Credit Card
Several banks and credit card issuers feature dedicated dining programs.
Bilt Dining is one of the newer issuer dining programs. The program lives within the Bilt mobile app interface under the “Dining” tab. There, members will find a list of eligible restaurants, which are sortable by Bilt’s top picks or filtered by location, cuisine type, and price range. The program is currently limited to Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, and New York City, although Bilt plans to add new locations continuously.
Bilt Dining works through Bilt digital wallet, Bilt Wallet. This aspect of the Bilt Dining program means adding any credit card and maximizing your rewards. So even if your credit card doesn’t earn rewards, you can still earn 5X points on the dining purchases – just for being a Bilt Rewards member. But there’s even more value – up to 11X points on dining on the first of the month thanks to Bilt’s Rent Day Promotion.
Capital One Dining
Capital One launched a new dining program with the launch of the premium Capital One Venture X Rewards Card. Capital One Dining offers exclusive reservations, special events, experiences, and more, featuring 350 restaurants across a selection of major cities.
Through the Capital One mobile app or on desktop, eligible cardmembers can reserve tables from those set aside for Capital One Dining members exclusively. Cardmembers can also update their profiles to include dietary preferences and special dates such as birthdays and anniversaries. These details will be automatically flagged to participating restaurants.
Chase Dining Experiences
Chase Dining is a program that offers cardholders access to exclusive dining experiences, priority reservations, chef’s tables, and special menu items. The biggest benefit for Chase Dining is that Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders earn a huge 10X Ultimate Rewards points on Chase Dining purchases (and Sapphire Preferred cardholders earn a decent 3X points). The program is also open to Chase Freedom credit cards.
One of the best features of Chase Dining is the access to exclusive card member events. These exclusive events, such as the Infatuation’s EEEEEATSCON, get you into hard-to-get-into events and eateries plus invitations to private dining events and exclusives.
Featured image by GioeleFazzeri/PixaBay
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