Are you the kind of person that frequently likes to eat out? I certainly am! And because of my busy schedule it's generally more convenient for me to pop in and out of a restaurant than cook at home. However, eating out on a regular basis can end up putting a big dent in your budget. That's why I've analyzed our best rated credit cards and made a selection of the cash back credit cards and rewards credit cards that reward you for restaurant purchases - so that you can earn money or rewards on your spending!
GET.com's best cards for restaurants
|Best For||Credit Card|
|Cash back||Discover it® Cashback Match™|
|Rewards||Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card|
According to a recent survey about lunch spending by Visa, Americans eat lunch out an average of almost two times per week and spend $10 per meal. That makes an average of $18 a week, which is a total of $936 per year - just on lunch spending!
It is interesting to note that according to this survey, men are more likely to eat lunch out, and they outspend women by 44% per week. Women spend an average of a bit under $15 per week, and men spend an average of $21. Then there is another part of the population, 1% that spend more than $50 per lunch - which is close to $5,000 per year. On the flip side, 30% of the people interviewed stated that they never ate lunch out.
Simple choices such as the frequency that you eat out, or the amount you spend per meal will end up having a large impact on your finances. Easy ways to save money include: using coupons, choosing a less expensive restaurant, or using a cash back or rewards credit card. Or of course, you could just bring your lunch along!
According to Visa's survey, those who made less than $25k per year spent more per meal than those who earned over $50k! If you fall into this category of people who certainly enjoy the guilty pleasure of eating out regularly, don't fret! As a fellow foodie I'll help you choose the right credit card for restaurants so that you can earn rewards on your food expenses!
Here are our 12 best rated credit cards for restaurants in 2017:
Rewards Points Cards
Travel Rewards Cards
Other Types Of Restaurant Rewards
As well as credit cards that let you earn rewards when you spend money at restaurants, there are also some credit cards which help you save at restaurants in other ways.
For example, some credit cards let you redeem the rewards you earn for gift cards or vouchers that you can use at restaurants. Some rewards programs even offer discounted restaurant gift cards.
Other credit cards let you use your points to pay for meals at certain restaurants or fast food outlets. For example the Membership Rewards® program from American Express has a deal with McDonald's which lets you use your eligible Membership Rewards® credit card to pay for your McDonald's meal right at the counter.
Other cards give you special privileges at select restaurants like guaranteed tables or discounts on your total bill. For example, American Express holds table reservations for Platinum Card® members at many fine restaurants with the #AmexPlatinum Dining Program. So if you have an eligible Platinum card from Amex, you can get a table at a long list of restaurants at a first come, first served basis.
Visa regularly has discount offers from different restaurants (mostly fast food outlets) that you get when you use your Visa card to pay.
Some credit cards let you earn cash back in categories that change every quarter. These categories often include restaurants during one quarter. The cash back which you earn during this quarter may be much higher than what you get with cards that let you save throughout the year.
Can I Earn Rewards At All Food Outlets?
When choosing a restaurant card, it's important to understand how restaurants are categorized. The exact locations that fall into the restaurant category will depend on whether you use a Visa, MasterCard, Discover or American Express card. These payment networks have different criteria for which merchants are considered restaurants.
American Express, for example, includes fast food outlets in its restaurant category, but does not include restaurants outside of the US. Night clubs are not classified as restaurants by American Express.
Visa has separate categories for restaurants, fast food outlets, and drinking places (bars, soda fountains). So unless the cash back categories on your Visa card specifically include restaurants and fast food outlets, you may only earn cash back at restaurants (or fast food outlets if that is the cash back category).
Whichever payment network you use, there is one very important thing to keep in mind if you want to maximize your restaurant cash back or rewards.
If the restaurant or fast food joint is part of a hotel, supermarket, gas station or other establishment, you may not earn cash back or points for your purchases when you pay using your restaurant credit card. That's because the restaurant may fall under the category of the gas station or supermarket that hosts it.
For example, a restaurant that is run by a hotel may fall under the hotel category.
If you have a favorite restaurant that belongs to a gas station, hotel, supermarket or warehouse club, then ask the restaurant staff how the place is classified. If it falls under the hotel, gas station or supermarket categories, then it might be better to get a hotel credit card, gas credit card or supermarket credit card.
Many superstores and warehouse clubs issue their own credit cards, and these could help you earn rewards on your purchases at in-store restaurants at these locations. Or you could use a flexible cash back or rewards credit card that lets you earn rewards on all your purchases, including restaurants.
How We Rate Restaurant Credit Cards
Our mission at GET.com is to provide you with a clear summary of a card's performance compared to other cards on the market. Restaurant cards are rated based on how much they reward you for your restaurant dining (how many points or how much cash back you can earn on dining purchases).
We also take other important factors into account, such as annual fees, APRs, intro APR periods, rewards earned on other purchases, shopping and travel benefits and bonus offers.
When rating restaurant payment cards we pay special attention to perks that can benefit restaurant diners like preferred seating, discounts at restaurants, and easy redemption of rewards for restaurant meals or gift cards.
Ivan Daniel is a writer at GET.com. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.Editorial Disclosure: Any personal views and opinions expressed by the author in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of GET.com. The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the companies mentioned, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
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