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How to Get the Most Out of Your Dining Rewards Credit Card

The best dining rewards credit card depends on your spending habits and dining preferences. Learn how choosing the right card can help you maximize dining benefits.

By Megan Doyle | American Express Credit Intel Freelance Contributor

4 Min Read | October 1, 2021 in Cards



The first step to getting the most out of your dining rewards card is to find the card that matches your spending habits.

Not all dining rewards credit cards are built the same. Some offer straightforward points-earning opportunities, while others offer delivery discounts, for example.

Otherwise, it’s important to understand how dining rewards cards work, such as what counts as dining and how point multipliers work. 

Whether you like to savor exquisite tasting menu experiences, hit up the hottest food trucks, or regularly grab takeout on the go, the right dining rewards credit cards can help you earn extra points, benefit from special restaurant partner or delivery discounts, and even gain exclusive access to reservations and dining experiences around the world. But getting the most out of these popular cards can take a bit of know-how, from understanding how they work to making sure you get the most out of additional perks and partnerships. 


Learn How Dining Rewards Credit Cards Work

Dining rewards cards are a type of credit card that emphasize earning rewards on restaurant and other dining purchases. Rewards usually come in the form of points, though some dining rewards cards offer cash back or miles. Rewards usually can be redeemed for statement credits, travel purchases, and other expenses. Some dining rewards credit cards also give card members special discounts at specific restaurants or delivery services, dining credits, or exclusive access to dining experiences.


And when you find the best dining rewards card for you, be sure to read the terms and conditions. For one, it’s important to know what counts as dining for a credit card reward. While it’ll differ from card to card, it’s usually the case that all restaurant spending – including fast food, takeout, and delivery – will earn you additional points. However, you might not earn bonus points for restaurants located within another establishment, such as a hotel or event venue. Otherwise, the terms and conditions will lay out any other important details, such as spending limits.


Find a Dining Rewards Card that Meets Your Needs

Not all credit cards are built the same, and that holds true for dining rewards cards, too. The best dining rewards credit card is the one that fits your spending style and dining preferences. Consider the following common factors when choosing a dining rewards card:

  • Points multipliers. Depending on the card, you can usually expect to earn anywhere from 2X to 4X points on dining purchases. Many dining cards also offer points bonuses in additional spending categories, such as supermarket purchases or travel. If you’re a big traveler, it might make sense to choose a card that rewards dining and travel. But if you tend to cook at home as often as you go out, a card that offers bonus rewards on dining and groceries might make sense for you.
  • Dining credits and partnerships. Dining-focused credit cards might offer statement credits that can be used toward purchases at specific restaurant or delivery service partners. Cards with dining credits can be particularly useful if you frequent certain restaurants or delivery apps. Some cards also have partnerships with dining reservation apps that make it easier to get exclusive or last-minute reservations, or have complimentary delivery service memberships that can save you money on delivery fees.
  • Annual fees. Generally, the more benefits and perks a dining rewards card has, the higher the annual fee. Still, a no annual fee dining credit card can be the best option for many. For example, you might not benefit from a card with specific dining credits if the card issuer’s partner restaurants aren’t in your area.
  • Foreign transaction fees. While most dining rewards credit cards have no foreign transaction fees, that’s not always the case. If you’re a globe-trotting gastronome, a dining rewards credit card with no foreign transaction fees might be best for you.


Take Advantage of Added Deals, Perks, and Partnerships

Apart from bonus multipliers, consider what else the card has to offer – after all, most dining rewards cards have added perks like welcome bonuses, annual dining credits, complimentary delivery service memberships, rotating deals at restaurant partners, and more. Whatever the best dining rewards card is for you, knowing what it has to offer – and using it – will help you get the most out of the card.

For example, welcome bonuses might include the ability to earn extra points on eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants for your first several months of card membership. Otherwise, it’s a good idea to stay updated on rotating deals, if applicable. Some cards might offer higher points multipliers on certain dining expenses for a limited time, while others might provide discounts on specific dining purchases. These deals usually rotate every month, and you’ll usually have to activate or enroll in them.

And if you’re all about finding the hottest new restaurants, some of the best dining rewards cards offer not only high points multipliers, but also exclusive access to last-minute reservations and special events. For example, Global Dining Access by Resy and American Express gives The Platinum Card® Card Members special access to sought-after restaurants around the globe. Card Members must add their cards to their Resy profiles at the Resy Global Dining Access website to unlock benefits. Terms apply.


Pay Off Your Balance on Time and in Full

A tried-and-true way to get the most out of any credit card is to always aim to pay your bill in full every month, on time. Keeping a balance leads to interest – which can build quickly, especially for cards with a higher APR. And having to pay for interest effectively reduces the cost-saving benefits of dining rewards perks like credits.


The Takeaway 

The best dining rewards credit card is the one that best suits your dining and spending preferences. To get the most out of your dining benefits, it’s important to understand how dining rewards cards work – from points multipliers and dining credits to partnerships and exclusive perks.

Megan Doyle

Megan Doyle is a business technology writer and researcher whose work focuses on financial services and cross-cultural diversity and inclusion.


All Credit Intel content is written by freelance authors and commissioned and paid for by American Express. 

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