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If you enjoy trying the buzziest restaurant openings or frequently find yourself grabbing takeout for lunch during the work week, a credit card offering dining perks can save you hundreds of dollars each year. These cards offer increased rewards on dining purchases, special discounts at select restaurants and exclusive access to dining experiences.
Below, CNBC Select takes a look at how you can maximize the rewards and perks you can earn with the best credit cards for dining as well as the added dining perks issuers provide to all cardholders, regardless of whether you have a dining rewards card.
Dining rewards credit cards offer bonus rewards on all your restaurant-related purchases. Bonus rewards means a cardholder earns a minimum of 2% cash back or 2X points per dollar spent.
The American Express® Gold Card offers 4X Membership Rewards® points when you dine at restaurants (up to $25,000 annually, then 1X), which is one of the highest rewards rates available. This is on our list of the best credit cards for dining out and restaurants since you can earn an estimated $147 in rewards on dining purchases each year, assuming an average $3,675 annual spend on dining out (from a sample budget created by location intelligence firm Esri). Unlike typical credit cards, the Gold Card allows you to carry a balance for certain charges, but not all.
Dining rewards credit cards also come with various added perks that can add up to increased savings, such as annual credits, redemption bonuses and free memberships to dining services.
In addition to high rewards on dining at restaurants, the American Express® Gold Card offers an annual $120 dining credit ($10 a month) at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Boxed and participating Shake Shack locations.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers 3X points on dining at restaurants worldwide and you can receive 50% more value for points when you redeem your points for travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards®. That's like earning an effective 4.5X points on dining out. And cardholders can take advantage of new DoorDash perks: Activate a free DashPass membership for a minimum of one year (valid through December 31, 2021) and receive a $60 DoorDash credit in 2020 and an additional $60 credit in 2021.
Many card issuers and networks also provide access to exclusive dining experiences, from festivals and workshops to intimate dinners. To take advantage of these benefits, you simply need to be a cardholder.
- American Express: There are several different types of food-related perks for Amex cardholders, from exclusive experiences at festivals such as EEEEEATSCON, to special access to reservations with the Global Dining Collection (exclusively for The American Express Platinum Card® and Centurion® members).
- Capital One: Cardholders can take advantage of premier culinary experiences and events such as the New York City Wine & Food Festival and the iHeartRadio Music Festival. Plus cardholders can book Premium Access reservations with OpenTable.
- Citi: With Citi Entertainment, cardholders can enjoy food festivals and dinners, such as the Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival and No Kid Hungry Dinners.
- Chase: Cardholders recently benefited from early ticket access to Food Lab Remixed, which hosts weekly cocktail parties. Sapphire cardholders can enjoy the Private Dining Series, which provides access to private dinners at some of the most buzzed about restaurants across the country.
- Mastercard: If you have a Mastercard — regardless of the bank that issued your card — you can take advantage of Priceless culinary experiences. Recently Mastercard has recreated several restaurants from around the world for cardholders to experience in New York.
If you're like the average American and spend around $3,375 annually, or roughly $306 a month on dining out, then it can be a great decision to use a dining rewards card. The best credit cards for dining out and restaurants can earn you over $100 in rewards each year just on eating out alone.
And even if you decide that you don't want a dining rewards card but want some dining-related perks, your card issuer may provide all cardholders exclusive access to dining events throughout the year, such as those mentioned above.
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