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How to get the most out of your dining rewards credit card

Here's an in-depth look at the best credit cards for dining as well as the added dining perks card issuers provide to all cardholders, regardless of whether you have a dining rewards card

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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.

How dining rewards credit cards work

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. Terms apply.

Depending on what type of rewards credit card you have — cash back, points or miles — you can redeem rewards for statement credit, gift cards, travel, merchandise and more.

How to maximize your perks and rewards

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 in statement credits a month) at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Wine.com and select Shake Shack locations. Terms apply. Enrollment required.

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 31st, 2024)

How to get exclusive dining experiences

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.

Is a dining rewards credit card worth it for you?

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.

You can check out CNBC Select's list of the best rewards cards, cash-back cards and travel cards for alternative cards that can earn you bonus rewards on groceries, hotels and online shopping.

Don't miss: The all-new U.S. Bank Altitude Go Visa Signature Card rewards takeout, food delivery and dining

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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