How to Earn Double Rewards – or More – for Dining Out

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diners at NYC restaurant

If you eat out a lot, whether for work or pleasure, pick a credit card that awards bonus points for doing so. Photo: Michele Ursino

When it comes to earning credit card rewards points or cash back, there are a number of different strategies to consider. For example, some people opt to sign up for new cards frequently in order to rack up as many signup bonuses as possible. Meanwhile, others choose to stick with a few cards and maximize the points they earn.

Most people who fall in the latter category choose cards that offer extra points or “bonus points” for categories they spend heavily in. For example, groceries, travel, or gas are common categories that people seek out when choosing a card that helps them increase their point-earning potential.

Another popular bonus category for many people? Dining out. Those who dine out frequently for work or for pleasure usually want a rewards credit card that gives them a bonus for doing so. Fortunately, there are plenty of options to choose from in that realm. Here are a few of my favorites:

Chase Freedom®

The Chase Freedom® card is consistently ranked one of the best rewards credit cards with no annual fee for good reason. Not only does it allow you to earn one point per $1 spent on all purchases, but it also offers “bonus categories” each quarter that allow you to rack up five points per dollar on some types of purchases.

You’ll enjoy new 5% categories that rotate every 3 months. Just remember, you have to manually “opt in” each quarter to qualify for the bonus points. Here are some additional details on the card:

Chase Freedom®

Apply Now on Chase's secure website

  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.99-25.74%. Balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
  • No annual fee

IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card

If you’re an avid traveler who wants to earn hotel stays, the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card is a great card for your rewards portfolio. Not only do you earn 5 points per $1 spent when you stay at IHG hotels. Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores & restaurants. Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

Depending on how often you dine out, those points can go far towards free nights at Holiday Inns, InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Staybridge Suites, and Candlewood Suite properties worldwide. Even better, this card comes with a sign-up bonus after meeting a minimum spending requirement during the first three months of account opening.

The only drawback with this card is that the points cannot be redeemed for cash-back or hotel stays at other hotel brands.

Please Note: IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card is currently unavailable through our site.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

If you want a card that rewards you for both dining out and travel, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card card might be your best bet. With this card, you earn two points per $1 spent on travel and dining at restaurants and one point per $1 spent on all other purchases. As a travel card first and foremost, you’ll also enjoy no foreign transaction fees plus a chip-enabled card for enhanced security and wider acceptance.

That’s all great, but what I really like about the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is the fact that it lets you earn points in the most popular rewards program out there, the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. Points earned through Chase Ultimate Rewards are some of the most versatile out there. They can be transferred to several of the most popular hotel loyalty and frequent flyer programs, redeemed for cash back, or used to book travel directly through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. Some more details:

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Apply Now on Chase's secure website

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Do you dine out with your family frequently? Do you take clients out for dinners on your own dime? Do you travel and dine out for work and then get reimbursed later? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you might as well sign up for a credit card that will reward you for doing so.

Most people dream of the day someone would be willing to pay them to go out to eat. Just remember to pay your balance in full each month to avoid paying interest. Because, no matter what, paying interest on your purchases is never rewarding.

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