Best Restaurant Credit Cards

September 16, 2010

The best restaurant credit cards won’t do much for your bottom line if you carry a balance since the interest you pay on the restaurant credit card will outweigh the rewards you earn.  However, if you pay it off each month, a good rewards card with restaurant perks can help you earn points or cashback when you do something you enjoy doing anyway — eating out! Here are some of the best restaurant credit cards:

Citi Forward
The Citi Forward card offers generous rewards when you spend money on entertainment. This card will award you five points for each dollar that you spend on dining, as well as on books, music and movies. You get one point on everything else that you buy with the card. If you have good credit, you can get a 0% balance transfer as an introductory offer. There is no annual fee. Other perks include:

  • 100 reward points every billing cycle that you stay within your credit limit and pay on time.
  • After three billing cycles, your APR will be dropped if you show responsible habits.
  • Extra points for meeting certain spending thresholds.

American Express True Earnings
If you are looking for a solid cashback card, the American Express True Earnings card may not be a bad choice. You get 2% cashback at restaurant, 3% at gas stations for the first $3000 annually. If you travel regularly, you receive 2% cashback for those purchases as well. Every other purchase results in 1% cashback.

You have to be a Costco member to take advantage of this card. While you won’t pay an annual fee for the True Earnings card, you will need to keep up with the Costco membership fee. (Costco will refund your fee if you don’t make it back in savings and perks.)

As with other cards, the True Earnings card offers a 0% APR introductory rate with approved credit.

Citi Dividend Platinum Select Mastercard
Every quarter, the Citi Dividend Platinum Select Mastercard offers 2% cash back on certain rotating categories. For July to September, the category includes restaurants. If you have the Citi Dividend Platinum Select Mastercard, now is a good time to eat out. You get 1% cashback on other purchases, and even get 1% cashback on advances.

Other perks include:

  • $5 cash back on balance transfers of more than $1,500.
  • 5% additional cashback when you shop through Citi’s bonus center.
  • Extended warranty on purchases.
  • Car rental insurance

You can get up to 5% cashback on a variety of purchases, including restaurants, with the Discover card. There is no annual fee, and there is a 0% balance transfer rate for approved credit. You can get even better cash back deals when you shop through the Shop Discover network.

In addition to having this structure, it is possible to get gift certificates with participating retailers for your reward points. In some cases, you can get double the certificate amount. So, if you have a $20 statement credit, it could become a $40 gift certificate to your favorite restaurant. It’s an interesting program. However, you should make sure to read the fine print (this is true with any rewards program) to make sure you understand how the system works.

Bottom line: If you spend with a plan in mind, paying off your card every month, you can earn rewards for eating out, and possibly save money on your next night on the town.


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Miranda writes about personal finance almost every day. An experienced freelance writer, she's covered your money online and in print from every angle and is always looking for new ones.

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