The Best Restaurant Rewards Credit Cards

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — People often sign up for credit cards based on how much of a discount the card can knock off of their travel expenses, but die-hard foodies can also find their own rewards if they do a little research before picking out some new plastic.

In addition to travel rewards, many issuers offer generous amounts of cash back or reward points on restaurant purchases, so those who frequently dine out should look for a card that lets them cash in whenever they do. Beverly Harzog of Credit.com suggests that frequent diners find a card that carries a 2% or higher return on each dollar spent at bars or restaurants.

“One percent back is pretty standard,” she explains. “Cards that give you 5% back are considered to be very good.”

Of course, those occasional high rates come with ample servings of fine print, so there are still a few other things foodies need to be aware of before settling on a card. First, it’s important to pay attention to when premium reward rates apply. Many issuers rotate 5% cash back or rewards point returns on different categories of purchases, so restaurant purchases may only net the highest rates once per quarter. 

“We'd argue that this really translates to at most a 2% dining reward,” Tim Chen, CEO of credit card ranking site NerdWallet, tells MainStreet. “This is because you get 5% one quarter, then 1% the other 3 quarters, which averages out to 2%.”

Additionally, since these are rewards cards we’re talking about, the annual percentage rates tend to be a little higher than cards with standard offerings, so Herzog points out, “if you are going to carry a balance, these are not for you.”

To help foodies find the best cards for them, MainStreet talked to other credit card ranking experts to find out what cards carry the best restaurant rewards and the least drawbacks. Here are their recommendations.

Citi Forward:

Chen says that the Citi Forward card easily ranks as number one on his restaurant rewards list since cardholders get five points for every dollar they spend at restaurants (roughly equivalent to a 5% return on your purchases). 

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