You could earn more than $150 back by putting a year's worth of dining out on a credit card like the Amex Gold
- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American family spends about $3,424 on dining out each year.
- No matter how much you spend on food away from home, you can maximize those purchases with a card that earns bonus points or cash back on dining, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, American Express® Gold Card, or the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card.
- Here's how much you could earn from a year of dining out using the $3,424 figure. If you spend more, you could earn even bigger rewards.
There's plenty to like about dining out: trying new foods, hanging out with friends and family in a fun atmosphere, and most of all, not having to worry about doing the dishes.
Still, all that fun isn't cheap. The average American family spent $3,424 per year from 2017-2018 on "food away from home," according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.One way you can minimize the hit to your wallet is by using credit cards that offer higher rewards rates on dining out. There's no shortage of credit cards out there with higher bonuses on restaurant purchases, but some are better than others. Here's what you can expect to earn from a year of eating out with some of the best cards for dining purchases.
Keep in mind that we're focusing on the rewards and perks that make these credit cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which can far outweigh the value of any rewards.
When you're working to earn credit card rewards, it's important to practice financial discipline, like paying your balances off in full each month, making payments on time, and not spending more than you can afford to pay back. Basically, treat your credit card like a debit card.
Chase Sapphire Reserve: 10,272 Ultimate Rewards points
Points on dining: 3x Ultimate Rewards points
Annual fee: $450At first glance, the Chase Sapphire Reserve doesn't look like it'd be worth its high price tag. But if you enjoy traveling as well as dining out, this is one card that should be on your radar, because it can lower the cost of both activities.
You'll get a $300 travel credit each year, which most travelers should be able to fully use even if they only travel locally for weekend trips. This effectively brings the price down to $150, and at a dining spend level of $3,424, you'd earn 10,272 points.
Read more: Chase Sapphire Reserve review
One of the neat things about the Chase Sapphire Reserve card (as opposed to any of the other Chase cards that earn Ultimate Rewards points) is that your points are worth 1.5 cents apiece when redeemed for travel purchases through the Ultimate Rewards portal.
This means that 10,272 points are worth $154.08 toward travel, which just edges out the cost of the card if you also take advantage of the $300 travel credit. Thus, you're essentially using your dining purchases to fund the annual fee of this card, and anything else you spend on dining and travel will only earn you more valuable Ultimate Rewards points.
American Express Gold Card: 13,696 Membership Rewards points
Points on dining: 4x Membership Rewards points at restaurants worldwide
Annual fee: $250
This card features 4 points per dollar spent on dining out and at US supermarkets, although 4x on US supermarket purchases is limited to the first $25,000 you spend per year, then it's 1 point per dollar (still a tough bar for most of us to reach).Read more: American Express Gold card review
Amex's Membership Rewards points are valued at roughly 2 cents each when redeemed toward travel, meaning that the average American family would earn up to $273.92 (or 13,696 points) just from dining out alone. This card also comes with a valuable $120 dining credit per year at certain outlets such as Ruth's Chris Steak House, Boxed, Grubhub, and The Cheesecake Factory. Note, though, that this credit is rationed out to just $10 per month.
That's more than enough to offset the cost of the annual fee for this card, and besides, you'd still earn even more from your grocery purchases.
Capital One Savor Card: $136.96 in cash back
Cash back on dining: 4% back
Annual fee: $0 for the first year, then $95
If straight-up cash back is more your style and you don't mind opening several cards with bonuses in different categories, you should strongly consider the Capital One Savor card.
This card offers 4% cash back on dining purchases, which would translate into $136.96 in cash back for the average American family. That's more than enough to cover the $95 annual fee that Capital One starts charging in the second year.
This card is also especially valuable if you tend to spend more money on entertainment as well, because the 4% cash back also applies to this category, and you'll get 2% back at grocery stores. Alas, everything else only earns a measly 1% cash back, so we'd recommend supplementing this card with another card that offers a higher all-around cash back rate as a sort of catch-all for other purchases.Read more: The best cash-back credit cards
Uber Visa Credit Card: $136.96 with no annual fee
Cash back on dining: 4% back
Annual fee: $0
Don't let the name of this card fool you. The Uber Visa card offers tremendous value for foodies, especially frugal foodies who don't want to pay an annual fee.
Not having to pay an annual fee is particularly salient. If you pay off your card in full and on time each month (as you should with any credit card), you won't have to pay any fees or interest at all for this card, meaning any rewards you earn are totally free. At a spend level of $3,424, you'd earn $136.96, and since you don't have to pay an annual fee, that's all cash you can keep in your pocket.
The Uber Visa card offers higher cash-back rates for other purchases, too: 3% cash back on specific travel purchases including hotels, airfare, and vacation rental homes, and 2% cash back on online purchases, including Uber. This means that strangely enough, the Uber Visa card offers a higher cash-back rate on dining than it does on Uber itself - but hey, we'll take it.
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.
Business Insider may receive a commission from The Points Guy Affiliate Network, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.
Please note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they're subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.