THERE ARE TOO MANY OPTIONS I'M TOO OVERWHELMED I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO AND I HATE YOU!
I know. We've covered a lot of ground here.
I am launching a new "Best Credit Card" series where I will give you the best options for each category of bonus spend.
Previous posts contain some suggestions on which cards to look for in each category, but in this series I will dive in deeper to help you make the best decision on which card to use.
Why is it important to maximize Dining?
One of my most important life rules is to never earn only one point per dollar on any purchase. It pains me to only get one point. It hurts me. It saddens me.
It may not sound like much of a difference to earn 1 point rather than 2 points on your spend, it adds up fast.
Dining is one of the biggest areas of spending for most people, me included. It also presents probably the broadest category of merchants so you can find ways to get creative.
What is categorized as Dining?
Each card is different, but generally dining consists of any establishment that sells food or drinks. Depending on your lifestyle, this can be of crucial importance to get a card that maximizes dining spend. Do you walk into a bar and buy the whole world shots? Are you a foodie that loves to try every new gastropub (what is a gastropub???) that pops up? Are you a "fast food till I die" kind of person? All of these fall under the dining category. You need to maximize this.
How can I maximize Dining?
Depending on your wallet, you may find yourself with a card that rewards dining higher than other merchants. You can take advantage of this a couple different ways.
If you like wine, you can find several restaurants that double as a wine retailer, so if you don't have a card that rewards grocery spend, it may be worth it to buy your adult grape juice there.
If you don't purchase much in the way of groceries, find a restaurant/retail grocery store to make your purchases.
Obviously, the easiest way is just to dine out.
What cards will maximize my Dining?
Chase Sapphire Reserve ($450 fee): 3x points on Dining
-The latest and greatest credit card on the market carries an industry leading 3 points per dollar on dining spend. There are several benefits that offset the annual fee (including a straight $300 travel credit making this a no-brainer if you can get approved) and a 100,000 point signup bonus when you spend $4,000 in 3 months.
Chase Sapphire Preferred ($95 fee, waived the first year): 2x points on Dining
-The Reserve's little (but still badass) brother has long been the go-to for members of the point/mile community as it offers double points on dining. For the first year your annual fee is waived and you can earn 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in 3 months. If annual fees scare you (they shouldn't) this would be a great way to get into the Chase family.
Citi Prestige ($450 fee): 2x points on Dining
-The Prestige offers double points on dining while also providing a $250 straight travel credit to help offset the annual fee. This card has been in my wallet for a while now and is one of my favorites. It currently offers 40,00 ThankYou points after spending $4,000 in 3 months. Even after some perk devaluations, this is a solid card.
Citi Premier ($95 fee, waived the first year): 2x points on Dining
-The Prestige's little (but not really badass) brother offers the same earnings structure but currently offers no signup bonus. Still, if you're fee-averse, this is a really strong card for bonus spend. I hold this card.
-This is another card with a hefty fee (if you're sensing a pattern, you usually have to pay to get a strong earning structure) that rewards dining spend. It currently comes with 3 free nights at any tier 1-4 Ritz Carlton (almost all of the brand's properties) after spending $5,000 in 3 months.
Chase Hyatt Visa ($75 fee): 2x points on Dining
-This is one of the more underrated credit cards on the market due to Hyatt's relatively small footprint, but it offers a very strong 2 points per dollar on dining, which is rare for a co-branded card. Its signup bonus of two free nights at any Hyatt property after spending $2,000 in 3 months presents a very intriguing value proposition.
Starwood Preferred Guest Card ($95 annual fee, waived the first year): 1x points on Dining
-I know my rule is no spending that only earns 1 point per dollar, but the SPG Amex is different. Remember, when you transfer SPG points in increments of 20,000 you will get a 5,000 point bonus automatically. That makes your points worth 1.25 points per dollar. Right now you can get 25,000 Starpoints after spending $3,000 in the first three months. With the 5,000 point transfer bonus it's an effective bonus of 30,000 Starpoints. I hold this card.
American Express Preferred Card ($95 fee): 1x points on Dining
-Ugh, I know. Another catch. Yes, this card only earns 1 point per dollar on dining, but after 30 transactions in your billing cycle you get a 50% bonus on all of your points, raising your effective rate to 1.5 points per dollar. This card currently offers 10,000 points after spending $1,000 in three months. I hold this card.
Chase Freedom ($0 fee): Various
-Hang with me here: the Chase Freedom card is technically a cash-back card, but if you hold the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve card, you can opt for points instead of cash back. The Freedom has a base earning rate of 1 point per dollar (1%) but a rotating bonus of 5 points per dollar on various categories, including restaurants. You have to opt into your category bonus, but if you're a big spender on dining and can grab 5 points per dollar, the world is your mother trucking oyster.
As you can see, there are several premium and regular reward cards that earn bonus points for spending on dining. It's so important to maximize your bonus and multiply your points.
Remember, the goal here is to get you the maximum points for your spend and get you living the luxury life quicker!