Best Credit Cards For Dining & Shopping

Dining out can blast a hole in your pocket, regardless of the circumstances. A single meal at a restaurant can cost you almost as much as a week's worth of grocery shopping! Of course, shopping is another unavoidable part of life. Each week (and sometimes daily), we find ourselves pulling into the parking lot of the nearest mall or store in search of necessities from groceries and household goods, to electronics and gifts, and very often we’ll find ourselves eating out as well. Since you can’t avoid spending your hard-earned cash and credit on food and supplies, there must be a way to maximize a return on all your spending. Fortunately, many credit cards come with rewards programs for just that purpose.

Here's a list of some of the best credit cards for points and rewards based on your dining and shopping habits.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
A member of Chase's Ultimate Rewards program, the Sapphire Preferred® Card not only earns you a point for every dollar you spend (worldwide), it'll also bag you double points on travel and dining at restaurants. Bingo! There are a couple of ways to grab some extra points, too. Adding an authorized user to your card and making a purchase within the first three months will earn you 5,000 points. If you spend $4,000 within the first three months, Chase will boost your account with 50,000 bonus points! This card also has no foreign transaction fees, and they'll waive the usual $95 annual fee for the first year. The variable APR ranges from 16.99% to 23.99%.

The Catch: "There's always something," as Martha Stewart once said. That annual fee will kick in after the first year, so this card is only beneficial to big spenders. If you're not forking out $3,800 or more on annual dining and travel, you probably won't come out ahead.

Chase Freedom UnlimitedSM
Here's another card from Chase. This one doesn't have an annual fee, and it offers a cashback rate of 1.5% on every dollar you spend, including those spent on dining at restaurants. You can request the cash back reward at any time with no minimum requirements, and you can apply it to statement credit or have it electronically deposited into your checking or savings account. Cha-ching! That's not bad. Spending $500 within the first three months will also bag you a $150 bonus. It even has 0% intro APR for the first 15 months. How sweet is that?

The Catch: After those 15 months have passed, you’ll be looking at a 15.99% to 24.74% variable APR, which isn't that bad. There's also a 5% fee for balance transfers with a $5 minimum.

Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card
This card features the standard point system and point-per-dollar offer on all purchases, but it'll earn you unlimited double points for dining and entertainment expenses. It comes with an introductory 12-month offer of 0% APR, and there's no annual fee. Citi also has its unique benefits, like Price Rewind. For 60 days after a purchase with this card, Citi searches hundreds of retailer websites. If they find a lower price on whatever you've bought, they'll refund the difference!

The Catch: After the introductory APR offer expires, you'll be left with a variable 14.74% to 24.75%, based on your credit score. It's a good idea to look into the program details for Price Rewind, as such an incredible benefit comes with its terms and limitations.

Discover it®
This is a "rotating category" credit card, which means the benefits rotate quarterly through various offers. As long as you plan your shopping escapades, having this piece of plastic in your back pocket could help you save big on purchases in department stores, clothing stores, and on Amazon. When a card like this one has active category offers specifically aimed at dining or shopping, you can get your major rewards or savings for at least three months out of every year. Cashback? The regular deal is 5% on within the $1,500 limit for each quarter within the active category, but new card members will receive double cash back earnings for the first 12 months. This cash back rate within a given category is unmatched by any other credit card. Good news for the foodies out there, the ‘Restaurants' category does seem to make an appearance each year.

The Catch: There is no guarantee that "restaurants," or any other shopping category for that matter, will be available every year. There may be active categories that you don't use.

AARP® Credit Card
This card is also from the Chase family. Ignore the "AARP" in the title for now. You don't have to be a member of the American Association of Retired Persons to apply, so let’s just look at the card’s features. It boasts the standard 1 % cash back on all purchases, but you’ll also get 3% cash back on anything spent at restaurants and gas stations. That's good! This card is designed to be a no-frills money saver. Since the cash back savings are unlimited and apply all year-round, you don’t need to worry about rotating categories or optimizing reward points.

Why is "AARP" in the title? This card has a special purpose, it's also designed to make the dollars you spend assist low-income older adults. Chase Bank has pledged up to a maximum of $1 million in support of Drive to End Hunger, a charity that delivers meals to older folks who struggle to afford food. Whenever you make purchases at a restaurant, Chase donates to the AARP Foundation, which in turn supports Drive to End Hunger. This noble project is reaching out to assist almost 9 million older Americans!

The Catch: You need a FICO score of 700+ to apply for this card, which is pretty hefty. There also aren't any special bells or whistles here, this card is designed for pure savings, especially at restaurants.

All these credit cards are worth checking out if you're after savings on dining and shopping. They've all got some good offers, but only you can decide which one works best for you. Think long and hard, make a choice, and grab yourself some savings! You’ll be spending money anyway, so why not reap some benefits?

Find them here:

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Freedom Unlimited℠

Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card

Discover it®

AARP® Credit Card