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How to Save $26,000 a Year By Catering Your Family Dinner

Posted on May 5th, 2023
Catering Your Family Dinner

You are often advised to stop eating out randomly if you’re looking to save money. But did you know you can save insanely on dine-outs if you know the right tricks to use your credit cards? 

Usually, average American households spend approximately $3000 every year on dining. Suppose you go out for lunch every Saturday with your family and spend $100 a meal, which is quite a good deal at most American dining establishments. This adds up to $400 monthly and $4800 yearly. Hence, dining out is expensive. But you can turn them into a rewarding experience when you can earn 2x or 3x the money you have spent with the help of your credit card. This post rounds up 11 smart hacks to do so – keep reading!

How to Turn Your Credit Card Into an Earning Instrument

There is no magic trick – it’s all about a set of thoughtful strategies that allows you to take advantage of rewards, points, and other perks, which, when summed up, turn into substantial earnings. The best part is you can enjoy them all without getting into debt just by following two basic rules – charge only what you can afford and pay your balance every month (in full). 

However, before you go ahead and attempt to earn with your credit card by paying off your restaurant bills, let’s take you through a few crucial details. 

1. Understanding the Methodology of Restaurant Credit Cards

As the name suggests, restaurant credit cards allow you to earn the most when you use them at dining establishments. Therefore, instead of using the card in departmental or gas stations, you should mostly use them to pay your eating-out bills. Generally, the reward rate ranges between 1-5 points per dollar spent. 

If your card is eligible for cashback, you can expect a 1-5% cashback. Given this, if you spend $300 to sponsor a family dinner, you can expect a cashback of $3-15. Later you can redeem your earnings against specific purchases, and these redemptions usually don’t apply to your credit card’s minimum payments. 

Therefore, you should be careful enough to keep up with the balance. Furthermore, you should mindfully check your credit card’s terms and conditions to figure out if your card has any specific minimum reward thresholds. Even restaurant credit cards may feature different perks – while some may offer perks for delivery services, others allow you to enjoy lucrative welcome bonuses that cover a few of your meals. 

2. Understanding the Definition of Dining

When it comes to credit cards, the dining category can be truly extensive. Moreover, different card issuers may define the category differently. Some issuers define eligible restaurant and dining rewards as purchases with merchants who primarily offer eat-in dining. This may include fine dining establishments or fast food centers. 

On the other hand, many issuers identify the dining category as purchases in eateries, restaurants, bars, fast food chains, cafes, confectionaries, etc. Some issuers even closely consider the merchant category code to determine the purchase type and rewards rate. Therefore, you should reach out to your issuer to find out what they qualify as ‘dining’.

3. Deliveries and Takeaways Can Also Earn You Points

Contrary to popular belief, doorstep orders and takeaways can also earn you rewards. For instance, when you order from Domino’s or McDonald’s, you can still earn a bonus reward, just like in-store dining. However, rewards on doorstep deliveries may depend on how your merchant codes the purchase. 

For example, if you have ordered a doorstep delivery and the merchant codes the transaction as a restaurant purchase, you should earn the reward per your card’s restaurant reward rate. On the other hand, if the merchant codes the purchase as delivery or any other category, the rewards rate may change. 

Hacks to Amplify Your Earnings With Restaurant Purchases

The following hacks can help you make the most out of your restaurant reward cards.

1. Balance Transfer

This hack works for all credit card purchases. If your current credit card balance poses a higher interest rate, you can simply transfer it to a credit card with a lower interest rate. This can help you save hundreds of dollars. For example, your credit card has a balance of $3000 at 17% interest. If you move it to a credit card with a 0% interest rate for the next 12 months, you are expected to save $400. 

However, before using balance transfer, make sure that you are ready to pay every month to bring your balance back down to zero within the introductory period. You certainly do not want to lag behind on your credit card bills.

2. Sign-up Bonuses

If you plan to get a new card, get one with sign-up bonuses. Besides restaurant purchases, these bonuses may include free hotel stays, travel points, and more. To earn the bonus, you will probably have to spend a specific amount using your credit card within the first few months. Once you meet the requirements and pay off the balance, you can enjoy the bonus without paying extra interest. 

3. Cashback Redemptions

If your credit card earns you gift cards, you can redeem them to earn cashback. For instance, if you have a $25 gift card, you may redeem it for approximately $20. In that case, you are earning $5 for free. 

4. Invest Your Cashback

While your credit card doesn’t do this activity for you, with a little smartness, you can put your cashback rewards to work for you and invest the money. Even if you earn less than a few hundred dollars, you may grow it into a sizeable nest egg over time. 

For instance, your restaurant credit card earns you $300 annually. Now, you invest that amount into an account that allows you to earn 7% interest yearly. If you keep investing consistently for the next 10 years, your balance will be around $4000. 

5. Leave Reviews

Did you know you can earn additional bonus points on your dine-out credit card for leaving reviews? Check if your restaurant chain rewards you for sharing feedback, and if they do, take advantage. This will help you save some bucks in the long run. 

6. Acquire VIP Status

Check if you are eligible for loyalty programs that offer VIP status for using a specific restaurant. You can hit certain milestones and unlock extra benefits and bigger bonuses. For example, you can get extra cashback, free dine-outs, etc. While the perks may sound tiny, they can help you earn hundreds of dollars when summed up. 

7. Earn Extra Airlines Miles

If you are a frequent traveler, you may find airline miles lucrative, and your restaurant credit card may help you earn some. Credit card companies are partnered with many of your favorite airline loyalty programs. When you dine at their partner restaurants, they give you handsome rewards. Besides airline miles, you can also earn hotel points. 

To obtain the best benefits of this scheme, you don’t need to register all your cards with the same program. Instead, spread them among multiple dining rewards programs and earn points across different platforms to keep your accounts live. 

8. Track Your Spending

While this trick is directly not associated with rewards or cashback, it may make the game simple and finite. Remember, you save substantially when you pay off your credit card balance every month, and remaining consistent with this habit is possible by tracking your spending. 

All you need to do is make a specific eating-out budget, adhere to it in every circumstance, and track your spending. This will definitely help you streamline your personal finance experiences. 

9. Leverage Cashback Apps

You can double drip your cashback rewards through specific cashback apps. These apps allow you to make money by purchasing services or goods through affiliate merchants. If you don’t want to install an app, you can use its browser extension.

Besides helping you get cashback returns, these apps may award you points you can spend on purchases. You can even enjoy the option of transferring the cashback balance to your bank account. 

10. Earn Referrals

You can get rewarded by your card issuer for referrals. All you need to do is to spread your referral code to your friends and families. Once they use your code to sign up, you earn some extra perks. If your credit card issuers don’t proactively inform you about referrals, call them up and check if they run such offers. 

11. Connect the Card to Food Delivery Apps

If you have a credit card that gives you bonus rewards on dining, you can consider turning it into your preferred payment method on different food delivery apps. This will boost card usage and earn you more rewards. However, prevent yourself from overspending. 

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Dining Reward Card

Remember, your credit card can pay you well when you choose it carefully. To get the best-fit card for restaurant spending, you should consider three primary factors. 

  • The amount of money that you spend every month at restaurants.
  • The consistency of your monthly spending for dine-outs.
  • Your eligibility to earn enough in rewards on a specific card. 

If your monthly spending is variable, you should always consider a card with additional categories. On the other hand, if you don’t spend enough to offset an annual fee, you should consider restaurant-only cards that don’t pose any yearly charges. 

What’s more, you should familiarize yourself with the benefits that the issuer is offering. This will help you use your card more sensibly. Consequently, you will be able to earn fantastic rewards. 


1. What is the best dining credit card?

There are a lot of issuers providing fantastic rewards for swiping your credit card in select restaurants. You can use them to earn cashback, rewards, or loyalty points which can later help you save a lot of money. What card works best for you depends on spending habits and requirements, consistency, and frequency. 

To pick up the best credit card for dining out, carefully analyze your considerations and requirements and compare them with the benefits your issuer offers. 

2. Can you earn rewards for using your credit card on fast food counters?

If the fast food counter or eatery is partnered with your credit card issuer, you can expect to earn rewards for swiping your card there. Generally, all major credit card companies include fat food locations within their definition of a restaurant eligible for rewards. However, the fast food counter needs a merchant category code to reflect itself as a restaurant. 

3. What does a Diners Club card refer to?

Contrary to its namesake, a Diners Club credit card is a regular credit card with added emphasis on travel but not dining. While Diners Club continues to serve its present customers, it’s not open anymore for new listings. Given that, you can’t apply for a Diners Club card as an individual in the United States. However, you can still apply for corporate cards. 

4. Can you earn cashback for purchasing restaurant gift cards?

This depends on your credit card issuer. Every credit card issuer features its unique rules for gift card purchases. Some of them may allow you to earn cashback for gift cards, and others may not. Furthermore, it also depends on the merchant’s sales category. 

If the assigned code supports cashback for gift card purchases, you may earn the rewards – if they don’t, you may not. Ideally, you need to check your credit card agreement to get the right update on this matter. 

5. Can you earn rewards for using your card at bars?

If your restaurant and dining card issuer is partnered with bars with dining establishments, they may allow you to earn rewards for swiping your card. However, if the bar doesn’t serve food, you are less likely to bag any reward. 

Overall, the eligibility may vary from one issuer to another. While some issuers can offer rewards for spending money at food-only restaurants, others may also allow bars. 

Deanna Ritchie

Deanna Ritchie

Deanna Ritchie is a managing editor at Due. She has a degree in English Literature. She has written 2000+ articles on getting out of debt and mastering your finances. She has edited over 60,000 articles in her life. She has a passion for helping writers inspire others through their words. Deanna has also been an editor at Entrepreneur Magazine and ReadWrite.

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