5 Credit Cards for Foodies Who Love to Travel


Whether you’re a busy professional constantly on the go, a gourmand who seeks out the tastier delicacies in life, or someone who just doesn’t want to cook, dining out or ordering in have become cornerstones of modern life.

Fortunately, credit card issuers have taken note of this, and many cards offer excellent earning rates for food purchased in a variety of ways.

Today, let’s treat our inner foodie and take a look at the ideal credit cards for maximizing points when enjoying haute cuisine, quick-service cafés, and everything else in between.

Maximizing Credit Card Rewards on Food

Before kicking off, let’s take a quick look at the must-know basics of maximizing your credit card rewards when spending on food.

As a reminder, credit cards offer rewards based on the amount of money you spend in different categories, including higher earning rates for purchases at restaurants, gas stations, drugstores, and more, depending on the card.

While these categories may seem obvious and easy to delineate, it’s important to remember that the bonus category of points you’ll gain access to depends on the Merchant Code Category (MCC) of the vendor.

Figuring out the MCC can be a bit of a guessing game, especially if it’s your first time spending at a specific location. This can be particularly tricky at places like combined bakery-cafés that sell coffee and baked goods, but that also sell other foodstuffs or groceries.

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Not all vendors have Merchant Category Codes that qualify for elevated earning rates

One of the more consistent problems that rewards-minded foodies can run into in Canada is when their preferred dining spot doesn’t code as the category offering the maximum reward multiplier on their credit card.

For example, if your credit card only garners 5 points per dollar spent at restaurants but not at grocery stores, it may be best to use that card exclusively at true dine-in locations rather than at a bakery, café, or marketplace that sells hot food.

Another thing to note is that some cards that offer a bonus at restaurants do not provide the same benefit on food that’s been ordered through delivery services, such as Uber Eats, DoorDash, SkipTheDishes, and the like.

Therefore, if you were to order takeout directly from the restaurant, you should earn points at an elevated rate, whereas if you order through a separate food delivery app, you may be out of luck.

Now that we’ve got a handle on some of the basics, let’s look at the five best cards for foodies, and how they can be used to maximize your rewards.

American Express Cobalt Card

The undisputed king of the Canadian restaurant credit card scene is the American Express Cobalt Card. This product has been lauded countless times since its debut in 2017, and for good reason.

A glance at the card’s features shows that for the low cost of $12.99 (all figures in CAD) per month (or $155.88 annually) and with no minimum annual income requirements, cardholders earn the valuable American Express Membership Rewards (MR) points at the following rates:

  • 5 points per dollar spent on dining, food delivery services, and grocery stores, up to $2,500 in purchases (12,500 points) per month
  • 3 points per dollar spent on all major streaming service subscriptions in Canada
  • 2 points per dollar spent on travel, transportation, and gas
  • 1 per dollar spent on all other purchases

The points earned via the American Express Cobalt Card are transferable to Aeroplan, Air France KLM Flying Blue, British Airways Executive Club, Marriott Bonvoy, and many other programs. You can then go on to redeem points for flights in economy, premium economy, business class, and even First Class with dozens of airlines, or for hotel stays across the world.

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The American Express Cobalt Card is one of Canada’s best credit cards

You can also redeem points through Amex’s in-house Fixed Points Travel Program, or against any purchase made to the card at a rate of 1 cent per point. This puts the minimum return you get on dining at 5%, and depending on how you choose to redeem your points, it only goes up from there.

Given the flexibility of the points earned on the Amex Cobalt Card, and the supercharged earning rate on dining, food delivery, and groceries, this card is a must-have for foodies looking to maximize rewards month after month.

Scotiabank Gold American Express Card

The next product on our list of great credit cards for foodies is the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card.

This product provides excellent utility to the average Canadian who might not wish to invest the time to navigate the complexities of transferable points currencies.

That’s because the Scotiabank Gold Amex Card earns Scene+ points, which are redeemable at a rate of 1 cent per point on all eligible travel purchases.

For a $120 annual fee and a very reasonable personal annual income requirement of $12,000, the Scotiabank Gold Amex Card offers cardholders with the following earning rates:

  • 6 Scene+ points per dollar spent at Empire-affiliated grocery stores, such as Sobeys, Save-on-Foods, Safeway, Thrifty Foods, and more
  • 5 Scene+ points per dollar spent on groceries, restaurants, and food delivery services, up to $50,000 spent (250,000 Scene+ points) per calendar year
  • 5 Scene+ points per dollar spent on all entertainment purchases, including movie and theatre tickets
  • 3 Scene+ points per dollar spent on rideshares, taxis, and public transportation
  • 3 Scene+ points per dollar spent on all major streaming service subscriptions in Canada
  • 1 Scene+ point per dollar spent on all other purchases

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The Scotiabank Gold Amex Card also stands out in that it does not charge foreign transaction fees. Unfortunately, it should be noted that all foreign currency transactions only earn 1 Scene+ point per dollar spent, and aren’t eligible for increased category earning rates.

That being said, the card still offers superlative value to those looking to dine out, and if you’re someone with a large personal or business spend on expenses such as catering, the $50,000 cap per calendar year goes a long way.

Lastly, Scotiabank Amex cardholders enjoy access to complimentary concierge services that provide exclusive benefits and priority access to hotels, restaurants, and more.

We’ve heard multiple anecdotal examples of the Scotiabank Amex concierge providing excellent customer service and being able to assist in getting reservations at hard-to-book restaurants.

With an annual fee of only $120, this makes their concierge service one of the most effective and affordable for those who are looking to score a table at a specific establishment.

BMO eclipse Visa Infinite* Card

The BMO eclipse Visa Infinite* Card is a relative newcomer to the market that still provides excellent value for foodies.

In addition to a $50 lifestyle credit per calendar year, cardholders can earn BMO Rewards points at the following rates:

  • 5 BMO Rewards points per dollar spent on dining and groceries, including food and meal kit delivery services, up to $50,000 per calendar year
  • 5 BMO Rewards points per dollar spent on gas, public transportation, rideshare, and taxis
  • 1 BMO Rewards point per dollar spent on all other purchases

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BMO Rewards points can be redeemed for 0.67 cents per point on any and all travel redemptions, or they can be deposited for the same cash value to an eligible BMO savings or investment account.

The 5x category earning rate on dining and groceries – which have been generously defined to encompass pretty much anything having to do with food – makes this card a great choice for foodies of all sorts.

As a Visa, it’s also likely to experience a successful payment interaction at those off-the-beaten-path destinations that tend to raise their eyebrows in dismay at the mere mention of “Amex.”

As a Visa Infinite product, it requires either an annual personal income of $60,000, a household income of $100,000, or $15,000 in declared annual spend on the card to be eligible.

MBNA World Elite® Mastercard®

The MBNA World Elite® Mastercard® is an excellent option for foodies who are likely to spend a large amount in a calendar year because of its unique Birthday Bonus feature.

In return for a reasonable $120 annual fee, you can expect to earn the following amounts MBNA Rewards points on purchases:

  • 5 MBNA Rewards points per dollar spent on dining, groceries, digital media, memberships, and household utility purchases
  • 1 MBNA Rewards point per dollar spent on all other categories

Additionally, the card offers a Birthday Bonus equal to 10% of all the points earned in a given year, up to a maximum bonus of 15,000 MBNA Rewards points.

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It’s important to note that each of the individual earning categories listed above is separately capped at $50,000 per year. This means that even if you manage to spend $50,000 on groceries, you’re still eligible to earn 5x MBNA Rewards points on restaurants and 5x MBNA Rewards points on household utilities.

For the mega foodies out there, that’s a lot of space for ingredients, meals, and fuel to fire your high-end home kitchen.

Unfortunately, food delivery services aren’t eligible for elevated earning rates, so be sure to order directly from restaurants to get the higher return.

MBNA Rewards points can be redeemed on MBNA’s travel portal for 1 cent per point. Redeeming the points for gift cards, including for travel partners like Air Canada, clocks in at around 0.87 cents per point.

As a World Elite Mastercard, this card requires either $80,000 in personal income or $150,000 in household income to be eligible.

American Express Platinum Card

The American Express Platinum Card isn’t as epic for restaurant-goers as it once was, since its earning rate on dining was reduced in October 2023. However, it still deserves an honourable mention on this list, due to its mainstay features.

Currently, the Amex Platinum Card only earns 2 MR points per dollar spent on dining and travel, and 1 MR point per dollar spent on all other purchases. The card also has an annual fee of $799, which certainly isn’t cheap.

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So why does this card earn an honourable mention? There are two key reasons.

The first is that the card offers a $200 annual dining credit at a select list of restaurants across Canada, which include many of the most prestigious establishments in major urban centres.

To make use of this credit, you’ll need to make a single transaction greater than or equal to $200 at your restaurant of choice; however, given the menu prices at many of the listed eateries, this shouldn’t be too hard.

The second reason that this card gets an honourable mention for dedicated diners is because Amex promotions routinely provide invitations to exclusive events for its Platinum cardholders.

These events sometimes include complimentary cocktail hours, or shopping experiences with canapés. Other times, Amex has included discounted tickets to exclusive multi-course meals at famous restaurants.

Amex Dining Offer

Either way, while the card may be expensive and may not have the greatest earning rate at restaurants, it does offer something to those who enjoy fine dining and who may be willing to pay a premium for it.

Conclusion

This list provides some insight into which credit cards are best for maximizing rewards when dining out, whether you’re in the habit of ordering caviar and oysters or a quick bowl of noodles and a soda.

Keep in mind also that in an era of unparalleled dining choices, there’s no reason to limit yourself to a single payment solution, unless it happens to meet all your criteria for dining out. Therefore, you may wish to have one or more of these cards at your disposal, to ensure you’re maximizing your rewards on all things food.

Until next time, make sure to get rewarded no matter where you choose to dine.





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