Credit cards that get you free food

You likely got your travel rewards card for free trips, automatic elite status or the other perks that these cards often advertise. But there’s another less-flaunted perk that these cards often provide – free food! Free food

You’ll generally have to jump through some hoops to take advantage of this perk and delve into the fine print. But, with the right card and a little extra effort, you can save yourself some money on the road, whether you’re getting a statement credit toward a meal on the plane, access to the airport lounge snack bar, or free breakfast at your hotel.

We’ve rounded up some popular cards’ free-food benefits in the chart below. First, here are some of the general patterns we observed in our research into this perk:

Annual fee required

You know what they say about free lunches. It may seem counterintuitive, but those hoping to save money on meals will probably end up needing to spend money (at least $95 a year, often more) on cards that provide them.

So, instead of thinking of this perk as a budget-saver, think of it as something premium cards use to sweeten the deal.

It won’t necessarily fill you up

We’re not talking all-you-can eat buffets here. In some cases, we’re talking continental breakfasts, snacks and the stuff they serve on airplanes. Often, your free meals will be limited, either by a cap on a statement credit or a certain number of passes to the airline lounge (the United MileagePlus Explorer card will get you lounge access twice per year, for example). Food also varies widely by lounge. While some advertise “snacks” others offer heartier fare, such as the Centurion Lounges, which you can get into with a Platinum card from American Express (a CreditCardForum advertising partner).

You can’t always hook your travel buddies up

You might be able to eat for free, but your friends and family may not be able to join you, unless you have a card that offers flexible credits (in which case you can treat others to a meal). Lounges often have limits (although some will let you bring family in with you), and hotel programs’ free breakfast will generally apply only to you and a plus-one.

The chart below shows you which cards offer free food as a perk. For more details, consult your terms and conditions.

Credit cards that can get you free food
Platinum card from American Express and Business PlatinumAnnual $200 travel-fee credit can be used toward in-flight food.
Hilton HHonors Gold status gets you and 1 additional guest free breakfast at certain properties (continental breakfast at Conrad Hotels and Resorts; hot breakfast at Hilton Garden Inn).
Access to AmEx’s Fine Hotels and Resorts portfolio, which gets you free daily breakfast for two
$75 hotel credit can be used for on-property dining, if you book 2 consecutive nights within AmEx’s hotel portfolio.
Access to airport lounges, including the Delta Sky Club, Centurion lounges, Airspace lounges and Priority Pass Select lounges. Free food offered varies by lounge.
Citi Prestige$250 annual air-travel credit can be used for in-flight meals.
Premier Rewards Gold card from American Express$100 annual travel-incidentals credit can be used toward in-flight food
$75 hotel credit can be used for on-property dining, if you book 2 consecutive nights within AmEx’s hotel portfolio.
U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards$25 annual credit, which can be used toward in-flight food
Citi Hilton HHonors ReserveAutomatic HHonors Gold status gets you and 1 additional guest free breakfast at certain properties (continental breakfast at Conrad Hotels and Resorts; hot breakfast at Hilton Garden Inn).
Hilton HHonors Surpass
United MileagePlus Explorer cardTwo United Club passes each year. United Club offers complimentary breakfast and afternoon snacks and beverages.
United MileagePlus Club cardAccess to United Club. United Club offers complimentary breakfast and afternoon snacks and beverages.
Delta Reserve cardAccess to Sky Club, which features food all day, from soups, to salads, to fruit, to cereals, to desserts.
Citi AAdvantage Executive cardAccess to the Admirals Club, which features complimentary light snacks and beverages.
Expedia+ Voyager card$100 annual air-travel credit can be used toward in-flight food.
 
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