Why I always charge my meals, gifts and spa treatments to my hotel room

Dec 9, 2021

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The TPG staff just returned from an amazing retreat at Arizona’s JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa. And while there is a ton that I can say about the resort (a great Category 6 Bonvoy property), my focus today is on something else: room charges.

We had more than 40 reporters and editors gathered in the desert to map out a strategy for the coming year and to, honestly, just reconnect after so many months apart. Plus, we’ve been hiring and many team members hadn’t ever met their colleagues in person.

But back to room charges.

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Our staff is made up of points, miles and credit card experts. Our ranks also include aviation and hotel pros, a few general travel and news folks plus a growing cruise team.

Some of us have nearly two-dozen credit cards and others are just starting out on their loyalty program journey.

That’s the great thing about TPG: we try our best every day to talk to the real points and miles junkies but also to those who are just starting out in this hobby.

TPG staff hike in Scottsdale Arizona.
TPG staff hike in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)

So when of our reporters started to pull out a credit card to pay for a meal at the hotel restaurant, I needed to jump in and give this advice: charge everything to your hotel room. Always.

Yes, you get lucrative points or miles for using the right credit card at a restaurant. But charging the bill to your room will earn many more points.

Related: Why hotel room service breakfasts are better than you think

Hotels typically give guests booking directly through the hotel, points for each dollar spent on the room rate.

For instance, at most Marriott brands guests will get 10 points per dollar spent on the base room rate. So a $200 room earns 2,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. Taxes and fees don’t earn anything.

As a Titanium Elite member, I get a 75% bonus. So that same $200 in spend will earn me 3,500 Bonvoy points.

Now, at most hotels, you can also earn points at the same rate for restaurant, spa – and sometimes retail purchases. And remember, you are putting the entire stay on a points-earning credit card anyway, hopefully, one that earns you a bonus on travel or stays with that particular brand.

That last point is key.

JW Marriott Camelback Inn restaurant
Outdoor dining at the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa. (Photo by: Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)

You see, there are some hotels where the restaurant or spa spending doesn’t qualify for extra points. But you aren’t losing out on anything. But by charging that spend directly to your room, you are guaranteeing that it shows up as travel, earning you the maximum number of points.

JW Marriott Camelback Inn Casita
Casita at the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa. (Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)

Finally, there are some people going for Marriott Ambassador status or lifetime Hyatt Globalist. Both of those are tied to how much you spend at hotels. And every dollar counts – but only if you charge it to your room.

JW Marriott Camelback Inn Property
Desert sky over the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa. (Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)

Sure, those are big goals that you may not be thinking about yet. But it doesn’t hurt to get yourself into the right habit now.

Featured image by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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