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

Dec 5, 2021

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

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.

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.

Hotels typically give guests booking directly with them 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.

In fact, you might be saving – especially at the spa or retailer. Some of those are operated by third parties and don’t code with the credit card companies as a hotel. So instead of getting a bonus on your card for a “travel” expense, you might be only getting the base earning.

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 habits now.

Featured image by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy.
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants in the first three months of card membership.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.