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

Dec. 05, 2021
4 min read
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Why I always charge my meals, gifts and spa treatments to my hotel room
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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.

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. (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.

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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.

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.

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.

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 (Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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TPG featured card

Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 10X points
10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

80,000 bonus points
Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more