If you’re a travel point collector, you always want to maximize the number of points earned with each purchase. This means you need to use the correct credit card for each spending category. While this seems easy, sometimes things aren’t as cut and dry as they seem.
For example, what category does a bar or restaurant located in a hotel fall into?
There are a few scenarios to consider which could change the answer to this question:
1) You are a hotel guest
If you’re staying at a hotel and charge the bill to your room, the charge should count as hotel spending. This happened when we charged a meal at the Park Hyatt Saigon to our room.
2) You pay the bill at the restaurant
It gets tricky if you’re not staying at the hotel or if you choose not to use a room charge. Here are two examples:
We had drinks at the lobby bar of the Hyatt Regency Danang and paid the bill with my World of Hyatt card. The purchase showed up as a hotel charge.
However, our lunch at the Pool House the next afternoon was coded as a restaurant charge.
For this instance, it didn’t matter how the charge appeared on my credit card as I’d earn 4X points for charges at a Hyatt property.
Just when you think you have it all figured out, you sometimes get a curve ball.
We ate at a restaurant in Hanoi. There was no hotel but our meal showed up on my Sapphire Reserve as a hotel.
So which card should you use?
The safest bet if you’re staying at the hotel is to charge the bill to your room. This way it will almost certainly post as a hotel and not a restaurant expense.
It’s risky to use a co-brand hotel card because even if a restaurant is attached to a hotel, it may not show up as part of the hotel. Therefore, if you’re counting on bonus points for hotel spending, you may be out of luck. I took my chances because we were at a Hyatt resort and I was almost definite the food would show up as a Hyatt charge.
If you’re paying at a hotel restaurant, it’s best to use a credit card that earns bonus points for both travel and dining expenses. I used my Sapphire Reserve for most of the trip but I also could have used the AMEX Green Card. I’m glad I did because I learned that stand-alone restaurants could appear on your bill as a hotel expense.
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