What is resort credit? What can it be used for? And why would “all-inclusive” resorts offer resort credit?
Put simply, resort credit is spending money for use at the resort. It might be given to you in the form of coupons, or as a “cash” card (though credit is not actually redeemable for cash). Resort credit can be a great way to get more out of your vacation, but not all resort credit offers are created equal. Here are a few things to look for:
THE FINE PRINT
Many times, spending resort credit on tours, dolphin swims, spa services or golf requires reservations made in advance, either on arrival or at least 24 ahead of time. Resort credit may only be able to be used at certain times, or only a certain number of spots available each day for guests using resort credit. If you change your mind about what you’d like to do that day, be sure to cancel—you may be charged if you’re a no-show.
At many resorts, you’ll find limits on how much you can spend on certain activities. A $1,000 resort credit offer may actually translate into $200 credit on spa treatments, $200 credit on tours, $500 credit on golf and $100 credit good towards a wedding package—which you probably won’t be using if you’re there celebrating your 20th anniversary. Some resorts break it down even further into coupons. That $200 worth of spa credit may come in the form of two $25 coupons off the cost of a facial and two $50 coupons off the cost of a massage, meaning you’ll have to pay the rest out of pocket.
Even without spending limits, there may be restrictions. For example, at Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort, you can use as much as your resort credit as you’d like towards golf—but “golf” means only greens fees, not club rentals. Despite the limits Palace Resorts puts on some resort credit spending, they’re also one of the only resorts we know of that will let you roll over unused resort credit to your next stay—or even give it to a friend.
TAXES AND FEES
If you’re using resort credit to pay for activities or services where taxes apply, your credit will generally not cover the tax, so you’ll have to budget for that. Resorts may also impose a service fee on services paid for with resort credit. Hard Rock All-Inclusive Resorts let you spend all of your Limitless Resort Credit on whatever you choose (daily massages, anyone?), but charges a 20% service fee. That may sound like a lot, but the math still works out in your favor, giving you drastically reduced prices on upgraded experiences.
ALL-INCLUSIVE VS. EUROPEAN PLAN
Essentially, all-inclusive resorts use resort credit as a way offer you the activities and amenities you want without charging you for the ones you don’t. In other words, instead of charging everyone for every activity, resorts offer credit as a way for guests to choose what they’d like to “include” without adding to the package price. Instead of automatically building the cost of a round of golf into your package price, you get resort credit you can use on the activities you want.
If you’re not staying at an all-inclusive, things are a little more straightforward. The resort credit amounts are smaller, but the restrictions tend to be fewer. Some will offer food and beverage credit for the resort’s restaurants, while others offer general credit that can be applied to anything you’d pay for at the resort—from spa services to laundry. But again, remember, resort credit does not cover taxes or service fees, so be sure to figure that in to your budget.
Main image: Hard Rock Hotels All-Inclusive Resorts