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Top 10: Club Carlson Credit Card Half-Price Award Redemptions

by on July 2, 2013 · 38 comments

in Carlson, Top 10, US Bank

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In my last round of credit card applications (well my last app-o-rama rather than my recent applications) I got the The Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa personal card, which not only has a nice sign-up bonus, but also a bunch of great perks.

Enter my contest by telling me your favorite Carlson credit card benefit.

I got the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature for a number of perks.

Although the sign-up bonus of 85,000 points sounds like a big number, it’s actually not that much compared to other hotel credit cards like the Citi Hilton Reserve that gives two free weekend nights at almost any Hilton (which nowadays is almost 190,000 points).

However, the card (which has an annual fee of $75) has several potentially very valuable benefits including:

  • Up to 85,000 Bonus Gold Points to start. Receive 50,000 Gold Points after your first purchase, plus 35,000 points after you spend $2,500 on your card within the first 90 days
  • 10 points per dollar on eligible purchases at participating Carlson Rezidor hotels worldwide and 5 points per dollar everywhere else Visa is accepted
  • 40,000 bonus points each year  after you renew your card and pay the annual fee
  • Automatic Gold Elite Status once the card is used. Existing Gold Elite members receive 15 qualifying nights toward Concierge Elite Status
  • Bonus Award Nights – when Gold Points are redeemed for two or more consecutive award nights, the last night is free – exclusively for cardmembers

And it’s that last one that really makes this card worth it since it gets you discounts on award nights of up to 50% that can mean big savings over the whole spectrum of Club Carlson hotels.

Half-Off Award Nights

I decided to take my new Club Carlson card out for a spin for an upcoming stay in Madrid (one of my all-time favorite cities). I’m going to be there on a rather expensive weekend where room rates are north of $400 a night, so I’d love to use some points, and thanks to my participation in the Radisson Big Night Giveaway last year, I have a few Club Carlson Gold Points to burn.

So I looked into booking the chain’s Radisson Blu Madrid Prado property in the city since it looks pretty nice and is in a great location. For the dates I wanted, the hotel was going for a total of 330 EUR, or $430 for two nights.

Rad Blue cost[2]

The hotel is a top-tier Carlson category 7 property, requiring 50,000 points per award night. If I weren’t a Club Carlson credit cardholder, I’d have had to shell out 100,000 points total for my stay – getting a value of 0.43 cents per point. Not great.

However, because I now have this credit card, I was able to book both nights for a total of 50,000 points (half price!), bringing my per-point value up to 0.86 cents. Considering you have to spend 0.7 cents per point to buy Club Carlson points, I’m getting a premium on the ones I’m redeeming for this stay – and even better, the discount occurred automatically since my card is registered to my account, so I didn’t even have to do anything.

Carlson Free Night[2]
Although this is a decent but not jaw-dropping example, there are plenty of ways to get several times that amount of value per point if you’re looking at booking lots of two-night stays at the chain’s top-tier hotels. So for today’s Top 10, I wanted to do a roundup of great redemption options that are even better thanks to the cardholder award night redemption discount.

Top 10 Half-Price Redemptions

1. The May Fair: The most extreme example is probably the May Fair in London, one of Carlson’s flagships. Rooms there later this week are going for 434 GBP ($660), but are also available for 50,000 Gold Points per night, yielding a cardholder value of 2.64 cents per point.

Screen shot 2013-07-01 at 7.41.34 PM

The May Fair is a prime property right in the heart of one of London’s toniest neighborhoods, which is why rooms go for such a premium here. This historic hotel, first opened in 1927, has 400 rooms including 12 suites. Plus the hotel’s restaurant, Quince, is one of the area’s hottest tables.

2. Paris Hotels: The chain’s Paris properties are always expensive including the Radisson Blu Le Metropolitan Hotel with great Eiffel Tower views. It’s going for 310 EUR ($405) per night in July, or 50,000 Gold Points per night. However, now that I have my Club Carlson credit card, I would only need 50,000 points for two nights, getting me $805 in value, or 1.61 cents per point.

Screen shot 2013-07-01 at 7.36.03 PM

While rooms can vary greatly in size and layout at this particular hotel, the service is high-end, the bathrooms are spacious by European standards, there’s an indoor pool in the fitness center, and the WiFi is free. Plus some of the suites at the front have million-euro views of the Eiffel Tower.

3. Park Inn Krakow, Poland: As I mentioned above, it’s not just the high-end hotels that can offer some great point values and savings. I was thinking of swinging through Poland this summer and checking out Krakow, which is supposed to be beautiful. There’s a Category 4 Radisson Blu there for 38,000 points a night, but there’s also a Category 2 Park Inn where prices are pretty much the same, but that only requires 15,000 points per night, and it still comes with the same benefits like free WiFi (though the location isn’t quite as good).

Screen shot 2013-07-02 at 10.47.13 AMThis summer, rooms are going for around $135 a night at some points, but only 15,000 points, so with my cardholder discount, 15,000 points gets me $270 in value, or 1.8 cents per point.

4. The Radisson Blu Waterfront Cape Town, South Africa: Another great example is the popular Radisson Blu Waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa. Its rates are regularly between $300-400 – as they are this month. But you can get rooms for 50,000 points. So with my cardholder discount, I’d get two nights for a total of about $670 for 50,000 points – a value of 1.3 cents per point.

Screen shot 2013-07-01 at 7.39.10 PM

The hotel has 177 guest rooms including 11 two-bedrooms suites, and business class rooms which come with a complimentary breakfast buffet. Guests can relax at the Quantum Spa’s vitality pool and the hotel also has a heated-rim flow swimming pool. The main restaurant is Tobago’s Restaurant, which serves both local and international cuisine and has a wide selection of South African wines.

5. Country Inn & Suites, Jacksonville, Florida: As I said, it’s not just about the expensive high-end properties. I have family in Florida and visit them in Jacksonville sometimes. One of the Country Inn & Suites there is a Category 1 Carlson property requiring just 9,000 points per night, and it’s got fun little amenities like cookies and coffee in the lobby, an evening reception with wine and cheese, and free WiFi, plus the rooms are spacious.

Screen shot 2013-07-02 at 11.04.16 AM

Instead of paying $85 per night for 2 nights at a total of $170, I would only have to redeem 9,000 Gold Points for both nights, yielding a value of just under 1.9 cents per point – pretty good, even at this level.

6. The Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney, Australia: A highly appealing Club Carlson property in the southern hemisphere is the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney, which has 336 stylish rooms and 26 suites with chic boutique accents. Extra touches include complimentary WiFi, deep bathtubs, flatscreen TV’s, and shuttered windows. The Health Club & Spa is located on the Mezzanine level and features a 15-metre indoor pool, a spa, a steam room and a gym, along with personal training, boxing, Pilates and nutritional advice. Located a short walk from the Harbour Bridge and the iconic Sydney Opera House, I was considering it as a place to ring in the New Year when room rates for January 1 are 837 AUD ($773) per night or 50,000 points, which means I could get an excellent value of 3 cents per point.

The category 3 Radisson San Isidro in Lima only requires 28,000 points per night.

The category 3 Radisson San Isidro in Lima only requires 28,000 points per night.

7. Radisson San Isidro, Lima, Peru: Another great mid-level option is the Category 3 Radisson Hotel San Isidro in the heart of Lima. Not only is the hotel in a great area, but it’s newer than its sister hotel, the nearby Radisson Decapolis in Miraflores and it’s two categories cheaper. Rates there this month are going for as high as $164 per night, but only 28,000 Gold Points – meaning I’d get a value of 1.17 cents per point by booking a two-night award here.

Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Deira Creek

The Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Deira Creek has access to 16 different restaurants.

8. The Radisson Blu Dubai Deira Creek: This stunning property on the banks of the Deira Creek has 276 rooms and suites and offers views of the lights of the glittering Dubai skyline. Each room has complimentary WiFi, a flatscreen TV and access to 24-hour fitness facilities. A grand total of 16 on-site restaurants offer endless international dining options from the Palm Grill and Bar  contemporary steakhouse, to traditional Persian cuisine at Shabestan. Room rates at the Category 5 property are 1,150 AED ($313) per night in July but only 44,000 points since it’s a Category 5 property, which means you get a value of 1.42 cents per point.

Radisson Blu Resort Fiji Debarau Island

The luxurious Radisson Blu Resort Fiji Debarau Island has a point value of 1.7 cents per point for Club Carlson cardholders.

9. The Radisson Blu Resort Fiji Debarau Island, Fiji: The idyllic Radisson Blu Resort Fiji Debarau Island property is the ultimate escape and within easy reach of Nadi International Airport and close to Port Denarau and Nadi Town. The 270 rooms and suites all include complimentary WiFi, a flatscreen TV, a private balcony and sleek decor. Opulent facilities at the tropical location include an 18 hole golf course, six tennis courts, lagoon pools, a selection of activities at Adrenalin Water Sports, and the  Harmony Retreat Day Spa. All this can be yours for $378 per night in August or 44,000 points, which is a point value of 1.7 cents per point.

Chicago Radisson Blu Oct

Chicago Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago has a point value of 1.12 cents per point in October.

10. The Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago: The towering Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago is an architectural landmark in and of itself. Located within walking distance of Millennium Park, North Michigan Avenue and the Chicago lakefront, the stylish urban retreat has 334 fashion-inspired rooms and suites with complimentary WiFi, a flatscreen TV and Anne Semonin bath products. An 80,000-square-foot modern lifestyle outdoor garden offers an escape from the busy city and features a 1/5 mile running track, sundeck, fire pits, cabanas, dedicated yoga space, 25-yard lap pool, wading pool and hot tub. Room rates in October at the height of convention season are $281 or 50,000, but with the two-night discount you get a point value 1.12 cents per point.

As with all point redemptions, the value of your point depends on where you want to use it, and while there are some great values to be had with Carlson, I will say that I sometimes think some of their properties are overpriced for what you get – but if you were booking these and had to pay cash, well, that’s what you’d be paying, so the value is real. In the meantime, you might as well get a 50% discount on your points, and considering some of the redemption values that are out there in the Club Carlson portfolio, saving more than $75 to compensate for the card’s annual fee isn’t a stretch.

For more information on the program, check out my Maximizing Club Carlson series:
Base Level Earning and Redemption
Elite Status
The Business Program
Points & Cash Redemptions

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.

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  • rick b

    Le Dokhan and Metropolitan Radissons in Paris are junk, unless you get a suite. Tiny cramped rooms, Le Dokhan had a crappy shower. Radisson on Champs-Elysees is much nicer.

  • tassojunior

    Yesterday Carlson began their devaluations. Without notice they reduced the value of airline mile transfers by 45%. Instead of 100K points to 18K miles, it’s now 100K to 10K.

  • ricka

    Your math is wrong in your first example. Your article states “room rates are north of $400 a night” and the total at “$430 per night” which implies a total of $860 for two nights, .86 cpm without the card, and 1.72 cpm with the card which would actually rank in your top 10 redemptions. Did you mean $430 per night or $430 total for two nights?

  • DWT

    YES. Although hotel to airline transfers are usually not a great value compared to redeeming for hotel stays, the fact that this change was instituted overnight, with no advance notice, says a lot about how Club Carlson is being run, and does not bode well for the future.

  • Seth

    All you bloggers seem to be pimping this card lately. Have they raised the amount they pay you for applications? You might want to be a little more objective in your coverage of club carlson. They recently devalued points transfers to airlines and as many more objective bloggers have pointed out, carlson is giving away points at an unsustainable rate and it is likely that a devaluation is on the horizon.

  • techoin

    no love for their Caribbean hotels St Martin, Aruba specifically during holidays

  • Karl Mitchell

    Before the credit card, I valued Club Carlson points at 0.5 c. This may have seemed generous at the time, but I regularly visit the UK, where I could easily beat that value. I just booked two 2-night stays in London, at the start and finish of a UK trip. Had I paid cash, the four nights in total would have cost £1300/$2000, but by using points with the card bonus it only cost 100,000 points, putting their redemption value at ~2c/pt. That’s on a par with Hyatt points! The fact is that 2-night stays suit me when touring the UK, before and after flights. Not that I would ever actually pay more than $250/night out of pocket for a London hotel, making it more like 1 c/pt in value to me. However, that’s still pretty impressive. Club Carlson certainly wins for value at the moment, as long as your plans can fit around their locations and the better value 2-day stays.

    Next stop: Tahiti!

  • Karl Mitchell

    That’s in GBP, not USD. Exchange rate is currently ~$1.52:£1. So, 2.64 cpp is correct.

  • Karl Mitchell

    Airline transfers are lousy value for most (arguably all) hotel programs. Even at a 5 pts/$ earning rate, you’d have still only been getting 0.9 miles/$, which was okay, but still does not compare well with most credit cards (generously, 1.8% cash back equivalent). The whole point of the Club Carlson credit card is to promote their rapidly expanding chain of hotels, and until they devalue those awards they get no criticism from me. Personally I’m getting 1 c/pt from my Club Carlson spend, equivalent of 5% cashback, which is spectacular.

    Why not go for SPG if you want to transfer to miles? At least then you’d be making 1.25 miles/$.

  • BobChi

    Devaluations are always possible in any program, but right now Club Carlson seems to be trying to build up a customer base. I think they would likely wait a couple of years until that matures before devaluing. Just my opinion. To me the hotel stays are worth far more than the transfers at this point, so that issue doesn’t really matter to me. Like any product, this card will work well for some, not so well for others.

  • BobChi

    I’m finding that I’m staying for 2 nights reasonably often in places where Club Carlson is present. It’s a good deal, so good that I’m using this credit card as my go to card for any unbonused expenses now.

  • Parkandfly

    Using two bonuses (business and consumer cards) and last years Free Night promotion, I have enough to stay at the May Fair, and two Paris properties, for a total of six nights “free” this August. And that leaves enough for a tour of the Riviera next June. As with anything this great (my wife and I spent ~$420 and ended up with 300,000 points during the promo, the price of one night at these hotels) it could at anytime change, so go travel! And let’s see, follow the bloggers and see the world, or what? Play games on your computer? Luxury Europe…FarmVille. Luxury Europe…FarmVille…

  • burrston

    I recently stayed at Radisson Decapolis in Miraflores, Lima, Peru and enjoyed the experience thoroughly: prefessional staff, excellent morning buffet, nice rooftop lounge. I considered the San Isidro location when I booked, but I soon realized that Miraflores offers more of what tourists need & want: proximity to the waterfront, booking agencies for Machu Picchu & Amazon basin, near Parque Kennedy, restaurants, bars, etc. Deal 2-for-1 makes the choice a no-brainer.

    Just my $.02, for what it’s worth. Thanks for the great work!

  • thepointsguy

    Transferring points to airlines has never been a good deal in my eyes and this top 10 was about this specific benefit of the card, which can be insanely valuable.

  • thepointsguy

    Yea I don’t do airline transfers with my hotel points- unless I absolutely have to w/ SPG.

  • Raffles

    The May Fair has some very tiny rooms which you tend to get on redemptions if you have no status. My Mum was there last weekend and got one of these, it was about 15 sq m. Fully refurbed, of course, but very small.
    My brother was at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, where 50k got him a room with 2 double beds. Hotel also has a pool and faces Big Ben, House of Parliament etc. It is also only 2 years old. Arguably a better choice if you value space and can live without the snazzy Mayfair address.

  • bradsteven

    I’m staying at the Radisson Royal Hotel Moscow in late August/early September, in two separate 2-night stays. Average room rates during my stay range from $354 to $678 per night, for a total value of $1776 over my 4 nights. I earned all of the 100,000 required points from my Club Carlson Visa signup bonus + initial spend. Not bad!

  • Nick

    YES! Wish I knew this prior to staying at Le Metropolitan Radisson for a week. Service is absolutely CRAP (except for concierge Mohamed) – there were no room fridges, so I told the staff to put my leftovers from L’Argent in the kitchen fridge. You can figure out what happened. Nobody took responsibility for it being missing the next day, and no comp from the hotel. Also, the lighting in the rooms was so dim, I had to ask for a lamp just to read the next day’s itinerary. Never again.

  • ricka

    I’m not talking about the May Fair #1 Item. I’m talking about his stay in Madrid at the Radisson Blu Madrid Prado. Please recheck your math as GBP should not be involved in that.

  • thepointsguy

    You were correct, it’s $430 total, so I changed the figures, thanks for pointing out.

  • Jj

    I recently stay in Mayfair in London by using Club Carlson points and treated as second class citizen

  • Nguyen

    Sorry for my ignorance, but may I ask if we can apply this Club Carlson Visa at the same time as the Barlays Arrival Mastercard? Thanks.

  • thepointsguy

    Yep- two different issuers

  • Jill

    I have to recommend the Country Inn and Suites in the French Quarter, New Orleans. Excellent little property with great staff at a good location. The only suggestion is make sure to request that you have a room with windows and away from the lobby if possible. I’ve heard that there are rooms without! (although I didn’t experience that problem myself). The lobby does get pretty loud though. One thing about the Club Carlson card is that there are foreign transaction fees which is disappointing since most of their “best” hotels are outside of the United States, I feel.

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  • better_by_design

    Glad to hear this property is nice! My wife & I love New Orleans and are planning a visit here this fall!

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  • Jeff P

    Pretty harsh, Seth.
    Could you be a little nicer?

  • Jeff Phillips

    I just received my Club Carlson Visa card and the 50,000 first purchase points which was reflected in the Club Carlson website. I then tried to book a 3 night stay at the Raddison Blu Bosphorus in Istanbul, and logged into the website. However, they were requiring at total of 150,000 points. I was expecting the first 2 nights at 1/2 price (50,000) points, with the 3rd night free. Am I missing something? I obtained my Club Carlson account number after receiving the visa card. Do I need to register further or link the visa account with the Club Carlson webpage? My account shows 50,150 from the initial spending on the visa card. Please advise. I really appreciate all your tips and tricks TPG!

  • thepointsguy

    Why would the third night be free AND first two 50% off. It should be 100,000 points total – the third night is free.

  • Jeff Phillips

    HI TPG. I figured it out by reloading the webpage. I got the 50% discount for 2 nights upon checkout. You are right, as usual. It’s either 50% or the third night free, not both. 50,000 points for 2 nights, 100,000 points for 3 nights (3rd night free) at their top tier hotel. Thanks TPG!

  • Brandon

    Hi, I have a question. If I wanted to take advantage of the 2-night stay where the 2nd night is free, but I wanted to stay 6-nights for example, would I be able to book 3 separate 2-night stays? So each 2-night stay would only cost me 50,000 points, so times 3 would be 150,000 points? Or do they limit this?

  • Paul Goecke

    Just stayed in Paris and got what has to be considered the smallest room even for Paris Standards. No doubt in my mind I was given the worst room in the joint. They made sure to acknowledge I was staying on points as well at the front desk. Bell Hop managed to tell me all about UFOs since I was from Vegas and How I should be way more concerned about Area 51 than I was. I thought the hotel sucked to be dead honest.

  • Paul Goecke

    100% Agree. Hotel is horrible.

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