Club Carlson Changes Effective March 15, 2014 – New Top Category, Elite Benefits Devaluation And More

by on February 19, 2014 · 23 comments

in Club Carlson

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Until now, I’ve sort of thought of Club Carlson as the little hotel program that could. The loyalty program of Radisson, Radisson Blu, Park Plaza and other brands has simple but lucrative promos, offers decent elite benefits, has some great co-branded credit cards, and a sizeable worldwide footprint. Unfortunately, it was only a matter of time until the program made some changes, and they were just unveiled here. Here is my rundown of the changes and what to expect.

Changes are coming to Club Carlson.

Changes are coming to Club Carlson.

New Top-Tier Category 7 – 70,000 points per night

Until now, Carlson had just 6 categories, with the top tier requiring 50,000 points per night. Now the chain is introducing a new top category (7), that will require 70,000 points per night. The good news is that there are only nine of them (and 3 are in Paris and 2 in London):

  • Radisson Blu Royal Hotel Dubai
  • Radisson Blu Le Dokhan’s Paris
  • Radisson Blu 1835 Hotel & Thalasso Cannes
  • Radisson Blu Le Metropolitan Paris
  • Radisson Blu Hotel Champs Elysees Paris
  • The May Fair London
  • Plaza on the River London
  • art’otel Amsterdam
  • Radisson Royal Hotel Moscow

Many other hotels will also be changing categories – shifting up or down a level – and you can find the list here. While these hotels will be moved into the new categories on March 15, 2014, new categories will only apply to bookings made on or after May 1, 2014. So if any of the hotels moving up a category – and most importantly, those shifting from Category 6 to the new Category 7 – and thus devaluing by 40%! – better book before then to lock in the current rates.

Premium Room Award Bookings

Although you can redeem Gold points for standard rooms or pay a 50% premium to book awards in premium rooms with Carlson, the program will be introducing new award redemptions where you can regularly redeem your Gold points for premium rooms, though the rates and availability are yet to be revealed.

Elite Status Bonus Decreases

Right now, Club Carlson elites earn the following points bonuses:

  • Silver: 25%
  • Gold: 50%
  • Concierge: 75%

After March 15, 2014, they will earn the following bonuses:

  • Silver: 15%
  • Gold: 35%
  • Concierge 75%

So both Silver and Gold are looking at a significant drop of over a third of their bonus points.

Online Booking Bonuses

Club Carlson has also been very good at offering online booking bonuses of up to 3,000 points depending on your status, but now those bonuses will only be available on a promotional basis.

Gift Cards

According to the Club Carlson will also now be offering “an enhanced variety” of additional gift cards at top merchants, with new redemption levels starting at 7,000 points. While I don’t generally use my points for merchandise redemptions, perhaps there’s some value here for some folks.

Award Stays Count Toward Elite Status

On the positive side, Carlson follows the example of Starwood and Hyatt (well, for its new Cash & Points at least) and will now be counting award stays toward elite qualification. Elite members will also earn Gold points on food and beverage purchases charged to their room during award stays.

All in all, though these changes are mostly disappointing, but not entirely surprising. Though there’s a new Category 7 and the redemption rate is a high 70,000 points, it’s only going to be at 9 properties to start and those are all pretty high-priced ones in Europe.

The one thing I’m glad is not changing (for now, at least) is the award night benefit on the Club Carlson credit cards where you can basically get half-priced awards on two-night stays since cardholders get the last night of any award stay for free. However, the Gold status you get from having one of those credit cards is less valuable thanks to the reduction in Gold status points bonuses.

On the positive side, at least award stays count towards elite status, and you can earn points on food/beverage purchases during award stays, but it’s small consolation if you’re spending an extra 20,000 points per night at their top properties.

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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  • Marc

    And of course only the places I stay in go up in value…great…just great. Aren’t e changes going to effect on March 15 and not on May 1 as you mentioned?

  • MJ

    Thanks for the post. The only place I was gonna stay, after earning 85,000 points was upgraded from Category 1 to Category 2. Great job, Carlson… I am re-thinking about applying the credit card.

  • RS

    The program changes take effect March 15th. The hotel category changes are in effect for bookings made after May 1st… yet their own verbage makes no sense.

    From CC’s website:
    As of March 15, 2014, the hotels listed below will move to a new Hotel Category, resulting in an increase or decrease in the number of points required to redeem an award night. The new categories apply to bookings made on or after May 1, 2014.

  • Marc

    Yeah that’s what I noticed so I’m extremely confused. It would be great if TPG can clarify this with CC.

  • FlyingBear

    Yes, please rethink! I would love to have less competition. The +1 night on any point redemption is a great value and I definitely want less people using it.

  • joeypore

    So, just to clarify, as long as we book by May 1st, we can redeem at the current rate?

  • Deborah

    Had a quick panic attack when I saw the post name. I booked airfare to St Martin planning on staying at the Radisson Blu but my points won’t post until mid-March. Luckily, the property is not changing categories. BTW…I’ve stayed at the art’otel Amsterdam, it’s nice but not worth 70,000 a night. The rooms are tiny and don’t have great views. The staff is excellent.

  • Santastico

    What a surprise!!!! They first attract people to their “amazing” credit card offer and start giving points away luke there is no tomorrow. Then they wait just a little bit and devaluates their program like all other hotel chains did. Glad I did not get into their game.

  • AYD

    This is just awesome. I am planning a trip to Paris in late April next year and of course the three hotels I was possibly looking to stay at are all listed as part of the new category. I had it all planned out (in my head at least) that I only needed 150K points and would stay at three different hotels to take advantage of the stay 2 nights, last night free promotion. I will not be able to book before May 1st because will not have even been able to reserve my flights by then, plus was depending on the extra 40K points from the credit card anniversary that will not hit until late September this year. Now I will need about 60K additional points than I thought, well only maybe 40K more since the Disneyland Paris was not on the list yet. Oh well, guess I will try to spend more on the card and might just have to purchase some additional points to accomplish my plan.

  • aa

    Why do you have to be an asshole, while trying to reply? Can’t you be be less sarcastic? Fucking idiot –> flyingbear, motherfucka

  • UrbanPhoenixInjunCAM

    Wow. The only Club Carlson property in Japan at Narita is dropping to Category 3 from 4!!?
    Now only requires 28,000 Gold Points instead of 38,000 Gold Points?
    What a Bargain!! Very useful when arriving/leaving Tokyo Narita Airport.

  • Ryan

    I do plan to go to London & Paris in the upcoming year. I wonder if I can book one of the Cat 7 hotels right now, first, under the Cat 5 rate, and then view/modify the reservation date later without having to pay the rate difference later.

  • WalshB

    Looking to go to the Nordic region in Sept- Sweden, Norway, Estonia, Denmark, so in order to enjoy current benefits as Gold (online booking bonus, 50% bonus etc) need to book by March 15 ??

  • sicemdawgs77

    aa, the irony. ;-)

  • brianblank

    YMMV, the email I received from Club Carlson explaining the program changes, stated that they will add five qualifying nights if I stay at one of their hotels between February 19 and March 19, 2014. Thankfully, I have a business trip booked to one of their hotels in mid March.

  • Sherman

    I am not convinced it’s a devaluation until you calculate all the total point increases vs the decreases. The ups and downs look pretty even to me. I’d say if you don’t stay in those 9 properties it’s all fine.

  • Betsy Wuebker

    We stayed at the Radisson Blu Le Dokhan’s Trocadero in Paris last month. Because it was Fashion Week, the hotel was fully booked and they apologized for not being able upgrade us as a status perk. Instead, they comped the hotel breakfast – for the two of us that meant a savings of 60 euros per day. Since we weren’t in the room much except to sleep, this was much appreciated. Not sure how I would have felt had we needed to spend 70,000 vs the 50,000 points per night, but it’s an amazing property with beautiful appointments and white glove service. Just impeccable, and very well situated.

  • Name

    I love Radisson Blu hotels but there just aren’t enough of them! And when I do find one (in Koln, Germany for instance) a nice room only costs a hundred euros. I continue to seek them out when planning trips … I really like the Club Carlson credit card and want to use Radisson more.

  • Daniel

    For the
    Club CarlsonSM Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card

    do you think you can still get a free award night if you use cash+points redemptions?

  • Tim

    “While these hotels will be moved into the new categories on March 15, 2014, new categories will only apply to bookings made on or after May 1, 2014.”

    I don’t see the mention of May 1st anywhere on the site, it might have been a typo that was remarked in the footnote here —

  • WalshB

    C Carlson is even making change not in your list of 9 properties to be upgraded to a new category. 7. Two days ago I was looking at Radisson Blu Waterfront Stockholm which requires 50000 points per night, today this has jumped to 75,000 points (even higher than category 7 ), rates also gone up substantially !!

  • Mike

    I also am glad you did not join the game. We have stayed 14 nights so far and just booked 22 more to use all the points. Suite upgrades and more for our trouble. Less competition is great.

    Thanks again

  • Mark

    Once again the premier status and or Concierge status gets screwed. For people that spend more time in a Carlson bed then there own shouldn’t lose the bonus points.

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