Here’s how much Radisson Rewards elite status is worth in 2021
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Earning hotel elite status is one of the best ways to make your travel experience more rewarding and enjoyable. There can be a massive difference between staying as an elite versus a non-elite member, from upgrades to bonus points to free breakfast. But, how can you actually quantify the value that this status brings?
Earlier this month, I showed you the value of elite status with Hilton Honors, IHG Rewards, Marriott Bonvoy and World of Hyatt. Today, I’ll take a crack at Radisson Rewards. Despite Radisson’s sizeable U.S. presence, the program is unknown to many American travelers as it’s frequently overshadowed by some of the larger players.
Here, I’ll give you an overview of the benefits included with each Radisson Rewards elite status tier and assign a cash value based on metrics I’ve laid out below. Use this guide to help you decide if it’s worth chasing Radisson Rewards status in 2021.
Let’s get started!
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How I developed these valuations
Before we start, let me start with the usual disclaimer: The calculations that follow represent just one way to estimate the value of elite status with Radisson.
You may not be a big breakfast eater and thus don’t care about that benefit. Or, you could travel for work and not value getting an upgrade to a larger room at check-in. Feel free to adjust the numbers based on your own personal travel patterns and how much value you’d enjoy from each applicable benefit.
Another key difference is the level of complexity that many hotel loyalty programs provide. Airline elite status benefits are more consistent; they generally don’t change based on the departure city or arrival city. Hotels are the opposite. You may earn the same number of points when you stay at a Radisson Blu or a Country Inn & Suites, but the on-property benefits (and thus the value you get from each night’s stay) can vary widely.
As a reminder, I’ll be making a number of assumptions as I analyze the value of hotel elite status. For Club Carlson, I assumed the following:
- You complete 20% more nights than the minimum required for the given level.
- You spend an average of $150 per night on eligible charges.
- Your average stay is two nights.
Your stay and spending patterns may be quite different, so feel free to adjust these numbers up or down. There’s no single right way to conduct this type of analysis; running the numbers for yourself is an important step in determining whether it’s worth going for the next level.
Two final reminders: For the sake of this analysis, I’m basing the value of any bonus points you earn on TPG’s most recent valuations, which value Radisson points at 0.4 cents apiece. I’m also rounding all valuations up to the nearest $5 to make the numbers a bit simpler.
Things to consider before chasing Radisson elite status
There are a few key considerations to keep in mind as you determine whether or not to chase elite status with any hotel loyalty program. Here are a few that should be at the top of your list as you determine whether to climb the Radisson elite status ladder.
Does Radisson have properties where you travel the most?
When deciding on a hotel loyalty program, make sure it has properties where you travel the most.
Compared to other major hotel groups like Marriott and Hilton, Radisson has a relatively small U.S. footprint. You’ll generally find full-service properties in big cities and budget options like Country Inn & Suites near major highways. This should have you covered for most trips, but double-check the places you frequent most.
Also, make sure that Radisson has the type of properties you like to stay in. For example, if you travel to Chicago frequently and stay in luxury hotels, make sure one of Radisson’s luxury brands has a presence there.
If you find Radisson doesn’t have your desired type of hotel near the places you travel, consider pursuing elite status with a different hotel program.
Consider how much you value Radisson Rewards points
You’re going to walk away with a solid stash of Radisson Rewards points when working toward elite status. So, you should make sure you value Radisson points beforehand— otherwise, you could be left with a stash of points you can’t use.
Radisson has kept a standard award chart for redemptions, so you’ll always pay a predictable price for your awards. Prices are reasonable given that free nights start at just 9,000 points per night, but booking more luxurious options can be more expensive.
Again, we value Radisson points at 0.4 cents per point, but you may value them differently depending on where you stay. I recommend that you create your own valuation by averaging together the redemption value of redemptions you’re likely to make with your Radisson points. This is especially important during the coronavirus pandemic as hotel stays are cheaper than normal times.
You can do this by finding the cent per point value of these redemptions and then averaging them out. To do this, first find the points and cash cost of a hotel stay. For example, this one-night stay at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel in Chicago costs 70,000 points plus a $25 “urban fee.”
The same night costs $304.78, including taxes and fees. Subtract the urban fee price from the cash price and divide that number by the number of points required. Then, multiply that number by 100 to get the cent per point value. In this case, you’d get 0.4 cents per point in value from your redemption.
The math looks like this: (304.78-25)/70,000 x 100 = 0.5.
Doing this for multiple stays will give you a better look at how much Radisson points are worth, based on your travel habits. If this number is lower than TPG’s valuation, you may want to choose another program.
COVID-19’s effect on these valuations
It’s hard to discuss travel in 2021 without mentioning the coronavirus pandemic.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected how most of us travel. Travel demand is slowly recovering, but many of us are still spending fewer nights in hotels than in 2019.
If you’re traveling less — and using your elite status benefits less — you’re likely getting smaller value from your hotel elite status.
That said, it’s impossible to know how much you’re traveling during the pandemic. Likewise, the coronavirus vaccine is starting to roll out worldwide, which will hopefully help us get back on the road before the end of the year.
These reasons are why I haven’t cut the value of elite status tiers in response to the pandemic. I’m also not taking modified qualification requirements into account throughout this article since we’ll eventually be subject to the standard qualification requirements. For reference, Radisson rolled over elite nights earned in 2020 to 2021 and extended 2020 elite status through 2021.
You should take your coronavirus travel habits and optimism for the immediate future of travel into account when deciding whether or not to earn Radisson elite status this year.
All that being said, where do the levels of the Radisson program fall on the value spectrum? Let’s take a look.
Radisson Silver ($60)
Silver status is granted after just six stays or nine nights, making it one of the easiest hotel statuses to earn. For my valuation, I’m assuming 12 nights, split evenly between full-service and discount properties (6 nights and 5 stays each). Note this is slightly higher than the 20% premium I discussed earlier to accommodate for the split.
10% discount on food & beverage ($3)
Regular Radisson Rewards members are given a 5% discount on food and beverages purchased at participating hotel restaurants. This discount is valid at participating Radisson properties in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific. Likewise, a limited number of North American properties honor the discount too.
If you have Silver status, that bonus jumps to 10%. However, the “participating restaurants” qualifier is limiting, as are the regions to which this benefit applies, so it may not equate to any savings. However, savings may add up for frequent international stays. In the end, it all depends on how often you stay at a participating hotel and eat at its restaurant or bar.
I’ll assume a single $50 purchase per year, resulting in additional savings of $2.50 compared to a regular Radisson Rewards member.
Complimentary room upgrades ($20)
Radisson Silver elites are entitled to complimentary upgrades, though this will vary by property and brand. According to Radisson, Silver and Gold elites are eligible for upgrades to “a room in a preferred location, a room with a preferred view, or a recently renovated room.” This means suite upgrades are out of the question.
I’ll assume a $20 per night value and a 10% success rate (rounded down to one night) because of how limited this perk is.
10% points bonus ($14)
In addition to the standard 20 points per dollar spent granted to regular members, Silver elites earn an additional 10% bonus on every stay or 2 additional points per dollar. This gives Silver elites a total of 22 points per dollar earned at Radisson properties.
With 12 nights at $150 per night, you’d take home 3,600 more points than a non-elite. Again, we value Radisson points at 0.4 cents apiece. So the extra points would be worth $14.40.
Early check-in and late check-out ($20)
As a Silver member, you can request late checkout by calling the front desk on the day of departure. As part of this benefit, you’ll get an extra two hours to check in or out. Unfortunately, it’s subject to availability, so I’m assuming you’ll use this benefit once over your 5 stays.
For this article, I’ll value this benefit at $20. This is the same value assigned to Hilton, IHG and Marriott status.
Radisson Gold ($330)
To earn Gold status in the Radisson Rewards program, you would typically need 30 nights or 20 stays in a calendar year. However, this status is automatically included with the Radisson Rewards Premier Visa Signature® Card. For this valuation, I’ll assume 36 nights split evenly between full-service and discount locations.
Additional 10% food & beverage discount ($10)
Gold members receive a 15% discount at participating restaurants in the aforementioned regions, a 10% jump over what regular members get. While your typical travel patterns may increase (or eliminate) the value of this benefit, I’ll assume $100 in yearly discountable purchases, resulting in savings of $10.
Complimentary room upgrades ($100)
Like Silver elites, Gold members can be upgraded to preferred rooms based upon availability. That said, I assume that Gold members are given priority over Silver elites. Since these upgrades tend to be unspectacular, I’ll use the same $20 per night value I used for Silver, but increase the success rate to 15% (rounded down to 5 nights).
25% points bonus ($110)
As a Gold member with Radisson Rewards, you’ll earn an additional 25% point bonus over the standard rate, giving you 5 extra points per dollar spent. This gives you a total of 25 points per dollar spent at Radisson properties, which is a nice bonus over the standard 20.
With 36 nights at an average rate of $150 per night, you’d take home an additional 27,000 points. Using TPG’s valuation, this is worth $108.
Early check-in and late check-out ($40)
Like upgrades, the published check-in/check-out benefits are identical for all Radisson elite levels. With the same criteria I used for Silver members, you would use this twice over your 18 stays, getting a value of $36.
In-room welcome gift ($50)
Gold members also receive an in-room welcome gift on all of their Radisson stays.
This benefit varies from property to property, so your actual value will depend on where you stay. When TPG’s Brian Kelly visited Iceland back in 2013, he stayed at two Radisson properties. He received a bottle of wine at the Radisson Blu Saga but only a couple of chocolate-covered strawberries at the Radisson Blu 1919.
We’ve also heard reports of members not getting any welcome gifts on recent Radisson stays. So to keep this conservative, I’ll assume a $2.50 value per stay, for $50 total over the course of 20 stays.
72-hour room availability guarantee ($20)
As I’ve said before, guaranteed availability benefits may be of little use, as these rooms are often quite pricey. However, if you absolutely need to stay at a hotel on a given night, it can be a nice perk. I’ll peg this at $20 in value — the same as in other hotel elite status guides.
Radisson Platinum ($1,575)
As the top tier in the Radisson Rewards program, you can earn Platinum status by completing 60 nights or 30 stays in a calendar year. There aren’t a ton of additional published benefits beyond those offered to Gold members, but you’ll be able to utilize them more frequently.
For this analysis, I’m assuming 72 nights split evenly between full-service and discount properties (36 nights and 18 stays in each).
Additional 15% food & beverage discount ($20)
Gold members are eligible for a 20% discount on food and beverage at many Radisson properties, 15% more than a standard member. Again, the value you get from this benefit depends on your typical travel patterns, but I’ll assume $150 in yearly discountable purchases. This results in additional savings of $22.50, rounded down to $20 for this valuation.
Complimentary Room Upgrades ($350)
According to Radisson, Platinum members may be eligible for an upgrade to the next room category or a standard suite, if available. Additionally, you’ll likely use your upgrade benefit more given you’re staying at Radisson properties more often and have higher upgrade priority than Gold and Silver elites.
I’m giving Platinum upgrades a slightly higher value of $25 per night to account for the ability to upgrade to higher classes or rooms. I’m also giving it a higher estimated success rate of 20% (rounded down to 14 nights), so you’re looking at a value of $350.
75% points bonus ($650)
Radisson Platinum elite status is one of the most generous hotel top tiers when it comes to earning bonus points, giving you 75% more points than regular members. This results in 15 additional points per dollar spent, for a total of 35 points per dollar spent. At $150 per night across 72 nights, you are looking at a haul of 162,000 additional points!
Early check-in and late check-out ($80)
Again, the published check-in/check-out benefits are identical across tiers, so I’ll make the same assumptions as I did for Gold & Silver: $25 value per use and 10% utilization rate (rounded up to 4 uses).
In-room welcome gift ($90)
The same welcome gift benefit applies to Platinum members, again valued at $2.50 per stay.
48-hour room availability guarantee ($25)
Platinum members get a slightly better-guaranteed availability benefit than Gold members (48 hours instead of 72). Rooms booked using this guarantee come at a premium.
Free continental breakfast ($360)
While many Radisson properties provide free breakfast, Radisson Platinum status expands that benefit by offering complimentary continental breakfast at participating hotels (typically full-service locations).
There are some restrictions to keep in mind. In North America, one continental breakfast is available per Platinum member each night of an eligible stay, so your guests aren’t eligible for free breakfast. The same goes for Latin America and Asia Pacific: buffet breakfast is available per Platinum member each night of an eligible stay.
Things get a little better in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In these regions, two breakfasts are available per night of an eligible stay, so one person staying with you is eligible for free breakfast.
I’ll assume the same $10 per night at full-service properties, for a total of $360.
What if I’m starting from scratch?
Of course, as I mentioned earlier, all of the numbers above represent values for those of you who have already earned these status levels.
However, many of you may be starting from scratch without any status if you’re new to the Radisson Rewards program. If this is the case, you won’t enjoy any benefits until you have spent 9 nights and earned Silver status. After that, you won’t enjoy additional benefits until you hit 30 nights to earn Gold status. How can you quantify this climb up the ranks?
Just like I did for other hotel elite status guides, I have attempted to answer this by converting the above calculations into a value per night, as follows:
- Radisson Silver: $60 / 12 nights = $5 per night
- Radisson Gold: $330 / 36 nights = $9.16 per night
- Radisson Platinum: $1,575 / 72 nights = $21.87 per night
I then created an Excel spreadsheet that uses these numbers to calculate how much value you’d get from the different levels of Radisson status given a certain number of nights. All you need to do is change the number in cell A2 to represent the number of nights you expect to stay across all 32 combined brands in 2021, and the spreadsheet will update accordingly.
For example, you’ll see that I have pre-loaded 65 nights. If you’re starting from scratch, you’d get no benefits for the first 9 nights, then enjoy Silver benefits for the next 21 nights (at a rate of $5 per night), then enjoy Gold benefits for the next 30 nights (at a rate of $9.16 per night), and finally enjoy Platinum benefits for the final 5 nights (at a rate of $21.87 per night). This means that if you’re starting from scratch and estimate that you’ll spend 65 nights in Radisson hotels in 2021, you’d be able to get $419.15 worth of perks from the program.
Again, feel free to update each tier’s numbers (loaded into the “Base Data” tab of the spreadsheet) based on your own personal valuation.
Is it worth it?
Given these values, is it worth pursuing elite status (or the next tier of elite status) with the Radisson Rewards program? As with any analysis, we undertake here at TPG, there isn’t an easy answer to this, as it depends entirely on your individual situation. However, here are a few over-arching questions that can help you arrive at a decision:
- How much will you travel in the future? When you’re pursuing elite status, it’s critical to think about how much you’ll be traveling in the future. If you push hard to earn Platinum, for example, the valuable perks outlined above only apply when you actually travel.
- What’s the incremental value of one tier over another? Many of you may wind up within striking distance of the next tier, so be sure to consider whether the benefits are worth pushing for it. There’s no sense in going out of your way for perks that don’t matter to you.
- How well does Radisson’s geographical coverage match your typical travel patterns? There’s really no point in pursuing elite status with a hotel chain if you can’t feasibly stay at one (or more) of its properties regularly. Be sure to consider the new Radisson various hotels in and around your common destinations.
- How sensitive are you to price and convenience? There are many tradeoffs in this hobby, and one of the most common is deciding whether to use your preferred airline or hotel chain when it’s not the most convenient or cheapest. Would you stay at a hotel under the Radisson umbrella if there was another cheaper and/or more convenient brand where you need to be? If the answer is no, it may not be worth going out of your way to earn elite status with the Radisson Rewards program (or elite status with any hotel chain, for that matter).
- Is a credit card a better option? As mentioned above, you can earn Radisson Gold status with a credit card. As a result, you may be better off simply opening one of those and utilizing the benefits without worrying about qualifying (or requalifying) the hard way.
These questions are also not easy to answer, as many different factors come into play with each of them. Nevertheless, it’s a worthwhile exercise to evaluate your own situation as you determine whether or not Radisson elite status is for you.
The Radisson Rewards program is rapidly expanding, and you can see that each level of status carries some value. Personally, I like the Gold status that’s included with my Radisson credit card. Even though I don’t stay at Radisson properties often, it’s nice to earn extra points and get a slightly better room.
As always, you may feel differently about these assumptions, and your stay patterns may vary significantly from the ones I used for this analysis. Feel free to adjust the numbers accordingly to help you decide whether to push for the next level of status in 2021.
Feature photo of the Radisson Blu Hotel Marseille Vieux Port courtesy of Radisson
Additional reporting by Nick Ewen
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