The best loyalty program for earning free nights is one you may not have heard of

Sep 12, 2020

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When I mention the Radisson Rewards program to fellow points and miles collectors, I usually get a puzzled look or responses like, “They don’t have any good hotels” and “They probably make it hard to earn points.” These are all misguided sentiments people express to me and they couldn’t be further from the truth.

Not only does Radisson Rewards have a larger portfolio than even Hyatt, with lots of high-end properties worldwide, it also happens to be one of the best when it comes to earning free nights. Thanks to a generous reward structure, attainable elite status tiers and rewarding credit cards, earning free Radisson nights is incredibly easy. 

If you haven’t paid much attention to Radisson Rewards before, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with it now. The program is rapidly expanding and has a lot to offer without requiring much loyalty in return. Here’s everything you need to know about the Radisson Rewards program.

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In This Post

Radisson partners

One of Radisson Rewards’ biggest disadvantages is that it doesn’t currently have any transfer partnerships. At the moment, only European Amex cardholders can transfer Membership Rewards to Radisson at a 1:3 ratio. Hopefully, that changes in the future, but for the time being, there are plenty of other options to get a hold of Radisson points (more on that later).

Related: The 9 transfer partners I hope Amex and Chase add this year

Radisson Rewards elite status 

Radisson Blu Sign in Minnesota
(Photo by Ken Wolter/Shutterstock)

Radisson Rewards has four membership tiers: Club, Silver, Gold and Platinum. All members start at the Club level and work their way up by completing hotel stays or nights. The easiest way to get a status bump is by applying for a Radisson Rewards card. The Radisson Rewards Premier comes with instant Gold elite status – those who already have Gold or Platinum status qualify for a one-time credit of 15 nights toward earning or maintaining Platinum after applying for the card and making your first purchase.

The great thing about Radisson Rewards status is that award nights count toward elite status. This applies to both Points + Cash and full award nights. So even when you redeem points, you’ll make progress toward earning elite status.

Radisson Rewards Club status

When you sign up for Radisson Rewards, you’ll automatically become a Club member. At this level, you’ll earn 20 points per $1 spent even at this level and receive several practical perks.

  • 20 points per $1 spent
  • 10% member-only discount when booking online or through the app
  • 5% discount on food and beverages at participating hotel restaurants
  • Two complimentary bottles of water per stay.

Radisson Rewards Silver status (9 nights/6 stays)

  • 22 points per $1 spent
  • 10% discount on food and beverages
  • Rollover nights
  • Complimentary room upgrade, based on availability
  • Early check-in and late check-out, based on availability

Radisson Rewards Gold status (30 nights/20 stays)

  • 25 points per $1 spent
  • 15% discount on food and beverages
  • Welcome amenity
  • 72-hour guaranteed room availability 

Radisson Rewards Platinum status (60 nights/30 stays)

At the Platinum level, the most valuable benefits include earning 35 points per $1 spent and free breakfast. Unfortunately, the breakfast benefit is a bit limited when compared to other programs. 

In North America, Latin America and Asia Pacific, only the Platinum member gets complimentary breakfast – guests will not. However, in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, this benefit extends to two people. So keep that in mind if you’re traveling within the restricted regions because not having free breakfast for a guest can add an extra expense that you can avoid by booking with another loyalty program.

  • 35 points per $1 spent
  • 20% discount on food and beverages
  • 48-hour guaranteed room availability 
  • Free breakfast
  • Dedicated Platinum member services line

Radisson Rewards status match offer

If you have elite status with another hotel loyalty program and want to give Radisson Rewards a try, the good news is that you can request (and get approved for) a status match. Radisson will match your current status up to Gold elite. All you have to do is email them proof of elite status and your Radisson Rewards number. In some cases, status matching took as few as three minutes.

In some cases, members have been able to use their airline elite status to get a Radisson Rewards status match. Several SAS EuroBonus Rewards members have reported getting matched to Radisson Gold after showing proof of Gold status or higher.

Related: Complete guide to airline elite status during the coronavirus outbreak

How to earn Radisson Rewards points

Radisson Rewards is probably the best hotel loyalty program when it comes to earning free nights. At least when it comes to earning those nights via paid stays or credit card spending. Non-elite Radisson Rewards members earn a whopping 20 points per $1 spent on hotel stays, meaning you can earn a free night after spending just $450-$3,500.

Meanwhile, the Radisson Rewards Premier Visa Signature® Card earns 10 points per $1 spent at Radisson properties but also earns 5 points per $1 on all other spending. So you’d earn a free night after spending just $1,800 on your card, and $14,000 in spending would get you a free night at a top-tier property. 

To give you an idea of how rewarding the program can get, let’s assume you pay for your next Radisson hotel stay with the Radisson Rewards Premier card. The card comes with Gold elite status, so you’d earn 25 points per $1 spent through Radisson Rewards plus 10 points per $1 from your credit card. A $300 stay would get you 10,500 points, which is enough for a free night at a Category 1 Radisson hotel.

Besides credit cards and hotel stays, you can also earn Radisson points on rental cars and select retail partners. Plus, Radisson Rewards members can transfer points to household members, free of charge. Be sure to read our guide to earning Radisson Rewards points to learn about the many ways to give your point balance an easy boost.

Radisson Rewards Premier Visa Signature® Card

Radisson Rewards Premier Visa Signature_CCSL
(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $75

Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 points after your first purchase plus 35,000 points after spending $2,500 within the first 90 days

Earning rates: 10x points per $1 spent at Radisson hotels; 5x points everywhere else

Elite status: Radisson Rewards Gold status

Other benefits: Earn a free night for every $10,000 spent, up to $30,000 (valid at any Radisson property in the U.S.); earn 40,000 bonus points each year for renewing your card 

Radisson Rewards Visa® Card

Radisson Rewards Visa
(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $0

Sign-up bonus: Earn 30,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 within the first 90 days

Earning rates: 3x points per $1 spent at Radisson hotels; 1x point everywhere else

Elite status: Radisson Rewards Silver status

Other benefits: Earn one free night for every $10,000 spent, up to $30,000 (valid at any Radisson hotel in the U.S.) 

The information for the Radisson Rewards Premier and Radisson Rewards Visa Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: Why I’m applying for travel credit cards during a pandemic

How to redeem Radisson Rewards points

Radisson Rewards has seven hotel categories and allows members to redeem points for several types of awards. Standard awards range from 9,000 – 70,000 points per night, while premium room rewards go as high as 105,000 points and Points + Cash awards start at just 5,000. This provides flexibility for those who either don’t have enough points for a free night award redemption or prefer to book a premium room.

Category 1 Category 2 Category 3 Category 4 Category 5 Category 6 Category 7
Standard award 9,000 15,000 28,000 38,000 44,000 50,000 70,000
Premium award 13,500 22,500 42,000 57,000 66,000 75,000 105,000

Things to know about Radisson Rewards

TPG values Radisson Rewards points at 0.4 cents each, so keep this in mind when you’re deciding whether to book with points or cash. For example, if you’re redeeming 70,000 points for a Category 7 award, you’ll want to make sure the cash rate is at least $280 per night. That will ensure that you’re getting the most out of your hard-earned points. On the other hand, if you just care about saving money, ignore that advice. Use your points in whatever way works best for you.

Radisson Points + Cash awards

Radisson’s Points + Cash awards are great for those times when room rates are high and you don’t have enough points for a free night. You can redeem as few as 5,000 Radisson points per night plus a variable cash portion, on which you’ll even earn points. The cash portion will vary – in my experience, you can expect around a 20-25% discount over the standard cash rate.

Category 1 Category 2 Category 3 Category 4 Category 5 Category 6 Category 7
Points + Cash rate 5,000 + cash 5,000 + cash 5,000 + cash 10,000 + cash 10,000 + cash 15,000 + cash 20,000 + cash

So when does it make sense to pay the Points + Cash rate? That depends on the discount and which category you’re booking. Since TPG values Radisson points at 0.4 cents each, you’ll want to make sure the cash discount you’re getting is more than the value of these points. 

In the case of Category 1-3 awards, you’ll want the cash portion to save you at least $20 over the paid rate. For a Category 7 award, you’ll want to save at least $80. You should also factor in the point savings on a Points + Cash award.

For example, let’s say you’re looking to book the Radisson Blu Champs Elysees on Jan. 4, 2021 (and you’re able to enter the country by then). 

Radisson Blu Champs Elysees points
(Screenshot courtesy of Radisson.com)
Radisson Blu Champs Elysees rate
(Screenshot courtesy of Radisson.com)
Radisson Blu Champs Elysees points + cash
(Screenshot courtesy of Radisson.com)
  • The points rate is 70,000
  • The cash rate is 222 Euro before taxes or about $261 
  • A Points + Cash award would cost 20,000 points and 168 Euro/$198

In this scenario, a Points + Cash award would save you 24% over the cash rate and require 71% fewer points. By redeeming points for a free night award, you’ll get 0.37 cents of value per point, which is slightly below TPG’s valuation of 0.4 cents each.

With the Points + Cash award, you’re effectively using 20,000 points to save $63 off your stay, so you’re getting about 0.32 cents per point. If you’re aiming for the highest possible redemption value, you’ll want to either pay cash or book a free night award.

Related: The Radisson Blu Maldives finally opens after a 7-year delay

Best Radisson Rewards redemptions 

About eight years ago, I wrote an entire series about the best Radisson hotels worldwide. How did I figure out what the best hotels were? I went on Radisson’s website, looked up every single hotel website individually and picked the best one in every region. In determining my rankings, I factored in online reviews, location, average room rate and the type of room you could book under a standard award.

I did this for over 1,000 hotels worldwide (did I mention I was a newbie and utterly obsessed with points and miles?). Needless to say, I’ve become very familiar with Radissson’s hotel portfolio and have kept up with the best hotels offered. 

In determining my rankings, I factored in online reviews, location, average room rate and the type of room you could book under a standard award.

Here’s a sneak peek at the best Radisson hotel redemptions broken down by region:

Category 1 hotels (9,000 points per night)

HOTEL PHOTO

  • Park Inn by Radisson Samsun
  • Radisson Salem (India)
  • Radisson Blu Zhengzhou Huiji
  • Park Inn by Radisson Diamond Barranquilla
  • Radisson Blu Hotel, Cairo Heliopolis

Category 2 hotels (15,000 points per night)

HOTEL PHOTO

  • Radisson Blu Resort Wetland Park Wuxi
  • Park Inn by Radisson Budapest
  • Radisson Blu Resort, El Quseir
  • Radisson Lampung Kedaton
  • Park Inn by Radisson Los Olivos de Vallenar

Category 3 hotels (28,000 points per night)

HOTEL PHOTO

  • Radisson Blu Hotel & Resort, Al Ain
  • Radisson Hotel Curico
  • Park Inn Prague
  • Radisson Hotel and Suites Guatemala City
  • Radisson Hyderabad Hitec City
  • Park Plaza Bangkok Soi 18
  • Radisson Hotel Monterrey San Jeronimo
  • Radisson Blu Hotel, Sopot
  • Park Plaza Bangkok Soi 18
  • Radisson Blu Resort & Thalasso, Hammamet
  • Radisson Residences, Vadistanbul

Category 4 hotels (38,000 points per night)

HOTEL PHOTO

  • Radisson Blu Hotel & Resort, Abu Dhabi Corniche
  • Radisson Hotel Santa Cruz (Bolivia)
  • Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Niagara Falls, ON
  • Radisson Blu Hotel, Cardiff
  • Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa, Sligo
  • Park Inn by Radisson Leuven
  • Radisson Hotel, Astana
  • Radisson Blu Elizabete Hotel, Riga
  • Radisson Blu Resort Goa Cavelossim Beach

Category 5 hotels (44,000 points per night)

Radisson Hormuz Grand Muscat
Radisson Hormuz Grand Muscat (Photo courtesy of Radisson Hotels)
  • Radisson Blu Astrid Hotel, Antwerp
  • Radisson Blu Aleksanteri Hotel, Helsinki
  • The Radisson Blu Residence, Dubai Marina
  • Radisson Blu Resort, Fujairah
  • Radisson on Flagstaff Gardens Melbourne
  • Hormuz Grand Muscat, A Radisson Collection Hotel
  • Radisson Hotel, Rosa Khutor
  • Radisson Blu Poste Lafayette Resort & Spa, Mauritius
  • Park Plaza Verudela Pula
  • Radisson RED Glasgow
  • Radisson Hotel Paulista Sao Paulo

Category 6 hotels (50,000 points per night)

Radisson Blu Acqua Hotel Spa Concon Chile
Radisson Blu Acqua Hotel Spa Concon Chile (Photo courtesy of Radisson Hotels)
  • Radisson RED Portland Downtown
  • Radisson Aquatica Resort Barbados
  • Radisson Hotel and Suites Sydney
  • Radisson Blu Resort Cam Ranh
  • Radisson Blu Acqua Hotel & Spa Concon
  • Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Waterfront
  • Radisson Collection Hotel, Grand Place Brussels
  • Radisson Blu Edwardian, Vanderbilt hotel
  • Radisson Blu Resort & Spa, Split

Category 7 hotels (70,000 points per night)

Radisson Blu Maldives villas
(Photo courtesy of Radisson Blu Maldives)
  • Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago
  • Radisson Blu 1835 Hotel & Thalasso, Cannes
  • Palazzo Montemartini Rome, A Radisson Collection Hotel
  • Radisson Blu Bosphorus Hotel, Istanbul
  • Radisson Blu Resort Maldives
  • The May Fair, A Radisson Collection Hotel
  • Radisson Blu Azuri Resort & Spa, Mauritius
  • Radisson Blu Plaza Sydney

Radisson Rewards for Business

Whether you’re a meeting planner, travel agent or a small business owner, Radisson Rewards lets you stock up on tons of points and discounts through Radisson Rewards for Business. After joining the program, you’ll earn 5 points per $1 spent on meeting and event bookings, plus 10 points per $1 on hotel reservations. You’ll also receive a 10% discount and Radisson Rewards Silver elite status after just three hotel stays. 

This program is free to join and offers an excellent opportunity to generate extra rewards on event bookings. Whether it’s a company retreat (remember those?) or a family reunion, Radisson Rewards for Business can add some extra points to your balance for a hard-earned vacation afterward.

Bottom line

Radisson Rewards is one of the few programs that offers value to every member, even those who aren’t loyal. With practical benefits offered to base members, easy earning structure and generous cobranded credit card, Radisson makes free nights much more attainable than other programs. While the elite status perks are a bit lacking, that’s to be expected considering how little effort it takes to earn it. If you’re not already earning Radisson points, its impressive portfolio alone will convince you otherwise.

Featured photo courtesy of Radisson Hotels

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