Radisson is devaluing its loyalty program — here’s why I’m not worried about it
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Earlier this week, Radisson announced some pretty drastic changes to its reward program. Not only is Radisson splitting into two programs, but its award chart is also getting a drastic makeover. Currently, there are seven award categories, with free nights ranging from 9,000 to 70,000 points per night. On June 17, 2021, these will be consolidated into five categories, ranging from 15,000 to 75,000 points per night.
The kicker? All the Category 1 hotels will be bumped up, requiring over 50% more points.
But, while it is bad for some, it’s actually not awful for all, since Category 1 hotels don’t make up the biggest chunk of Radisson’s portfolio.
Between the higher redemption rates on some properties and the inconvenience of having two reward programs, I’m still going to stick with the Radisson Rewards program. Here’s why.
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Some top-tier award nights will be cheaper
Overall, Radisson free nights will cost more when the new categories are introduced on June 17, 2021. Category 1 hotels are jumping from 9,000 to 15,000 points per night, while top-tier Category 5 hotels will require 75,000 points. The good news is that Radisson is also implementing a pseudo-dynamic pricing scheme called RewardSaver.
You’re probably wondering how on earth dynamic pricing could possibly be a good thing. In this case, it only reduces award redemption rates. The new award chart reflects the absolute highest rate you’ll redeem for a free night in each category:
- Category 1 = 15,000 points
- Category 2 = 30,000 points
- Category 3 = 45,000 points
- Category 4 = 60,000 points
- Category 5 = 75,000 points
When dynamic (i.e., RewardSaver) pricing is in effect, you could save 30% off these rates. So while the 75,000-point rate for a top-tier award night is more than you’ll need under the current award chart, this price could drop as low as 52,500 points per night. Top-tier Radisson awards haven’t gone for around 50,000 points since 2019.
I don’t want to overstate the positive aspects here because lots of hotels are going up in price, some substantially. But that 30% discount can bring some redemption rates closer to their current levels. And in other cases, it will make the hotels cheaper on points than they are now.
Radisson is the best rewards program for earning free nights
Here’s something you don’t hear nearly enough about: Radisson Rewards is actually the easiest program to use for earning free nights. This applies whether you’re earning free nights via hotel stays or credit card spending.
Base members earn 20 points per $1 spent at Radisson hotels. Under the current award chart, you’d earn enough points for a free night after just $450-$3,500 worth of hotel spending. Compare that to a popular program like World of Hyatt, where you’ll have to spend $1,000-$8,000 to earn a free night.
Of course, with the new award Radisson award chart, you’re looking at increased spending of $750-$3,750, but that’s still significantly lower than most other programs.
Radisson also runs bonus point promotions and offers 10 extra points per $1 when you pay for hotel stays with a Radisson Rewards Premier Visa Signature Card. So overall, earning free nights with Radisson Rewards remains much easier than with other loyalty programs.
The information for the Radisson Rewards Premier 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.
Radisson’s large global footprint
I know what you’re thinking: Who cares about how easy it is to earn points when there aren’t high-end hotels where I want to redeem them?
Because Radisson isn’t as mainstream as perhaps Hyatt, Marriott, IHG and Hilton, people tend to think they have a limited portfolio of luxury hotels. That’s far from the truth.
Radisson Rewards has over 1,100 hotels worldwide and several luxury brands. There are seven Radisson properties in London that can be a great use of points. There’s also the upscale Radisson Blu Maldives, where peak rates exceed $1,000 per night. Throughout Europe, Radisson has a large footprint with some nice, well-located hotels in major cities like London, Istanbul, Vienna, Rome and more.
Its biggest gems are found in destinations like Mauritius, Cannes and Fiji, where you’ll often find limited options on points.
Having multiple loyalty accounts isn’t as bad as it sounds
Don’t get me wrong: If Hilton, Hyatt and Marriott all followed suit tomorrow in splitting their loyalty programs, I’d be pretty peeved. But I’m already managing multiple loyalty accounts for myself and my family members. Having to track one more Radisson Rewards account is annoying, but not something I’m unprepared for.
It will be interesting to see how tools like AwardWallet and the forthcoming TPG app will handle tracking once the program splits, but hopefully, it won’t be an issue.
Diversifying is more important than ever
I don’t want to keep droning on about devaluations, but we haven’t seen the worst of it and I’m certain more are coming. We’ve already seen airlines and hotel loyalty programs shifting toward dynamic pricing while airlines like Southwest, United and Virgin Atlantic have already made pandemic-era devaluations.
On the hotel loyalty front, Hyatt will institute peak and off-peak pricing this summer, while IHG has already increased redemption rates at Six Senses properties. Bottom line: Travel will rebound and struggling travel companies will want to recoup their losses every way they can. Outside of earning and burning points as quickly as you reasonably can, the best way to protect yourself against a devaluation is to diversify.
I have points with all the major hotel chains and am not particularly loyal to a single one. I book the best location at the most reasonable rates. Radisson offers competitive rates at hotels worldwide. It wouldn’t be wise to give that up and lose out on points because of the inconvenience of a split loyalty program.
Again, it’s not ideal and I don’t want to downplay it, but few things about points and miles are meant to be convenient. Many of us spend hours researching airline routing rules and award space to maximize our frequent flyer miles. That’s not nearly as inconvenient as having to book Radisson hotels under two different loyalty accounts.
The elite status earning scheme is pretty obnoxious, but as someone who isn’t going to earn Radisson elite status (or any other hotel loyalty program), I’m not worried about it.
I don’t want to sound overly optimistic about the Radisson Rewards program changes. To be clear, many of the changes are not ideal. Having two rewards programs is confusing. But travel companies have been through a rough year and associated loyalty devaluations are bound to happen, especially as travel demand increases. It’s best to keep your options as open as possible.
I’m sure this isn’t the last of it, so I plan on doing what I’ve done for every devaluation over the last decade: Getting as much value out of the program as can I can. Even in this case.
Featured image by Ken Wolter/Shutterstock
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