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Update June 1 at 9:12 AM ET: Club Carlson has tweeted that the benefit will still be bookable until 11 PM CT tonight, so book, book, book. I burned all my points yesterday on speculative two night stays in Lithuania and Chennai. I can cancel them and get the points back if my plans change. Hat Tip @ThrashSoundly on Twitter.

In a move announced in April, Club Carlson will remove the last-night-free benefit on 2+ night awards booked by people who have the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card effective this Monday, June 1, 2015.

The good news is that the change is effective for bookings made June 1 or later, not for stays made June 1 or later. Some hotels lets you book up to three years in advance, so you can get your last night free on award stays through 2018 as long as you book by Sunday.

As further compensation, the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card introduced two benefits: a free night at any Club Carlson hotel in the United States after spending $10,000 during your membership year and 30,000 bonus Gold Points for making one paid stay at a Club Carlson property by August 31, 2015 and paying with your Club Carlson card.

  • How is the last-night-free benefit the best benefit of any hotel credit card?
  • How does it work?
  • How can you use it for stays through 2018?
  • Can people who don’t yet have the Club Carlson card get the card in time to use the last-night-free benefit?
  • What is my analysis of the two new benefits?

The Last-Night-Free Benefit Is the Best Benefit of Any Hotel Credit Card

Here’s the card’s bullet point on the benefit:

  • Bonus Award Night – When you redeem Gold Points for 2 or more consecutive Award Nights, your last night is free. Exclusively for cardmembers!

It really is that simple. On any award stay of 2+ nights, the last night is free. That means that the ideal award length is two nights in order to get a 50% discount on the points needed for an award.

This benefit can save you 50,000 points per stay. No other hotel credit card benefit is nearly this good. And that’s why the benefit is disappearing. It was too generous. Offers that stick out as too generous eventually disappear. *cough* Southwest Companion Pass from opening two credit cards *cough*

How the Last-Night-Free Benefit Works

Your Club Carlson account knows you have the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card, so at the payment stage for your award, it deducts the last night’s points from the price.

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 8.59.03 AMScreen Shot 2015-04-03 at 8.59.18 AM

Here’s a full post on How the Last Night Free Benefit on the Club Carlson Card Works.

You Can Use the Last-Night-Free Benefit Through 2018

The last-night-free benefit is available on bookings made until tomorrow, May 31, 2015, no matter when the stay takes place.

Club Carlson’s calendar lets you search up to three years in advance. Here’s an award booking you could make today for 2018 that includes the second/last night free.Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 9.36.32 AM

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 9.20.33 AM

Unfortunately not all hotels take bookings so far in advance. Here is a search for next summer in Paris. Only two of the hotels are taking bookings, and only one with points.

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 9.03.04 AM

Take a look at the places you want to go for the next few years, and book now, so you can to lock in the last night free. You can always cancel and get your points back if you didn’t pick the correct dates a few years in advance.

The Two New Benefits

Here’s the email sent out to cardholders.

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 8.53.18 AM

The new permanent benefit to “replace” the last-night-free benefit is that every cardmember year during which a cardmember spends $10,000 on his card and then renews his card, he’ll get a free night at any Club Carlson hotel in the USA.

This is a definite downgrade from last night free on awards worldwide.

Club Carlson does have some expensive properties in New York and San Francisco, so this benefit could be worth a few hundred dollars per year, and it is is a nice benefit overall. If a hotel credit card added this benefit, I would be excited. But if a hotel credit card replaced the best benefit of any hotel credit card (last night free on all awards) with this benefit, I’d be disappointed.

The other benefit is a one-time offer. Stay at a Club Carlson property worldwide by August 31, 2015 on a paid rate and pay with your Club Carlson card to receive 30,000 bonus points.Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 8.53.35 AM

I value 30,000 points at $120, so I’ll be sure to stay at a property that costs less than that as a mattress run if I don’t have any real hotel needs by August 31.

These are nice new benefits. Combined with the fact that the card gives you 85,000 bonus points, 5x per dollar on all spending, and Gold Status, the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card will still be one of the best cards after the last-night-free benefits disappears on June 1, but losing that benefit is a huge blow.

Bottom Line

The last day to book Club Carlson awards with the last night free for holders of the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card is tomorrow, May 31, 2015.

Some Club Carlson properties allow points bookings up to three years in advance, so you can use the benefit for stays through 2018. Feel free to book speculatively since hotel awards usually allow free cancellations until the last day or week (depending on the property.)

To partially offset the sting, the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card is offering two new benefits: a free night at any Club Carlson hotel in the United States after spending $10,000 during your membership year and 30,000 bonus Gold Points for making one paid stay at a Club Carlson property by August 31, 2015 and paying with your Club Carlson card.

The last-night-free benefit was too generous, and too generous benefits always disappear. I’ll miss this one. Use this as a reminder to pound all the best offers while they last. *cough* American Airlines award chart *cough*

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Earn up to 20 free hotel nights after meeting spending $2,500 in the first 90 days on the Club Carlson Visa.

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 3.34.07 AM

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The Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card currently has the best benefit of any hotel credit card by far: you get the last night free on award stays of 2+ nights. Two night award stays are effectively half price.

 

Unfortunately the benefit was too good to last. I reported a few weeks ago that the last-night-free benefit ends June 1, 2015. You can still book Club Carlson stays as far out as 2018 with the benefit as long as you book by May 31.

To soften the blow of removing its best benefit, Club Carlson added two new benefits to the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card:

  • a free night at any Club Carlson hotel in the United States after spending $10,000 during your membership year (ongoing benefit)
  • 30,000 bonus Gold Points for making one paid stay at a Club Carlson property by August 31, 2015 and paying with your Club Carlson card (one-time benefit)

The one-time 30,000 bonus points for a paid Club Carlson stay by August 31 is excellent. If you planned to make a paid Club Carlson stay in the future, the 30,000 points are gravy. Even if you weren’t planning a stay, it was probably worth going out of your way to book a stay. There are very likely some $100 or less Club Carlson properties near you, so a mattress run to one of those properties would be like purchasing points for 0.33 cents each.

But, View from the Wing reports an even cheaper way to get the 30,000 bonus points. One of his readers booked an award stay–not a paid stay as Club Carlson said would be required–at a Club Carlson property and had some food and beverage charges that he paid with his Club Carlson card at checkout. He got the 30,000 bonus points when his points posted to his Club Carlson account for paying the food and beverage charges.

A few other commenters jumped in saying that their experience was the same this month.

Even better, a few commenters say that they had awards booked with Club Carlson points this month, didn’t charge anything to their rooms, checked out, and still got the 30,000 bonus points a few days to a week later.

However one commenter said that his Hotwire stay with charges to the room did not get the 30,000 bonus points.

If your results are the same as the commenters’, you can take an award stay with your Club Carlson points–preferably a two night stay for obvious reasons–and you should get the 30,000 bonus points within a week of checkout.

If you get those points by May 31 (meaning a checkout by May 24), you can use them for award bookings with the last night free. The cheapest Club Carlson hotels go for 9,000 points per night. That means a two-night stay is 9,000 points with the last night free. At that rate, 30,000 points is enough for three two-night stays–six total nights–with some points leftover.

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 3.40.35 AM

Bottom Line

Taking a two-night award stay with you Club Carlson points can earn Club Carlson cardholders enough points for six free award nights at a later date.

The Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card comes with 85,000 bonus points after spending $2,500 on the card in the first 90 days, and the last night free on all award stays of 2+ nights though this benefit only applies to bookings made before May 31. Check out My Review of the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card.

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

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Update at 2:47 PM on 3/25/15: These packages sold out before I could buy one.

Today is the third day of five weeks of discounted travel packages from the US Travel Association called Daily Getaways. Every weekday at 1 PM ET, a discounted travel package or packages will go on sale and will often sell out in a few minutes. Every weekend I’ll preview the deals for the next week, and the morning of interesting deals, I’ll have a full write up.

Today only, Club Carlson points are being sold cheaply enough that you can stay at a hotel in Europe for as low as $20 per night!

Today’s deal is:

  • 100,000 Club Carlson points for $450 (0.45 cents each), 50 packages available
  • 50,000 Club Carlson points for $225 (0.45 cents each), 100 packages available

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 12.48.46 AM

 

Award nights start at 9,000 points, and those of us with a Club Carlson credit card get the last night free on award stays of 2+ nights, so on two night stays, we pay half price.

  • How can you get in on the deal?
  • How good is this deal?
  • How does the Club Carlson deal make buying points twice as good of a value?

The two offers today are:

  • 100,000 Club Carlson points for $450 (0.45 cents each) | 50 packages available
  • 50,000 Club Carlson points for $225 (0.44 cents each) | 100 packages available

You can buy up to two of each package, four total. If you bought the maximum, you would be getting 300k Club Carlson points for $1,350.

Club Carlson points can be used at over 1,000 hotels with the following brand names:

  • Radisson Blu
  • Radisson
  • Park Plaza
  • Park Inn by Radisson
  • Country Inns & Suites By Carlson

Here is a map of all Club Carlson properties.

How far do Club Carlson points go? Here’s the award chart.

Screen Shot 2014-06-17 at 12.30.23 AM

A Category 1 hotel costs 9,000 points, which is $40.50 if you buy points for 0.45 cents each. Needless to say $40.50 is a great deal for a hotel night in Europe at some decent Category 1 properties. I have my eye on the Park Inns in Sofia, Bulgaria; Budapest, Hungary, and Vilnius, Lithuania for this summer.

There aren’t any aspirational Club Carlson hotels at the level we see from Hyatts and Hiltons, but the top tier hotels are still under their retail price at $315 per night (70,000 times 0.45 cents per point). The full Category 7 list is here.

I recently stayed at the 70,000-points-per-night The May Fair, London. It was a fantastic location from which to explore the city, and I really liked the hotel. Its retail price is $1,107 per night this summer.

Make the Deal Twice As Good

The hotel awards I’ve described already are enough for some to get in on the deal, but the deal can be twice as good.

The Club Carlson Visa from US Bank has the following offer:

  • Up to 85k bonus points
  • 50k bonus points on first use
  • 35k points after spending $2,500 in 90 days
  • 10 points per dollar at Carlson hotels
  • 5 points per dollar on all other purchases
  • 40k bonus points on renewal
  • Automatic Gold Status while holding the card
  • When you redeem points for an award stay of 2+ nights, the last night is free
  • $75 annual fee, not waived

The last-night-free benefit means if you buy a 100k package and make all two night award stays, Category 1 hotels cost $20 per night and Category 7 hotels cost $158 per night! Those are all-in prices for Europe, Australia, and other places where hotels cost an arm and a leg.

Application Link: Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card

If you buy points today, you can redeem them for awards with the last night free as soon as you have the credit card.

My Plan

I’m going to buy two 100k point packages. I am considering several hotel stays in Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, all of which have several Club Carlson properties in their capitals. If I stay in each city about one week as a series of three or four 2-night stays at alternating hotels, I’ll get fantastic value.

I can do 24 days in Helsinki, Tallinn, Riga, and Vilnius for 278k points, which is $1,251 at 0.45 cents per point. That’s about $50 per night for hotels in Europe.

Will This Deal Sell Out?

During last year’s Daily Getaways, Club Carlson points went on sale for the same price with the same number of packages and sold out instantly. I expect this deal to sell out in less than a minute.

Purchasing the Packages

To maximize your chances of getting in on the deal, I recommend using a site like whattimeisit.com to figure out the official time. The sale starts at 1 PM ET / 10 AM PT / 7 AM HT. This year’s sales all started on time to the second. Keep refreshing the deal page until you see the BUY NOW button replace the SEE DETAILS button.

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 11.55.17 PM

This is what happens if you try to purchase something when all quantities are already in someone’s cart.

This doesn’t mean the deal is sold out. If someone doesn’t complete his purchase, that quantity will immediately become available for someone else. Keep checking until the dreaded “Sold Out” appears.

Key Links

Do you plan to buy Club Carlson points? Post your successful or failed attempt in the comments, so we can gauge how quick you had to be to snag a deal.

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Earn up to 20 free hotel nights after meeting spending $2,500 in the first 90 days on the Club Carlson Visa.

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 3.34.07 AM

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Daily Getaways is a series of daily discounted travel packages sponsored by the US Travel Association and American Express that starts Monday and runs for five weeks. Every weekday at 1 PM ET, a discounted travel package or packages will go on sale, and the best deals sell out in just a few minutes.

In 2013, I blogged every deal. In 2014, I just blogged the good ones:

The best deals tend to be the selling of hotel points at super low prices or the purchasing of underpriced certificates for hotel stays and car rentals.

I’ll again blog the best deals this year. My plan is to give a quick overview of each week’s deals some time during the week before, so you can get an idea which days you’ll want to be ready to pounce with some anticipation. Then, on the day of the good deals, by 9 AM ET so my email subscribers get the post too, I’ll write a full post on why a certain deal is good and how to maximize whatever you’re buying that day.

Here’s that overview of the first week of deals that start Monday. I plan to purchase deals on three days, but I see value on all five days.

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 12.51.34 PM

Monday March 23: $50 Alamo Certificates for $25

Note: This year there is no discount for using an American Express to purchase Daily Getaways. In the past, there was a 10% discount.

This is not a sexy item because your potential savings are strictly limited, but I always max out the purchase of Alamo certificates.

I have two rentals in the next month where Alamo is the cheapest according to Kayak, and this will knock the price down even lower.

A side benefit of using these certificates is that any taxes calculated on a percentage basis are reduced or eliminated as these certificates knock down the price, and car rentals are full of taxes.

This year, the max quantity you can purchase is three, and the max number you can combine on a single rental is three.

I don’t like to buy Daily Getaways too speculatively; I like to have an immediate use in mind. If you have a car rental in mind, this can mean big savings.

Tuesday March 24: IHG Rewards Points for As Little as 0.57 Cents

I plan to buy a small package of IHG Rewards points. They’re valuable for PointBreaks hotels–the rotating list of hotels you can book for 5,000 points per night, which at this price is $29 per night.

You can always buy IHG Rewards points for 0.7 cents each, so this is a nice 20% discount.

I will look at my expected PointBreaks needs for the next year, and I will buy enough to cover those but not too much more because I hate to turn my cash into points that just sit around.

Wednesday March 25: Club Carlson Points for 0.45 Cents

I plan to buy Club Carlson points. They’re worth twice as much to me because I have the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card, which offers the last night free on all award stays of 2+ nights. Here’s how that free night works.

Every two night award stay I take costs only the price of a one night award stay because of the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card.

Club Carlson free nights start at 9,000 points or about $41 worth of points if you purchase them for 0.45 cents each. That means for every $41 I spend on points, I can get a two night stay at a hotel in Europe. This is a no-brainer. I think I’ll buy 100,000 points to bulk up my Club Carlson balance.

For folks who have already used the 85,000 point sign up bonus on their Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card and the 40,000 point anniversary bonus each year, or for folks who don’t have the card yet but plan to get it for the 20 free nights that completing the minimum spending requirement of $2,500 in the first 90 days earns you, this is an intriguing sale.

Thursday March 26: A Five Night Stay at a Diamond Resorts International Property for $525

This is a great deal for some families that I am going to sit out. Here are the participating properties at which you can stay for under $105 per night including Maui, St. Maarten, and Europe.

The reasons I’m not buying:

  1. I don’t have a surefire travel companion to take one of these trips before May 8, 2016.
  2. From the terms: “Certificate may be subject to high season, holiday and other blackout periods depending on destination.”

Friday March 26: Hilton HHonors Points for 0.5 Cents Each

The last two years, the points were 0.495 cents each, and neither year did the deal sell out.

The problem is Hilton’s ridiculously expensive chart.

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 11.14.26 AM

Even at 0.5 cents per point, the most expensive Hiltons are $350 to $475 per night. The only reason to get in on this deal is to book a low category property.

Category 1 Hiltons are on sale for $25 at these prices and Category 2 Hiltons (like the awesome DoubleTree Kuala Lumpur) are only $50. To see a spreadsheet and map of Category 1 and 2 properties, click here. If one is convenient for one of your future trips, these prices for Hilton points are a great deal.

Bottom Line for Week 1

There are three days to purchase points at a discount for IHG, Club Carlson, and Hilton. I plan to buy a few IHG points for PointBreaks, a bunch of Club Carlson points because I get the last night free on 2+ night Club Carlson awards, and no Hilton points.

There are discounted rental certificates from Alamo that I will max out to save cash on rentals and the taxes on rentals.

There are five night stays at Diamond Resorts International properties that are a great deal at $105 per night, but not right for me.

I think all five deals in week 1 will appeal to a lot of MileValue readers, so I’ll have a full post on each one up by 9 AM on the day of the deal. Set your alarm for 12:45 PM ET on the day of any deal that interests you, so you can be at your computer at 1 PM ready to buy.

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Pay your award taxes and fees with the Arrival Plus then redeem Arrival miles to remove the charge.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 8.29.19 PM

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The Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card offers 85,000 bonus points after spending $2,500 on the card in the first 90 days. After meeting the minimum spending requirement, you have enough points for up to 20 free hotel nights as I explained in my review of the card.

The points themselves would only be enough for 10 free nights, but the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card has the killer benefit that cardholders get the last night free on all award stays of 2+ nights.

That means you can book 10 two-night stays with all your points (20 total nights) to maximize them.

  • How does the last-free-night benefit work?
  • Can you get two free nights on a four night stay?
  • Can you book multiple rooms at the same hotel and get the benefit multiple times?

The last-free-night benefit is automatic. Once you have the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card, the fact that you are a cardholder is stored in your Club Carlson account online. When you make award bookings, the price reflects the last night being free.

I recently booked myself a two-night stay in Dubai. On clubcarlson.com, select Book with Points and perform your search.

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 10.39.19 AM

Dubai has six Club Carlson properties open and two more in the works.Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 10.39.40 AM

Each property lists its points price, cash price, points + cash price (which is never a good deal in my experience), and a direct link to TripAdvisor reviews.Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 10.45.13 AM

Hotels in Dubai ranged from 38,000 to 70,000 points for a free night. They are all Radisson or Radisson Blu brands, so perhaps the Park Inns that are set to open this year will be cheaper.

I selected the Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira creek because it is close to the airport, close to a metro station, and the Deira area looks interesting. (Let me know in the comments if I made a big mistake and should stay at a different Club Carlson property.)

After selecting the room, the initial screen does not reflect the discount.

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 10.45.27 AM

But right below the undiscounted price is a red-box indicating that the discount is coming. (You only see this box if signed in. If not signed in yet, you’ll still get the discount once you sign in.)Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 11.37.54 AM

On the first screen, you review the hotel’s cancellation and other policies. I learned that I’ll arrive just after Dubai institutes a $4 per room per night tax.

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 10.45.46 AM

You also select your room type on this first screen.Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 10.46.15 AM

On the next screen, the discount kicks in. The price dropped to 50,000 points total for two nights, and I booked.Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 10.46.38 AM

Considering a paid two-night stay is $400, I’d say 50,000 points is a great deal especially since the cheapest cash rate is fully pre-paid, and my award can be cancelled until the day of arrival without penalty.

More Value

If you want a four night stay at the same hotel, can one person book two nights with one free and then the next two nights with one free?

No.

From the terms:

  • Only one Bonus Award Night will be available for a stay of two or more consecutive nights at the same hotel (early checkout with one night stay not eligible), regardless of the total length of stay, the total number of reservations or the number of check-in/check-outs, is subject to availability and all other terms and conditions and cancellation policies regarding Award Nights apply

And the computer follows this rule. If I try to book the two nights before or after my current Dubai stay at the same hotel, it prices as 100,000 points total for those two nights–no free night!

But if you have a travel companion and you both have the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card, you can get two out of four nights free. Book the first two nights from one account and the next two from another. At check in, note that you have both booked a two night stay to split costs and would prefer one room for the entire four nights instead of having to check out and check back in.

And if you’re solo, you can still get two free nights on a four-night stay in the same city. You just have to change hotels. I am offered the last night free at another Dubai Radisson for the two nights after my stay at the Radisson Deira Creek:

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 11.43.26 AM

Also a solo traveler can get two free nights out of five at the same hotel. Imagine I want to stay April 1 – 6 (five nights) in one hotel.

  • I could book April 1 – 3 as one award: two nights with one free
  • then April 4 – 6 as one award: two nights with one free
  • then April 3 – 4 as a cash stay or an award: one night with zero free

The computer would price that out as five nights with two free. This pattern works infinitely, and can be stated like this:

A solo traveler, at a single hotel, can get his second night free and every third night free thereafter by booking two-night award stays interspersed with one-night award or cash stays.

If you want to book multiple rooms in the same hotel, will each room enjoy the last-night-free benefit?

No.

From the terms:

  • For multiple night/multiple room bookings, only one room will receive the Bonus Award Night

Your Take

How have you maximized the last-night-free benefit of the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card?

And where would you recommend I stay on my first trip to Dubai?

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I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

The Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card offers up to 20 free hotel nights after spending $2,500 on the card in the first 90 days.

The basic idea is:

  • 50,000 Club Carlson Gold Points after first purchase
  • 35,000 more Club Carlson Gold Points after spending $2,500 on the card in the first 90 days
  • Earn 5 points per dollar on all purchases (and 10 on purchases at Carlson Rezidor hotels), so you’ll earn at least another 12,500 points from meeting the minimum spending requirement. After meeting the minimum spending requirement, you’ll have at least 97,500 Gold Points.
  • Free nights at Radisson, Park Plaza, and other properties start at 9,000 Gold Points
  • On award stays of two or more nights, you get the last night free as a cardholder. That means a two night stay at a 9,000 point-per-night property costs only 9,000 total points.
  • That means 90,000 points is enough for 10 two-night stays (20 nights total.)

The Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card is a must have if you are traveling near the 1,000 participating Club Carlson hotels. No other card offers a free award night on all award stays of 2+ nights. I picked up the card in 2013 and don’t ever plan on canceling it.

  • At what hotels can you redeem Club Carlson Gold Points?
  • How does the free night on award stays work?
  • What can you do with 85,000 Club Carlson Gold Points?
  • Why should some people put all their spending on the Club Carlson card?
  • Why do I never plan on canceling my card?

What is Club Carlson?

Club Carlson is the loyalty program of Radisson hotels and several other brands with over 1,000 locations worldwide.

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Here is a map of the worldwide destinations, which shows impressive coverage in North America, Europe, and India.

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Racking Up Points

The Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card earns points at an extraordinary rate.

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 2.11.14 AM

The sign up bonus is 85,000 points–50,000 after first purchase and 35,000 more after spending $2,500 in the first 90 days.

The card earns 5 points per dollar on everyday purchases. That means you’ll earn another 12,500 points as you meet the minimum spending requirement, bringing your total to at least 97,500.

Every year you renew your card for the $75 annual fee, you get 40,000 more bonus points. That’s like buying points for 0.19 cents each. This renewal bonus is one of two reasons I never plan on canceling my Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card.

Redeeming Points

Club Carlson hotels are divided into seven categories, and free nights range from 9,000 to 70,000 points for a Standard Room.

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 2.06.38 AM

But cardmembers get a huge discount on awards.

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If you book an award stay of 2+ nights, you get the last night free. This is the second reason I’ll never cancel this card. Put another way:

  • 1 night awards have no discount
  • 2 night awards have a 50% discount
  • 3 night awards have a 33% discount
  • 4 night awards have a 25% discount

As you can see, cardholders are best off booking a lot of two-night award stays with their Gold Points. The 97,500 Gold Points cardholders will have after meeting the minimum spending requirement are enough for 10 two-night stays (20 nights total) at Category 1 properties, which cost 9,000 points each after the last-night-free perk.

Since the lower category hotels stretch your points farther, I took a look at Category 1Category 2, and Category 3 hotels for interesting properties. Category 1 has a ton of Indian properties and some properties in Eastern European cities that I might visit this summer like Sofia, Budapest, and Vilnius.

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 2.21.26 AM
Category 1 Hotels in Europe, Middle East, and Africa

 

Category 2 has about twice as many hotels and many more interesting ones in cities like Berlin, Riga, and St. Petersburg that cost 15,000 points for two nights.

Category 3 cities include Abu Dhabi, Capetown, Lisbon, Cork, Prague, Cairo, Beijing, and Bangkok. They cost only 28,000 points for two nights.

To search for award nights, head to clubcarlson.com and select the Book With Points tab above the search box.

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 2.35.50 AM

Your results will look something like this.

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 2.35.34 AM

There are no blackout dates on Club Carlson awards. If a standard room is for sale, you should be able to book it with points. According this FlyerTalk thread, sometimes no award availability is shown online even when a standard room is for sale. In that case, you should contact the hotel and remind them of the policy. Most people have had success getting the award space released.

Status

The Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card confers automatic Gold status on the holder, which normally takes 35 nights or 20 stays to earn. Gold members get:

  • free internet (all members do)
  • 27 points per dollar on hotel stays
  • 15% on food at certain hotel restaurants
  • free upgrades where available
  • early check in and late check out where available
  • an in-room welcome gift

Fees

The Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card has a $75 annual fee that is not waived. That is swamped by the massive 85,000 point sign up bonus in year one, and the 40,000 point renewal bonus in subsequent years. I don’t like annual fees, but this one is worth paying.

The card has a 3% foreign transaction fee, so don’t use it abroad.

Bottom Line

The Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card has a massive 85,000 point sign up bonus and is the only card that offers the last night free on all award stays of 2+ nights.

It earns an incredible 5 points per dollar on all purchases. When you consider this earning rate in conjunction with the last-night-free perk, you can see why for many people this card offers the best return on every day spending.

Just $1,800 in spending on the card would earn 9,000 points which is enough for a two-night hotel stay. No other hotel card offers a return like that.

Plus the 97,500 points you’ll have after spending $2,500 in the first 90 days is enough for 20 free hotel nights. Enjoy all those free nights with automatic Gold status.

Your Take

How have you used your points earned from the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card?

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Club Carlson has a Flash Sale that lasts until 8:59 AM ET tomorrow (June 24, 2014) during which you can buy up to 70,000 Club Carlson Gold Points for 0.4 cents per point.

The sale is billed as a 75% bonus on Gold Points, so you can only buy points in increments of 1,750.

Today’s Flash Sale is about 11% cheaper than the Daily Getaways deal last week that sold out instantly.

I plan to buy the maximum number of 70,000 Gold Points for $280 today because I didn’t get around to it during the last flash sale.

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 10.19.19 AM

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 10.19.28 AM

That 70,000 points will be enough for two nights at the top-tier Club Carlson properties or nearly 16 nights (I’d need 72,000) at Category 1 hotels that dot Europe because I have a Club Carlson credit card that offers one night free on all award bookings of 2+ nights.

That means that Category 1 hotels will cost me $18 per night at these point buying prices and top-tier Category 7 hotels will cost me $140.

For more information on the Club Carlson chart, great deals on the chart, and the last-night-free benefit that makes buying Club Carlson points twice as good, check out last week’s post on the Club Carlson Daily Getaway. While reading, just remember that the points are 11% cheaper today.

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Today is the second day of the last week of five weeks of discounted travel packages sponsored by the US Travel Association and American Express called Daily Getaways. Every weekday at 1 PM ET, a discounted travel package or packages will go on sale and will usually sell out in a few minutes.

Today only, Club Carlson points are being sold cheaply enough that you can stay at a hotel in Europe for as low as $20 per night!

Today’s deal is:

  • 100,000 Club Carlson points for $445.50 (0.45 cents each)
  • 50,000 Club Carlson points for $222.30 (0.44 cents each)

Screen Shot 2014-06-17 at 12.18.05 AM

Award nights start at 9,000 points, and those of us with a Club Carlson personal or business credit card get the last night free on award stays of 2+ nights, so on two night stays, we pay half price.

  • How can you get in on the deal?
  • How good is this deal?
  • How does the Club Carlson deal make buying points twice as good of a value?

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I’m interested in the businesses behind loyalty programs, so I always wonder:

  • What did that credit card company pay that airline for its miles?
  • How much does American Airlines pay Qantas when an AAdvantage award includes a Qantas leg?
  • How much did that hotel loyalty program reimburse that specific hotel for the free stay I just took?

Well last month I stayed at the Radisson Martinique of Broadway (review here), and I know exactly how much Club Carlson reimbursed the Martinique for my stay.

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 10.00.02 AM

How much did Club Carlson pay the Martinique for my stay? How do I know?

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Having just landed at Newark after a First Class flight from Honolulu, I took the AirTrain to New York Penn Station, and walked the few blocks to the Radisson Martinique on Broadway.

I had two free one-night certificates at any Radisson in the United States, and I knew that a New York City hotel would probably be the most expensive place to use them.

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 12.19.41 AM

Although we arrived at 1 PM, several hours before check in, my friend and I were quickly checked in and given the keys to a room with double beds.

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 12.19.12 AM

How was the room? How’s the location? Is the Radisson Martinique on Broadway worth your cash or your Club Carlson points?

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Per this thread on Flyertalk, Club Carlson is running a very interesting first quarter promotion. The full terms and conditions, as well as registration, can be found here. If you stay three nights at Club Carlson hotels between January 6th and April 13th, you will earn 38,000 bonus points.

Club Carlson Promo

What will 38,000 Club Carlson points get you?

38,000 points is enough for four free nights at a category 1 or one night at a category 4. The full award chart is below. You can see the complete list of category 4 hotels here if interested in splurging for a one night stay.

Club Carlson Award Chart

Any category 4 hotels stick out?

I wasn’t enthralled by the North American list, which consisted of quite a few airport locations. However, I saw some great properties in Eastern Europe, including the Radisson Blu Sofia which I am interested in staying this summer. The Radisson Blu properties in Krakow and Athens also caught my eye.

Radisson Blue Sofia Junior Suite. Image from radissonblue.com
Radisson Blue Sofia Junior Suite. Image from radissonblue.com

There are very few category 4 properties in Asia and the Pacific and nearly all are concentrated in India. If you do have upcoming travel to India, it makes sense to browse the list of hotels.

What if you want to stretch the bonus points farther?

Yes! This offer is a bit more enticing if you can target category 1-3 hotels that you are interested in staying at. For example, the bonus points would stretch to four nights at a category 1 hotel or two nights at a category 2 hotel with some points leftover.

Is this the most lucrative hotel promotion Club Carlson has ever run?

Not even close. Back in 2012, Radisson actually ran a “Buy One Night, Get One Free” promotion that awarded you a stay at any Radisson or Radisson Blu property in the US, Canada, or Carribbean even if you stayed at a dirt cheap Radisson to qualify for the offer. You could then use the points on incredible hotels such as the Radisson Blu Chicago.

Do cash & points rates qualify for this offer?

No. The terms and conditions expressly exclude these rates from the promotion.

What if I already had a Radisson stay and just now registered? Does that night count towards the three required nights?

No. Per the terms, registration must be received before checkout of the first eligible stay to qualify.

Is this promotion mattress run worthy?

Given your upcoming hotel stays, the credit cards you carry in your wallet, and how much you value time…possibly.

The least expensive hotels I could find in my area were $89 a night ($100 after taxes). The breakdown for a regular person is below who made three separate one night stays:

Average Joe

$300 in spend for three one night stays at Club Carlson property
Hotel earn: 5,340 points ($89 base rate * 20 points/$ * 3 nights)
Online booking bonus: 3,000 points (1,000 * 3)
Buy 3 promotion: 38,000 points
Total: 46,340 Club Carlson points

In essence, you would actually earn enough Club Carlson points for a category 5 hotel (45,000 points) with the model above. I didn’t factor any credit card points you receive for this either. However, you must also factor in time foregone and gas money spent as well. Unless you found an incredible value, $300+ for a one night hotel stay doesn’t look appealing.

What if you have the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature?

This promotion gets quite a bit more appealing if you have the Club Carlson Visa. First, the card comes with Club Carlson gold elite status, boosting your earning potential. You get more points for booking stays online and for hotel spend.

Club Carlson Elite Benefits

Don’t forget the 10 points awarded for each dollar spent at Club Carlson properties when you pay with your credit card! Let’s take the same three night hotel stay from above, this time paying with the Club Carlson Visa.

Savvy Mattress Runner with Club Carlson Visa

$300 in spend for three one night stays at Club Carlson property
Hotel earn: 8,010 points ($89 base rate * 30 points/$ [Gold] * 3 nights)
Credit card earn: 3,000 points ($300 * 10 points/$ [Club Carlson Visa])
Online booking bonus: 6,000 points (2,000 [Gold] * 3)
Buy 3 promotion: 38,000 points
Total: 55,010 Club Carlson points

55,000 points is more than enough for a free night award at any Club Carlson property in the world. Still, $300 for one hotel night is a pricey proposition for most travelers. However, Club Carlson’s best benefit makes this promotion very intriguing.

Bonus Night Award

The Bonus Night Award is the killer feature of the Club Carlson Visa. In essence, when you redeem Club Carlson points for a two night stay, you only have to pay one night’s worth of points. For that reason, it makes sense to split award reservations into multiples of two.

Mattress running the latest promotion would actually give you enough points for two nights at any Club Carlson property, so you are really paying ~$150/night for the best Radissons, a far better deal with the co-branded  card than without.

Or it would be enough for six two-night stays (12 total nights) at Category 1 properties. That is certainly worth $300.

Partial Mattress Run

All of my examples so far have imagined pure mattress runs, where you are checking in and checking out just to get the points while getting no value from the room.

The calculations become even more favorable when you consider partial mattress runs.

A partial mattress run is booking a hotel stay because of the promotion that you would not have booked otherwise, but it’s a hotel stay from which you get some value.

For instance, imagine that–not accounting for promotions–you would stay in a Hilton for $150 per night. But because of this promo, you shift that one night stay to a Radisson that costs $200. In that case, the value of the room to you is $150 and the cost of the mattress run is $50.

When calculating whether a mattress run is worth it to you, consider whether it’s a pure or partial mattress run, and the exact cost of the partial mattress run.

Recap

Club Carlson announced a first quarter promotion where you receive enough bonus points for one night at a category 4 hotel after spending three nights at any property on an eligible rate.

This is great news if you already had stays planned, but this promotion isn’t conducive for a pure mattress run unless you have the Club Carlson Premier Visa.

Having that Visa and paying for the rooms with the card unlocks about 18% more bonus points. The fact that the card comes with a bonus night award feature seals the deal for me. Your points effectively are worth up to twice as much which turns this promotion into a very intriguing deal.

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2013 was a year of several major devaluation announcements including:

  • United (kicks in February 1, 2014)
  • Southwest (kicks in March 31, 2014)
  • Delta (already kicked in on current award bookings for travel that starts February 1, 2014 or later)
  • Hyatt (kicks in January 7, 2014)
  • Ultimate Rewards (with three major transfer partners devaluing–United, Southwest, and Hyatt–the program took a major hit through no fault of its own)

But the more things change, the more they stay the same. We’re still getting outsized value from our miles and points and traveling the world in style for next to nothing.

What’s my outlook for 2014 and what’s my strategy for earning and burning the major points’ currencies?

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Disclosure: I am getting two one-night stay certificates at U.S. Radissons for hosting this giveaway. I’ll look into giving them away too.

This week I ran two posts as part of a giveaway to give each of two winners:

  • One $500 Visa Gift Card
  • Club Carlson Gold Elite Status through February 2014 (If you already have Club Carlson Gold Status, you will receive Concierge Status through February 2014.)

The prizes were generously donated by Club Carlson. The Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card is the only hotel card to give you the last award night for free on stays of two or more nights. (That means two night award stays are 50% off!)

The two tweets that people had to retweet to enter the Twitter competition had 460 combined retweets. The random number generator has spoken and the winner is @CLMedina, who I recognize–from his Twitter picture–from the Chicago Seminars! Congratulations, Christopher. Enjoy the $500 prepaid Visa and Club Carlson Gold Status.

The two posts had a combined 773 comment entries. The random number generator selected Jen, who said her favorite perk of the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card was “Last night free! Such a great perk.”

I very much agree with her that that is the best feature of the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card and for her comment, she’ll win a $500 prepaid Visa and Club Carlson Gold Status too.

Thanks to the Club Carlson for donating the prizes and thanks to all the loyal MileValue readers and Twitter followers out there who entered.

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I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Disclosure: I am getting two one-night stay certificates at U.S. Radissons for hosting this giveaway. I’ll look into giving them away too.

The Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card has generously donated two $500 Visa Gift Cards and two prizes of Club Carlson Gold Status for two lucky MileValue readers. The contest ends tonight, Friday November 8, 2013 at 11:59 PM Hawaii Time. I will pick and announce the winners tomorrow. You can still enter in two ways today even if you entered twice on Monday!

Each of the two winners will receive:

  • One $500 Visa Gift Card
  • Club Carlson Gold Elite Status through February 2014 (If you already have Club Carlson Gold Status, you will receive Concierge Status through February 2014.)

What are the two ways to enter today? What are the two ways to enter from Monday? How can you enter four ways in four minutes?

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I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Disclosure: I am getting two one-night stay certificates at U.S. Radissons for hosting this giveaway. I’ll look into giving them away too.

The Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card has generously donated two $500 Visa Gift Cards and two prizes of Club Carlson Gold Status for two lucky MileValue readers. Each of the two winners will receive:

  • One $500 Visa Gift Card
  • Club Carlson Gold Elite Status through February 2014 (If you already have Club Carlson Gold Status, you will receive Concierge Status through February 2014.)

I just signed up for the business version of the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card in August because it is one of the best hotel cards on the market.

The killer benefit is that cardholders receive the last night free on any award of two nights or longer. That means that two night award stays are 50% off!

Other benefits include:

  • 10 points per $1 spent in eligible net purchases at participating Carlson Rezidor hotels worldwide
  • 5 points per $1 spent in eligible net purchases everywhere else
  • 85,000 Bonus Gold Points to start – Receive 50,000 Gold Points after your first purchase.  Plus 35,000 points once you spend $2,500 on your card within the first 90 days
  • Bonus Award Night – When you redeem Gold Points for 2 or more consecutive Award Nights, your last night is free. Exclusively for cardmembers!
  • Club Carlson Gold Status is yours after you activate and use your card
  • 40,000 Renewal Bonus Points each year when you renew your card
  • $75 annual fee

The automatic annual 40,000 point retention bonus means I would plan to hold a Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card indefinitely.

Club Carlson Gold Points can be used at over 1,000 Radisson, Radisson Blu, Park Plaza, Park Inn, Country Inns and Suites properties worldwide.

After meeting the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card‘s minimum spending requirement, you’d have at least 97,500 Gold Points, which with the last-night-free benefit on award nights, would be enough for 20 nights–ten two-night stays–at a Category 1 hotel like the Radisson Blue Beke, Budapest.

My aspirational Club Carlson property is the Category 6 Radisson Royal Hotel, Moscow, which costs 50,000 points per night. As a cardholder, you could stay two nights in the hotel for 50,000 points total.

How to Enter

There are two winners and two ways to win. You can enter both ways, but you can only win one of the prize packages. You have to be a Club Carlson member to collect your prize package, so sign up here for free.

#1 Comment

Comment once on this post with your favorite benefit of the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card.

You can get a second entry into the random drawing of commenters by commenting on Friday’s post about this giveaway.

I will randomly pick one of the comments from this post or Friday’s post as a winner after entry closes at 11:59 PM Hawaii time on Friday, November 8, 2013.

(For those who have signed up to receive one free daily email with all of MileValue’s latest posts: replying to that email is not a way to enter this contest. Click this post’s title in the email to be taken to the post on MileValue.com.)

#2 Retweet

Follow @milevalue and retweet the following tweet, which can be found here.

I will randomly pick one person who retweets that tweet after entry closes at 11:59 PM Hawaii time on Friday, November 8, 2013.

Good luck to everyone! And thanks to the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card for the generous prizes.

Terms and Conditions: MileValue.com is the sponsor of this giveaway. U.S. Bank, Carlson Inc., and their respective affiliates and employees are not sponsors and are not responsible for any part of the giveaway. Scott Grimmer’s decisions are final as to all aspects of the contest.

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