Club Carlson Rewards Visa Review | Up to 85,000 Sign Up Bonus Points

I’m guessing this is a card that you’ll either get really excited about, or you’ll want to give it a pass in a second.  I’m actually one of the ones who is excited about the new Club Carlson Rewards Visa.  I’m just trying to figure out when I should apply.

To start with, I’ll give you all the raw details and I’ll give some commentary on how you can really maximize this offer.

Hotels part of the Club Carlson chain:

  • Radisson Blue
  • Radisson
  • Park Plaza
  • Park Inn
  • Country Inns & Suites

The new card offering includes three types:

You can get an application link to all there cards here.

Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card

  • 10 points per $1 spent on Carlson branded hotels
  • 5 points per $1 everywhere else
  • Up to 85,0000 bonus Gold Points.  50,000 after your first purchase.  Get an extra 35,000 after spending $2,500 in the first 90 days.
  • Bonus award night.  When you use award nights to make a hotel booking, you get your last night free.
  • Get Club Carlson Gold Status as long as you are a card member.
  • 40,000 renewal points each year you keep the card

This card comes with a $75 annual fee that is not waived the first year.

Note: This card is issued by US Bank.  That can be good news, or it can be bad news.  The good news is that since you want to diversify your applications between issuing companies (i.e. Chase, American Express, Barclays, Citi, and Bank of America), this would be a good card to add to a next application churn.  The bad news is that US Bank has a bad habit of downgrading people to a card they didn’t apply for if their score isn’t what US Bank is looking for.

In this case, it specifically says, “If you do not qualify for the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature card, you will automatically be considered for the Club Carlson Platinum Rewards Visa card.”

Club Carlson Rewards Visa Signature Card

  • 6 points per $1 spent on Carlson branded hotels
  • 3 points per $1 everywhere else
  • Up to 60,0000 bonus Gold Points.  50,000 after your first purchase.  Get an extra 10,000 after spending $1,500 in the first 90 days.
  • Bonus award night.  When you use award nights to make a hotel booking, you get your last night free.
  • Get Club Carlson Silver Status as long as you are a card member.
  • 25,000 bonus points each year you renew your card

This card comes with a $60 annual fee that is not waived for the first year.

Downgrade note: If you’re not approved for this card, you will be automatically considered for the Club Carlson Platinum Rewards card.

Club Carlson Business Rewards Visa Card

  • 10 points per $1 spent on Carlson branded hotels
  • 5 points per $1 everywhere else
  • Up to 85,0000 bonus Gold Points.  50,000 after your first purchase.  Get an extra 35,000 after spending $2,500 in the first 90 days.
  • Bonus award night.  When you use award nights to make a hotel booking, you get your last night free.
  • Get Club Carlson Gold Status as long as you are a card member.
  • 40,000 bonus points each year your renew your card

This card comes with a $60 annual fee that is not waived for the first year.

Again, you can get an application link to all their cards here.

The Bonus Award Night Benefit Explained

Here are some key points I want to point out from the terms and conditions regarding the bonus award night.

When you redeem Gold Points for Award Nights of two or more consecutive nights at the same participating Carlson Rezidor hotel property, you will receive the last of the Award Nights of that stay free without deduction of any Gold Points from your Club Carlson account

Translation: You can book two nights (or more) using your Gold Points, and you’ll receive the last night free (no points deducted).  This effectively means you can stay two nights for the price of one.

 The Bonus Award Night offer is available only on advance reservations for Award Nights paid in full with Gold Points and is not valid with standard paid reservations or Points + Cash redemption reservations.

Translation: You cannot use cash or Points + Cash.  This must be for an award points only reservation.

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.

Translation: It doesn’t matter if you book four nights, but check out and back into the same hotel after two nights.  That’s not going to cut it.

 Maximum fifty (50) Bonus Award Nights per calendar year per member with an open Account (“Annual Maximum”).

Translation: Please don’t tell me that doesn’t make sense.  You can “only” up to get 50 free nights per year.

The Real Benefits and How to Maximize this Offer

The 85,000 Gold Points Rewards is really enough to justify applying for this card.  At some of their top locations, that’s not even two free nights.  For the bonus points, I’d choose almost any other hotel card than this one (including Hilton HHonors Reserve, Priority Club, Hyatt …).

The real benefit and what caused me to take a closer look is the bonus award night benefit.

If you were able to take advantage of any of the 50,000 Club Carlson bonus nights last summer, then this is a great benefit.  Between my wife and I, we were able to earn about 350,000 Club Carlson Gold Points.

The idea of being able to effectively double that with two night stays as half the points is very appealing.  Also, that essentially means when we travel as a family, we can get two rooms for the price of one.

Tips for Maximizing the Opportunity:

  1. The business card looks like the best card of the mix.  Why?  Lowest annual fee and you avoid getting downgraded to a lower card.  With this card, you still get the 40,000 renewal points.  With the bonus nights, that could easily justify the $60 annual fee.
  2. If both husband and wife get a card, they can double their free nights.  Let’s say a husband and wife were taking a four night getaway.  If they each had a card, they could each book a two night stay from their account.  This means the four nights would only cost two nights worth of points.  By the way, points can be transferred to anyone who has a Club Carlson account.  If your spouse doesn’t have any points, you can easily transfer some to them.
  3. One key question – does the benefit apply to authorized card holders?  If that is the case, both members of a household wouldn’t need to each apply for the card, but just each have their own card.  I don’t know if this would work or not.
  4. Stay two nights and then switch hotels.  If a person were taking a six night vacation, they could take 2 x 2 x 2 nights in different hotels and only end up using 3 nights worth of points.  Please don’t tell my wife I said that because she doesn’t like to switch hotels on vacation.
Thoughts on Club Carlson:

In 2012, I stayed at a Radisson (1 night), Park Inn (3 nights), and Country Inn and Suites (2 nights).
Of the 75+ nights I’ve spent in hotels in 2012, the Park Inn Houston IAH was by far the worst hotel.  Part of the issue was that there was a girls softball team that was there, and they were very loud.  I asked to be moved away from an ice machine, and they put me in another room on the other side of the hotel, but the room was right beside the ice machine on the other side.  Sighhhh.
The Radisson and Country Inn and Suites were nice.
The Club Carlson top hotels are the Radisson Blue properties.  Those cost 50,000 points a night, which is actually a real bargain if you can get a second night free.
I wouldn’t expect to get much benefit from your Gold status.  I felt like I wasn’t treated any differently as a Gold member than when I didn’t have status.
Cost Benefit Using Some Sample  Properties:
I’ve been wanting to take my wife to New York City for a weekend.  Hotels are crazy expensive.
The Radisson Martinique on Broadway is $305.15 per night.  That even includes a 15% two night discount.  However, you can use Club Carlson Gold Points and snag a room for 50,000 points.  That means two nights would cost 50,000 points if you were a card holder.  That’s a 1.2 cent per point value.  Not bad at all for hotel points.
Yes, this is an extreme example.
In the fall, I stayed at a low end Park Inn in St. Sault Marie, Michigan.  Rooms there are $80 per night, but only cost 9,000 Club Carlson Gold Points.  A two night stay with the free bonus night would cost 9,000 points, but I’d save $160.  That’s actually 1.7 cent per point value.
Deal or No Deal?
If you have a collection of Club Carlson Gold Points, I think this offer would be hard to pass up.  Otherwise, I don’t think you’ll be able to get the value out of this card.  If they have another Club Carlson one stay 50,000 point bonus, then I think everyone should seriously consider this card.  Personally, I’m going to try and time my application in accordance with when I’ll be expecting my next Club Carlson hotel stay.
Hat tip to Mommypoints.

Any questions or thoughts regarding these cards?

Comments

  1. Carol says

    I have 115K Club Carlson points so this offer is very appealing to me. Here’s my dilemma… I am planning a churn for next Tue. or Wed. and was planning to apply for the Ink Bold or Ink Plus. As a single person, taking on the $5K for that card plus $2500 for the Club Carlson card in minimum spend is more than I’m comfortable with, but I would like to take advantage of both opportunities. What is your best guess about how long either of these offers might be around?

    • says

      Carol,
      The Ink Bold & Plus $5,000 minimum spend is a limited time offer. The offers on the Club Carlson cards are new, but not limited time. As such, I’d do the Ink Bold/Plus now and pick up a Club Carlson card next time around.
      Of course, that is assuming you wouldn’t have plans to take advantage of the rewards before you could apply.

  2. Carol says

    I have heard that US Bank automatically declines anyone with too many recent credit inquiries. I’m wondering how many are too many. TransUnion is showing 6 inquiries for me.

    Also wondering what level of tolerance U.S. Bank has for credit scores. I don’t like to waste a hard pull. As of today, my credit score is: 779 on Credit Sesame, 786 on Quizzle and 929 (Vantage) on Credit Karma.

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