Editor's Note: Club Carlson and US Bank have significantly reduced the value of this card by stripping out the feature that made the last night free for multi-night award redemptions. Unfortunately, the card no longer provides the value attributed below. This more current article explains the value in the card and program.
Club Carlson is the parent company of Radisson and Radisson Blu hotels, as well as Country Inn & Suites and two lesser-known chains (Park Plaza and Park Inn). A few years back, Club Carlson began actively promoting its loyalty program, and now it has teamed up with US Bank to issue a credit card offering Club Carlson Gold points.
Radisson operated a series of substandard hotels in the US and around the world for many years. In fact, most people still today prefer to accumulate rewards for Hyatt or Starwood hotels. But, Radisson has undertaken dramatic efforts to improve certain flagship properties and the US Bank program makes these hotels worth another look.
Hotels that Club Carlson has paid particular attention to and that offer real value through the US Bank’s points program include:
- The May Fair, one of London’s toniest hotels where a room can easily reach $650 a night.
- The Radisson Blu Paris Champs-Elyssee, The Radisson Blu Le Dokhan and The Radisson Blu Le Metropolitan, all of which are conveniently located in Paris and where a room could easily cost $400 a night.
When you sign up for Club Carlson’s Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card, you immediately get 50,000 Club Carlson Gold points. If you satisfy the $2500 promotional spend requirement within the first 90 days, you will also earn an additional 35,000 points.
Since 50,000 points can get you a night in the chain’s top-tier category 7 hotels, you are getting at least a free night just for getting the card (which more than offsets the $75 annual fee which is not waived in the first year). You will also get an additional 40,000 points when your card renews after a year (which will probably also offset the annual fee). Getting at least one free night is pretty much standard with any new hotel card, and Chase also give you a category 1-4 reward certificate for renewing the Hyatt card, points valued at one free night is not particularly exceptional but isn’t all that bad either, especially in one of Radisson’s top hotels.
But, what is exceptional is that if you hold the card, US Bank and Club Carlson will extend your reward stay by one night. Therefore, 50,000 points will get you two nights at the May Fair in London (a $1300 value) or any of the three Paris hotels (a $800 value), doubling the value of your sign-on bonus if you are planning a 2 day visit to either town, even if you don’t meet the promotional spend requirement (a more than fair return for your $75 annual fee).
A still more interesting feature of the card is that it gives you 5 Club Carlson Gold points per dollar spent on everything. Using the above calculation, redeeming Club Carlson points has a value as high as 2.60 cents per point in London and 1.60 cents per point in Paris, and in terms of points per dollar spent you are actually getting back almost 13 cents in London and in excess of 7.5 cents in Paris. As this article points out, 3 to 4 cents in value is awfully good and 8 to 9 is exceptional for any loyalty program.
One criticisms of this type of logic, however, is that you really are not getting back 13 cents or even 7.5 cents on dollars spent with the card if you wouldn’t stay at these hotels under ordinary circumstances. That criticism is valid to an extent, but, these hotels are also in cities where one could ordinarily spend an arm and a leg to stay in a flee bag. So, you really are extracting real value if London and Paris are on your itinerary.
Full Disclosure: The author, who is also the CEO of InformaTrip.com, still prefers to stay at the Savoy in London with Fairmont points. While he does stay at the Radisson Blu Le Metropolitan in Paris, he still longs for the day when 22,000 Hyatt points could get a room at the Park Hyatt Paris Vendôme (it is now 30,000 points).
Check out this page for more great ways to be rewarded with hotel stays for your credit card loyalty.