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Club Carlson credit card free nights eliminated – how to play it

by on Fri April 3, 2015 • 3 Comments

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What’s going away?

CardArt-MktPremOne of the most rewarding things from the Club Carlson credit cards issued by U.S. bank is the special Bonus Award Night you get when you book a stay using your points.

Here’s how it works:

You book a stay of 2 nights or more with your points at a Carlson hotel.

Club Carlson will not charge you points for the last night of your stay, giving it to you for free as a perk of being a Club Carlson credit card holder. And you can take advantage of it on up to 50 award stays in any given year.

Unfortunately the Bonus Award Night benefit will go away starting June 1st according to fine print being inserted into credit card statements spotted by the Frequent Miler blog. But any reservation you make before June 1st can still receive the benefit, even if the actual days you’re staying are after June 1st.

What should you do?

First, try to book any Club Carlson stays with your points before June 1st, because you can still take advantage of the Bonus Award Night for reservations you book before then.

Hotels are available for booking about a year or so in advance, so you can make reservations for stays well into next year right now. Some even allow booking through December of 2016, so you can for example book December 30 and 31 2016 to enjoy New Years’ Eve in Paris and ring in 2017 on a free night.


And there is no cancellation fee if you decide to change your mind as long as you cancel your reservation before the hotel’s deadline.

So there’s not much downside to using as many points as you can now to lock in reservations while the Bonus Award Night is still valid. You can always change your mind later and get your points back.

Why is this changing?

A lot of people tried to extract more value than was intended out of this.

For example, if you are a couple traveling, you could:

  • Get a Club Carlson card and account for each person
  • Use one person’s points to book 2 nights, and get 1 night free (so you only pay for 1 night)
  • Use the other person’s points to book a separate reservation for another 2 nights at the same hotel

That way you end up with 4 nights, but only pay for 2 of them with your points.

That’s allowed according to the benefit terms, but it’s really stretching the limit of what’s intended. That’s because the benefit terms say you can’t book back to back nights as separate reservations from a single Club Carlson account. So they don’t intend for the same people to stay back to back, but there was not exclusion for having different accounts book the nights.

To stop this, Club Carlson unfortunately decided to ruin the benefit for everyone.

As is often the case with miles and points, if something’s an astonishingly good deal, don’t expect it to last.

Is anything improving?

Club Carlson is adding a benefit where you can earn one free night outright each year you spend $10,000 on a Club Carlson credit card.

That’s fine, but not nearly as generous as up to 50 Bonus Award Nights a year when you use your points.

Should you cancel your card?

If you only used the card to book 2 night stays and really milk this deal, then you’re probably moving on.

But if you’re someone who only uses your Club Carlson points a couple times a year, it could be worth keeping.

The Club Carlson Premium Rewards Visa with a $75 annual fee still offers:

  • 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
  • Club Carlson Gold Status

And with Club Carlson points generally worth about a half a cent each, it’s a card that effectively earns 2.5%+ reward value on every dollar you spend.

So if you stay at Carlson hotels and like to use them on vacation, it may be worth keeping around as it earns hotel nights faster than most other hotel credit cards.

Club Carlson points aren’t all that exciting for trips within the U.S., but if you travel to Europe there are a lot of good upper middle quality hotels to choose from at reasonable point prices considering how easy it is to earn them.

Nothing is changing about how many points you need for a hotel night. They’re just getting rid of the (very lucrative) extra free night credit card holders got on award stays.

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3 thoughts on Club Carlson credit card free nights eliminated – how to play it

  1. OMG

    I applied for a Club Carlson card for all the rewards it offered (before they made all the changes) . I just received the card 2-3 days ago and made a small purchase.

    At this point, there no points on my account to use and may not be available before 5-28-15.

    Can any reservations for future stays be reserved before points show on my account?

    Are there any ways to receive benefit from this account, other than 1 free award night per year after spending the required $10,000 a year?



  2. Kumar

    Your valuation of CC point after devaluation is just ridiculous or you think your readers to keep using your link. Dont think your readers are stupid. This is a huge massacre and you are trying to convince your readers to retain the card and still apply for the card. Ridiculous.


      @Kumar – Not many people fit the criteria of ‘stay at Club Carlson hotels and want to use them on vacation.’ For those that do, it’s reasonable. Avg point value on Hotel Hustle is 0.422 cents. For everyone else who used the bonus award night, it’s time to move on.


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