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What’s going away?
One 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:
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:
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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