Club Carlson Visa Slashes Bonus Award Night Benefit

Club Carlson card

Sad Day for Club Carlson Visa Card Holders…

Club Carlson Visa

Club Carlson Visa

I own the Club Carlson Visa card and I have to admit, it is one of my favorite credit cards.  The card comes with some great benefits – Club Carlson Gold Status for as long as you hold the card, a 40,000 point anniversary bonus, and one of the best perks of all, a free reward night when booking an award night (one per stay).

I have used this benefit at the Radisson Blu Berlin, as well as the Park Plaza, Berlin. I have also used this when I have attended the Austin Mega Do for stays at the Radisson Blu Austin. And having this benefit on the card made for an incredible week in Ireland at Radisson Blu properties in Galway, Sligo, and Dublin. As you can see, with a room for two nights costing a little over 450 euro ($493)so being able to use points for double nights was a great deal.

Radisson Blu Dublin Rates

Radisson Blu Dublin Rates

I just received an email informing me of the changes coming to the Club Carlson Visa. Basically, trying to make it sound like a good thing, card owners will now be able to earn a free night every year with $10,000 of card spend. But wait, there’s more.

Beginning June 1st Club Carlson is taking away the Bonus Award Night benefit!

I think this is terrible news!

Admittedly, the benefit is far more lucrative for award stays in Europe, perhaps, but it also was quite attractive for family stays in the United States.  The benefit is ‘going away’ as of May 28th (no Bonus Award nights can be booked after May 28, 2015 according to Frequent Miler) so I am grateful that I have some stays for Oktoberfest already booked in Munich in September. I have been wanting to pop back over to Ireland in the fall, so I guess I need to go ahead and firm up those plans. Thankfully, I have enough points that I can book some of the stays speculatively until I determine travel dates.

Should you get this card? Well, if you have been thinking about it anyway, I would apply for it as soon as possible! The card conditions and benefits read as follows:

  • 10 points per $1 spent in eligible net purchases at participating Carlson Rezidor hotels
  • 5 points per $1 spent in eligible net purchases everywhere else
  • Up to 85,000 Bonus Gold Points – 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 days1
  • 40,000 renewal bonus points each year when you renew your card

You would just have time to get this card, make the first purchase and receive your 50K points in order to have enough points to book at least two nights using the Bonus Award night. Most of the higher end properties list for only 44,000 points per night (although some are as high as 60K). If you were to meet the $2500 spend and pay that by the end of the first billing cycle, you would then have a little over 87500 points – which would possibly allow you to book another two nights at a different property. Should you decide to cancel, the points would be returned to your account (as long as you meet the cancellation policy).

The fee on this card is only $75 a year and if you were to keep it you would earn the 40,000 point anniversary bonus. With a little spend on the card that would translate to about one free night a year for the cost of the card fee. I think $75 is pretty good value for 40,000 points/free night(s). If you can get two of these cards, for example you and a spouse, then you would have a combined total of 100,000 points. Each of you could then book a back to back reservation for a total of four nights at one property.

The new card benefits after June 1st will be as follows:

As a valued Club CarlsonSM member and Club Carlson Visa® cardholder, we would like to tell you about an upcoming change to your Visa benefits. Beginning June 1, 2015, you can earn a Free Night, good at any Carlson Rezidor hotel in the U.S. This Free Night will replace the current Bonus Award Night benefit. Bonus Award Night stays may not be booked after June 1, 2015. You’ll receive the new Free Night award upon renewal of your card after an annual spend of $10,000. Updated program terms and conditions will apply and be available on June 1, 2015. As a Club CarlsonSM Visa® cardholder you will continue to enjoy the following benefits:

  • 10 points per $1 spent in eligible Net Purchases at Carlson Rezidor hotels worldwide – that’s in addition to the 20 points per dollar you earn as a Club Carlson member
  • 5 points per $1 spent in eligible Net Purchases everywhere else
  • 40,000 renewal bonus points each year when you renew your card by paying the annual fee

Gold Elite Status – which now includes a dining discount at participating hotel restaurants!

*NOTE – the “Free Night” after $10K spend is only bookable in the US.

But wait! There’s even more!

As a consolation, Carlson is thanking you for not dumping continuing to be a cardholder by offering you a one time bonus of 30,000 bonus Gold Points on your next stay when using your Club Carlson Visa to pay for the stay.  The terms and conditions of this offer are as follows:

Bonus Points Offer Terms and Conditions The 30,000 Bonus Points Offer (the “Offer”) is available only to Club CarlsonSM Visa® cardholders. The Offer is valid for 30,000 bonus Gold Points® on an Eligible Stay between April 1, 2015 and August 31, 2015 (“Promotion Period”). One Offer per Club Carlson Visa account holder. You must provide your Club Carlson number at the time of reservation or at check-in and pay for your stay with your Club CarlsonSM Visa®. Stays or nights paid for by redeeming points or by using Points + Cash are not eligible for the Offer.

To sum it up – I am really sorry to see the Bonus Night Award disappear. It was a brilliant perk of Club Carlson and made it’s lackluster properties slightly more appealing. I am probably going to keep the card but can’t see myself booking as many Radisson/Carlson stays in the future.  Even attempting the spend to earn a free night (which I would probably only use in Austin) is not very compelling as it can only be used in the United States and Puerto Rico. The majority of interesting properties are located in Europe while US properties are just not all that special.

I remember taking a Club Carlson survey a couple of months ago and I remember having the opportunity to comment on this benefit. I remember praising it as one of the program’s best benefits. Who knows? Maybe other people who took the survey felt otherwise.Club Carlson


Should you be interested the web link for the Card can be found here. I have no relationship with US Bank nor the Club Carlson Visa Card. If you choose to apply, I receive no consideration or commission from either.

19 Comments on "Club Carlson Visa Slashes Bonus Award Night Benefit"

  1. Ha! Wouldn’t you know it: finally took your advice, applied for Carlson card & was approved just this week! Well, at least can change my April Beijing rez to use for 1 free nt. Too bad, as was counting on this card for Sweden RadBlu stays in July. Thanks for the heads up.

  2. Michael Zulim | April 5, 2015 at 1:39 am | Reply

    Hi liked your posy. Question about your stay at the Radisson Blu Berlin. We Are Going There IN Two Weeks Did They Give You An Upgraded Room As A Gold member? Thank you

  3. Michael Zulim | April 5, 2015 at 1:41 am | Reply

    Sorry It Should Read “post”

  4. Michael Zulim | April 5, 2015 at 9:46 am | Reply

    Hi, I wrote you last night but via my mobile phone but the question was put in capital letters on every word. Anyway, just wanted to ask you about Radisson Blu Berlin as you said you stayed there. We will be there the end of this month and was wondering did they give you any perks, room upgrade, etc for being a Gold member? We are on award bonus night stays my wife and I. We have about 3 other properties also in Europe using the now discontinued bonus night award. Like your post and blog. Please let me know when you can. Take care

    • At the time I stayed at the Radisson, I had Concierge status, so I received a room upgrade to a business class room. I had booked two for one award nights. I received an early checkin and a late (4pm) checkout. There was also a welcome gift in my room with a nice note from management. My room was located on the side of the hotel closest to the Berlin Dom (Cathedral) and right on the canal. It was absolutely lovely to sit on my balcony for coffee in the mornings. When I return to Berlin, it will definitely be to the Radisson Blu.
      As a point of reference, I had friends who, with their Gold Status, were also upgraded to a business class room on the canal side. At the very least, I would request a room on that side of the hotel…. preferably with a balcony. (I don’t know if they only come with the business class rooms or not.)

      Which other properties are you planning to visit?

      • Michael Zulim | April 6, 2015 at 12:01 am | Reply

        Hi thanks for getting back. We will be also at the Park Inn Dresden, Radisson Blu Beke, Budapest and the Radisson Blu Bratislava. Any stays/info on them? It is awful that they changed the bonus night. The US properties are not that great as in Europe. We travel every year to Europe for 2 to 3 months. Anyway let me know and enjoy your Easter.

        • No, no information on any of those properties although I had looked at staying at the Radisson in Bratislava before. I will be interested to see what you think of them.

          • Michael Zulim | April 6, 2015 at 12:32 pm |

            I will let you know about it. Good to have a network of info so others can get an idea as to what to expect on a stay. We only used Club Carlson properties once last year in Prague at the Park Inn. We got an upgrade to Executive room, top floor, nice fruit and water plate, free breakfast (only for three days). Last day they said I was no longer on the list. Funny but it was good while it lasted. This was all on 2 for 1 award and bonus stay. It was a good hotel close to tram stop, but away from all the noise of downtown. Little mini store around corner, good cold beer, water and snacks and cheap. Great little restaurants nearby. Anyway thanks for getting back… now we got to start packing we leave in 10 days.

  5. Michael Zulim | April 6, 2015 at 12:05 am | Reply

    Will let you know what upgrades they give. Hope they will give breakfast, but it is only guaranteed for Concierge.

  6. I hope you get the best of upgrades! One can hope that they will start sharing the love with their Gold members since they have so recently ‘slashed’ benefits! Have a great time on your trip! Take pictures of the properties!

  7. Michael, I stayed at the Radisson Blu in Budapest last May for five nights using points. At that time it was only 9,000 points per night, which was a steal. Now it is 15,000 points per night. The hotel was a solid solid three star in a very central location. With Gold status I was upgraded to a huge suite that was the size of an apartment, but no free breakfast.

    • Michael Zulim | April 19, 2015 at 12:27 am | Reply

      Thanks Rick for the update. We used the 2 for 1 bonus nights at 22,500 pts per night thus we are staying 4 nights using 45,000 pts. It is the business plan rate. Want to burn the points anywat, way to many for comfort after their devaluation of the bonus night award. Will post my upgrades, etc here for all to see. Thanks again

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