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- Maximizing Free Night Awards With the Club Carlson Visa Signature
- Club Carlson: Is Second Night Free Using Points and Cash?
I’ve said over and over that I think the US Bank Club Carlson Visa Signature card is one of the best for everyday, non-bonused spend. In addition to 5 Gold Points per dollar on every purchase, you also get buy-one-get-one-free award bookings, and an annual bonus of 40,000 Gold Points by renewing the card – which is $75 per year.
My bonus posted a couple of days ago and got me thinking: what is the annual bonus actually worth? Or rather, what could it be worth? After Club Carlson-ing my way through Europe a few months ago, I can firmly say, “a lot.” But I like putting numbers and values to things, and hence this post was born.
Club Carlson has an awesome online interactive tool where you can filter hotels by category… which is pretty sweet. They currently have Categories 1-7, but for this post, I’m only going to focus on 1-5.
In This Post
This category can get you 8 free nights at Club Carlson properties.
With the buy-one-get-one (BOGO), you pay just 9,000 Gold Points for every 2 nights. Even if you book 8 nights at Category 1 hotels, you’d still have 4,000 points left over – and realistically if you stay 8 nights in a hotel, you’ll get 5,000 more from room charges (make sure to charge everything to your room at Club Carlson properties, because with the card you get 30 POINTS PER DOLLAR – 20 points per dollar for being Gold + 10 more points per dollar for using the credit card – which is insanely awesome!). And then you could book 10 free nights. 🙂
A few Category 1 properties that jump out at me are:
- Park Inn By Radisson Sofia – Sofia, Bulgaria
- Park Inn by Radisson Budapest – Budapest, Hungary
- Radisson Blu Hotel, Alexandria – Alexandria, Egypt
- Park Inn Jaipur Jai Singh Highway – Jaipur, India
- Park Inn Danube, Bratislava – Bratislava, Slovakia
This is a pretty sparse category, but if you are in the right place at the right time, it could really be a boon.
This one’s a little tricker because it’s 15,000 Gold Points for 2 nights at Category 2 properties. Tricky because 15 isn’t a nice multiple of 40. You could either get 4 free nights for 30,000 Gold Points –or- 6 free nights for 45,000 Gold Points. But, again with the in-hotel spend. It would be easy to get to 45,000 Gold points to get 6 free nights.
A few Category 2 properties that jump out at me are:
- Park Inn by Radisson Resort & Conference Center Orlando – Kissimmee, Florida
- Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Savannah Midtown, GA – Savannah, Georgia
- Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Albuquerque Airport, NM – Albuquerque, New Mexico
- Park Inn by Radisson, Houston North, TX – Houston, Texas
- Radisson Hotel Flamingos – Mexico City, Mexico
- Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa, Limerick – Limerick, Ireland (Hmmm… maybe I could stay here after Dublin?)
- Park Plaza Delhi CBD Shahdara – Delhi, India
- Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Jaipur – Jaipur, India
- Radisson Hotel Kathmandu – Kathmandu, Nepal (Holy crap, I never knew about this one!)
This one’s also a little tricky because 2 nights in Category 3 properties would run you 28,000 Gold Points. 4 nights would be 56,000 Gold Points – significantly higher than the 40,000 Gold Points awarded annually for having the US Bank Club Carlson Visa Signature card. So, I will touch this one very lightly. Suffice it to say this category doesn’t lend itself well to my little gedankenexperiment and is really only significant for 2-night stays.
- Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Tampa/Brandon, FL – Tampa, Florida
- Radisson Hotel Branson – Branson, Missouri
- Radisson Royal Quito Hotel – Quito, Ecuador
- Park Inn Prague – Prague, Czech Republic
- art’otel berlin kudamm, by park plaza – Berlin, Germany
- Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa, Cork – Cork, Ireland
- Park Inn by Radisson Cape Town Foreshore – Cape Town, South Africa
- Park Plaza Sukhumvit Hotel, Bangkok – Bangkok, Thailand
Many good properties in this category, but will require some bolstering of points to reach 4 free nights.
I find myself in this category a lot for some reason. It’s also the easiest category to see direct value from your annual bonus – it’s 38,000 Gold Points for 2 nights in any of the properties here, very close to the 40,000 Gold Points bonus.
A few Category 4 properties that jump out at me are:
- Park Inn & Suites by Radisson Vancouver, BC – Vancouver, British Columbia
- Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, San Diego North, CA – San Diego, California
- Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Niagara Falls, ON – Niagara Falls, Ontario
- Park Inn By Radisson Antwerpen – Antwerp, Belgium
- Radisson Blu Seaside Hotel, Helsinki – Helsinki, Finland
- Radisson Blu Saga Hotel, Reykjavik – Reykjavik, Iceland
- Radisson Blu Resort, Terme di Galzignano – Galzignano Terme, Italy
- Park Plaza Beijing West – Beijing, China
Ah, Category 5. This one is 44,000 Gold Points for every 2 nights you redeem. It’s a little over the annual bonus, so I will stop after this one. As you can see, the options get progressively nicer and/or the cities get larger the higher up we go in these categories.
A few Category 5 properties that jump out at me are:
- Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, New Orleans French Quarter, LA – New Orleans, Louisiana
- Radisson Admiral Hotel Toronto-Harbourfront – Toronto, Ontario
- Radisson Plaza Santiago Hotel – Santiago, Chile
- Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Brussels – Brussels, Belgium
- Radisson Blu 1919 Hotel, Reykjavik – Reykjavik, Iceland
- Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Dublin – Dublin, Ireland (Where I’m staying in May!)
- Park Plaza Orchid Tel Aviv – Tel Aviv, Israel
- Radisson Blu es. Hotel, Rome – Rome, Italy
- Radisson Blu Hotel, Muscat – Muscat, Oman
- Radisson Blu Hotel, Krakow – Krakow, Poland
- Radisson Blu Hotel, Doha – Doha, Qatar
- Radisson Blu Edwardian Kenilworth Hotel – London, United Kingdom
- Radisson on Flagstaff Gardens Melbourne – Melbourne, Australia
- Radisson Blu Resort Fiji Denarau Island – Denarau Island, Fiji Islands (Click here to read my review of this property.)
- Radisson Blu Plaza Resort Phuket Panwa Beach – Phuket, Thailand
Categories 6 and 7
For the sake of completion, Category 6 properties are 50,000 Gold Points per 2 night award redemptions, and Category 7 properties require 70,000 Gold Points.
Category 6 has big markets like New York, Chicago, London, Sydney, San Francisco, Vienna, Paris, and several others that are all scattered around. While 50,000 Gold points isn’t that much of a stretch from 40,000 Gold Points, I didn’t want to stretch it too much. But if you’d like to see the whole list of any category, here is the link. If you want to stay in major metropolitan cities, this is most likely gonna be your category.
And Category 7 is pretty sparse.
Here is the entire list:
- In general, it seems like sticking to Categories 1 and 2 will give you the best value from the annual 40K Gold Points bonus
- Category 3 is middle-of-the-road, and should be taken case by case
- Categories 4 and 5 are wildly inconsistent, with 2 nights costing as little as $250 and as much as ~$700+
- I personally just redeemed 44,000 Gold Points for 2 nights in Dublin, Ireland and received ~$490 dollars in value. Considering I paid $75 to renew the card, it’s as if they turned right back around and gave me $415 back right away, which is awesome
Points always have a personal value. If you really wanted to use your points for a 2-night stay that would retail at $250, that is totally fine. Club Carlson points are so easy to earn that I really wouldn’t overthink it too much. But obviously you get more value if you redeem at a higher-priced property. It’s also hard to assign a value to Club Carlson Gold Points, and hotel points in general.
Also, I am way behind on my hotel reviews. I might spam you guys with Club Carlson hotel reviews in the next couple of days now that I am on the war path.
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Club Carlson. Their properties are really inconsistent and located a little off the beaten path, in general. But a few of them are real gems: extremely modern, incredible locations, and beautifully designed. Within that umbrella of inconsistency, however, I find that they do a good job of managing expectations within individual brands (Park Inn vs. Radisson Blu, for example).
Even if you keep the US Bank Club Carlson Visa Signature card just to earn and burn the annual bonus, it’s incredibly easy to recoup the annual fee.
Combine this with the ease of earning Gold Points – it’s an incredibly generous program. I think I’m
borderline obsessed a huge fan.
Does anyone else use Club Carlson to augment other hotel chains? Any tips or really wonderful properties anyone would like to share?
Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.