Club Carlson: Dead to Me

Another one bites the dust

Another one bites the dust

Forgive the histrionic title.

I tried hard to be a Club Carlson fanboy for a long while. I Club Carlson-ed my way through Europe last year, stayed at their resort in Fiji, and just came off a trip to Ireland where I stayed in four Club Carlson properties (Ireland is Club Carlson heaven).

I’ve always considered Club Carlson to be my auxiliary program, after Hyatt, but their prices and properties have been so aligned with my travels recently that you’d think they were primary.

They were the little hotel loyalty program that could. But now it seems, and in the words of my Mom, that they’ve gotten too big for their britches.

After the recent round of devaluations, it’s kinda like… um, you have some nice properties but you’re not all that great. Now their award chart is Hiltonesque, and so is the sudden about-face from generous to… what’s the word I want to use here? Brash?

I’ve already shoved my Club Carlson Visa Signature card in a drawer. The plan is to get the 40K anniversary bonus and then cancel it. Within a week, I went from being one of Club Carlson’s biggest cheerleaders to where I am now – a hater! I won’t mess with their program any more. It falls into the realm of “not worth it.”

The future

My hotel strategy moving forward will be Hyatt as a primary program and IHG as a backup for when Hyatt isn’t available. I never got into Starwood and honestly don’t see why others trip over themselves to earn that 1 Starpoint per dollar with the SPG Amex.

The reason Club Carlson got themselves into a huge devaluation is because they printed Gold Points left and right. Even still, 70,000 points for one night in a European Radisson? No way. And with $10,000 of spend on the co-branded credit card, I get 1 free night – but it has to be in one of their sub-par US properties? I’d rather run that money through a 2% cashback card and get $200 back – which is about how much a night in a US property would cost.

Speaking of companies printing too much of their points currency… American’s AAdvantage program is gearing up to devalue in 2016 it seems like. They are giving out wayyyy too many miles this year. #predictions #Nostradamus

Bottom line

There’s been so much spilled ink typed words about Club Carlson’s devaluation recently that I thought I’d throw my hat in as well.

While in Ireland this past week, I absolutely loved the Radisson Blu Royal in downtown Dublin. It was bittersweet, though, because I felt like I was having a last hurrah with Club Carlson.

Easy come, easy go. The free award night from having their credit card, and the reasonable redemption rates, were what put Club Carlson on my radar. Before that, I’d never even stayed at a Radisson. And from here on out, I don’t foresee myself messing with Club Carlson’s now-stingy and untrustworthy program too much more. Maybe just to burn the points that are left in there.

Is anyone else moving on from Club Carlson right about now? Are their recent devaluations – arguably overdue – a deal breaker for the entire program?

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About Harlan

Just a dude living in Memphis, traveling, and working toward financial independence.

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  1. Hi, $10k spend on Carlson card not only nets you 1 Free Night, but also 50k Carlson points (at 5x per $). So your comparison with a 2% card (for $200 cash back after $10k spend) isn’t valid.

    The devaluation sucks, but Carlson points are still great for their lower tier properties. Come on now…everyone knew this was coming!

  2. I’m probably going to do the same. Too many cuts, but they were great while traveling through Scandinavia and Sydney last year.

  3. Don’t forget Club Visa giving you 5X / $1. Good reason to remain loyalty with Carlsson. If you stay in Carlsson properties in Europe, it is worth to remain with Carlsson program. It’s my personal point of view. For high end Hyatt, it can be 30,000 points. With $30,000 spend and for 5X /$1 from Club Visa, you can have 2 nights in high end Carlsson properties?

    • You’re totally right, the 5x earning on the card is still very good. I think I’m just in a moment of strong reaction lol. Thank you for leveling the field, and for reading. I really appreciate it!

  4. I agree Club Carlson is basically dead to me now. I can easily get 2-3x on Chase or Amex from their cards with far less points needed for a stay. I spend $1000 at an office supply store and have a free night at a low Hyatt. Club Carlson now requires $2000 for a one night stay (down from $1000). Easy to switch to Hyatt, Thanks Chase.

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