Travel Rewards Credit Cards


The Brand New Club Carlson Visa

They just announced the Club Carlson Hotels Visa card and I have to say, I’m excited! Club Carlson is a hotel chain that owns Radisson and Radisson Blu but many of the other hotels in the chain are pretty mediocre. So many people have blown it off but this card should be taken more seriously. Why? Mainly because of the Bonus Award Night benefit. That site says:

Bonus Award Nights – When you redeem Gold Points for 2 or more consecutive Award Nights, your last night is free. Exclusively for cardmembers!

This is an awesome benefit and an awesome card that I’m going in on for me and my wife. 85,000 Bonus Points and Bonus Award Nights make this a no-brainer.

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Unfortunately the card does come with an annual fee but it’s well worth the application and the fee of $75.

  1. The Bonus Award Night and the bonus points pay for themselves. 85,000 [and the points from meeting the spend requirement.]could pay for one night in the top Category – Category 6 and one at a Category 4. Plus, you would get a bonus night on each stay. That’s 2 nights in a Cat 6 and two in a Cat 4 – for $75. Cat 6 hotels are like the Radisson Blu Chicago or Radisson Martinique in New York City. These are typically $300+ a night.  And a Cat 4 is worth $100 or more – we enjoyed the Radisson overlooking Niagra Falls and really enjoyed the Radisson Blu in Shanghai- a Cat 2 (for 15,000 points). Two nights at each could be well over $800 in value.
  2. I’ve stated my theory in this post, that Club Carlson points are better used at Category 1 hotels. This is because the desparity between Category 6’s and 1’s are not that great in terms of cost with money (typically $200-$300 hotels versus $100) when cost difference in terms of points is huge (from 50,000 points to 9,000 points). In other words 85,000 points will get more than 9 stays at a category 1 and many are worth $100. A possible $900 value for $75 that is potentially doubled with the Bonus Award Night. I guess it depends on how long your stays are and where you travel though.
  3. The main reason the Bonus Award Night is so awesome is because Club Carlson has been running awesome promotions. They gave out 50,000 points for a one night stay multiple times in the last 12 months. I currently have 300,000 Club Carlson points between my wife and I and we spend less than $400. At Category 1 hotels, 300,000 points is worth 33 nights. If I can double that with the Bonus Award Night – that ‘s 66 nights!
  4. Plus this card is with US Bank. They may not have Chase’s customer service but I already have 6 Chase cards at the moment! I need to spread it out.

Though I admit, it’s a little idealistic. This implies I only stay two nights at a time and always at least two nights. But I have that option. I can use other programs for one nights stays and for a four night stay my wife and I could rotate – two nights with her account and two with mine. We’ve done it before.

Another benefit of the card inclues Gold Status. This isn’t a big deal as they status match with anyone, but Gold members can sometimes get 2 for 1 rates on cash stays. Other perks inclue 30 points per dollar; a bonus 2,000 points for booking; upgrades; a welcome gift and other goodies.

There are 4 versions of the card:

  • Club Carlson Premier Visa has a $75 annual fee and gives you 50,000 points for first use and 35,000 after spending $2,500 in the first 90 days. It also comes with 40,000 points every year! It also gives 10 points per dollar at their hotels and 5 everywhere else. Which is almost good enough to be a daily spender. If it were Hyatt it would be even more tempting, but I tend to like miles more.
  • Club Carlson Business Visa is the exact same card with a $60 annual fee. Which is a great deal.
  • Club Carlson Visa has a $50 annual fee but comes with 50,000 points for the first use and 10,000 after spending $1,500 in the first 90 days. It also give 25,000 points every year.
  • There is also a Club Carlson Visa with no annual fee.  It would be pretty awesome if I could downgrade to this card.

Conclusion

This is an awesome card that I’ll probably keep as long as Club Carlson keeps running their grand promotions. However, note this is not the best card on the market and is way more valuable to those who actually seize their big promotions. And I would much rather have 100,000 American Airlines miles, BA Avios, or United or whatever airline, than 100,000 hotel points.  That being said, I’m jumping on this card. No reason not to! It’s not with Chase – so it’s not going to get in the way of big miles cards – and it pays for itself.

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We have spent the majority of our marriage traveling full time, living out of hotels.   All the while, we list our expenses publicly, budgeting $25,000 a year for our nomadic life while still staying in mostly 4 or 5 star hotels across ~20 countries a year.
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