The news is out that Club Carlson’s credit card is killing the free night per award booking. But do you really know how to maximize the free Club Carlson night? All too many people use the Club Carlson benefit like they intend, and I’ll show you how to use it the way I use it.
I’ve just been giving a lot of thought as to how I’m going to spend my current Club Carlson balance. I have a few ideas and a few rules for booking.
Always book 2 night stays
The way that the benefit works is that you get 1 free award night per award booking of 2 nights or more. So if you stay 2 nights, you only pay for 1. That’s 50% off. But if you stay 3 nights, that’s 33% off as you still only get 1 free night. And if you book a single 4 night stay, you still only get 1 free night, a 25% savings.
25% is unacceptable!
Instead of booking a single 4 night stay, you need to book 2 different 2 night stays, getting 2 different free nights. Make sense?
The problem is that the computer won’t let you. If it sees a free night award at a hotel it won’t let you book another one where the dates are back to back.
Here’s how you get around that and book 4 nights, for example where you pay for 2 and get 2 free nights.
1) Use different accounts
You can book the first 2 nights, and if your partner has the card as well, have them book the second 2 nights.
2) Use a business account
For reasons unknown to me, the Club Carlson Business credit card created a new rewards number. So if you have one already, log in and book the second 2 nights with that account.
3) Transfer points to a friend
Club Carlson allows gold members to transfer points to anyone for free just by calling. Super easy. Transfer the needed amount to a friend who also has the card.
4) Switch hotels
If you want to do 4 nights in London but only have 1 credit card, just switch hotels. Spend 2 nights at one then 2 nights at another.
5) Break it up with a stay in the middle
This is now a 5 night stay, but switching hotels can be a pain. What I’ve done before is booked Mon/Tue as an award with a free night award. Then I go book Thur/Fri, also as an award using the free night benefit. Then I go in and book a night for Wed, as a cash & points, paid stay or a single award night.
Book even if you can’t use them. Free cancelations
Award nights have free cancelations like a best flexible rate. Make plans as best as you can and in the last week of May, book up all your points. Worst case scenario is that you have to cancel because you wouldn’t have used it anyways. No loss at all. Best case scenario you double your value.
Don’t go somewhere just for Club Carlson but take best guesses as to your travel plans in the future. Personally I don’t know where I’ll be this Monday, don’t have any tickets anywhere but will definitely need one. But I’m going to try to book some hotels for places I want to go later this year.
Use the Complete Map of Club Carlson properties to check out some of the options.
Best Club Carlson hotels
We’ve personally stayed 60+ nights already in 2015 with Club Carlson, so I’ll try to give some advice from personal experience. Personally I’m very hit/miss with Radisson. Some hotels are junk and some are great. But it’s best to keep your expectations super low when it comes to Club Carlson.
High end Radisson Blu hotels:
- You can’t go wrong with a Radisson Blu in London or Paris. The cost of hotels in those cities can be insane and there are some well located downtown hotels in a cool city… plus Paris.
- Radisson Blu Vienna – Vienna is a favorite city of mine and the Radisson Blu is my favorite location.
- Radisson Blu Sydney – We were only there 1 night before the bogo benefit, but Sydney is another expensive city, but the hotel is in walking distance to the opera house.
- Norway – I haven’t been here but was thinking of going later this year and everything is super expensive and there aren’t a lot of points options with most other chains. Yet Club Carlson has tons of hotels all over Scandinavia and the surrounding area.
Low category club Carlson hotels:
- India – I found the Country Inn & Suites in places like Amritsar to be pretty nice.
- Radisson Blu Budapest – Good location, 1970s décor.
- Egypt? – Haven’t been but there are some 9,000 point hotels – in Alexandria and Sharm.
Personally, I’m trying to decide what I want to do with Club Carlson points. Go back to India? Go back and burn them at a city I’d otherwise not spend a lot of time in but enjoy – like Sydney or London.
Or perhaps somewhere new. Help me decide – here are some of my ideas of new places I could burn my points at: Northern Europe (Norway, Estonia, and Latvia), Tunisia (Hammamet and Djebra), Ecuador (Quito/Guayaquil), or the Middle East (Lebanon and not sure where else).
The main thing I wanted to share is the list of ways to book back to back. Surprisingly a lot of people book 4 nights straight when they don’t have to.