A Great Use of Club Carlson Gold Points!

A lot of us loved Club Carlson Gold Points prior to June 1, 2015. With their reasonable award redemption rate, and “last night free on any multi-night award stay,” they had some deals that were tough to beat! For example, prior to the June 1 devaluation, one night in the the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel in Chicago was 50,000 Gold Points. With the last night free on any multi-night award stay, you go could to Chicago for a weekend and spend only 50,000 points for two nights! But now that they’ve removed the “last night free” benefit, and raised their top tier of hotels from 50,000 points per night to 70,000, that same two night stay in the Radisson Blu Aqua Chicago will now cost a whopping 140,000 points – almost triple what it would have cost if you had booked that stay just six weeks ago.

When the news of their program changes came out, many of people lost faith in Club Carlson, and rightfully so. A lot of people probably also thought about canceling their Club Carlson credit card from U.S. Bank, but I feel that would be a mistake. While Club Carlson Gold Points are not worth anywhere near what they were before, they still do hold some value, and their best remaining value is their points + cash combinations at some of their mid-level properties. Consider the following example:

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While 28,000 points for a $94 hotel room is not a great value, the points + cash option provides a nice alternative. By using only 5,000 Gold Points, you can lower your nightly rate by $31. Remember that the Club Carlson personal credit card gives you a 40,000 point bonus for a $75 annual fee, and the business card also has a 40,000 point bonus for a $60 annual fee. These respective fees for 40,000 points is certainly reasonable when 5,000 points can save you $31 per night on a hotel stay.

Due to the devaluation, I probably wouldn’t use this card much for everyday spend, but with the points + cash combination, these annual fees more than pay for themselves, and make this one a card to hold on to, despite the devaluation.

Michael Prodanovich is a contributor to Point Me to the Plane, and author of The Ultimate Guide to Free Travel.

Comments

  1. Seems to me you may be about as well, or better, off using a 2%, 3% or 5% cash back card (depending on which credit cards are in your wallet) to generate spend for those 5000 points. My understanding is that the annual fee on the Club Carlson card is not waived. That comes close to negating the sign-up bonus points. On a 3% card, $1000 of spend generates $30- which you are then free to use for any purchase. Since their devaluation, this card seems to be of very meager value.

    • You’re correct that the fee is never waived. What I am saying is that if you pay $75 for 40,000 points for your renewal bonus, you can use 5,000 points to save $31. This can make the renewal bonus worth more than $240. My take is that spending $75 to save $240 is still a good deal. A cash back card certainly can help you achieve similar ends, I just feel this is still a good enough return to justify keeping the card if you’re already a cardholder.

  2. What happens if you have a last night free award booked but cancel the credit card before the stay. Is the stay affected in any way?

    • No, your award stay isn’t affected if you cancel the card, so long as you made the reservation when you were still a cardholder. However, if you need to change the dates of your award stay, or make any modification to your reservation, then your free night is definitely in jeopardy.

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