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:
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.