Best Uses of Club Carlson Points in the United States

Please note this site has financial relationships with American Express and this post may contain affiliate links. Read my Advertiser Disclosure policy here to learn more about my partners.

Thus far, my favorite Club Carlson redemption has been in Europe at the beautiful Mayfair Hotel in London.  I also had redeemed points during the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, but that booking got squashed by the IOC, so that one doesn’t count since it never actually happened.  However, since this is “keeping it real” week here at Mommy Points (real redemptions for real families), I’m going to put those type of redemptions on the back burner for now and look at some of my favorite uses of Club Carlson points here within the US.  As you may or may not know, in general Club Carlson has some “fancier” redemptions outside the borders of the good ‘ole US of A, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some decent uses of points closer to home.

Application link: Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature (85k point signup bonus — 50k after first purchase and 35k more after $2500 spend within 90 days)

Use in small cities with temporarily expensive rates due to big events (i.e., the Notre Dame effect):

Truthfully this whole post was inspired by my own recent redemption that really got me jazzed.  We are planning on going with my parents to see the Fighting Irish play a football game in South Bend next football season.  We have to start C’s brain-washing immediately  – she already sings “Cheer, Cheer, for Old Notre Dame…”.  We have been to see a game a couple of years ago, so we know first-hand that getting affordable lodging during a home football weekend can be a challenge there.  It is a small town, but the rates can shoot up for special events like football weekends.  Last time we were there we stayed at a Country Inn and Suites in Mishawaka a few miles from the stadium on what was essentially a mistake rate, or more accurately a promo that was probably not intended to be valid during a football weekend.  We booked WAY in advance, and shortly after we booked the rates skyrocketed.  Rates on non-football weekends can be about $70 per night, but on football weekends the rate can jump to $300+ per night as shown below for a 2013 football weekend.  The hotel wasn’t fancy, but it did the trick just fine.

DSCN2068

Watching the Irish Guard march into the stadium

Naturally now that we are planning a return trip in 2014, I immediately thought back to that Country Inn and Suites since I could use points (you can book way in advance with Club Carlson points), and since I have the Club Carlson Visa my second award night is free.  That meant I am getting two nights for 28,000 points total with no taxes and fees on top of that when the room may very well be selling for about $600 for the two nights.  It is a simple redemption, but one of my favorites of the year because it was exactly what we needed to spend a Friday and Saturday night near the stadium in South Bend, Indiana.

DSCN2138

I know not everyone wants to go to a Notre Dame football game, but this same strategy will hold true across the country in small-ish towns that have a Country Inn and Suites, Radisson, etc.  Another example is if you want to attend the Master’s golf tournament in Augusta, Georgia.  There is a Country Inn and Suites in Augusta that seems to already be booked up for the 2014 Master’s dates, however if you want to hedge that you will somehow get tickets for the 2015 Master’s then you can lock points reservations in now at the same 28k per night as in my Notre Dame example (and if you get extra tickets or badges, please feel free to share with me).  Again, you can get the second night free by having the credit card.  Rates may normally be pretty tame in these otherwise fairly sleepy towns, but when a big event hits town the rates can jump exponentially.  Take advantage of being able to book points reservations very far in advance, and certainly utilize the last award night free with the credit card for stays longer than one night.

Use points to stay near Orlando attractions:

While the options aren’t quite as lucrative or numerous as they were a year or so ago, Club Carlson still has many properties in the Orlando area that can be had with points.  A few of the options include: Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Orlando Universal, Florida (15k per night) and Radisson Hotel Orlando – Lake Buena Vista (38k per night).  Again, if you have the card the second award night is free.  If you and your spouse both have the card it would be pretty simple to get two of your four nights totally free, and the other two nights for a reasonable number of points.

Go to the beach:

Tons of Club Carlson properties seem to be located on beaches across the United States.  Just like I mentioned earlier, prime beach spots can see rates soar during the summer months, and especially on peak days and weekends.  You can use your Club Carlson points to protect you from the high summer rates in little beach towns.  A few examples of beach or near-beach properties are: Radisson Hotel Fisherman’s Wharf (44k points per night), Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Galveston Beach, TX (44k points per night), Radisson Suite Hotel Oceanfront (44k points per night), Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Virginia Beach, VA (44k points per night), Radisson Hotel Newport Beach (38k points per night), Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Destin, FL (38k points per night), Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Panama City Beach, FL (38k points per night), and Radisson Hotel Corpus Christi Beach (38k points per night).  Most of these properties are on the higher end of the category spectrum because of their location, but remember that last award night free benefit and your per-night cost can drop dramatically.

Beachfront Access and Views

Virginia Beach

Radisson Blu Chicago:

If you do tend a bit toward the fancier type of hotels, then one of the Club Carlson crown jewels in the US is the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago.  This is a relatively new hotel that goes for 50k points per night, but it looks like a very nice place to spend a few nights in downtown Chicago.

Book Business Class

Mall of America:

I’ve never been to the Mall of American in Minnesota, but it looks like the perfect way to spend a warm day indoors during the winter months up north, and attached is the brand new Radisson Blu Mall of America that goes for 50k points per night.  In addition to 500+ shops, there are attractions like the seven acres of rides and games at Nickelodeon Universe® or visiting the Sea Life™ Aquarium, both of which are within the Mall of America.

New York City:

If you want a “big city” experience on points, then the Radisson Hotel Martinique New York-Broadway is absolutely one of the best points deals in New York City.  It is 50k points per night and is located in Midtown on 32nd Street.  This is very close to Macy’s on 34th, the Empire State Building, Times Square, and more.  Rates here are often easily in the $300 – $400 per night range, so using 50k Club Carlson points per night to stay here, or essentially 25k with the card if you stay two nights, is fantastic.  Also remember what I said about booking far in advance…Macy’s Day Parade 2014 anyone?

I’m sure there are other great uses for Club Carlson points in the US, but those are some of the best uses in my book.  Overall I think you can get even more value for these points in Europe, but that is 100% irrelevant if you aren’t heading to Europe anytime in the near future, or if Club Carlson simply isn’t in your travel plans while you are there.  The fact is there are some tremendous uses within the United States.  I’d love to hear some of your favorites!

 

Disclosure: I do receive a commission if you are approved for a credit card using one of my affiliate links.  As always, your support is appreciated.  Do be aware that US Bank can give you a lesser version of the card if you are not approved for the top tier version.  Thankfully all versions have the last award night free feature!

Pingbacks

Comments

  1. I really enjoyed my stay at the Country Inn and Suites in Savannah, GA in the Historic District. I highly recommend the city, and if you’re sitting on some Club Carlson points, it’s a decent redemption for 38k/night.

  2. Just to comment on two of the hotels you listed. I really enjoyed the Radisson Blu Mall of America. It was so easy to be able to hit the mall with the kids without going outside (we went during the big snow storm that hit last April). It also had a great modern vibe with a more “big city” feel than you would expect from Minneapolis. On the other hand, we stayed at the Country Inn in Galveston over Memorial Day weekend and it was by the far the worst hotel experience we have ever had. We were displaced by the hotel at about 9pm on the Saturday night of Memorial Day weekend and there were no other available hotels on the enitre island. We had to drive all the way back to Houston (over an hour away). I would avoid this hotel at all costs.

  3. Colleen, you are so right. I think I have written about that too, but didn’t ring bells as I was copying and pasting off their hotel list on the website. All fixed and thanks!
    Mike, good to know – sounds like a great spot!
    Branson, glad to hear the Mall of America property is great! That really stinks you were walked from the Club Carlson property in Galveston. I haven’t stayed there yet, but did drive by this week and it is in a great location. Wish you could have actually stayed there rather than in Houston. Hope they gave you some decent compensation!
    Kyle, that one sounds awesome as well!

  4. I just stayed at the Martinique 2 weeks ago. better than the intercontinental barclay.

    It was nice that they also upgraded me to a suite (gold status from CC) which gave me free breakfast 🙂

  5. +1 for the Radisson Oceanfront in Melbourne. I grew up in Florida and the Melbourne area beaches are much less crowded than the more popular beach areas like Clearwater or Vero Beach. I took my mom for a 2 night getaway last April when I was down visiting. Every room overlooks the ocean. I have the Club Carlson visa, so our 2nd reward night was free. Without even asking we were upgraded to a more spacious corner suite with a huge wraparound balcony, overlooking the ocean one one side and the pool on the other. All for 38,000 points. Score!!

  6. Used my points and the 2nd night free with card last month at the Radisson Fisherman’s Wharf. Great location, the staff was very nice and they upgraded the room upon check-in. We had a window overlooking the Wharf and the bay. Awesome view! Would definitely stay here again.

  7. Steve, awesome! Love when “credit card status” plays out in terms of tangible perks. 😉
    TJ, yeah it looks to be 4 or 5 miles off from Newport Beach and a bit more from Huntington Beach. Still a very economical way to get close to some good beaches, but correct it is certainly not “beachfront”.
    Cindy, y’all are making me really want to visit Radisson Oceanfront in Melbourne!
    Cher, good to hear it. Sounds like a fantastic use of points and card benefits!

  8. Just used 28,000 points and the CC credit card to get 2 nights at the Radisson Suites Buena Park. Was very convenient to both Disneyland and within sight of Knott’s Berry Farm. And the 2-room suite fit our family of five!

  9. How does the second free night work? Can you make a two night reservation online and they know to only charge you for 1 night if you have the Visa?

  10. Lynn, awesome! Sounds like an awesome family trip and redemption.
    Iwantmoremiles, the system knows you have the card when you are logged in, so at check-out it automatically deducts the points for the last night and only charges you the remainder in points. It is super simple and totally automated.

  11. Sorry, I am still unclear about the second night free. “At check-out, it automatically deducts the points” Do you mean at checkout at the hotel? Or when you make the reservation since that is when points are deducted? Thanks for writing about this topic as I am definitely getting that card on my next churn!

    • Denise, so sorry I’m not clear. I meant check-out in terms of when you are making the reservation online. In other words, if you are making a reservation for two nights at a 50k per night resort, you don’t really need 100k to do it. You only need the 50k in your account as that is all it will ever charge you for the two nights with the card. Hope that helps!

  12. Great post. Thank you. It’s not all about the Maldives and first class plane tickets. (Not that those aren’t great!) Btw, watched a very interesting program on Netflix last night on the Island President about the Maldives. I think you are going? You might want to see it if you have not already.
    We spent two nights at the Mall of America in May with our daughter on the buy one/get one free . Nice hotel, upgraded us to the lounge and only my husband had the club Carlson card at the time. Parking was free and easy and also not difficult to see the rest of the twin cities from there.

    • Kate, totally agree that it is not all about first class and the Maldives…though throwing those in every once in a while works for me, too. 😉 Glad to hear you liked the Mall of America property and were treated well! Thanks for the Netflix recommendation!

  13. South Bend hotel rates during the fall recently are ridiculous. Are you or your parents ND alumni? Your picture of the Tulsa game three years ago brought back nightmares?

  14. My favorite is the Radisson Blu in Chicago. I’ll be running and juggling (Joggling) the Chicago Marathon in October and got a 3 night stay for the cost of 2 nights with the benefits from the Club Carlson card.

    It’s right next to the start and finish area in Millennium park and close to other attractions.

  15. I think the problem with Club Carlson is consistency…it’s nice the CC gets you Gold, but reports seem to vary on what this gets you. (Compared to Hilton Gold, where benefits are automatic.)

    I’m doing a Europe trip in December, and we have 2 nts at a Radisson, and I booked the Business room at 1.5X the pts rate of a std. room anyhow to get an upgraded room and breakfast. Worst case: it’s a lower $ buy-up for a suite from a bus. room than a std. room.

  16. I just booked 2 nights at Country Inn & Suites French Quarter in New Orleans for the first weekend of Mardi Gras 2014 for 44,000 pts. The rooms are going for ~&300/night and I’m so relieved to be able to use points on this trip.

  17. +1 for Raidsson Buena Park, CA. It’s literally across the street from Knott’s Berry Farm. The shuttle service is almost priceless for getting to/from Disneyland. Just be sure to be on time for the evening pick ups. The driver doesn’t wait around; people load and he leaves right at the specified time. The rooms were decent too. I loved the sleep number bed! I was able to book rooms in two-night segments so I stayed 7 total nights. I paid for 3 of them with points (28,000 each), received three free per the CC visa, and paid for one of the nights. The breakfast was a great way to start the day before heading to Disneyland!

  18. I have some reservations already booked and don’t currently the CC. If I get the card before my reservations, will they still only charge me the 1 night? Currently both nights have been deducted from my balance?

    • Vicki, I can’t say for sure as I didn’t have that experience. Not sure if you have to re-book or if they can get it done on their end. Maybe someone else can chime in!

  19. I live near the Country Inn Destin and just wanted to give a word of warning that it’s actually across the highway from the beach. I’ve never been inside so can’t speak to the quality.

  20. Vicki, give Club Carlson a call and tell them about your issue. At the very least they will be able to give you a yes or no answer up front. Otherwise if it’s not a problem and it’s still available, simply cancel and rebook after you get the card. Good luck!

  21. Stayed at the Country Inn and Suites French Quarter 2 months ago. I think 44,000 points is a little high for that property, but not bad when you get the second night free. Definitely a good option for Mardi Gra!

  22. What? No one has mentioned Fresno yet?? Outrageous!! The Park Inn by Radisson Fresno is a Cat 1 at 9,000 points/night. It’s a re-flagged SPG 4 Points – quite a reasonable property, about an hour from Sequoia/Kings Canyon National park and also not far from Yosemite. (As a CC holder, I may stay 2 nights – 2nd night free – and spend the day in Sequoia.)

  23. My family and I are going to visit the Radisson Blu properties in Chicago and Minneapolis later this year to catch the Bears and Vikings in action. Having the Club Carlson card is SOOOOOO key to maximizing your points. That 2nd night free is beyond awesome.

  24. -David, that game did end in a nightmare! My dad is an alumni of rooting for Notre Dame his whole life, but did not go to school there. He had a Catholic dad from Indiana though, so close enough. 😉
    -Nguyen, I suppose you would add it just like any other credit card. It is issued by US Bank. However, I have not paid it with my BB so I can’t offer any first hand tips beyond that.
    -Love all the great uses of Club Carlson points you all are sharing – this card is such a dynamite standout right now!

  25. Does cc impose capacity controls or on award rooms? I suspect so. (One data point: The Radisson Martinique Broadway in Manhattan has very limited award availability for the next two months, but has plenty of “classic guest rooms” available for sale on the same dates. So it may be harder to obtain CC award space than SPG, Hilton, or others. Caveat emptor!!)

    • UAPhil, they advertize that there are no blackout dates on standard rooms, so if a standard room is available for sale it should be able to be booked with points. I am seeing what you see with that property though. I can tell you the last time I saw one of their Paris properties pulling a similar stunt, it left the program pretty soon after. Hopefully that is not the case with this one, but I’m not sure why it is not displaying Classic Rooms on points if they are for sale. I’ll Tweet Club Carlson and see if they have any insight.

  26. The Martinque in NYC is a great value for points, and a good location. It is about a block from Macy’s and right by a subway entrance. For those who care about golf and/or history, it is over 100 years old and is the birthplace of the PGA. The hotel has a little wing dedicated to the PGA history.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *