Using the Last of My Club Carlson Points

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I went pretty much “all in” on the big Club Carlson promotions of 2012 where you could stay one super cheap night at any Club Carlson property and earn 50k bonus points just for doing so.  50,000 points is enough to stay at one of their top-tier hotels around the world, so a cheap night was a pretty good investment!  Couple that with getting the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature that awards 85,000 sign-up bonus points (50,000 after first purchase and 35,000 more after $2500 spend within 90 days) and it is fair to say I had hundreds of thousands of Club Carlson points in my account.  This is a newer loyalty program, and while they haven’t yet done anything much to the meat of their award chart, that doesn’t mean I trust them to leave it the same long-term…or even medium-term for that matter.  We have seen the huge promotions from them totally dry up in the last 12 months (other than the credit card sign-up bonus), and my guess is it is only a matter of time until we see them tighten up on the redemption side of things.

So, I did what any reasonable miles and points collector would do and made it a priority to use these points whenever possible.  I have given strong preference to two night stays as the “last award night is free” when you have the credit card, so that meant that I could get two award nights for the price of one.  I have used Club Carlson points for a few stays like at the May Fair in London, and have been using them to book future stays such as for a Notre Dame game next year in Indiana, a couple nights in Amsterdam next spring, a couple of nights in Paris, and I actually still have a pending points reservation for the Olympics that they never got around to cancelling (though it no longer lines up with my dates), and now I have just about emptied my account by booking two nights in New York City at the Radisson Martinique on Broadway to hopefully take my daughter to see the Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2014.

It is very fair to say that all of those hotels combined would have cost thousands of dollars if I paid retail.  Frankly, they would have still been quite expensive even if I went the budget route as Paris, Notre Dame on a home football weekend, Amsterdam, London during the Olympics, and New York City at Thanksgiving can all be quite expensive.  Heck, Russia during the Olympics isn’t even really bookable with cash, so that one is even harder to place a value on (though like I said, the dates no longer work for me).  I have been taking great advantage of Club Carlson’s very advance booking window on points.

Other than basically doubling the value of my points by getting the second award night free, my favorite feature of all this is being able to make risk-free bookings.  If my plans change and I can no longer make it to one of these destinations, I can cancel and get the points right back until just before the stay.  The recent United devaluation was all too clear of a reminder to not hold your points for the long term.  I am not sad or nervous that I have emptied out a points account, on the contrary, I am happy that my Club Carlson account is almost empty.  That means I got huge value out of the points for trips I actually wanted to take, and I can always earn more points via their credit cards or possible future promotions.  Heck, I’ll get 40,000 points soon enough when the card renews, and I’m sure I will use those points to get two reward nights somewhere by using the last award night free benefit.

If you need some inspiration on how to use your Club Carlson points, here are some of my favorite uses within the US.  How are you using your Club Carlson points?  Are you still sitting on a huge balance, or are you putting them to good use?

 

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  1. I love Club Carlson! Remember, Gold members can still transfer points between family members. I was able to use that to my family’s advantage – by booking a room under my points and a room under my husband’s points, we get the free credit card night for both rooms (which doesn’t happen if you book two rooms using one account). Hopping between two Radisson Blus in London that are within a block of each other allowed us to book 2 rooms for 4 nights in the heart of London for 200,000 points. There is no way I could have afforded £350 per night for these hotels. Thanks, Club Carlson!

  2. I love Club Carlson..Just booked for the St Patricks Day in Savannah, GA. What a deal!
    I sure wish they would bring back those promotions, too. Thanks for all your advice!

  3. Groobie, that is a handy feature for sure! Have a great time in London – excellent use of Club Carlson points!
    FreeTravelGuys, just to be sure you saw the date correctly, we are shooting for going there November 2014, so your stay may be well before ours. 😉
    Linda, awesome! Have a great trip!

  4. We scored a nice three-night stay in Paris at the Radisson Blu Le Dokhan’s Hotel in the Trocadero district with Carlson points coming up in January. Perfect location and worth €400/night. Subsequently, we’ll be in Budapest at the Art ‘otel on Carlson before we head to the Olympics. Like you, I was hoping to score a Sochi hotel using Carlson points, but we’ll take these great deals on our way there. So far all of our hotel stays on our month long over-land trip from Ireland to Sochi are paid for with various points, except for Vaduz and Sighișoara. We’re ditching Hilton in favor of Carlson and SPG for the future.

  5. I am interested in knowing which Paris Radisson did you book for a future stay. I also booked a future Paris stay at the Champs de élysées Radisson on anticipation that the points will soon be devalued.

  6. I’ve stayed at all 4 Paris radissons this may. One of them is now out of the program. The two near trocadero sucked big time, cramped floorplans. Champs élysées radisson was the best, id recommend that.

  7. …also why are people still hotel hopping? With two Carlson accounts you can book alternate 2 night stays in the same hotel and get half the nights free.

  8. I really liked the Martinique. Perfect location! With the credit card, I have bug time scored with Club Carlson, including Paris at New Years. So far, I’m hooked and will continue to look for points earning ways. I bought the max points during their promo – $280 for 60k points is basically like two free nights at a top tier property in Europe with points to spare. Still a great deal!

  9. I stayed at Martinique twice, both times using free nights instead of free points. I am not the biggest fan of this hotel. While I have points, I wouldn’t spend them to stay there unless I desperately needed to a place in NY to lay my head. Yes, location is good (close to the 33rd street Path train station, subway, etc.) but it is an older property. Truly NY-style matchbox size rooms. Your upgrade it going to be from a tiny room to a very small room (Executive room). I’s rather be spending points on either more aspirational properties.

  10. I’m staying at the Radisson Fisherman Wharf in SFO this weekend…4 nights (2 mine, 2 my husband’s). I hope the free night never ends! :~)

  11. I too love Club Carlson. I’ve used points to stay at the Radisson Blu Le Dokhan’s Hotel and the Radisson Blu Aqua Chicago. Had very good stays at both. Within the next month, I have booked the Radisson Blu Amsterdam and the Radisson Blu Captetown Waterfront. Club Carlson’s promotion may have been the best hotel promotion ever. It has made me join their credit card program and gladly direct my card spend toward them.

  12. I tried to book a stay using points at the Martinique and they were blacked out. I remembered reading that you could call in and get them to open up rooms as long as standard rooms were available. This did not work. Club Carlson agent called the hotel and spoke with the manager only to be told that those days were not available on points due to “shopping weekend”…?? That’s not even a good excuse like thanksgiving or New Years!

    I also thought I would try out Gary Leff’s “hang up try again” mantra. Still no luck. I even tried a third time for good measure and no dice. I asked the CC agent about the no blackout policy and was told something very helpful along the lines of “yes sir, there are always rooms available whenever points availability exists.” They said they have no control over what the hotel does.

    Anywho, I just thought that was all very untrue to their advertising.

    • Sam, you aren’t the only one I have heard that from…which is one of the reasons I fear devaluation of some sort. However, every person I know that has hit that issue and kept pushing has eventually gotten the rooms they want. Use Twitter, Club Carlson reps, etc. I think it is very….interesting the way they are handling their no black-out date situation.

  13. @Betsy: Spent last night in the Art’Otel Budapest — very nice place, excellent location. Great breakfast buffet included in the room.

  14. In June I used Club Carlson points for 2-night stays in London at the Radisson Edwardian Blu Bloomsbury (directly across from the British Museum) and the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge (directly across the Thames from Parliament and Big Ben). Not only were these both wonderfully convenient locations but elegant accommodations. I highly recommend both!

    I also had a multi-night paid stay (earning back almost all the points I had spent on the above two) at the Radisson Edwardian Vanderbilt, which is just down the street from the Victoria & Albert Museum, thus another prime location. It’s in an elegant row of townhouses, but the interior’s long maze of corridors took some getting used to and we had water leakage problems in two different rooms (the 1st a nonstop trickling noise from the air conditioning unit, the 2nd a literal water dump over the desk in the room late at night. It was promptly repaired the next day, but fortunately our iPad and iPhone were not on the desk at the time!). I do plan to include a stay there on my next trip over.

  15. I am still sitting on my B1G1 free promo 🙁 have reservs to use at the Martinique in a couple weeks but now my days have changed and I have to cancel it. I wonder if I can book it for after the new year though the terms were to be used by end of 2013 :/

  16. Last month I stayed at the NYC Martinique. I have concierge status with Club Carlson. I also stayed there last April. I paid cash. Both trips I was given an upgrade to the penthouse floor. The location of the hotel is the very best thing other than that the rooms are clean but dated. The buffet breakfast was so so I preferred a voucher to the French restaurant they offer instead. I really love club Carlson I have a trip booked to the San Francisco fisherman’s wharf Hotel for Thanksgiving. Have stayed at their hotels in Moscow (loved every minute)& dying to stay in Chicago!!

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