Club Carlson Introduces Category 7 Hotels + Other Changes

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Club Carlson shot out of the dark and became a relatively popular hotel award program a couple of years ago thanks in part to some great initial promotions that left lots of people with fat Club Carlson accounts.  Next came the co-branded Club Carlson credit card about a year ago.  That card not only awarded a pretty big sign-up bonus to further fatten up accounts, but it had the unique perk of getting the last award night free.

This meant that if you had a two night award stay that you only owed points for one night.  This is an insanely valuable benefit!  Their hotels aren’t always fanciest in the United States, but they have some pretty decent properties overseas that were a very good value for 50,000 points per night…or actually 50,000 points for two nights if you had the co-branded card.  They also had a decent selection of mid-range hotels within the United States that were perfect for families.

In other words, people had lots of points and those points could be stretched pretty far.  It seemed inevitable for Club Carlson to have a devaluation, and it has now happened with the introduction of a new Category 7 where hotels will go for 70,000 points per night.  Other hotels have gone up or down in category as they do each year, and I will look at those changes in a subsequent post.  Previously the top end Category 6 hotels topped out at 50,000 points per night, so this is a a 40% increase for those going from a 6 to a 7, which is a pretty big jump.

Category 7 Hotels 70,000 points per night:

As of March 15, 2014, the hotels listed below will move to a new Hotel Category, resulting in an increase or decrease in the number of points required to redeem an award night. The new categories apply to bookings made on or after May 1, 2014.

Radisson Royal Hotel, Dubai

Radisson Blu Le Dokhan’s Hotel, Paris Trocadero

Radisson Blu 1835 Hotel & Thalasso, Cannes

Radisson Blu Le Metropolitan Hotel, Paris Eiffel

Radisson Blu Hotel Champs Elysees, Paris

The May Fair (London)

Plaza on the River, London

art’otel, Amsterdam

Radisson Royal Hotel, Moscow

I’ll be making some speculative advance reservations today at properties that are increasing both to Category 7, and going up between the existing categories.  You can book WAY out into the future with Club Carlson.

We got some great value out of the May Fair in London and have an upcoming stay booked at the Champs Elysees property in Paris that is also going up to Category 7.

Award Stays Count Toward Status:

I’m not sure this matters for most of us as we are likely happy with the Gold status we get with the Club Carlson credit card, but award stays do now count toward status for those that earn status the old fashioned way.

A Few Other Program Updates:

I think the biggest change for 90% of us is the introduction of a Category 7, but there were a few other program changes that were outlined in the email I received which I will repost below.

 As a valued Club Carlson member, we would also like to tell you about some upcoming changes to the program, including many exciting new benefits. The following changes will go into effect March 15, 2014.

Ways to Redeem Points

  • You can now use Gold Points® to book premium rooms, including suites and more
  • An enhanced variety of retail merchant cards will be available, now starting at 7,000 points
  • Our hotel categories will be updated and will include a new tier for our most luxurious hotels

Achieve Elite Status Faster

  • Members will be able to achieve Elite status faster – Eligible Stays and Award Nights will now both count toward Elite status

Ways to Earn Points

  • You can now earn Gold Points on food and beverages purchased during Award Nights
  • Our bonus for booking online will be offered on a promotional basis, so stay tuned for more member exclusive promotions
  • The point bonus for Gold Elite status will change to 35% on Eligible Stays (previously 50%)

Thank you for your continued membership. For more information, click here. You can also review our updated Terms and Conditions on starting March 15, 2014.

Overall Assessment of Changes:

A Category 7 was inevitable with Club Carlson, and I am sad that it has happened, but I’m not surprised at most of the hotels that are in the category.  A 40% increase for those properties stings, but since you can book so far out in advance, you shouldn’t have trouble securing some nights at the current rates.  Also remember to use the co-branded card to get the last award night free.  More on these updates to come.  What do you think?

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. Like you, I am sad to see the category 7 introduced, but thanks to your blog our family had a few stays at some incredible hotels in Paris and London all on points. With a depleted Carlson account, I am now not sure how to proceed, so I will be re-evaluating my hotel loyalty focus.

  2. I can live with this. I have a lot of points, and I was nervous because a devaluation was inevitable. But it could have been much worse, and isn’t really unreasonable compared to what other hotel chains have done recently.

  3. When are you staying at the Champs Elysees property? We had a fantastic stay at the Radisson Blu Paris Opera last year with Club Carlson points. Unfortunately, it turned into a Marriott, or we would have been back this year. consequently, we are staying Jun 26-30 at the Champs Elysees property. We’re hoping it’s as nice as the other. The Business Class rooms at the Opera location were huge. Free breakfast, evening cocktails, and snacks were obviously very valuable in Paris.

  4. Thank You club carlton, this is not that bad, nothing like hilton’s devaluation. Those with the CC still get last night free and 5x on CC spend.If this holds for 12/24 months I think we still have a great deal.

  5. I got an email just this morning saying that if I had 1 qualifying stay in the next month they would give me 5 nights towards qualifying for concierge status. They didn’t mention of course about devaluing their program.

  6. What a surprise!!!! They first attract people to their “amazing” credit card offer and start giving points away luke there is no tomorrow. Then they wait just a little bit and devaluates their program like all other hotel chains did. I am glad I did not get into their game. BTW, they have some nice hotels but none that I lnow that is worth 70,000 points. Think they are shooting themselves in their own foot.

    • Santastico, totally agree that they generated buzz for their program at the beginning with some lucrative promos, but the deval was 100% expected to come eventually. It’s just how these programs work. Considering how easy it is to rack up their points, 70k isn’t as high as it sounds. Granted, it is a 40% increase for those 9 properties and that stinks, but overall I am very glad I am maximizing the Club Carlson program. Cherry pick the good redemptions while they are around, because they never last forever. 😉

  7. Traveling with a group of 8, I am most interested in finding out what the redemption options are going to be like for suites. Has anybody heard anything further about the suite bookings?

  8. I have a question. I currently have quite a few club calrson points but I do not have the credit card but I plan to get it later this year. If I want to book speculatiley how do I book the extra night without the credit card? Pay one night with points and the other with points, or pay one night with points and the other with cash? Thanks for the help!

  9. Dina, I don’t know that you can. The only sure fire way is to get the card now, and make the reservations before March 15th. It is possible there will be a way to adjust them after the fact with the card, but it may throw the price of the first paid points night up when the second is adjusted to free with the card.

  10. We stayed at Radisson Blu Le Dokhan’s Trocadero last month at the 50,000 per night rate. It was magnificent and I’m not surprised it has been recategorized. I’m more surprised at some of the low level recategorizations, TBH. The Radisson Blu Budapest (same trip, 9000 point redemption) was a hot mess: cigarette burns in the upholstery, gouged and scratched furniture, worn carpeting, dated lobby/public Austin Powers decor, etc. – very Motel 6, a built-in ashtray still in the bathroom! Yet, they’re bumping this one up to the next category. One can only hope a remodel goes with it.

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