Club Carlson: The Best Hotel Credit Card After Hotel Loyalty Program Devaluations?

Disclosure: Well Traveled Mile has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Well Traveled Mile and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

After all the hotel loyalty program devaluations, a lot of people are asking what is the best hotel credit card? There certainly have been some disappointing changes (read devaluations) made to most of the redemption rates with Hilton, Priority Club, Marriott, and Starwood. With that in mind, there have also been some exciting new cards and lucrative offers released--specifically the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa 85,000 point welcome bonus.

Why is the Club Carlson Premier card the best hotel credit card?

The points earned from the welcome bonus and meeting the minimum spend alone are worth four free nights at a top tier Club Carlson Property. Redemption rates at the top Radisson Blu hotels in Europe, such as the Radisson Blu in Split Croatia, are from 44,000-50,000 points per night. With the card you are automatically upgraded to gold status, which gives you free room upgrades and a bonus award night for stays of two nights or more.

Radisson Blu Split, Croatia award nights are 44,000 points

An award night at the Radisson Blu Split, Croatia is 44,000 points

In my opinion, it is the free bonus night that really sets this hotel credit card apart. Assuming you will stay for at least two nights at each property, you essentially double the value of Club Carlson points.

Some people are reporting a difficult time getting approved for cards from US Bank, but if you can get this card it is a great deal. I was able to get approved for the business card earlier this year, and recently reapplied for the personal card and was approved the second time around.

The welcome bonus from just these two cards will be worth 195,000 points--including the points earned from the minimum spend to meet the welcome bonus requirements. Add a few more purchases and you can easily round out your points balance to 200,000--which will be worth eight free nights at a top tier Radisson Blu hotel when you use the free bonus award nights.

If you decide to stay at lower redemption level hotel, you can get a great value by booking a night for as few as 9,000 points. There are some decent properties around the world at this level such as the Radisson Hotel Hacienda, Cancun. With the 200,000 points earned from the offer and spend you could stay 22 free nights at the lower tier hotels--definitely a great deal for the budget minded traveler.


Only 9,000 points per night at Radisson Hotel Hacienda in Cancun

How much does it cost to earn a free night at a top tier Club Carlson hotel?

You earn 10 points per dollar spent from stays at a Club Carlson hotel, so you will rack up enough points for a free night at a top tier Radisson Blu hotel after spending $5,000. This is on par with the lowest amount needed to earn a free night from any of the hotel credit cards available. For a free night at a top tier Hyatt property you would have to spend $4,400 at their hotels--for Marriott, Priority Club, Hilton, or Starwood you would have to spend $4,500, $5,000, $6,333, and $15,000 respectively.

The Bottom Line

The Club Carlson Premier Visa and the 85,000 welcome bonus definitely offers the most value after the other hotel devaluations. The card also offers some of the best perks in my opinion, especially if you plan on staying at some top tier Radisson Blu properties across Europe.

Here are some other benefits of the card:

  • 10 points per $1 spent in eligible net purchases at participating Carlson Rezidor hotels worldwide
  • 5 points per $1 spent in eligible net purchases everywhere else
  • 85,000 Bonus Gold Points to start - Receive 50,000 Gold Points after your first purchase.  Plus 35,000 points once you spend $2,500 on your card within the first 90 days
  • Bonus Award Night - When you redeem Gold Points for 2 or more consecutive Award Nights, your last night is free.3 Exclusively for cardmembers!
  • Club Carlson Gold Status is yours after you activate and use your card

There are obvious limitations of using your free nights due to the geographical locations of properties (most properties are in Europe and the eastern US), so this should by no means be the only hotel credit card you have. It is always good to have a couple options for hotel stays and each program will not fit everyones needs.

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Advertiser Disclosure: Well Traveled Mile has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Well Traveled Mile and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

Editors Note: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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