One of the hottest hotels cards offered this year is the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa and since the welcome bonus and program offer some amazing award nights I want to explain how to take advantage of Club Carlson’s loyalty program. During my most recent round of credit card applications I was approved for my second Club Carlson Premier Visa for a 85,000 point bonus--now I have both the business and personal card.

Club Carlson has had some lucrative promos in the past such as the Radisson and Park Inn with 50,000 point promos, so it’s just a matter of time before they roll out the next big one. True with anything in the miles and points game, it always pays off to be one step ahead or at least have a strategy outlined so you can make the most of the program.

This post aims to cover the benefits of Club Carlson’s loyalty program, how to maximize them, and why it really is one of the most lucrative hotel loyalty programs out there today--especially after so many of the other programs were devalued.

Is Club Carlson the most lucrative hotel program out there?

The Basics of the Program

The Club Carlson loyalty programs includes over 1,000 Carlson Rezidor properties worldwide. The hotel brands include Radisson, Radisson Blu, Park Plaza, Park Inn and Country Inns & Suites, however the Carlson Rezidor’s Missoni Hotels in Edinburgh and Kuwait are excluded from earning and redeeming. With over 1,000 properties it is on par with Starwood, less than Marriott and Hilton, but more than Hyatt. The majority of their top-tier Radisson Blu properties stretch from Western Europe to the Middle East/Northern Africa. Although you will also find some scattered throughout Latin America, Asia, and Australia.

Base Level Earning

Across all Club Carlson brands you will earn 20 Gold Points per $1 spent--including meals and incidentals, but excluding taxes. When compared to other hotel brands Club Carlson comes out on top for earning points for paying for hotel stays. Here is what you will earn with other hotel brands:

-Marriott: 5-10 points per dollar

-Priority Club: 5-10 points per dollar

-Hilton: 15 points per dollar with Points + Points double-dipping

-Hyatt: 5 points per dollar

-Starwood: 2 points per dollar

How to Redeem

Earn 20 points per dollar spent makes Club Carlson have the most lucrative earning ratio, but this doesn't necessarily mean that it has the highest value when redeeming. Top-tier Club Carlson property redemption rates are between 50,000 points--the same redemption rate as Priority Club and Hilton. So, you are earning more (25%+) through spending and redeeming for the same base redemption rate for award nights at top-tier hotels.

Here is a redemption chart:

Carlson Award Night Chart

With base level spending you will have to spend $2,500 at Club Carlson hotels to earn a free night at a Category 6 (50,000 points) hotel. However, this is just the base rate for earning points--Club Carlson’s program can be immensely lucrative once you factor in credit card bonuses, promotions, and elite status which gives you a free bonus award nights when you stay for two nights or more.

With some of the top-tier Radisson Blu properties in Europe costing close to $400, you would be able to earn a free night after staying 6.25 nights at that rate. On the low-end (such as the Radisson Hotel Hacienda, Cancun), you could earn a free night after spending only $450. The return is close to the same--and you would earn a free night after 6.4 nights at a $70 nightly rate.

Let’s take a look at how much you would have to spend at other hotel brands to earn a top-tier hotel night:

$4,400 for a free night at a top-tier Hyatt (22,000 points at 5 points earned per dollar spent)

$4,500 for a free night at a top-tier Marriott (45,000 points at 10 points per dollar spent)

$5,000 for a free night at top-tier Priority Club property (50,000 points at 10 points per dollar spent)

$6,333 for a free night at a top-tier Hilton (95,000 points at 15 points earned per dollar spent)

$15,000 for a free night at a Starwood Category 7 property (30,000 points at 2 points per dollar spent) or $7,775 for Cash & Points for 15,000 points (at 2 points per dollar) plus the $275 co-pay.

Things to consider

Are top-tier Carlson properties the same as other hotels brands top-tier hotels? The Radisson Blu properties are very nice in Europe, but how do they stack up for location and quality compared to the top Marriotts, Hiltons, and Hyatts? Top-tier hotels differ from hotel brand to hotel brand and each offer a unique experience. Obviously this is not just for the top hotels as well, and maybe Club Carlson can be your resource for great middle-tier hotel redemptions with their many brands.

These are just some things to consider when deciding whether Club Carlson is a hotel loyalty program for you. I would love to hear what you think about Club Carlson program and hotels below!

* If you found this post useful, why don’t sign-up to receive free blog posts via email (max of 1 email per day!) or in a RSS reader …be sure you’ll never miss another update!