Maximizing Club Carlson: Evaluating Elite Status

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.

Club Carlson offers four different levels of elite status that will earn you different benefits during your stays. The levels include Red, Silver, Gold, and Concierge and Club Carlson has been very generous about matching member's status from other hotels programs to lure new high-level loyalty customers. The program has also been very proactive with big promotions such as last year’s Big Night Giveaway and the lucrative 85,000 point US Bank Club Carlson Visa bonus offer that has been out for almost a year now. Between the new card offers, promotions, and social media efforts the program in general seems to be aggressively trying to grow a loyal customer base. One of the most important aspects of gaining a loyal customer is rewarding them with various valuable benefits for frequently choosing said hotel brand to stay with. So, lets take a look at the various levels of the Club Carlson’s elite status and see how they stack up.

Elite Status Levels

There are four different levels of Club Carlson membership:

Red: This is the basic level status has no stay requirements.

Silver: The first level of elite status requires 15 nights or 10 stays per year.

Gold: The mid level of elite status requires 35 nights or 20 stays per year.

Concierge: The top-level of elite status requires 75 nights or 30 stays per year.

Compared with other hotel brands loyalty programs here’s how many nights you’d need to stay for each status tier:

Screen Shot 2013-07-03 at 12.57.05 AM

Automatic Gold Elite Status with The Club Carlson Visa Card

The co-branded US Bank Club Carlson Visa credit cards all give the card holder automatic Gold elite status. It is a huge plus that with any version of the card you will get all the benefits of Gold status for as long as you have the card.

There are three version of the card and each offer slightly different benefits so I will just briefly cover the cards here.

The bonus offer for both the Club Carlson Rewards Premier Visa Signature and the Club Carlson Business Rewards Visa is up to 85,000 Bonus Gold Points. The way it breaks down is that you will receive 50,000 Gold Points after your first purchase, and an additional 35,000 points after spending $2,500 within the first 90 days. With both of these cards you earn 10 points per dollar on  eligible purchases at participating Carlson Rezidor hotels worldwide and 5 points per dollar everywhere else. Each year you decide to renew the card for the $75 annual fee ($60 for the business card) you will receive 40,000 bonus points which is worth $300+ in free hotels.

The non-premium version of the card is the Club Carlson Rewards Visa Signature and you will get up to 60,000 Bonus Gold Points upon card approval. The first 50,000 points will be earned after your first purchase and an additional 10,000 points after spending $1,500 within 90 days. You earn 6 points per dollar on  eligible purchases at participating Carlson Rezidor hotels worldwide and 3 points per dollar everywhere else. The anniversary bonus on the card is 25,000 bonus points and the annual fee is $50.

Apart from the 60k/85k bonus points to start out with, the major benefits of either version of the card is the automatic gold status. This means you don’t have to pay for one stay in the hotel and you have gold status! The annual fee is low enough and is offset by the anniversary bonus that the card is worth keeping if you plan on staying at any Club Carlson properties in the next year.

Status Benefits

All Club Carlson members earn the standard 20 points per $1 spent on  hotel stays and food and beverage purchased to the room. One nice perk about Club Carlson hotels is that free internet is standard across all hotels brands. The differences in elite status level perks and benefits and earning potential starts with the Silver status and up.

Elite status members at the silver level or above will get complimentary room upgrades, Elite Rollover Nights, Early Check-in and Late Check-out, and Elite Customer Service Line. The differences between the status levels primarily lies in the earning power and they differ like this:


Online Booking Points Bonus: 1,000


Online Booking Points Bonus: 2,000

Point Bonus on earned points: 25%


Online Booking Points Bonus:: 2,000

Point Bonus: 50%

In-room welcome gift

72-hour room availability guarantee


Online Booking Points Bonus: 3,000

Point Bonus: 75%

In-room welcome gift

48-hour room availability guarantee

Free continental breakfast in restaurant

Global concierge access

Since Club Carlson cardholders automatically get Gold status and the program has been very proactive about matching elite status levels from different hotel programs it is fairly easy and cheap to get Gold Status. Since Club Carlson only matches up to Gold status, you will have to earn Concierge status from eligible stays. Although the free breakfast is a nice perk, the bonus earning power is really what matters if you are going to be staying frequently at Club Carlson properties.

Even if you only spend $1,000 a year at Club Carlson branded hotels your points earning break down would look like this:

Red: You’d earn 20,000 Gold Points (+1,000 points for booking online)

Silver: You’d earn 25,000 Gold Points (+2,000 points for booking online)

Gold: You’d earn 30,000 Gold Points (+2,000 points for booking online)

Concierge: You’d earn 35,000 Gold Points (+3,000 points for booking online)

The earning power almost doubles from Red to Concierge status and you would be earning almost twice the amount of points for spending $1,000 at hotel stays. For every $1,000 spent on stays and eligible food purchases you could get at least a couple free nights at a category 1 property for 9,000 points per night.

Free nights earned per $1,000 spent at Club Carlson hotels:

Red: 2 free nights

Silver: 3 free nights

Gold: 3.5 free nights

Concierge: 4 free nights

So, how much would you have to spend at Club Carlson hotels to earn a free night at a top-tier Category 6 property for 50,000 points per night?

Red: You would have to spend $2450

Silver: You would have to spend $1,920

Gold: You would have to spend $1,600

Concierge: You would have to spend $1,343


Nightly rates at many top-tier Radisson Blu properties in Europe start at $400

Nightly rates at many top-tier Radisson Blu properties in Europe start at $400

If you were to redeem 50,000 points for a free night at an expensive Radisson Blu hotel in Europe you could easily get more than $400 in value. The May Fair in London and the Radisson Blu locations in Paris, regularly have summer rates of more than $450 per night. Your return on the money you spent to earn those 50k points are from 16.3% with the Red status level, 20.8% with Silver, 25% with Gold, and 29.7% with Concierge. Club Carlson Visa cardholders can double these rates of return with the Bonus Award nights, essentially you are getting two nights for the price of one when you stay of two nights. If you earn your points by book multiple reservations you will also earn more from the bonus online booking points.

The Bottom Line

Club Carlson offers very competitive earning and redeeming potential compared to other hotel brand’s loyalty programs, you can even squeeze more value out of the program by having the co branded credit card and redeeming the points for high value stays. This year has been the year that I switch over a lot of my stays to Club Carlson properties to try them out and burn through some of my points. The sweet spot for the program is at the Gold Level in my opinion--earning power increases and you can get the status very cheaply from the card or status match.

* 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 like us on Facebook…and never miss an update!

Advertiser Disclosure
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.
arrow-circle-rightchevron-circle-right linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram