Earn 70 points per dollar at Club Carlson hotels

Earning points with Club Carlson has become amazingly easy.  Here’s how you can earn 70 points per dollar, or more, during your stays… 

On Tuesday I wrote about Club Carlson’s excellent new credit cards (see “Club Carlson rocks our world… Again“).  One of the things I didn’t touch on in that post was how these credit cards help to improve point earnings on stays.  I’ll show you how you can earn 70 points per dollar (or more) for short stays…

Base Earnings 20X to 35X

Be default, Club Carlson offers a very generous 20 points per dollar spent at their hotels.  Elite members earn even more: Silver members earn 25% more (25 points per dollar); Gold members earn 50% more (30 points per dollar); and top tier Concierge members earn 75% more (35 points per dollar).

Credit Cards 40X

Since two of the new credit cards give Gold status automatically, and those cards earn 10 points per dollar at Club Carlson properties, card holders with Gold status who pay with those cards will automatically earn 40 points per dollar!

Club Carlson for Business 50X

Club Carlson has a program for businesses to earn even more.  You can find details about the program (including how to sign up) here.  If you qualify for this program, you can earn an additional 10 points per dollar for each stay (8X automatically + 2X for booking online).  By combining with a credit card and Gold status as described above, your total earnings will be 50 points per dollar!  Even better, businesses are given a 5% discount off standard rates.

Things get complicated, though, if you want to use a promo code.  Let’s say, for example, the AAA discount is better than the business discount.  In that case, you can use the AAA code and get business points by following this advice: Club Carlson for Business final word (I hope).  Unfortunately, if you do that, you won’t earn an online booking bonus (see “Club Carlson for business one more thing“).

So, do the math to see which works best for you.  Your options are:

  • Use business 5% discount:  With this approach you get the extra 10X business points, plus the online booking bonus.
  • Use a better promo code (AAA, for example):  With this approach you need to pick either the extra 10X points or the online booking bonus.  For short, cheap stays, the online booking bonus is preferable.  For expensive stays (over $200), getting an extra 10X would be preferable.

Online Booking Bonus 70X

Silver and Gold members are given a 2000 point bonus for each stay booked online (3000 points for top tier Concierge members).  For inexpensive stays, this bonus is significant.  For example, consider a $75 one-night stay: 2000 points is equivalent to over 26 points per dollar.  For a $100 one-night stay, 2000 points is equivalent to 20 points per dollar.  When you combine this bonus with the earnings described above, your total earnings for a one night $100 stay come to 70 points per dollar!

How good is this?

Suppose you stay one night in a $100 per night hotel.  If you combine all of the opportunities shown above, you will earn 7000 points.  You would just need 2000 more points, along with a free Bonus Award Night (Note: The Bonus Award night feature was discontinued on June 1, 2015.) So, you can use 9000 points for two nights at certain properties! to stay two nights in a Category 1 hotel!  That’s awesome.  Another way to think of it is that 7 one night stays would earn just short of enough points for two nights at the best Club Carlson properties in the world. In other words, for $700 (+ tax) you could get seven separate one night stays plus a free two night stay at a Radisson Blu in Paris.  That too is an excellent value!

Is this mattress-run worthy?

A mattress run is where you book a hotel room just to earn points, elite status, or other perks.  70 points per dollar (or more) is pretty fantastic, so some might wonder whether it is worth checking into Club Carlson hotels just for the points.  The quick answer is no.  Let’s look at an example.  Suppose you find a cheap Club Carlson property that goes for $60 per night.  Here’s how the math breaks down for a one night stay:

  • Cost: $60 + tax (let’s say 10%) = $66
  • Online booking bonus points: 2000
  • 50X points: $60 X 50 = 3000
  • Total points earned: 5000
  • Cost per point: $66 / 5000 = 1.32 cents per point

Since it is sometimes possible to get as much as .8 cents per point value at some hotels and since the Bonus Award Night feature of the new credit cards virtually double the value of your points, you can argue that the points are worth as much as 1.6 cents each.  However, Club Carlson sells their points directly for only .7 cents each.  So, staying at hotels just to earn points doesn’t make much sense under usual circumstances.

If you have top tier Concierge status, the math gets a bit better.  Instead of 5000 total points in this scenario, you would earn 6300 points.  So, this same stay would cost 1.05 cents per point.  It’s still not mattress run worthy, but it gets close!

Club Carlson often offers terrific promotions, though.  When you combine these high point earnings with a “buy one night, get one free” type of offer, for example, there is no question in my mind that Club Carlson hotels become mattress-run worthy, even for Gold members.

Final Word

Club Carlson’s generosity is astounding.  Through a combination of standard loyalty program features, promotions, and credit card benefits they have made it astonishingly easy to earn points, and they’ve made the points earned worth much more than ever before!  In the past year, Club Carlson has moved from the loyalty program I never heard of, to a nice option for burning points, to a remarkably strong contender against the best alternatives.

That doesn’t mean I don’t want more from them!  I’d love to see free breakfast become an automatic Gold member benefit as it is with Hilton (currently Club Carlson only guarantees breakfast to Concierge members), and I’d like to see more high-end properties.  And, while I’m griping, please convince U.S. Bank to drop the foreign transaction fees on the credit cards.  Do you really want us to continue using our Sapphire Preferred cards overseas?

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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  1. We have found that many Club Carlson hotels in Europe give out breakfast for free with all award stays, regardless of status. This has happened to us in Croatia and Denmark at least. It can vary by hotel because some hotels automatically include breakfast for all guests.

  2. The status is nice but keep in mind that on average these points aren’t as valuable to redeem as other hotel programs. If you find yourself in a position to stay at a lot of Carlson properties for business or whatnot it’s a good deal but not worthy of a mattress run IMHO.

    • DaninSTL: With the new ability to redeem for two nights at the award price of one night, CC points become much more valuable than before. For two-night stays, and not counting the relative merits of the properties, I’d argue that CC points are about as valuable as Hyatt points, more valuable than Hilton and Marriott, but still not as valuable as SPG

  3. While clearly Club Carlson points are more valuable when used for hotel stays, even if you have no interest in Radisson properties, you might consider this card just for airline miles potential. Regular spend generates 5 points/dollar and 100,000 points translates into 18,000 miles in most major domestic airlines (Southwest being the exception). If you spend $20,000/year, you will annually rack up 100,000 points for spend + 40,000 points for renewing for a total of 140,000 points which equals just over 25,000 airline miles.

    • Jeff: I agree with you that Club Carlson points can be valuable for converting to airline miles, but I wouldn’t recommend putting spend on the Club Carlson credit card for that purpose. 5X Club Carlson points per dollar equals slightly less than 1 mile per dollar. So, you’re better off with just about any other credit card for day to day spend if your goal is to collect miles. You could get the card just for the signup bonus and the annual 40K bonus, without putting spend on the card, and use those points to convert to miles. With the annual fee for the business card ($60) you would be paying less than a penny each for miles. That’s a good deal. Also, points earned from stays are a good deal. For example, if you get 70X from a stay, that is equivalent to 12.6X airline miles. That’s excellent!

  4. @ Jeff— might as well just get an SPG card, where 20,000 pts = 25k miles.

    Most of the carlson properties seem like places that are inexpensive but not very nice.

  5. I have the SPG Card at least for now. United miles are a major drawback with that card. I think you can make the case, that for domestic air travel and mid-range hotels this card is coming close to SPG Amex in terms of value. I would agree on average SPG properties are nicer than most Carlson properties, although I have stayed at some very nice Radissons.

  6. I was given breakfast certs in the Radisson LAX at FTU. I think it was because of my charm than anything else!
    If only their property quality was higher and more consistent! I agree with you…they have almost become a player now coming from…oblivion!

  7. Agreed there are other options to get more miles, but this card has the ability to be used as a very good hotel card and/or a very good airmiles card at the same time, rivaling SPG.

    On another subject, right now there are two stackable points promos running through Club Carlson. 40X extra points for booking a bed and breakfast package and an additional 2000 points for booking the B&B package. Then, there is a separate promo for 2000 to 6000 per night depending on the number of nights stayed. Both promos end 12/31. That could make a mattress run a real possibility if the card shows up soon.

  8. My average night for business at Country Inn is about $100 (DC area) and I mainly do one night stays. I am Concierge and get the 3K internet booking bonus. I have enough stays since 10/1 to get 6K per night on the promotion Jeff covered. The regular 20x points are 2K and the 75% Concierge bonus is 1.5K. Add on the CC Visa 10X for 1K (just heard I got approved this morning).

    13,500 points total for a $100 night. That’s a free night on points in some locations (two including the free credit card bonus night).

    Not bad for one night, and best of all it business reimbursed. I have generally found the quality to be fine, but maybe I’m just not Hilton acclimated. I also pretty much always get upgraded to a suite.

    I’m happy.

  9. The math does for sure add up using all the stackable promos, cash back, etc… I think that people are missing the point when they try to compare CC to others and see which program is better, I just see it as an addition to my redemption strategy.

    Club Carlson is excellent in europe! Great properties, always upgraded to business rooms. Domestic properties are just ok, never given an upgrade and I would rather use HH anyways. Also, CC has properties in a lot of other smaller cities that there is no SPG/HH.

    I recently returned from SJU, and though the property is tired, they gave me suite upgrade, welcome chocolates, drink coupons, casino vouchers, club access with free breakfast and pm snacks, no resort fees, early/late checkout, free wifi. I am pretty happy with that.

  10. Forgot to add this was a C&P redemption, signed up for 2×1 promo, the other 2k promo, and booked through shopping portal. Plus C&P earn points, HH & SPG don’t give points on C&P!

  11. I think Radisson points are really hard to use because most Radisson are pretty cheap. My list so far is short – London, Spitsbergen and the Radisson Blu Chicago. Everywhere else I looked Radissons price at about $100 not worth the 50k points.

  12. Re:Carl – you are right the Royal in Moscow is great but most other places I looked at the F&F rate applies for most nights or the property really has some nasty reviews. So I’d try to avoid living in Radisson hotels if I can get to choose 🙂

  13. tj – Hopefully they will be adding more Blus and maybe do some updating. I liked Austin.

    Country Inn at Mardi Gras in New Orleans isn’t bad (or I was too drunk to tell). On Magazine street.

  14. The killer app for CC points is Scandinavia, where in places like Oslo, even a Doubletree is $200+/night. Plenty of Radissons at 50k available.

  15. kind reminder: Club Carlon is running a triple bonus +2000 point promotion by 2012 year end for booking bed and breakfast package rate.

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