Is the new Club Carlson 10,000 point promo mattress-run worthy?

Club Carlson recently announced their new summer promotion: stay two nights and get 10,000 bonus points.  There’s no doubt that this is a nice bonus if you plan to stay two nights anyway.  The question I have is whether this promo is good enough to go out of one’s way for.  Is it worth booking a weekend stay just for the points?


Stay two or more consecutive nights anytime between May 13 and July 21, 2013 at any of our more than 1,000 participating Carlson Rezidor hotels worldwide to earn 10,000 bonus Points for each eligible stay.

Details about Club Carlson’s new promotion can be found here.  Make sure to register, just in case!  You can also read Mommy Points’ view of the promotion here; Points, Miles & Martinis’ view here; and Lucky’s view here.

In 2011 and 2012, Club Carlson ran promotions in which it was possible to earn up to 50,000 points for a one night stay.  There was no doubt then that it was worth booking a cheap stay just for the points.  This promotion, though offers only 1/5 the points and requires a two night stay instead of one.  So, this promotion requires deeper analysis…

Near Optimal Earnings

In the post “Earn 70 points per dollar at Club Carlson hotels” I showed how it is possible to stack multiple Club Carlson points earning options onto a single stay.  Almost all of the possibilities are unlocked simply by getting a Club Carlson Premier Rewards Signature card (or its twin Business card).  With either card, you’ll earn 10 points per dollar at Club Carlson properties when you pay with the Club Carlson credit card, and you’ll earn bonus points as a Gold elite member (which is an automatic perk of the credit card).  You could do slightly better with top level Concierge status, but for most people that is out of reach since it requires 75 nights or 30 stays to achieve.

Another way to boost earnings is to sign up for “Club Carlson for Business.”  If you are a business owner, you can get a business account and earn an additional 10 points per dollar for bookings made online.  You will also qualify for a 5% discount off their standard rates.

Here is a full run-down of points earned for a regular stay (without the summer promotion) if you have the Club Carlson credit card and a business account:

  • Base earnings for any stay: 20 points per dollar
  • Elite bonus (Gold members): 10 points per dollar
  • Credit card earnings: 10 points per dollar
  • Club Carlson for Business: 10 points per dollar
  • Online booking bonus: 2000 points

So, even without a promotion, it is possible to earn 50 points per dollar plus 2000 points per stay (not per night) for booking online.

10K Promotion: 110X

By stacking the points earned as shown above, with the summer 10K promotion, you can now earn up to 50 points per dollar plus 12,000 points per stay.

Ignoring taxes, with a $100 per night stay, you would spend $200 and earn 22,000 points.  In other words, you would earn 110 points per dollar!

How much are points worth?

A few months ago, I looked at Club Carlson hotel prices and redemption rates in a number of cities.  I found that, in my sample, the per point value of Club Carlson points ranged from .22 cents to .89 cents each.  The average point value came to .43 cents.  So, 110 points per dollar is like a 47% rebate.

The math gets better with the Club Carlson credit card which offers a free night with each reward stay of 2 nights or more.  In other words, if you stay two nights on points, you only need to pay for one night!  For details, see “Club Carlson rocks our world… Again.”  So, by focusing on two-night stays, your points can be worth twice as much!  The value of points then (based on my sample) goes up as high as .44 to 1.78 cents per point with an average value of .86 cents each. 

If you value Club Carlson points at .86 cents each, then 110 points per dollar is like a 94.6% rebate!  Clearly, if you’re planning to travel anyway and if a Club Carlson hotel is a viable option, then you will do very well with this promotion.

Taxes vs. Cash Back

It’s hard to estimate how much you’ll pay in taxes since that varies from State to State and from city to city.  Credit card points will be earned for the full cost of your stay, but other point multiples shown above will be based on the stay cost before taxes.

It’s worth noting that there are a number of cash back portals that include Club Carlson properties such as Radisson, Park Plaza, and Country Inn & Suites.  For example, TopCashBack currently offers 9% cash back for those hotels.  If you start your booking from a cash back portal and click through to one of those Club Carlson web sites, you will still be eligible for all point earnings and online booking bonuses.  For a list of cash back portals to consider, please see my Sign-Up Links page.

Overall, rather than trying to estimate the effect of taxes and cash back portals, for the sake of this analysis let’s assume that they cancel each other out.  In other words, I’ll calculate the value of mattress runs without factoring in taxes or cash back.

Mattress Runs

The point of pure mattress runs is to book a hotel stay just to earn points or elite status.  In this case, we’re just talking about point earnings.  If you really don’t value the stay at all and just want to get points, then the goal should be to get points at a cost lower than their redemption value and lower than they could be bought elsewhere.

Club Carlson outright sells points to consumers for just .7 cents per point.  So, even if you value points higher than that, it wouldn’t make sense to do a mattress run if you end up paying .7 cents or more for your points.

Personally, I wouldn’t consider a Club Carlson mattress run unless the full cost was less than .4 cents per point.  The idea, after all, is to get a bargain.  However, if you are working on building up your points for a specific high value redemption (Radisson Blue Paris, for example), you might be willing to set a higher bar.

Here then are the calculations for the cost per point for mattress runs for Club Carlson hotels at various price points with the 10K promotion included:

Hotel cost per night

Total cost

Points earned*

Cost per point

$50 $100 17,000 .59
$60 $120 18,000 .67
$70 $140 19,000 .74
$80 $160 20,000 .8
$90 $180 21,000 .86
$100 $200 22,000 .91

* Points earned: This column assumes that you achieve near optimal point earnings as described above (e.g. 50 points per dollar plus 2000 points per stay before including the 10K promotion).

As you can see in the table above, booking a $50 per night room just to get points would cost .59 cents per point.  This is better than buying points outright at .7 cents per point, but not by a wide margin.  And, it doesn’t come close to my “buy” target of .4 cents per point.

So, go ahead and book a two night stay if you value both the points and the stay, but don’t book it for the points alone.

Second night add-on

Suppose you have a planned one night stay at a Club Carlson property.  Is it worth adding a second night to qualify for the 10K promotion?  The second night would get you up to 50 points per dollar for the cost of the second night, and 10,000 bonus points thanks to the summer promotion.  Here are the calculations for the cost per point for adding a second night to your stay:

Hotel cost per night

Extra points earned*

Cost per point

$50 12,500 .4
$60 13,000 .46
$70 13,500 .52
$80 14,000 .57
$90 14,500 .62
$100 15,000 .67

* Extra points earned:  These are the points earned for the added-on second night.  This column assumes that you achieve near optimal point earnings as described above (e.g. 50 points per dollar before including the 10K promotion).

As you can see in the table above, tacking on a second night to a $50 per night stay would result in “buying” points at only .4 cents each.  As room prices go up, the cost to buy points this way increases as well.  So, if you are planning a one night stay in an extremely cheap Club Carlson hotel, it may be worth it to extend your stay to two nights depending on how highly you value Club Carlson points.

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  1. Hi ,

    Does the mattress run work in all properties worldwide ? I am esp. asking in reference to properties in India. If i book the cheapest hotel in any city for 2 nights and dont turn up then will i get all the points – 20 points for a dollar, 10 points for a dollar as gold elite, 2000 points online booking, 10000 points under promo ?

  2. Pranay: you must show up to get the promo. if you research it, you’ll see people able to do that about two years ago, but that is no longer the case.

  3. What I really want to know (maybe I missed it) do you get the 10,000 pts if your first night is paid and your 2nd night is free because of the cc credit card

    • Tim2: No. You only get the 2nd night free on award stays anyway. The 10K promo is for two paid nights.
      Kathy: The requirements for Concierge status don’t change just because you have Gold status from the credit card.
      Lynn: Yes, Marriott might be a better option for you if you don’t mind hotel hopping. Keep in mind though that you will earn even more than 10K points with Club Carlson because they are very generous with point earnings.

  4. I have CC reward card which gives me gold status already then how many more stays do I need to move up to the Concierge status?

  5. It seems this one might only be good if you are really close to a redemption…which with the current Club Carlson award chart, most people are.

    But if you are trying to get 50,000 pts for that Blu some where…it may not be worth it to invest up to 4 nights unless you can get it at a really cheap rate.

    I looked here in the DC area and for the next few weeks you can’t get much below $100 a night. So I think I am sitting this one out.

  6. I’ve got a 2-night stay coming up in May and can’t decide whether to do this Carlson deal or the Marriott one, which gets me an automatic free night — although it will involve staying 1 night and then moving to another hotel for the 2nd night. I think Marriott may be better for me, since 12,000 points isn’t enough to get a free night at any Carlson hotel in cities I plan to visit next year.

  7. FM – this makes no sense. You say $50 room gives you 22K points and suggest such is mattress run worthy. But $50 in VRs gets you 12+ VRs, or 30K points. I thought the whole point of mattress runs was to leverage “amazing deals” to overcome the hassle of a mattress run? In this case, you’d be nuts to spend more and get fewer rewards, and increase hassle factor by orders of magnitude. No thanks. Not a chance.

    And as another poster mentioned, so many points are being given that it’s not IF Carlson devalues, only when (Hiltonpeso Syndrome). And my guess it is sooner than later.

    Finally, Carlson is mid/low tier property, so useless for aspirational stays.

    Even with the HH devaluation, you can still get top-tier hotel stays at good discount. 95K redemption with 5th night free is 76K/night. At grocery, costs you ~$185 in gc/MO fees for rooms at $650+ night (with restrictions – rooms with ability to cancel are several hundred a night more expensive, which is equivalent to award stays). So $185 gets you ~$800/night in an aspirational place like Koh Samui. HH is competitive on low/mid tier redemptions with Carlson, so I’d argue that due to better range of hotels, that it’s better to churn HH because unlikely to see further devaluation, while Carlson seems extremely likely to devalue (that they don’t have a single property I’d want to stay at makes Carlson dead on non-arrival for me).

  8. I agree with you Paul. Just using the credit card gets better points. So if you need to manufacture spend it’s cheaper that way than staying. But if you have a stay planned, then this Carlson promo makes it worth your while to stay with them over other chains assuming similar price points.

    I agree with others that I’d expect a devaluation in the future but hopefully not that soon. The chain seems pretty small compared to others and it seems like they are still in the acquisition and growth stage. I just hope that when they do decide to devalue it isn’t as drastic as Hilton. Meaning I could accept adding another tier or two (no higher than say 60-65K for top tier). If they are going to devalue they should do it over years rather than doubling the top rate as Hilton did.

  9. Paul,

    The article is about if the promotion is “mattress run worthy.” Not “If this is the best way to gain Carlson points.”

  10. JTP – the point Paul is making (and that I agree with) is it’s not really worth mattress running for the sake of acquiring points cheaply if they can be had cheaper. I would agree though that this makes mattress running for the case of status a heck of a lot cheaper since you’d be acquiring points fairly cheap at the same time.

  11. Last year Club Carlson did offer a 50% bonus on purchased points, bring the cost down to .005. Of course you are limited as to how many you can buy in a year. NO telling if they’ll run it again this year.

    Recently CC did a REevaluation of points, mainly a DEvaluation on affected US properties, better rates on a number of non-US properties. Because of that I personally don’t think a devaluation is imminent.

  12. Unless you have plan to stay in CC hotels, otherwise if you have Club Carlson credit card, all you have to do is buy 4 VR cards which cost $2015.80 and earn 20,151 CC pts. Then pay CC card with bluebird. In the end, you only spend $15.80 and earn over 20K pts.

  13. Tiara: u still come out ahead on CC buying VR. Cost is 0.16c/pts vs. minimum value of 0.22 and maybe 0.44 cents for stay. But as people pointed out CC is ripe for a devaluation. I would rather go with SPG or UR points even if I get the pts at 1 cents accumulation since so much flexibility/value…

  14. Did you notice that Club Carlson is also running a Double Gold Points promotion (until 2013 year end). So, why not combine two promotion together?

    Please correct me if I am wrong — if the two promotions can not be earned together.

  15. my question is: can this 10,000 bonus points be earned more than once? i mean, if i complete 2-night stays twice, can I earn the 10,000 bonus points twice?

  16. Andy: I see now. Double Gold points are for special (i.e. more expensive) rates. And, I believe that double points only apply to the base 20X points earnings. Yes, the 10K bonus can be earned more than once as long as you meet the terms of the promo each time.

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