Is Club Carlson’s new promo mattress-run worthy?

A couple of years ago, Club Carlson ran promotions in which they offered up to 50,000 bonus points for a one night stay.  Since Club Carlson’s award chart tops out at 50,000 points, this meant that it was possible to book a cheap hotel night at a local hotel in order to get enough points to stay at least one night at any Club Carlson property in the world.  When you pay for a hotel room just to get points or status, this is known as a “mattress run”.

For those of us who invested in these promotions, things got even better when Club Carlson announced their new credit cards (see “Club Carlson rocks our world… Again“).  Once you have this credit card, you can take advantage of the Bonus Award Nights. (Note: This feature was discontinued as of June 1, 2015.)  For each award stay of 2 nights or longer, the last night of the stay is free.  That means that for a two night award, you pay half price!  Suddenly, the 50,000 points we earned from the earlier promotions became worth at least 2 nights anywhere in the world instead of just 1!

Now, Club Carlson is offering a new promotion that is similar, but not as lucrative as the old ones.  With their new Stay 3 Nights, Get 1 Free promotion, you can earn 38,000 points after staying 3 nights between January 6 and April 13, 2014.  You must register first.

ClubCarlson_Stay3Get1

Mattress Run?

On the surface of it, this promo looks pretty good.  Club Carlson Category 1 properties cost only 9000 points per night, so it is theoretically possible to use the 38000 bonus points to stay 4 nights.  And, if you have the Club Carlson credit card, you can turn those 4 free nights into 4 free two-night weekends!

That said, when doing a mattress run just for the points, it makes sense to think of the hotel room cost as the cost to buy points.  Club Carlson sells points for just .7 cents each, so you would only want to do a mattress run if your cost per point were significantly lower than that.

Time for some math…

Assumptions:

  • You have a Club Carlson credit card which grants Gold status.
  • You have a local Club Carlson hotel with rates as low as $60.
  • You have signed up for Club Carlson for Business (see “Earn 70 points per dollar at Club Carlson hotels“).
  • You pay with your Club Carlson credit card to earn 10 points per dollar.
  • You book each night separately so as to get the online booking bonus each time.
  • To make the math easier, let’s say that you use cash back portals and the Club Carlson for Business 5% discount to offset taxes.

Points earned per night/booking:

  • Online booking bonus: 2000 points
  • Gold status 30 points per dollar: $60 X 30 = 1800
  • Credit card 10X: $60 X 10 = 600
  • Club Carlson for Business 10X extra: $60 X 10 = 600
  • Total points earned per night before promo: 5000

After 3 nights:

  • Points earned from stays: 5000 x 3 = 15,000
  • Points earned from promo: 38,000
  • Total points earned: 53,000

Now we can calculate the cost per point:

  • Total cost: $60 x 3 = $180
  • Cost per point: $180 / 53,000 = .34 cents per point

Is it worth it?

.34 cents per point is a reasonable price to pay for Club Carlson points, but it’s not an amazing deal.  If you have the credit card, you could instead buy Vanilla Reload cards to earn 5X points for a total cost of less than .16 cents per point.  So, I wouldn’t do a pure 3-night mattress run for this deal just to get points.  However, if Club Carlson properties fit into your travel schedule between now and April 13, it’s definitely a worthwhile promotion.  And, if you find yourself just one night short of completing the promo, it almost certainly is worth a pure mattress run to secure the 38,000 point bonus.

Frequent Miler is on vacation

Posts have been scheduled in advance. See you in September!

Comments

  1. “If you have the credit card, you could instead buy Vanilla Reload cards to earn 5X points for a total cost of less than .16 cents per point.”

    So why would you be so stupid to even consider a mattress run? One trip to CVS and you’ve grabbed 35K for $55.

    But then the question is what would you use the points for? Most Carlsons are junky properties.

    • If you buy points by buying VR cards, you give up the chance to earn points or cash back from other cards through that technique (assuming that you regularly max out all of your options for liquidating VR cards). So, for some it might make sense to do this.
      .
      Not all properties are junky. There are some very nice Radisson Blu, Radisson, and Park Plaza hotels

  2. Hey FM,

    I love your blog, though I have one request.

    When you make your assumptions and lay out the math, it would be nice to see the analysis assuming that one does and does not have a business account (in this case Club Carlson for Business).

    I imagine a lot of your readers – including myself – don’t have this business account setup, so by showing both analysis it would let us know what the cost without it is and whether it would provide incentive to set up the business account.

    Thanks!

    • I think that’s a reasonable request. In this post, I purposely assumed the biggest possible point haul to see best case cost per point of the mattress run. Plus, it’s very easy to get a business account

  3. last time they had the 50K promo I booked a room in India for 15.00 and the points posted. I know it’s gamble, but might be worth the risk?

  4. Hi, you don’t factor in the costs of doing the mileage runs:
    1. Time (say 6 hours between researching and travelling) – valued at $30/hour(?) = $180
    2. Travel costs – say 10 miles each way. Cost of running a car is 55 cents/mile = 60 * 0.55 = $33
    3. Time away from friends/family = $?

    Even with just 1 and 2 you are now at $393/53,000 = 0.74 cents per point

    • That’s true. All of those things can be said of doing trips to Walmart or CVS as well. Each person has unique circumstances that would make those calculations vary tremendously.

  5. As far as I’m concerned, CC points can be manufactured for 0.235 CENTS each (or 0.196 CENTS each if I spend slightly more effort). I get this calculation from the CC visa card which gives you 5x points. It would require $23.80 in GC fees from a grocery store to get 10,119 points. At a drugstore it would cost $19.80 to get 10,099 points. As such I’m saying that NO, this is NOT WORTH IT for me. If I need the points, I’ll just manufacture them when the time comes. (it also helps out that I’m about to get my 40k annual bonus for $75 from the CC visa. That’s 0.1875 cents/point for doing absolutely NOTHING.

  6. I don’t normally post, but using VRs ignores the opportunity cost of getting points in a different program (or cash back). Then, people like Paul in the first post who don’t understand that then make a judgmental statement quickly, which is not the right thing to do for some people (obviously $55 may not be much to manufacture, but the concept holds for any amount).

  7. @M

    Thank you. I am perfectly capable of doing simple (and advanced) math.

    I was simply pointing out that the assumptions were likely wrong for a large portion of the audience reading this, and I suggested how to approve the analysis.

    If someone else is already doing the work, then why should I do it too?

    Cheers

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