Top 7 ways to milk the Club Carlson card before and after June 1

Last Friday I reported that Club Carlson credit cards will be losing their most valuable benefit: Bonus Award Nights as of June 1 2015.  Club Carlson is replacing this benefit with a free night in the US, earned after $10K annual spend.  The soon-to-be-gone Bonus Award Night benefit makes the last night of each multi-night award stay free.  So, it is currently possible to double the value of your Club Carlson points by booking two night award stays.  With two-night award stays, you pay (with points) for the first night and get the second night free. 

With this benefit going away, here are my top suggestions for milking full value from your existing cards…

1. Book Bonus Award Nights for post-June 1 stays, 2 nights at a time

Starting June 1, you won’t be able to book stays with Bonus Award Nights, but you can still benefit from Bonus Award Nights.  The trick is simply to book your future award stays prior to June 1.  For each multi-night award stay you book, you will get last night of the stay free.

Based on the best information available right now, I believe that we won’t be able to change these reservations after June 1 without losing the free night.

If you don’t know your exact travel schedule right now, it could make sense to book award stays in small increments: 2 nights at a time (to maximize the free night benefit).  This way, if your plans end up being slightly different than expected, you can cancel specific blocks of nights without losing all of your reservations.  Note that back to back two night stays booked at the same hotel will receive only one Bonus Award Night unless you work around the system a bit (see suggestion 2, below, for details).

2. Book back to back bonus awards

Suppose you want to book a continuous stay of four nights or more.  There are several ways to maximize your Bonus Award Nights.  By default, if you book one continuous multi night award you will only get one free night.  Here are a few workarounds:

  • Personal + Business cards: If you have both a personal and business Club Carlson credit card then you probably have two Club Carlson account numbers as well.  Book the first two nights from your personal account and the next two from your business account.  If you want to stay longer, then continue to alternate: book the next two from your personal account, etc.
  • You and your travel partner both have Club Carlson cards: If you and your travel partner each have a Club Carlson card, then alternate the person who books each two night stay.  For example, for a six night stay, you book the first two and the last two nights, and your significant other books the middle two nights.
  • Just one card: A couple of ideas…
    1. Put a paid stay in between each set of two night award stays.  For example, to book a 5 night stay, book the first two nights as an award, the third night as a paid stay, and the final two nights as another award.
    2. Change hotels. If you’re staying in a city with multiple Club Carlson hotels, you could book two award nights at one hotel (for the price of one night), then book the next two nights at a different Club Carlson hotel.

3. Book the best hotels

Drew, at Travel is Free, recently published his picks for the Best Club Carlson hotels.  His list includes hotels in Vienna, Sydney, Philadelphia, London, Berlin, Paris, Chicago, Cape Town, Shanghai, and Salzburg. 

If none of the above locations work for you, check out Travel Is Free’s map of Club Carlson hotels.  Here’s an image of the map where I filtered to just the top Category 6 and Category 7 hotels (just as an example of what’s possible):

ClubCarlson_Map_TravelIsFree

I would use this map to find properties in areas you plan to visit in the next year.  Next, I would visit sites like TripAdvisor to find properties that have great reviews.  Then, book em.

Another way to go is to get advice from others.  On Friday I tweeted/Facebooked this question:

Anyone know of an aspirational Club Carlson hotel? Is there such a thing? Time to burn points!

At the bottom of this post, I list the advice that was given in response.

4. Request compensation… twice

On Friday, when talking with a US Bank representative about the upcoming changes, I asked if any compensation was available for those who were unhappy with losing the Bonus Award Nights benefit.  She told me that they were instructed to offer 2500 points to anyone who was clearly unhappy.  I took it.  2500 points is a pathetic offer, but slightly better than nothing.  I plan to call again after June 1 to cancel one or more of my cards (between my wife and I, we have 3) to see if they’ll offer any incentives to keep the card open.  My guess is that they’ll be eager to retain customers and will be ready by then (but probably not before then) with a few offers.

5. Get more than 30,000 bonus points

Several hours after I posted about the loss of Bonus Award Nights on Friday, Club Carlson sent an email to cardholders with details about the change.  In that email we learned that the new free night after $10K spend benefit is for US properties only.  That’s a huge blow since most of Club Carlson’s best properties are in Europe! 

On the other hand, they did throw a bone to existing card members:

And, to thank you for your continued loyalty, you can earn 30,000 bonus Gold Points® on your next Eligible Stay at a Carlson Rezidor hotel worldwide when you pay with your Club CarlsonSM Visa®. Offer ends August 31, 2015.

Not all cardholders received this part of the message, but Club Carlson has stated via Twitter that all cardholders are eligible.

Even though Club Carlson points will be worth considerably less as of June 1, a 30,000 point bonus for a one night stay is really good.  Consider that the 30,000 points are in addition to points earned from the stay itself, from the credit card, and from any other special offers that may be going on at the time.  One could rack up a huge number of points with a single one night stay.  I might even consider a mattress run for this one (a mattress run is where you book and check into a hotel just to earn points and/or status even if you don’t intend to spend the night).

6. Sign up for a new card now (maybe)

This may sound ridiculous, but hear me out.  Club Carlson has just massively devalued their program + credit card combination, so why would I suggest signing up for the card?  The reason would be to take advantage of Bonus Award Nights plus the 30K one night stay bonus before its too late.  If you don’t already have a Club Carlson credit card that offers Bonus Award Nights, then it might be worth it to sign up now.  The signup bonus for the card gives you 50,000 points after first purchase and then another 35,000 points after $2,500 spend.  50,000 points is enough for at least one night at many of Club Carlson’s properties.  So it should be possible to get the 50,000 points before June 1, and use them to book a two night award stay for the price of one.

If 50,000 points isn’t enough, you could get more points in a few ways.  For one, you should be eligible for the 30,000 bonus point offer after 1 paid stay.  If so (check with Club Carlson first), you could stay one night at a cheap property to earn the extra points you need.  Or, you could quickly meet the $2,500 spend requirement to get the rest of the signup bonus (35,000 more points).

Or, if you’re interested in earning the 1 free night in the US with $10K spend, you could wait until May 28th to begin working on the $2,500 spend required for the rest of the card’s signup bonus.  That way, the same $2,500 spend will get you the sign-up bonus’ final 35K points plus it will get you one quarter of the way towards a free night.  Keep in mind, though, that points earned that late in the game cannot be used for booking Bonus Award Nights.

UPDATE: Earn even more points through Club Carlson’s triple points promotion!  See next item, below…

7. Take advantage of Club Carlson’s Big Reveal

Via Twitter and other social media, Club Carlson is promising a Big Reveal, whatever that is.  For example, in Twitter we see:

ClubCarlson_BigReveal2

UPDATE 4/6/2015 8:45am EST: The big reveal is an offer for triple points.

Details can be found here: Club Carlson offering triple points between April and June.

ClubCarlson_TriplePoints

Aspirational Club Carlson Properties

When I asked followers for recommendations of aspirational Club Carlson properties, here were the recommendations:

Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago (3 Votes):

RadissonBluChicago

Radisson Blu Warwick Hotel, Philadelphia:

RadissonBluPhiladelphia

Radisson Aruba Resort (3 votes):

RadissonAruba

The May Fair, London:

MASTER

Plaza on the River, London:

plazaontheriverhotel

Art’otel, Amsterdam:

2013_art_fernando_2g3a9889.jpg__780x440_q85_crop_upscale

Radisson Blu Scandinavia Hotel, Oslo:

RadissonBluOslo

Radisson Blu Polar Hotel Spitsbergen, Longyearbyen:

RadissonBluLongyearbyen

Radisson Blu Resort & Spa, Malta Golden Sands (2 votes):

RadissonBluMalta

Radisson Blu Tala Bay Resort, Aqaba Jordan:

RadissonBluAqabaJordan

Radisson Blu Resort Fiji Denaru Island:

RadissonBluFiji

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.

More articles by Greg The Frequent Miler »

Pingbacks

  1. […] Top 7 ways to milk the Club Carlson card before and after June 1 by Frequent Miler. #4 is the most interesting to me, apparently CSR’s are instructed to give 2,500 points to people that are unhappy about the change. This is another case where asking for compensation is successful. Somebody also recently mentioned they were able to get 2,000 MR points for their shoprunner benefit being less useful. […]

  2. […] Top 7 ways to milk the Club Carlson card before and after June 1  –  Frequent Miler     Yes, very lucrative. I thought about doing it in my short business trip to Columbus, OH but I changed my mind and decided to just drive to and from it the same day! What I should do before the big devaluation start day is plan some trips around Club Carlson hotels to get the free nights… […]

Comments

  1. If stay including bonus night is booked prior to June 1 for a stay after June 1, does one have to keep credit card account open through the stay to get the bonus night?

      • Please let us know what you find out. I and others have asked this question on various blogs and forums, and nobody seems to know for sure.

        • You have to have the credit card to get the bonus night…so wouldn’t it stand to reason that you have to keep it?
          Mine is up for renewal this month. I am going to keep it for the bonus miles and then cancel next year.

        • You need the credit card to BOOK a last free night award. In all the free nights I’ve gotten I was never asked to show my card at any of the hotels.

  2. on the 30k points for next stay/pay with credit card, is a points and cash booking paid with the credit card a qualifier?

  3. FM, you forgot Radisson Blue Sydney…very nice hotel! It appears they have all the days around the New Year’s eve available on points. That’s one of the coolest experiences in Australia that I highly recommend to anyone, and an exceptional value, as even the cheapest decent hotels will be well over $200/night.

  4. How do we know if the stay qualifies for the 30K? I don’t want to book one and expect to get it and not know till after that we didn’t.

  5. Hi , I wondering the 30000 points bonus for the next eligible stay is only offer once per cardholder or can earn as many as time we want before August 31 ?

    Thanks

  6. I just called up and talked with a representative. Being very calm and polite I explained that I was not happy with the change and it would cause me to seriously re-consider my loyalty. She was very nice and said she would pass along my complaints and that they have been getting a lot lately. I asked if there was any compensation in points for the change and she was nice to give me 5,000 in points. I don’t know if my complaint will be passed but 5k in points is a VERY small gesture.

    Also there are additional changes to the Visa card coming the 2nd quarter this year. Be on the lookout.

  7. Though i still dont agree that CC card is worth applying anymore unless they change the earning structure to say 8-10 x everywhere, I just want to mention couple of properties worth staying for those planning trips to India:
    1. Radisson Blu Hotel Chennai
    2. Radisson Blu Resort Temple Bay Mamallapuram
    3. Radisson Blu Hotel Chennai City Centre
    4. Radisson Blu Udaipur Palace Resort and Spa

  8. I tried the business app many times over the weekend to no avail — I get a technical error every time. I’d love to get it and hope to get the points in time to book a few nights, but I’m wondering if they’ve disabled the business app — I tried multiple browsers and computers/devices — every time I got a message saying that there was a technical error and to use my browser’s back button to return to the previous page.

      • Yes, I have. I’ve called the UW dept twice to make sure I don’t have multiple apps going through. They show no app under my info. They offered to transfer me to apply over the phone, I just didn’t have the time. Probably going to call and app over the phone tonight — haven’t done that before, but if that’s what I gotta do, so be it. I tried the app again twice more since posting here and I get the same message — “We’re experiencing technical difficulties. Please use your browser’s back button to return to the previous page.” Maybe it’s a sign I shouldn’t apply for some reason . . . .

  9. There has been at least one “secret” US-utilized military air base in the UAE since the time of GHW Bush being President.

  10. Are they strict about the requirement that the card holder be present while checking in for bonus night booking? I may not be able to travel at the moment, but my parents can. Does FM or other readers have any experience booking for others? FWIW, this will be for CC properties in Chennai, India as Kumar stated above. Thanks FM and Kumar.

  11. My plans for this summer are booked already, but I took a shot at next summer (2016) and used most of my points bouncing around the different hotels in Reykjavik, Iceland. That far out I should be able to book decent flights to and from Iceland.

  12. I got absolutely NOTHING after calling US Bank to complain. I just finished meeting the bonus spend requirement a few weeks ago and my card has only been open for about 3 months. I’m fuming. I called TWICE, and spoke to 2 different supervisors, and they weren’t able to give me a single point. So I’m going to cancel my card.

  13. @Laura when you call, you shouldn’t say you are not happy with them taking away the bonus nights, you are concerned unhappy, thats not their business. your suffering, unhappiness and misery is not their biz. Just say the main point which is that you are supposed to get the bonus award night for paying $75 fee. if they want to change it than they have to refund you the fee since you are not getting the benefit you paid the fee for or you agreed to. you should then get $75 back and some points.

  14. Is there any incentive to continue with the card after the first year………for $75 , do you get any bonus points , free night or any reason to keep the card ??

  15. People are all doom and gloom, but 40,000 points for $85 a year is not bad. It’s comparable to many of the other hotel cards. I agree that pre-devaluation it was twice as valuable, but you win some you lose some.

  16. If I’m going to do the 2-1-2 reward booking, would you recommend that I call the hotel prior to make sure that we are going to stay in the same room throughout?

    • It can’t hurt to contact the hotel a week or two before your visit, but in most cases it won’t be any problem to show up and ask to keep the same room. They might even do that for you themselves if they notice that the same people are staying.

  17. Hmmm. I’ve had their card for just over a year ($2,000 month usage average). I have NOT rec’d any notice yet about the changes. What’s up with that?

    Also, I find it mind blowing that they are rolling out this massive change to their program (as evidenced by email contacts widely reported by many) yet STILL are accepting new applications and listing the BONUS night as one of the perks. How the heck can they get away with THAT?

  18. For the new offer – the 30K points for just one paid stay – is that a stay at ANY hotel in the Carlson family of hotels?

    Thank you.

      • Hi,

        I called US Bank today. I was able to only get 2,500 points. Also, the rep told me that the 30k offer on next stay is only for people who did receive the letter stating this. I have the Platinum card (the $50 AF one) and the letter I receive did not mention that I would get 30k point on my next stay.

        Would you have a statement (you mention a tweet from Club Carlson, I did not find it) from Club Carlson saying that the 30k are for every cardholder, not only the Premium ones?

        Thanks!

  19. I’ve now tried calling twice a few hours apart, and both reps were adamant about not giving me any retention bonuses. I expressed disappointment in signing up for the card paying the annual fee with the expectation of having this benefit, and both basically just said “too bad”. One CSR offered to look for another card for me to apply for. Is it just the reps I’m getting, or are you guys saying something I’m not?

    • Dave–
      Same thing happened to me. I get a feeling they may have changed talking points since Friday. I called this morning and they already had heard from so many unhappy customers and, likely, given so many points, that they probably changed their tune and are now saying no. Someone earlier seemed to imply that I had mentioned I was unhappy with them taking away the bonus nights. Au contraire. I was fuming because of the AF, which I had just paid and that was the whole point of my soliloquy. Alas, no luck. I spoke with 2 reps, each of whom transferred me to two supervisors. I was really cool, calm, and collected, but no luck. I have no idea how some people are getting 7500 points, but I do suspect the youth of my account may be counting against me, since they don’t really know if I’m going to put spend on the card, since they don’t have a pattern for me yet. I plan on MS-ing the heck out of this baby and then burning into next year and then cancelling right before my AF hits next March. The good news is that I did get some points with Chase from them cancelling the lounge perk on the Ink card, so one of out two is good enough for me!

  20. @ DAVE, READ MY POST ABOVE.

    You expressing disappointments, saying unhappy blah blah never works.
    you just explain the main point and than get your up to 15000 free points and $75 fee back.

    • Jim, I did read your posts. I said I signed up for the card expecting to get the last night free and that I don’t see the point of the card anymore– but I didn’t outright say I want to cancel. Maybe that’s the next step? I asked for “compensation”, either in the form of points or refund of the AF. The CSR said no.

  21. You may not believe me but i already received free 7500 points 2 times already. That is 15000 in points alone. If you want proof i can show you. it says pending on my account and would post when my statement closes on 18th. i don’t have any stays coming up so GOT TO MAKE UP FOR not getting free 2nd night in future, Maybe 5 more 75000 and few more fee refunds?

  22. I mentioned to the representative about having paid the annual fee and she was unwilling to offer me anything. I believe they have since been instructed to take that position. Will probably cancel when I come up for renewal.

  23. Thanks for this info!
    Question – I have a 5 night stay and planning to do a booking of 2-1-2. Is this not going to cause any problem or issue, saying that it is a continuous stay? Do you or anyone did this before and had no issue. Thanks in advance!

  24. I called this morning to see what US Bank could do for me since I just opened my Club Carlson Business Visa in February. Firstly, I was transferred to a supervisor since the first representative said they didn’t have the authority to do anything. The supervisor said they received a new memo this morning(April 8th) stating that they would waive the annual fee for any cards opened between April 1st and April 30th. Seems strange to me since people who sign up now should know what to expect. He was initially optimistic that he could get an exception to waive my annual fee. The supervisor kept putting me on hold while he “researched” what they were allowed to offer as compensation. After a 25 minute call, I was ultimately offered 7,500 points as compensation.

  25. Another vote for the Art ‘otel in Amsterdam and the May Fair in London. We stayed at both last summer when they were only 50k points per night, now they’re 70k/night. But I think that’s still worth it if you’re getting the 2nd night free. The Art ‘otel is in an excellent location, right in front of the train station in the center of town. Plus it’s new, and everyone gets free buffet and a la carte breakfast for free. The May Fair was gorgeous, and we were upgraded to a corner room. Another great location, and everyone there was incredible. Now, the Radisson Blu in Brussels I wouldn’t stay at again if they paid me. The employees were just awful.

    Also, the RADISSON BLU LE METROPOLITAN in Paris was great. It’s a tiny hotel with only 4 rooms per floor or so, but the people were great, and it was in a great location with views of the Eiffel Tower out the front. Of course, it’s also 70k points/night, but still worth it with the 2nd night free.

    We’ve already got a 3 week SE Asian trip this summer, but Carlson just wouldn’t make sense. We were going to do 2 weeks in Ireland also, but it looks like all the wide open Aer Lingus availability is completely gone now. Nothing, not a single flight BOS-DUB for July or August at all.

  26. “Put a paid stay in between each set of two night award stays. For example, to book a 5 night stay, book the first two nights as an award, the third night as a paid stay, and the final two nights as another award.”

    Are you sure this works? If so, I would love to do this!

  27. Sent email yesterday on one of my business cards and was offered 2500 points. Today I called about my personal card and was told I had already received 2500 points yesterday! Strange, as that was a different card. I should have just hung up but I said I had just paid my $75 fee last week and said I should have it refunded due to the reduced awards and she said it was impossible to get the fee refunded. I said that is not true – if I cancel the card you would refund it and so she said OK your card is now cancelled and I will get my refund after the next statement !! So much for that. I was about to open a bank account with them but now I think not.

  28. Just today (4/15) I received an email offer from Club Carlson to apply for the CC Visa (already have one)….and was surprised to see this as part of the offer:

    “PLUS, take advantage of Bonus Award Nights to extend your stay even longer. Each time you redeem your points for two or more consecutive Award Nights, your last night is free – exclusively for cardmembers! ”

    So…they announced this feature is ending, but then are still sending out offers for it?

    Does this make sense?

  29. I just got my 30,000 bonus points with a non-paid stay from the Park Plaza Westminster London (great hotel). It was a free stay with points (2 free nights there, then 2 free nights across the street at the Park Plaza County Hall). I booked with the Club Carlson Visa, but my only charge was for breakfast and I paid that with a different card.

  30. Data point – received 2,500 pts on personal and biz. First rep was unhelpful and tried to defend the benefits so I simply HUCA. Second rep was super helpful and gave me the insta hookup 🙂 She was so apologetic and even said “I wish club carlson wouldn’t have done that!” (re losing the second night benefit). LOL. THX for tip FM!

  31. After reading this thread, and before the 2nd night benefit offer expires on June 1 — called U.S. Bank two separate times (for biz card, and then for personal) to ask to speak with a manager about the ClubCarlson benefits changing. I have not yet booked any second night benefits but was right on the verge of making multiple 2 night reservations before June 1. This this was a perfect time to call to see what ClubC would offer as compensation.

    First call — politely spoke with a manager about the Biz card — but he refused to rescind the $60 annual fee that I paid a week ago since my biz account is new. Instead, he gave me 7,500 points. I kept at him about the AF, but no go.

    Second phone call about the personal card — got connected with a manager after a long wait. This card is nine months old. Repeated my case. Same result. 7,500 points were given to the personal account, but they would not budge on refunding the Annual Fee.

    So I will call Club Carlson about each one to see if they will do anything else. The second U.S.Bank manager said they have received a “ton” of negative feedback from customers about the change.

    15,000 points for 2 phone calls. Better than MSing 😉

    Moving forward, I will max out all points earned to date with 2 night reservations before June 1 — using Personal for first rez, then the Biz. Rinse, Repeat until no more points are available. Then use both cards during the stay in the ClubCarlson for various small purchases – that may get 30K on each card. To ensure that additional 60K is obtained, I will purchase two nights – one on Biz and one on Personal – in a Category 1 ClubCarl property.

    In total, the plan will bring 75K in points, and then the annual 40K bonus will arrive in August. Not bad.

    Cheers and good luck with your ClubC cards….

  32. Asked to speak w manager about the ClubCarlson benefits changing, he wouldn’t remove annual fee but added 7500 pts to my account.

  33. Frequentmiler, so which is the real deadline? May 28th or June 1st?
    I think in your previous link you mention 28th but in this post you mention prior to June 1st.
    I see conflicting info online, and I was wondering if you got a definite answer considering your clout.

  34. Finally called after sitting on my ass for two months. Waited forever for the supervisor, but as soon as I mentioned being unhappy he offered the 7500 points that I was after.

    The other thing that they offer without you asking now is to refund the previous annual fee paid and close the card immediately.

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