How to book US Bank Club Carlson e-cert free nights (it may be harder than you think)

The Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa and its business card twin used to be among my favorite cards.  In fact, I have one of each, and my wife has the personal card.  Until May of this year, the cards offered a wonderfully generous benefit called Bonus Award Nights: book two or more nights with points and get the last night free.  This meant that two night stays cost the same as one night stays (since the second night was free).

Attempting to use hastily booked Bonus Award Nights

Between credit card signup bonuses, annual 40K point bonuses (which the cards still offer), and past promotions, I had amassed a huge number of Club Carlson points.  When US Bank announced that they were ending the Bonus Award Night feature, my wife and I were sitting on almost 1 million points.  As the deadline for booking Bonus Award Night stays approached, I rushed to book as many stays as I could.  I booked two nights at a Radisson Blu in Dublin for this fall.  I tried to predict my son’s school break schedule and booked 4 nights in Cape Town (two nights from one account and two from another).  Guessing the timing of our next summer trip to London, I booked 4 nights at The May Fair.  Further out, I booked prospective stays in Amsterdam, Chicago, Philadelphia, and more.

We ended up having to cancel our Dublin trip, so I got our points back for that one.  I guessed wrong about my son’s spring break timing, so we’ll probably cancel our Cape Town reservations as well.  I was also wrong about our London visit timing (we have since booked a trip to coincide with the new Harry Potter play).  Only time will tell if we’ll use any of the other reservations.

For London, I tried to move the dates of our stay rather than cancelling outright.  I called the hotel and they told me that it probably can’t be done, but that I should call Club Carlson to give it a try.  Club Carlson told me that it can’t be done, but gave me another Club Carlson number to try.  The second Club Carlson number told me that they could rebook it for me, but I’d lose the Bonus Award Night.  Thanks, but I can do that myself!

I’ve heard that some people have succeeded in moving their Bonus Award Night reservations through the hotel directly.  If you know how to get that done, please share in the comments below.

Club Carlson E-Cert Free Nights

To appease the loss of Bonus Award Nights, US Bank sent free night certificates to cardholders who complained.  Since I had only complained, initially, about one of my cards (I have two and my wife has one), I originally received only one certificate.  Later, I complained to US Bank online after logging into each of the other accounts, and did eventually receive certificates for those accounts as well.  The certificates arrived via email with the subject heading “Your Free Night Certificate is Here!

Here are the primary contents of the first email I received:

Dear Greg,
In appreciation of your continued loyalty and for being a Club CarlsonSM Visa® cardholder, we are pleased to provide you with an E-Certificate for one night in a standard room at any Carlson Rezidor hotel worldwide.*
To redeem your exclusive E-Certificate:

  1. Visit www.clubcarlson.com/reservation and select your destination and stay dates
  2. Enter your unique E-Cert Code: E123456789 [code changed to protect the innocent]
  3. Enter the Promotional Code: USBANKEC
  4. Click “Go” to find available hotels and make your booking

We appreciate your business, and look forward to your continued loyalty toward the Club Carlson Visa Card.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but the later two emails were slightly different:

Dear Greg,
In appreciation of your continued loyalty and for being a Club CarlsonSM Visa® cardholder, we are pleased to provide you with an E-Certificate for one night in a standard room at any Carlson Rezidor hotel worldwide.*
To redeem your exclusive E-Certificate:

  1. Visit www.clubcarlson.com/reservation and select your destination and stay dates
  2. Enter your unique E-Cert Code: E987654321 [code changed to protect the innocent]
  3. Click “Go” to find available hotels and make your booking

We appreciate your business, and look forward to your continued loyalty toward the Club Carlson Visa Card

Notice how the second email doesn’t include a Promotional Code?  I missed that detail initially.  It turns out that it’s a pretty important detail.  If your email has the USBANKEC promo code in it, then you must enter that code in order to book the free night.  If you don’t enter the code, the search results screen simply says that the e-cert rate is not available:

Club Carlson e-cert Plaza on the River eCert no USBANKEC

If your email does not have the USBANKEC promo code in it, then you do not have to enter that code.

Booking Free Nights

Since The May Fair is a crazy expensive hotel, I decided that it would be a great use for our three free nights.  I ran a simple search for the first night we would be in London, but was disappointed to find that the e-cert rate wasn’t available.

It occurred to me that maybe you can’t use the certificates unless point awards are available at the same time.  So, I removed the e-cert and searched again.  It turned out that point awards were available for the same night (Club Carlson charges 70,000 points per night for The May Fair).

Club Carlson e-cert The May Fair

I Googled to see if others had issues using the certificates and I found a few references to the need to include the promo code “USBANKEC”.  So, I re-ran my search with the promo code included.  Still no luck.

“Call Dublin”

I called Club Carlson for help.  The person I talked to had no idea why it didn’t work so she transferred me to another department.  The next person also had no idea, but confidently told me that I should call Dublin.  Dublin can help me.  She gave me the phone number for Dublin: 353-1706-0203.

I found that a bit strange because I’ve always thought of Dublin as a city rather than a call center, but if the city could help I was happy to give it a ring.  So, I called Dublin but soon learned that I had to call back during office hours.  That meant calling in the morning, for me, since Dublin is in a later time zone.

When I finally connected with “Dublin,” the agent at first told me to simply book a paid rate and hand in my certificate at the hotel.  I explained that it was an e-cert, not a paper cert.  After a bit of back and forth, the agent asked me to read to her the full terms of the certificate (found here).  While the terms explicitly exclude only Quorvus Collection hotels, I read to her the hotels that are explicitly included:

  • Each E-Cert is valid for one night in one standard room, double occupancy, at any Radisson Blu®, Radisson®, Park Plaza®, Park Inn® by Radisson, or Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM hotel.

“There’s the problem”, she said.  “No wonder it didn’t work. The May Fair is a Radisson Blu Edwardian hotel which is not included in the list.”

I pointed out that the certificate says “any Radisson Blu, Radisson”.  Surely The May Fair is one of those?  Apparently not.  The agent confidently asserted that Radisson Blu Edwardian hotels are something completely different from Radisson or Radisson Blu.  She said that the Radisson Blu Portman, on the other hand, is a Radisson Blu and should work with the certificate.  She was right.

London is littered with Radisson Blu Edwardian hotels, so this unwritten exclusion is unfortunate.  Maybe I could get something by calling US Bank and complaining (after all, that’s how I got the certificates in the first place!), but it didn’t seem worth it.  Instead, I booked three nights at the Plaza on the River.  It’s not particularly convenient for us location-wise, but it looks like a great hotel and I know we’ll enjoy the easy access to the river walk.

Club Carlson e-cert Plaza on the River eCert 2 no USBANKEC

You can book other people’s certificates

I had three free night certificates, each tied to a different Club Carlson number.  I wanted to book all three nights, if possible, under a single account, mostly just to avoid confusion at check-in (but also because I was somehow upgraded to Concierge status on my primary account and I’d like to get the free breakfast benefit every day).  So, I booked the first night under my primary account.  Then, while still logged into my primary account, I ran a search for the second night but plugged in a cert tied to another account.  It worked.

I repeated the search for the third night and applied the third certificate.  Each night is now booked and will be completely free:

Club Carlson e-cert Plaza on the River eCert applied

Note that I did not have to use the USBANKEC code for the second or third night since those nights were booked with the more recently acquired certs.

Summary

Here’s what I learned about booking the “We’re sorry we ruined the credit card” e-certs from US Bank:

  • Depending upon when you received your e-cert, you may have to enter the promo code USBANKEC, in addition to your e-cert code
  • You can apply another person’s e-cert code to a reservation on your own account.  That can be handy for those trading free nights from different programs.
  • You cannot use the e-cert to book Quorvus Collection hotels
  • You cannot use the e-cert to book Radisson Blu Edwardian hotels

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. I had the following experience using my free e-cert. When first logging into my Club Carlson account my chosen hotel (Radisson JFK) showed no availability for free-nights using my free e-cert and I could not use it whether or not I entered the USBANKEC promotional code. However I logged out of my Club Carlson account and did not get the same message when I tried to book. Further on in the process I was prompted to log into my Club Carlson account (which I did) and the reservation went through and I even had an upgraded room at my chosen hotel.

  2. So, just a data point for rebooking reservations made during the waning hours of BOGO. We made two for Cape Town–the Radisson Blu Le Vendome for 1 night+BOBO and one for the Radisson Blu Waterfront, also 1night+BOGO and genuinely made a fat finger mistake by booking one day later than our scheduled stay for both bookings (9/27-10/1 instead of 9/26-9/30).

    Initially tried contacting the properties to amend the reservations but both properties were very aware that these were CC loyalty reservations and responded that they could only be changed by contacting Club Carlson. Club Carlson’s first response was that we would lose the BOGO benefit if we changed the bookings. After some discussion and polite request to see if it could be escalated to someone who might be in a position to make a different call the agent went offline and then responded that as a one time exception they would contact the properties and see if they would allow a change. This request goes through their Dublin office and takes about 48 hours. We didn’t hear back at the end of the window and it took three follow up calls but now both hotels have contacted me saying that they have amended the reservations :). I’ve had about 10+ paid nights with them this year so not sure if that made a difference or just the polite persistence paid off but changes are definitely possible.

  3. I stayed at The May Fair last June for 2 nights using the now extinct last night free using CC points. Nice hotel and location but I would never pay the regular rate to stay there. I am keeping the CC card just for the points but I don’t think that I will ever use it again.

  4. I was scheduled to stay in the Radisson Blu Saga in Reykjavik from May 24-26 with two nights booked on the old BOGO deal. Two weeks ago, I emailed the hotel, stating that I would now be leaving Iceland on the 20th and asking if they could change my dates to May 18-20. They said yes and emailed me back a confirmation of my reservation with the new dates. What’s interesting is that, if I go to clubcarlson.com, I still see my old reservation dates. So, I’m not sure what the Saga is doing, but it seems as though they are circumventing the system somehow.

  5. I used my ECertificate for the Radisson Blu Madrid, directly across the street from the Prado. Talk about a great location! Not sure what to do with the card going forward, will probably keep for another year for the 40K annual bonus.

  6. Not sure if something changed, but I used one of my free night certs for the Mayfair. Helped to turn a 6-night stay using 3 BOGO into a 5-night stay to accommodate award flights. Mine was from the second batch (those of us who didn’t initially complain but sent the secure message when reports started coming out about the free nights so no code was required).

    • Based on HORACE’s comment, below, it sounds like there was a time when the Edwardian hotels were bookable with the certs, but now they are not. Great that you got it booked in time!

  7. I just used my e-certificate at the Raddison Blu Scandinavian in Dusseldorf, Germany last week. When I checked in, they were completely confused about the certificate and asked that I show them my confirmation email so they knew how to code it in their system. I only have the Gold status that comes with the credit card, but they upgraded me to “Business Class” room and gave me free breakfast ($30 Euro value).

    One of our bookings to use up points before the devaluation was for the Radisson Blu in Milan for the Expo in September. We got a suite upgrade and free breakfast for all 3 nights.

    Even though the free last night is gone, I’ve come to like Radisson Blu a lot. I may do some MS on my card with the intention of going to Spain in the fall, or have Hubby get a card for the sign-up bonus.

  8. Just a heads up on the Plaza….We stayed there this past October for six nights using two accts to get the bogo deal. Its under construction-they are adding five floors to the top of the hotel. In addition there are are new tall towers going up on either side of this hotel with LOTS of construction activity. Also, they have an issue with the ‘regular’ elevators-they stopped working twice. The first time we called down and the desk told us to walk down six flights of stairs-click-
    We found an employee who told us, no follow him. He brought us to the “concierge” elavators and we went down on them. Long story short, a complaint got us breakfast comped for 3 days-doesnt sound like much except it cost 30 pounds/person…

    Bottom line, this is an adequate hotel with unhelpful employees and tons of construction going on. I would only stay here again if I had the bogo deal……….

  9. I can add a bit of clarity with respect to the Mayfair.

    When both of the above different certificates were issued, you COULD use them for free nights at the Mayfair — I was able to do so.

    However, I noticed when I wished to change the date of my reservation — and there is a nice online tool to see if you can do it — I was unable to do so for BOTH certificates.

    I subsequently had to cancel my travel plans and the certificates went back into my account.

    I have now re-attached the free night certificates to something a bit closer to home for me — the Radisson Blu Acqua hotel in Chicago — what with Chicago hotel prices, it actually seems to be a really decent use of the certificates!

  10. Slightly OT: Do you know when the free night when you spend 10000 in a year gets credited? I paid my fee in November and yet to receive my free night cert.

    • I don’t know for sure, but I think I read a blog post somewhere that said it takes something like 8 weeks after your 12th month statement closes. Or, something like that. Anyone else know for sure?

  11. The ability to change dates really depends on hotels. Aqua has great management, very accommodating. They once waived the cancellation penalty on an award booking of 4 nights (100K pts!) for us. The canceled reservations remained on Club Carlson website until the original stay dates had passed. But hotel management assured me in their system we did not have reservation any more. We look forward to spend July 4th 2016 at Aqua booked speculatively prior the devaluation.

    For your London stay you may want to check if Westminster Bridge or County Plaza is available. We stayed at County Hall past Sept booked at 62.5K family studio and were upgraded to Exec studio – higher floor, facing the fabulous city skyline and the Waterloo tracks are way below. It has nicer furnishing and a Nespresso machine versus the more basic family studio. It was a wonderful stay. We love the location a lot. Nearby there are a bus depot that has lines that you can basically use for a very enjoyable ride thru most attractions. The top deck is almost always empty and the front row seats have great view.

    County Hall is the much smaller hotel across street from the Westminster Bridge which is much busier with a ton of tourists. This location should be better than the Riverside as it is a very short stroll to South Bank’s nightlife area and the London Eye. Also a 5 to 7 min stroll to cross the bridge to Parliament and the nearby attractions. The Marriott County Hall is right by the bridge (it used to be a Ren I believe).

  12. Thanks for the research: I have a couple of these free e-night certs, so it’s very helpful to know the unwritten rules. 🙂

    Regarding date changes, I’ve also had luck with the Aqua. Right before we lost the BOGO benefit, I needed to change my 2-night stay dates by 1 day. Award nights weren’t available on the ClubCarlson website, so I contacted the hotel. They were happy to move my rez. The dates never changed in the ClubCarlson system, but I had no problems at the hotel (I reconfirmed with them after I didn’t see an online change).

  13. FM, I also had booked a bonus night right before the change. However, I may only be able to do the second night. So, if I did not check in for the first night, would I still be able to check in and take the second night of stay or it would end up cancel the whole reservation? Thanks in advance.

    • I think there’s a good chance that the whole reservation would be cancelled if you didn’t show up on the first night. Contact the hotel and see if they can push the reservation out one day.

  14. I booked four award nights (2 two-night stays separated by one day) from my account before the loss of the last-night-free benefit. Do you think I can use the free night e-cert for that middle day and have five consecutive nights without losing the last night free benefit?

  15. I’m writing this comment from the Radisson Blu Cape Town Waterfront, and I have to say, it’s an awesome hotel. Try to get a Business Class room with views of the water. Fantastic.

  16. Stayed 4 nights this past March at Raddison Blu Water Front at Cape Town. Hotel was full to the gill due to a fortnight of some art festival so we did not get any upgrade but a basic room – though they tried their best to put us at the corner hence there are 2 sides of window with one side overlooking the small marina, somewhat mitigate the other side overlooking the parking lot (it was the side behind the TV and the cupboard so the parking lot view is partially blocked by the in-room furniture.

    We will return in Sept 2016 with speculative bookings 2 nights at Seapoint and 4 nights at Water Front – I made sure to keep those days when booking our South Africa trip with the first part to Kruger NP, second part to Cape Town for our return to the beautiful country (and very cheap!)

  17. I used the e-cert (using the USBANKEC code) at a Radisson Blue Edwardian but I found that a specific room type had to be available. I just checked my reservation and it says “Best Available Rate-Standard Room. Best Available rate for special programs”. The night before and the night after were not available using the e-cert, only this night so the problem using the e-cert might be tied to the room type. I made the reservation 10/5 for the night of 8/31/16.

  18. I have two sets of nights that were booked before the BOGO went away at a property in New Orleans, with the required open night in between. I hadn’t quite figured out what I was going to do for that night yet but when I saw the e-cert’s being handed out, I requested one. Once I received it, I went to apply it to the vacant night only to find out that the property requires a minimum of two night stays. Does anyone have any experience or tips on how to get them to add the free e-cert to one of my existing reservations, fulfilling the minimum 2 nights stay while still not losing the BOGO? I am trying to prevent spending hours being transferred from department to department and being given other numbers to be called.

  19. You won’t miss a thing, other than a great location, by not staying at the May Fair. We hated it. The decor is tacky and the clientele is other worldly (think rock and rollers, entitled adult kids of gazillionaires – generally peeple who sleep all day and party all night). We were there for several miserable nights with nary a sound night’s sleep. Security tried to quiet the partiers but were unsuccessful. We settled for a refund of our points.

  20. Was in London & Dublin at end of November using husband’s and my BOGOs. Was able to use 1 of our free night e-certs at the Radisson Blu Edwardian Hampshire at Leicester Square because I was not able to book the extra night at the Radisson Blu Edwardian Mercer Street by the time I got the e-cert (beginning of October). Hampshire was fine for 1 night but Leicester Sq. is too busy for my taste; room was very quiet, however (we arrived late night taking day flight from EWR). Enjoyed the Mercer Street location and had a nice room. When we booked Dublin, could only get 1st 2 nights in business class room on BOGO (more points), but they gave us the room for all 4 nights and included breakfast all 4 days – amazing buffet, and hotel restaurant also very good for dinner. Excellent staff at Mercer Street and Dublin – both hotel guest relations staff are active responders on TripAdvisor.

  21. Thanks for the information re needing the USBANKEC code. I couldn’t believe all the CC hotels in Tallin were sold out for redemptions in June but then I remembered your post. Worked like a charm.

      • Helped us too! Was encountering assorted odd errors trying to do the reservations with the e-cert by itself…. then I too remembered you’d done a post on this. Added the bank code — & it worked. 🙂 Many thanks for putting this resource together…. You saved a weekend getaway to Melbourne (FL)

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