Club Carlson’s devaluation… and my sigh of relief

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We knew it was coming.  All other major hotel chains have devalued their programs in recent years.  The general trend has been not so much to make it harder to earn points, but to increase the points needed for top tier hotels.  Then there was Club Carlson.  With the introduction of their credit card, they made earning points and redeeming points ridiculously easy and affordable. 

On the point-earning side of things, the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa offers a standard 85,000 point signup bonus and a 40,000 point bonus each year upon renewal.  Plus, it automatically conveys Gold status which gives you, among other things, increased point earnings for paid stays.  And, the card offers 5 points per dollar for regular spend and 10 points per dollar at Club Carlson properties.

On the redemption side of things, the Premier Rewards Visa offers up to 50 Bonus Award Nights per year.  The way it works is that when you book an award stay of 2 or more nights, the last night of your stay is free.  For example, if you book a two night award, you’ll pay (in points) only for the first night!

I’ve written before about how valuable the Club Carlson credit card is: see “Club Carlson rocks our world… Again.”  And, I’ve written before about how overly generous they were with point earnings: see “Earn 70 points per dollar at Club Carlson hotels.”  Other than the fact that Club Carlson doesn’t have many high end properties across the globe, their hotel program had become ridiculously valuable.

Waiting for the shoe to drop

It was only a matter of time.  Everyone who has watched their other hotel program points devalue has known that the same would happen to Club Carlson.  It had to.  Their program was simply too generous.

Devaluation details

Most readers are probably already familiar with this information so I’ll summarize the changes briefly:

  • Club Carlson realigned some existing hotels into different categories and introduced a new top tier category that would cost 70,000 points for a free night (the previous top tier cost 50,000 points)
  • Their previous and generous online booking bonus has become “promotional.”  In other words, sometimes you’ll get a bonus and sometimes you won’t when booking online.
  • The automatic elite bonus for points earned on paid stays has decreased.  Gold members used to earn a 50% bonus, but now will earn a 35% bonus instead.

On the plus side, along with the above devaluations, Club Carlson announced a few new benefits:

  • You can now earn points on food and beverages purchased during award stays.
  • Award nights will now count towards elite status. 
  • You can now use points to book suites (but pricing hasn’t yet been revealed).

For more details about the Club Carlson changes, please see Loyalty Traveler’s post here.

A sigh of relief

For those who earn points from stays, this devaluation may be particularly painful.  You will now earn fewer points with your stays, and those hard-earned points will be harder to use.  For those of us, however, who earn points primarily from Club Carlson credit cards, the news isn’t so bad.  They didn’t change our ability to earn points quickly at all.  And, they didn’t take away our awesome Bonus Award nights.  The only real pain here is that some hotels became more expensive to book with points.  Even at 70K per night, though, free night awards are a bargain.  Some hotel credit cards offer a free night if you spend $10K or $12K per year with their credit card.  The Club Carlson card, though, gives you 40K points per year automatically and so all it takes is $6K of 5X spend to earn enough points for a free night at a top tier hotel each year.  Even better, those 70,000 points can be used to book two free nights thanks to the Bonus Award night feature!

A better program for luxury travel

For those who like to use miles and points for luxury travel, Club Carlson has had little to offer.  Yes, they have some nice high end properties, but not many.  Now, however, they have announced a new luxury brand called the Quorvus Collection.  We don’t know much yet about this new brand, other than what Club Carlson tells us:

Quorvus Collection is a new generation of expertly curated luxury hotels inspired by the lifestyle and sensibilities of the contemporary global traveller.Individual and inspiring, each property within the collection offers a distinguished guest experience – and an invitation to immerse oneself in the best a location can offer.From a host of world-leading guest facilities to ‘Q24’, our signature suite of hallmark services, all Quorvus Collection properties offer a unique destination for guests and locals alike – a modern take on the luxury way of life.A star in the making, the Quorvus Collection has strong growth ambitions with plans to see the portfolio grow to 20 hotels in operation and development by 2020. Different by scale, architecture, ambiance and design, our future portfolio will include historic landmark properties, contemporary residences, classic boutiques and urban retreats.

Looking out to the future, the combination of new high end hotels, the ever growing Radisson Blu brand, and the new ability to book suites may go far towards bridging the gap between Club Carlson and other hotel chains for those who prefer top tier travel.

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