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

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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.

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