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The US Bank Radisson Rewards Premier Visa Signature card is now offering an increased welcome offer of up to 100,000 Radisson Rewards points — that’s 50K after first purchase and another 50K after making $2,500 in purchases in the first 3 months. That’s not a huge increase as it’s only 15K more than the standard offer, though I personally think this is one of the more underrated cards on the market, particularly for family travel.
Key Card Details
Previously known as Club Carlson, the rewards program rebranded last year as Radisson Rewards and renamed this card accordingly. Many of us miss the days when this card offered an unsustainable benefit of the last night free on all award stays, making it essentially a BOGO on all awards. Since that benefit died, the card fell out of favor and doesn’t get much press.
However, I have this card in my wallet and have been spending lately at the big spend bonus — for every $10K spent during your cardmember year (up to $30K), you get a free night certificate (after renewal). Those certificates are only valid in the US, which doesn’t do Radisson any favors in terms of PR for the card.
Still, I think the returns on this card justify its place in my wallet. According to our Reasonable Redemption Values, Radisson Rewards points are worth about 0.38 cents each. That makes the 5x return on everyday spend worth the equivalent of approximately 1.9% back. That’s not bad for unbonused spend on a hotel card. It’s clearly lower than you can earn with a simple 2% cash back card. However, when you also consider the fact that each 10K spend earns a free night (up to $30K), the return becomes pretty good — if you like staying at Radisson Rewards properties, anyway. After 10K of unbonused spend, you’d have 50K points, which is worth about $190 (though it certainly could be more if you work to maximize). If you value the free night certificate at just $100, that brings the total return on $10K spend to about $290 in value — or the equivalent of 2.9% back if you spend in exact increments of $10K and don’t spend more than $30K. That is perhaps a slightly over-generous valuation due to the restrictions on the free night certificate and the somewhat limited footprint of Radisson Rewards, but it’s strong compared to other hotel cards.
Furthermore, unlike other hotel cards, the Radisson Rewards Premier Visa Signature offers points each anniversary rather than a free night certificate. I much prefer points over an annual free night cert as the points won’t expire as long as you maintain activity and points are more flexible — use them for a couple of nights at a low-category hotel or combine them with points you earn from spend for a stay at a higher-end place. The 40,000 points awarded at anniversary are worth well more than the $75 fee in my opinion.
Of course, all of that hinges on whether or not you’d like to stay at Radisson Rewards properties. Radisson doesn’t have the footprint of a Hilton or Marriott nor the more “aspirational” properties of Hyatt. However, for families who mostly travel domestically, there are some decent values. I’ve previously noted that the Country Inn & Suites Virginia beach is right on the beach for instance.
That hotel costs 44,000 points per night. Thus, spending $10K on the card in year 1 and paying the annual fee to renew for year 2 will yield you enough points (40K at anniversary + 50K from spend) to cover 2 free nights in addition to your free night certificate for spending $10K. You could certainly do worse. And that’s not considering the welcome bonus of 100K, which would cover a couple more nights.
Most Radisson Rewards properties in the US aren’t quite that well located, though I find there are gems here and there for family travelers. The Country Inn & Suites in Queensbury, NY is literally next door to The Great Escape amusement park. While that’s not a park that will draw in tourists from far and wide, it’s a relative value if you live within a few hours’ drive. While I often find the best use of Radisson Rewards points to be for rural hotels where competition is low and cash prices are high, Radisson also has properties that can be decent in larger cities like New York, Chicago, or Minneapolis. Radisson isn’t necessarily known for being glamorous, but some of the properties are pretty nice. And every now and then, you’ll find a hotel somewhere you may not expect it. When I spent a night in Maputo, Mozambique a couple of years ago, the Radisson Blu was the only chain property in town. Super expensive whether on cash or points, I was glad I booked it when I got held up with an issue at immigration and the Radisson shuttle bus driver smoothed things over and got us through after hours of our own efforts were falling through.