Best Hotel Rewards: Club Carlson Hotels

The Club Carlson rewards program is quickly becoming our favorite hotel rewards program for incredible redemption value and hotel availability throughout the world.  This is especially true when you open the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature credit card.

If you are unfamiliar with the Club Carlson name, there are five main brands under the Club Carlson hotel chain:

  • Radisson Blu
  • Radisson
  • Park Plaza
  • Park Ink
  • Country Inn & Suites

They have a network of over 1,000 hotels worldwide, including extensive offerings in Europe, the United States and India (with many additional hotels throughout the Caribbean, South America, and Asia).  See all the Club Carlson hotels by category here (just click through the six categories).

Club Carlson Premier Rewards Credit Card details:

Club Carlson credit cardWhen you open the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature credit card you earn 50,000 Gold points upon your first purchase and an additional 35,000 points after spending $2,500 within the first 3 months.  A $75 annual fee applies.  You also earn an annual bonus of 40,000 points each year when you renew your card, which makes this a valuable card to keep open going forward.

The card awards an astounding 5 points for every dollar spent on regular purchases and 10 points for every dollar spent at Club Carlson hotels.   With the 5x points on every dollar spent, you can rapidly earn Club Carlson points for additional hotel stays.

The card also offers you automatic ‘Gold’ level status which entitles you to:

  • Complimentary room upgrades as available
  • 50% point bonus on every eligible stay
  • 2,000 point online booking bonus at clubcarlson.com or any Carlson Rezidor hotel website
  • Early check-ins and late checkouts as available upon request
  • Roll Over Nights (unused elite-qualifying nights count again next year toward elite status)
  • 72-hour room availability guarantee at participating hotels
  • Elite Customer Service Line

Once you’ve spent $3,000 total on this card you will have 100,000 Gold points (85,000 bonus points plus 15,000 for $3,000 of regular spending (5 points x 3,000 = 15,000).

As you can see from their rewards chart, this is enough for 11 nights at one of their Category 1 hotels or two free nights at the top-tier Category 6 hotels including 5-star hotels in London, Paris, Sydney and many others:

Club Carlson rewards chart

The Single Biggest Travel Rewards Hotel Deal Available:

Here’s where things get really interesting:  When you have this credit card and you book an awards stay with points of two consecutive nights or longer, the last night is  completely free – zero points needed!

This last night free is automatically applied when booking the room online, so you don’t have to do anything to receive this free bonus.

The real key to maximizing this bonus is to stay in two-night increments.  Using this concept you can get 11 two-night stays at a Category 1 hotel out of your 100,000 gold points for a total of 22 free nights!

Each two-night stay would normally cost 18,000 points but since your last night is free, it only costs 9,000 points.  You can do this 11 times with your 100,000 points (11 x 9,000 = 99,000).

For most people going away on a significant vacation, it usually wouldn’t work out to stay at a hotel for just two nights, so this doesn’t sound all that great, right?

Here’s the simple way to work around this and why we think the Club Carlson credit card is an essential part of your travel rewards strategy:  If you have two Club Carlson credit cards, you can stay in the same hotel in two-night increments for as long as your points allow!

There are two ways to get two Club Carlson credit cards for your hotel stays:

  1. One person can open the personal Club Carlson Premier Rewards credit card and the Club Carlson Business credit card.
  2. One spouse/traveling companion can open one Club Carlson credit card and the other spouse/traveling companion can open their own Club Carlson credit card.

In each of these cases you’d have two distinct credit cards with two distinct Club Carlson rewards account numbers.  Therefore you can stay in one hotel for let’s say four straight nights and only pay for two of the nights with points.  You’d book the first two nights with the first credit card and the third and fourth nights would be booked with the second credit card.  You’d have to pay for only two nights with points as the 2nd night of each booking would be completely free!

Travel Rewards Coaching Examples:

Here are two real-life examples we just put together for our travel rewards coaching members:

Aruba: One family wanted to take a trip to the Caribbean and we were able to get them an 8-night luxury trip to the Radisson Aruba Resort, Casino and Spa.

They were able to get 8 free nights at the AAA Four Diamond Radisson on Aruba just by opening these two cards and utilizing the following method:

  • Nights 1-2: Husband books two nights for 50,000 points total
  • Nights 3-4: Wife books two nights for 50,000 points total
  • Nights 5-6: Husband books two nights for 50,000 points total
  • Nights 7-8:  Wife books two nights for 50,000 points total

Total spent:  200,000 points (100,000 points for each the husband and wife).

The only downside is that they might have to change rooms every two days, but once the reservations are explained to the front desk we assume they would not even have to do that.  Even if so, this is a small price to pay for four additional free nights at a 5-star hotel on Aruba!

Europe:  We were able to get Mr. and Mrs. Done by Forty a 16-night, four city European vacation with this Club Carlson two card strategy.

  • Budapest, Hungary:  four nights at the Category 1 Radisson Blu Beke Hotel for a total cost of 18,000 points.
  • Krakow, Poland:  four nights at the Category 2 Park Inn Krakow hotel for a total cost of 30,000 points.
  • Berlin, Germany:  four nights at the Category 3 Park Inn Berlin hotel for a total cost of 56,000 points.
  • Prague, Czech Republic:  four nights at the Category 3 Park Inn Hotel Prague for a total cost of 56,000 points.

The total cost of this 16-night European vacation was 160,000 Gold points (80,000 on each account), so they still have approximately 40,000 total points remaining to extend this trip or for future trips!

You can use the same concept to book in 2-night increments at any Club Carlson hotel on the planet.  If you did this at a Category 1 hotel, you could book for 44 straight nights for free (with 200,000 total points (100,000 points each)).  And since you’re a Gold status level, there’s a high likelihood you’ll even be upgraded to a better room at check-in!

If you need help with this or any other travel rewards related strategy, please sign up for our completely free travel rewards coaching service below:

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We've figured out how to avoid blackout dates and actually make this work for a regular family like ours and we want to help you do the same.

We’ve earned over 1,000,000 miles using this strategy and have upcoming trips planned to Disney World, Bermuda and Europe, so this has worked amazingly well for our family!

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“If it’s all about frugality for you, try RichmondSavers.com, courtesy of a husband and wife team of C.P.A.s in Virginia, which focuses more closely on how to save big. Their step-by-step guide to a free family trip to Disney World is a good test of whether miles mania is right for you.”

--The New York Times' Frugal Traveler

"I couldn't believe that Brad was willing to get on the phone with me and walk me through understanding the complexity of travel rewards... I kept thinking, there's got to be a catch! But, there wasn't! Brad made it easy to understand and helped me develop a simple, focused strategy that wasn't overwhelming and could be implemented with my current budget."

-- Kendra Wright, Austin, TX

"With Brad's help my wife and I have earned hundreds of thousands of miles (and cash back as well!) over the last few months. Having Brad as a resource has been nothing short of incredible in our quest to travel cheaply."

-- Joe O., Las Vegas, NV

Comment Disclaimer:

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Comments

  1. miles dividend md says

    Nice review Brad.

    I’m excited to get The business version of this card which I got in my last churn last week.

    Do you necessarily need to alternate between husband-and-wife cards?

    Could you not just make five consecutive 2 night stays with the same credit card? (Assuming you have enough points.)

    Alexi

    • says

      Hi Kate,
      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment — I’m glad you like the site! Be sure to sign up for our ‘newsletter’ (post updates) and our completely free travel rewards coaching if you have any interest…

    • says

      So cool you’re going to get the companion pass!

      If you can get two of these Club Carlson cards you can really get some amazing rewards. Definitely a keeper with all the status benefits, the last night free, the annual bonus points, etc.

  2. says

    I’m still so blown away that this hack exists. It’s pretty awesome. Thank you so much for helping us find this deal, and for the link too, Brad!

    We’ll report back after our trip to let you know how it went!

    • says

      It’s amazing right?? Your trip was the first one that I really gamed out a huge number of nights, so thanks for the inspiration!

      Can’t wait to hear all about the trip…

  3. Brian says

    My wife and I used this card (along with points earned from the big night out promos the last couple years which I wish they would bring back) to stay for free our entire time in Ireland last September. This card is a total keep because of the annual points too!

    • says

      Cool Brian, it is nice to hear someone getting such amazing value out of it!

      This is definitely becoming my go-to card for European trips; I’ve now referred a whole bunch of my travel coaching members to this strategy and people are just shocked at how much value you can get out of two card signups.

      I completely agree that this is one card to hold onto forever — the perks are really great

    • says

      Yeah, it definitely rounds things out with these hotel cards! I particularly like this Club Carlson strategy, but the Starwood and Hyatt points are great as well…

  4. says

    I applied and got approved for the card and because I didn’t pay attention to the time-frame of when I needed to finish the minimum spend requirement I missed out on earning the points. Ouch.

    You really have to be on top of this so I failed on my first try. I am pretty good at accumulating points any which way I can but this was my first attempt into travel hacking.

    • says

      Hi Jason,

      Really sorry to hear that about the bonus! I don’t have to tell you this, but that of course is the worst-case scenario.

      I try to tell everyone to not open up a card unless they are positive they can spend the minimum. It’s annoying to have to keep on top of all this, but the benefits are great if you can.

      Don’t let it turn you off from the travel rewards concept though! There are plenty of other cards to consider :)

    • says

      These are some of the best deals available when used as described in this article. So yes, definitely some of the best rewards…

  5. Mark Freeman says

    I think I had the misimpression that although you would not be charged for the second reward night, that you had to have the points for it (book a two night award, get the second night free…implied to me you needed points for two nights). Your article reads as if you just need the points for one night and the second night is free. Thanks for clarifying.

  6. Michael Moramarco says

    I was sent here by Done By Forty. I also can’t believe this is real. I feel like I need to jump on this immediately before someone figures out that it’s too good. Fantastic review, Brad.

    • says

      Glad you liked the article so much Michael! This is one of my favorite ‘sweet spots’ in all of travel rewards — it really does seem too good to be true, but it is the real deal :)

      Programs always change their rules, so this could happen in the future, but until that day comes, use this to the fullest!

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