There is no denying Club Carlson launched a couple of years of the most lucrative hotel loyalty promotions in 2011 and 2012, only to claw back many of the best loyalty program benefits in 2015-2017.
The real death knell for loyalty program value for many U.S. members was the elimination of the Club Carlson Visa card benefit for one free night on any award stay in May 2015.
The final straw was the no notice elimination of 4-for-2 and 2-for-1 Gold elite member weekend rates in Europe, Middle East and Africa on January 30, 2017.
6 of 8 Club Carlson paid nights I had in Jan-Feb 2017 were booked using 2-for-1 weekend rates in Europe before that Gold elite benefit was discontinued on January 30, 2017.
My Club Carlson 2017 Year in Review
Club Carlson sent me a year-in-review summary this week.
This Club Carlson email summary is actually not very accurate. As a consequence of trying to correlate my stays with this summary, I made several mistakes. My original version of this article has been corrected based on my stay by stay records of room rates, points actually earned and points redeemed for reward nights.
Club Carlson credit card bonus points are not included in my hotel stay analysis, although they are included in the 153,077 points total shown in the image below. I only paid for 2 hotel stays in 2017 using my Club Carlson credit card. The 40,000 annual anniversary bonus points comprise about 90% of my Club Carlson credit card points earned in 2017.
15 paid nights spending $1,224 in 2017 earned 108,606 Club Carlson points.
Earning 153,077 points would appear to require $5,669.50 in hotel spend at 27 points earned per dollar.
Club Carlson stays earn 20 points per dollar and 7 points/$ as a Gold elite member courtesy of Club Carlson Visa.
My actual points earn rate was slightly more than 88 points per dollar in hotel spend during three 2017 trips to Europe earning bonus points and free nights during three separate promotions.
Adding the value of two free nights earned during the Free Fridays summer promotion was equivalent to earning an additional 100,000 Club Carlson points for 2 Free Friday nights I redeemed at Radisson Blu Alcron Prague. My Club Carlson points earned were equivalent to 253,000 points for $1,300 in hotel spend for 2017.
I rounded up my actual spend from $1,224 to $1,300 for my 24 hotel nights in 2017 to account for foreign currency fluctuations and city hotel taxes that might have raised the amounts shown in this post slightly by a few dollars at different hotels.
Jan-Feb 2017 promotion 8 paid nights = 50,000 bonus points
Loyalty Traveler – Club Carlson 70,000 points earned, $470 hotel spent on 8 nights (March 6, 2017).
Park Plaza Prague – 2 nights in Jan ($84 on 2-for-1 weekend rate). Upgraded to top floor Business Class Patio room.
Loyalty Traveler – Park Inn Prague Winter Stay Hotel Review
Radisson Blu Wroclaw, Poland – 2 nights in Jan 2017 for $82 on 2-for-1 weekend rate. Upgraded to top floor Business Class room.
Loyalty Traveler – Radisson Blu Wroclaw hotel review
Park Plaza Vondelpark – 4 nights in Feb 2017 for $302 on 4-for-2 rates.
Loyalty Traveler – Park Plaza Amsterdam Vondelpark 66 stairs to room 36
These 8 nights in Jan and Feb 2017 earned 70,000 points for $470 during Club Carlson’s 2017 Earn Bigger Rewards winter promotion, where I chose the stay 8 nights and earn 50,000 bonus points offer.
Club Carlson Triple Points April-June 2017
I had only two paid nights at Club Carlson hotels in June 2017 at Radisson Blu Gdansk and Radisson Blu Krakow, Poland spending $216 during the spring 2017 promotion to earn 22,466 points.
Radisson Blu Gdansk, Poland 1 night $114 and received one bedroom suite upgrade. I stayed a second night in the suite using 38,000 points.
Radisson Blu Krakow for 1 Sunday night on a $102 rate triggered an additional 5,000 bonus points.
Club Carlson Free Fridays promotion earned 2 free nights during summer travel
Loyalty Traveler – Club Carlson free Friday Night every two stays or 10K points July 1–Sep 30
Club Carlson Free Fridays promotion offer of stay 2 times and earn one Free Friday for redemption from Friday October 6 through Friday January 26, 2018.
I completed four stays with 6 hotel nights for $608 in July 2018 to earn 2 Free Fridays during the promotion. There was a limit of 3 Free Friday credits per member. My limiting factor was not on the earning part, but the redemption part. I knew I could only get real value for 2 Free Friday reward stays due to my travel dates and destinations.
Park Plaza Vondelpark Amsterdam 1 night $120
Park Inn Prague 1 night $120
Radisson Blu Carlton Bratislava, Slovakia 3 nights $255
Radisson Blu Edwardian London Heathrow 1 night $113
Loyalty Traveler – Art Deco at Radisson Blu Alcron Prague
I redeemed both of my two Free Friday nights at Radisson Blu Alcron Prague, normally 50,000 points per night. These two free nights were dates with published room rates around $250 per night. I received an upgrade to a junior suite and free breakfast on one of the stays.
I only count 7 different hotels for my Club Carlson paid stays in 2017. I checked my account statement to find the discrepancy. Apparently, I earned 153 points during a reward stay at Park Inn Kaunas, Lithuania accounting for hotel #8, but I only count 15 paid nights, not 18 nights shown in my Club Carlson year in review.
Club Carlson 9 redemption nights in 2017
137,500 points redeemed + 2 Free Fridays
1. Park Inn Kaunas, Lithuania = 13,500 points for Business Class room when room rate $130.
2. Radisson Blu Klaipeda, Lithuania = 30,000 points for 2 nights when room rate $240 for 2 nights.
3. Radisson Blu Gdansk, Poland = 38,000 points for 1 night when lowest AAA room rate $177 USD per night.
4. Radisson Blu Alcron, Prague = Free Friday x 2 when room rates about $520.
5. Park Inn Prague = 56,000 points for 2 category 3 reward nights when room rates $203 per night during holidays.
137,500 points redeemed for room nights priced at $953 provided a redemption value = $6.93 per 1,000 points.
When I add the value of 2 Free Fridays worth 50,000 points each for 2 Radisson Blu Alcron Prague reward nights, my total reward nights is 9 free hotel nights in 2017 for 137,500 Club Carlson points. The lowest paid rates for these nights was $250 each.
My equivalent redemption value increases to $1,453 room rates, paid with 137,500 points, for $10.56 per 1,000 Club Carlson points redemption value.
My Club Carlson 2017 Year-in-Review
- 24 hotel nights in 10 different hotels with 15 paid nights and 9 reward nights.
- My hotel spend was about $1,300 total for 15 paid nights.
- I earned 108,606 points from hotel stays + 3,060 points from a $10 iTunes purchase.
- 9 free nights worth $1,450 cost 137,500 Club Carlson points + 2 Free Friday promotion credits.
- I did not redeem my free Club Carlson Visa night in 2017. I had no Club Carlson stays in USA and the Club Carlson Visa free night is not valid in Europe.
- $2,750 total value in Club Carlson hotel rooms for 24 nights.
- My average hotel night cost for 24 nights = $54.20 per night in 2017.
- I finished 2017 with 25,900 fewer points than I earned from hotel stays.
- After adding Club Carlson Visa bonus points, I earned about 18,000 more points in 2017 than I redeemed for 2017 hotel stays.
- I also redeemed an additional 88,000 Club Carlson points in 2017 for 5 reward nights in 2018.
I had a good year in 2017 with Club Carlson. The elimination of 2-for-1 and 4-for-2 weekend rates for Gold elite members in 2017 means 2018 will likely be far less lucrative value for my travels with Club Carlson.
I have more than 100,000 points still available for redemption with plans for some good value category 1 and category 2 hotels in Europe.
The recently reopened Park Inn Bratislava, Slovakia at category 1 for 9,000 points per night is a hotel I have my eye on for 2018.
I also want to return to Lithuania with my wife to stay again in Klaipeda and Kaunas hotels in summer 2018.
Hopefully Club Carlson has some great 2018 promotions planned.