Radisson Rewards Premier Visa Card Review

The Radisson Rewards Premier Visa Signature card by US Bank is the replacement of the Club Carlson Visa card. In addition to the new name and design, you get a few changes in perks for the card. It’s a small improvement and I recommend to get and hold the card, despite the loss of a lot of benefits over the years. Read my full review why!

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Radisson Rewards (former Club Carlson) is the rewards program of Radisson Hotel Group (formerly Carlson Hotels / Carlson Rezidor), with more than 1,200 hotels around the world! The Radisson Rewards Visa card allows you to earn points with the program and enjoy additional perks!

Here is a quick summary of the Club Carlson Visa card:

  • Sign-up bonus of 85,000 points, worth about US$255
    You receive 50,000 after your first purchase, which is pretty rare these days and another 35,000 after a spending US$2,500 in the first 90 days after signing up.
  • Earn 10 points for every US$ spent at Carlson properties or 5 points everywhere else
  • Radisson Rewards Gold Status
    As long as you hold the Visa card, you will have Gold Status in the program.
  • Free Night after $10,000 annual Spend
    After $10,000 spend, you get a certificate for a free night at a US property. You can earn up to 3 free nights with a total of $30,000 spend.
  • Renewal bonus of 40,000 points each year after paying annual fee
  • $75 annual fee, foreign exchange fee of 3% charged,

While the sign-up bonus of 85,000 points for “up to 9 free nights” sounds great, the low value of Radisson Rewards points makes it worth less than comparable cards!

The earn rate of 5-10 points/$ represents a reward rate of 1.5-3% – decent, but only mid-pack in the market.

The Gold status is a nice perk, although Radisson has eliminated the most valuable benefits. You now get a 25% bonus on points earned,  a welcome amenity and an upgrade to a “preferred room” based on availability, instead of the much more valuable room category upgrade previously.

The most valuable benefit left is the 40,000 renewal bonus after paying your annual fee of $75. Even at only 0.3 cents/point, that reflects a $120 value and easily pays for the annual fee, making it effectively free to hold!

The free night certificates for a spend of $10,000 is an interesting new perk on the card, meant to incentivize you to not only hold, but use the card. Unfortunately, the certificates are only valid in the US where Radisson has mostly less attractive midscale hotels of the Radisson and Country Inn & Suites brands, with Average Daily Rates (ADR) of around $120. I consider this an additional 1% reward rate for the first $30,000 spend for a total of 2.5-4%, making the card attractive for use in the USA ONLY. 

Keep in mind that the steep Foreign Exchange Fee of 3% wipes out any rewards benefit and I do not recommend to use the card abroad.
Also, the limitation to US properties bares the risk of the certificates expriring – Radisson has few properties in the big US cities or tourist destinations, so they are only helpful when traveling to 2nd or 3rd tier cities!

The Radisson Rewards card is a Visa Signature card and comes with all the standard benefits of the Signature series, like rental car, luggage and accident coverage. The card is issued by US Bank and requires very good credit. US Bank has a reputation of “being difficult” among people who apply for rewards credit cards as a hobby and might reject applications from people with too many recent applications. They also offer a Visa Signature and regular Visa card with reduced benefits, you can 

Bottomline: The Radisson Rewards Premier Visa Signature card has gained a new spend incentive and lost some benefits. The sign-up bonus and annual renewal bonus alone are worth getting the card, if you have an opportunity to stay at Radisson hotels, especially the much nicer Radisson Blu properties in Europe. 
It’s also attractive to use, if you only use the card in the US and can use the card for free stays at US properties. 
For everybody else, the IHG Rewards Club card from Chase is (still) the better card to get – with more perks and benefits and more than 4-times the number of hotels to earn or redeem!

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