Update to my Club Carlson Reward program and credit card reviews!

Club Carlson, the reward program for Radisson, Radisson Blu, Country Inn & Suites, Park Plaza, Park Inn and other hotels in the Carlson Group, (reviewed here) and their co-branded Visa credit card, issued by US Bank, (reviewed here), became my favorite hotel rewards combo due to their stellar benefits, like the bonus points on card renewal and the bonus nights for award redemptions. They earned me some wonderful stays for very few points in London, Paris, Dresden, Vienna, Prague and Cape Town. Unfortunately, the bloggers who said this is too good to be true, were right: Club Carlson has removed the bonus award night benefit that gave you your second award night for free!

Because I always booked reward nights in two-night intervals, that is a big hit and a 50% devaluation of the points! While I have valued the points at 0.6 cents/point I have frequently redeemed points at a value of more than 1 cent/point! I have contacted US Bank for clarification, especially because I just paid the renewal fee and waiting to hear more details! This devaluation is effective June 1, 2015: Any stays booked before that (regardless of the stay date) still qualify for the bonus award night, anything booked after that date doesn’t qualify and will effectively need twice the points!

While I understand that this benefit was a move to make a splash in the market and attract new customers and probably not sustainable, the harsh end is a nasty surprise. I would have expected to cap this benefit, ie only available 2-3 times/year or change it to a 5th night free award like other credit cards. And it is especially poor execution to do this right after selling lots of points during the Daily Getaway (reported here)!

As a consequence, I just booked 200,000 points worth of free nights under the old rules for my tour of Eastern Europe this fall, making the most out of all the points I acquired. While I will consider to continue holding the card, pending US Bank’s response, Club Carlson will certainly drop in my evaluation and preference. I will update the reviews of the program and the credit card to reflect those changes!

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