Is the Club Carlson Card the Best Hotel Credit Card?

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If you have any desire to stay at Club Carlson brand hotels, then yes, the Club Carlson credit card is the best hotel credit card to have in your wallet – even if you do not use it for everyday spend! Club Carlson hotels include: Radisson Blu, Radisson, Country Inn & Suites, Park Plaza, and Park Inn by Radisson. I personally have not stayed at too many Club Carlson hotels, but from my understanding the Radisson Blu properties are really nice and the Radisson properties domestically in the US could use a facelift. Country Inn & Suites are cute – I stayed in a great one near Lake George two summers ago.

So what is so special with this card? If you are a card member, on every stay you book with points you’ll get your last night free. So let’s say you have a two night stay in Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel in Sydney, you’ll only pay for one night! If you have a three night stay, you’ll pay for two nights, and so on. If you are traveling with someone else and they are also a cardholder, and you are looking at a four night stay, you can have two separate reservations – one under your name and one under your travel companions name and those four nights will only cost you two nights worth of points! Or, you can stay at the hotel two nights, stay somewhere else the third night, and go back to that hotel for the 4th and 5th night of your vacation. Nights 2 and 5 will be free! Remember though, the major caveat here is that your stay must be booked with points to receive the free night. Oh, and you are limited to using this benefit 50 times a year, which I believe most people won’t even come close to hitting.

Since you need to redeem points for this perk, how do you earn points? First off, signing up for the credit card and hitting the minimum spend requirements will get you points off the bat. There are 4 different credit card options all with different bonus points which I will get to in a moment. You can then also earn points by using your credit card for every day purchases. Again, each card earns different amounts ranging from 1 to 5 points all every day spend. Some of the credit card options also give you a yearly bonus for keeping the card. You can also purchase up to 40,000 points a year (which will cost $280) – not the best option, but if you are shy some points that will enable you to get you a 2nd night free it might be worth it. There have been times in the past were Club Carlson sold their points for a significantly discounted price.

What are the different credit card options? First off, all four credit card options come with the last night free perk! This means even if you get the card with a $0 annual fee, you will still get this perk!!

  • Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature
    • Points earned for spend: 5 Club Carlson points per dollar on everyday spending; 10 points per dollar on Club Carlson hotel spending
    • Bonus points upon applying: 85,000 point signup bonus — 50,000 after first purchase and 35,000 more after $2,500 spend within 90 days
    • Hotel status: Gold
    • Bonus points annually: 40,000 points annually for card renewal
    • Annual fee: $75
  • Club Carlson Rewards Visa Signature
    • Points earned for spend: 3 points per dollar on most spending; 6 points on Club Carlson hotel spending
    • Bonus points upon applying: 60,000 point signup bonus — 50,000 after first purchase and 10,000 more after $1,500 spend within 90 days
    • Hotel status: Silver
    • Bonus points annually: 25,000 points annually for card renewal
    • Annual fee: $50
  • Club Carlson Rewards Visa Card
    • Points earned for spend: 1 points per dollar on most spending; 3 points on Club Carlson hotel spending
    • Bonus points: 30,000 point signup bonus after spending $1,000 on the card within 90 days
    • Hotel status: None
    • Bonus points annually: None
    • Annual fee: $0
  • Club Carlson Business Rewards Visa
    • Points earned for spend: 5 Club Carlson points per dollar on most spending; 10 points per dollar on Club Carlson hotel spending
    • Bonus points: 85,000 point signup bonus — 50,000 after first purchase and 35,000 more after $2500 spend within 90 days
    • Hotel status: Automatic Club Carlson Gold status
    • Bonus points annually: 40,000 points annually for card renewal
    • Annual fee: $60

So with the four different card options, which one is best? For the personal cards, if you are looking to stay at Club Carlson hotels on a yearly basis and do not already have a bunch of Club Carlson points, I’d suggest the Premier Rewards Visa Signature option since it comes with 40,000 points annually. To get an additional 40,000 points a year for only $75 is great. However, if you are able to earn enough points other ways, then getting the card with no annual fee would be my suggestion. This way you do not have to pay an annual fee on yet another card.

If you are able to open a business credit card, then the business version is by far the best, in my opinion. You get the exact same perks as the Premier Rewards Visa Signature card, but the annual fee is $15 less!

Since this is a US Bank credit card, is it harder to get? I personally did not have a hard time getting approved for this card a year ago, but did not have any other US Bank cards at the time. From what I hear from talking to other folks, they are a bit more difficult in approving credit cards than Chase or Amex for example. If you just recently applied for a bunch of cards, I’d hold off a bit to ensure you are approved. There is not an exact science to it, but three months since your last application should do the trick. If anyone has any personal experience, feel free to post in the comments section to help other readers!

 

There are many other hotel credit card options that give you one free night annually (related blog post), but the Club Carlson one gives you MANY free nights annually!

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Comments

  1. How do you use the free night benefit? do I need to have enough points in my account for both the nights and I get the second night rebated back to me later? or do I just need enough points for the first night? and can I book with this benefit online?

    • @yitz – no you do not need to have enough points available for the free night. the free night is deducted while making the reservation. yes this can be booked online!

  2. I agree that this is a great card and very easy to build up points. The only problem I have is with the Country Inn & Suites. I’ve stayed in four different ones with my points and each room was dirty. The upholstery on the couch and chairs is so filthy I didn’t want to sit on them. The carpeting in the rooms was not much better. I think I’ll save the rest of my points for a Radisson Blu.

  3. waiting to see what kind of gutting they do to the program before applying. there are so many points floating around now, seems like a hilton style devaluation may be coming soon. the only potential positive is that they seem to be really trying to grow market share and i imagine the credit card is really aiding that goal- a question of how much the free and 2x free nights are costing them vs the benefit.

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