Confirmed. Club Carlson Free Night Benefit Ending Soon. And an Insulting Bonus.

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Earlier this morning I reported that there was some rumblings that the free night benefit of the co-branded credit card was going away. At that point I was really really really hoping that it was a late April Fools joke, but unfortunately it is not. The reports are true. The free night on any award stay of two or more nights is going away. This was by far one of the best perks out of any credit card and quite honestly one of those “too good to be true” scenarios.

While I am not surprised that they are getting rid of this benefit, I am not pleased on how they are going about it. For example, those that just applied for the card (i.e., my husband) will not receive the benefits they were promised when hitting the submit button on the application link. By the time one is approved, receives the card, hits the minimum spend, and gets the points credited to their account, they will not have the time to actually go ahead and redeem the points. You are given three months to hit the minimum spend requirement and with this scenario they are essentially forcing you to spend money much quicker. It is also not fair to those that paid their annual fee to maintain a card that they assumed one perk to then be told it was vanishing. I actually see a lawsuit waiting to happen.

I just received this email from Club Carlson and while I appreciate a bonus opportunity, it does not make up for it. I think they freaked out this morning when they saw all the blog posts and hate emails/tweets and quickly got their communications department to put something together. I would not want to be the one working for Club Carlson today having to put out this fire!

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 1.49.39 PMThe changes to the card include:

  • The free night one any award stay of 2+ nights will be eliminated on June 1, 2015.
  • You have until May 31, 2015 to book your stay with the free night. This includes any stays post June 1, 2015.
  • Starting on June 1, 2015, a new benefit will go into place and you will receive a free night after spending $10,000 on your card annually. Little details have been provided about this.

As a good will gesture, they are offering 30,000 points for staying at their hotel between now and August 31, 2015 and paying with your Club Carlson Visa. I am not sure if there are targeted offers, but this is the one I received. I personally find this gesture insulting. They should just be handing out the 30,000 points to those with the credit card with no stay requirement. A change in benefits should not then require you to stay at their hotel when you already have a sour taste in your mouth. Additionally, the point of the credit card benefit that is vanishing is to help people use their points, not pay for stay (to receive the bonus points it must be a paid stay and not booked with points or cash + points). 

Personally, I am probably going to burn most of my points on speculative stays and then re-evaluate whether or not this credit card is worth it. I will post again soon on my thoughts on the credit card going forward.

What do you think?


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  1. Wow, I’m sorely disappointed to hear this. I literally just got my Club Carlson card last week. How unfortunate. I guess I’ll do the same and burn through my points and re-evaluate the card.

  2. And what did Chase give us for dropping the Lounge Club benefit? I agree that Lounge Club and 2nd night free are not on the same level, but we all knew 2nd night free was coming sooner or later.

  3. We got the card because of the bonus night benefit a few months ago… so we’ll be canceling the card before renewal. Given this change, I see no point in using the card much anymore. I shot an email to both Club Carlson and US Bank just so they could add it to their feedback, but I expect both emails will be ignored and I’ll get a lovely form letter response.

  4. I agree, first you have to stay to use the card at one of their properties, problem is the only good properties are outside the US so you’re paying their 3% foreign transaction fee.

    Like you said, we just got 2 cards, 1 business for me and 1 personal for my gf and by the time the points even post, we won’t have access to the benefits.

    I’ve already wrote requesting the annual fee be refunded/waived or I was filing a consumer complaint with the FTC for bait & switch and with

  5. I like that they gave a couple of months to book under the old rate, though it probably will not work for me.
    health problems have interrupted my original plans. I bought a ton of miles last year at daily getaways and through them with the plan to use them this summer — not it is next summer at best, for the price I paid — it was only worth it with the second night free at each hotel.

    still the annual fees of 75 and 60 dollars going forward do produce 40000 points, which are worth enough for a mediocre hotel ,, which retails for a lot more than 60 and 75, but is worth perhaps 60 and 75 so I will keep the cards, had I wanted to use them for stays at the old two for one lever — it would not work, as it takes about four months for the points to post.

    Carlson or their predecessor has already earned a bad reputation for devaluing their program completely. their hotels are poorly located and decorated. us bank is unpleasant — only bank to ever decline me despite an excellent credit rating. using their cards abroad is a disaster — every time I do I get declined for security, every time I call in by Skype I get routed to security, resolve it, and then get an email later4 forcing me to call into security again. and foreign exchange fees to boot. I will keep Carlson and us bank as I already have them and it is just enough trouble to get rid of them as to keep them. but they probably invested a thousand dollars to acquire my business and personal cards — the relationship is worth about a nickel to them and to me as well.

    I wouldn’t call 30000 points for each of two stays , if on both business and personal cards, and if it is either not targeted or is targeted to me, an insult, but it is not enough.

    Carlson, let me sell back the points to you for the price that I paid for them –.4 cents I think, perhaps .5 cents. they are worth, in my opinion, 0.2 cents. that is my two cents.

  6. Keep in mind that you have to be a current card member when you have your stay for the benefit to count. So don’t book a bunch of speculative stays and then cancel the card before you check out. This is part of the rules but I’m not sure if it is enforced.

    • Where did you find the rule that you need the credit card at the time of the stay to get the bonus night? I have been asking that question on other sites, but no one has answered yet.

  7. Everyone knew this devaluation was coming at some point. The terms and conditions allowed it so no lawsuit is likely to succeed.

    That said, I would be interested to see what happens when people start requesting their annual fee back. I have had the card for years and gotten far more than my two annual fees worth so I view this as just one of the inevitable changes in the game. Of course, I wouldnt feel that way if I had just gotten a hard pull and used a valuable US Bank credit card app on a card whose main reward I will never be able to use.

    • Dave, thanks for your comments. My first (and soon to be last) Club Carlson Visa will arrive later next week. I was not aware that a major devaluation was approaching since solo many Boarding Area blogs promote the card. Curious – can you reference a blog in the last 3 months that recommends “DON’T get the CC Visa Card because a mega devaluation is soon underway…” Unlikely old sport.

  8. I just received and activated the credit card on Monday, so if you hear about any class action suit pass the word on ;-). Otherwise, my intention is to hit the minimum spend requirement and get my 85k points, stay at the cheapest Carlson hotel I can find nearby for the 30k bonus, blow the points (hopefully before the May 28th booking deadline), and then go back to not staying at Club Carlson properties rather than making the chain my backup as planned. I’m just glad I didn’t rack up a whole bunch of points with them before they announced this 50% devaluation.

    Given all of the other options, I’ve never been too attracted to Carlson Rezidor properties in the US – but this definitely drops them a few notches lower on the pole.

  9. I never received the email either. I’m hesitant to book a crap-hotel stay for $80 to get 30k if I may end up with nothing. Anyone else in the same boat?

  10. I applied for the C C card on Wed,night, & got the “We will notify you within 7 to 10 days” response. On Thur. morning, I saw the bad news. I promptly called & cancelled my application. I was informed that the credit bureau inquiry had already been made. Is there a way to inform the credit bureau that I declined the card? If not, I guess my FICO will suffer. Thanks for your blog.

  11. One target that definitely won’t be worth going for is one night at a Club Carlson property IN THE U.S. if you put $10K on the card. As others have said, there are almost no decent CC hotels in North America. The best places are arguably a few Country Inns or Plaza properties in the boondocks that go for around $100 a night on weekends, sometimes less.

  12. ’tis indeed a shame they were so callous & abrupt… the value of my 300k points just halved… c’est la vie in the points/miles game… hope they reconsider and mitigate the offer somehow… not holding my breath, booking hotels in colombia, moscow, and even, yes the US b4 the deadline… class action is probably dreaming, but i’d be in… truely bait’n’switch…

  13. Last week they sold millions of points on the Daily Getaways promo. This week they cut their value in half. That is deserving of a lawsuit. Bait & switch, or plain old fraud?

  14. Also note that their landing page states: “Enjoy all of these benefits for $XX Annual Fee† ” and the Bonus nights are listed, hence, Bonus nights are a benefit of the annual fee you are paying.

    • As of 10:26 p.m. 4/6/15 the landing page is still luring potential applicants to sign-up (with hard credit pull and $75 annual fee not waived), with the Bonus Award Night highlighted as a key benefit. This is more than bait and switch….this is FRAUD. Please let me know how to sign onto a class action lawsuit.

      • @Mark – I agree it is absolutely ridiculous that they are still advertising this benefit. My husband applied for this card last week (2 days prior to the announcement) and in his welcome package included this as a perk.

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