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I have to say, when I first started learning about travel hacking, I was not very familiar with Club Carlson hotels. In fact, I can probably say that I had never really heard of Club Carlson. But when I looked at the different brands that they owned, then it was a different story.
I hadn’t actually STAYED in all of those brands, but I had at least HEARD of (most of) them.
When I did my first credit card churn, the Club Carlson Business Premier Visa was one of the cards I applied for
(yes, a BUSINESS card). I was approved for the card, which gives 85,000 points after spending $2500 in the first 3 months of spending.
In addition to the 85,000 points, the Club Carlson Visa cards have a few other perks, including probably the best credit card perk out there!
- First of all, there are the 85,000 points. Now, we’ve talked before that different cards have different values for hotel free nights, and where 85,000 points would be a huge amount at say, Starwood, it’s actually not as much with Club Carlson. Still, the lowest level at Club Carlson redeems a free night at only 9,000 points (which is how they get away with the “up to 9 free nights” in the ad.
- 40,000 points upon renewal of the card. Now normally I am not a big fan of paying annual fees on cards (or anything!!), but in this case, the $60 annual fee (not waived the first year) to me is worth getting 40,000 points (which can be worth several free nights)
- Automatic upgrade to Club Carlson Gold status. Gold doesn’t get you THAT much, but it does get you possible free room upgrades. I used this on a recent trip to Miami – BOOM! free upgrade to a 1BR Suite.
Best for Last
And I saved the best perk for last!
With ANY reward reservation of 2 nights or more, your last night is free! Now, I’m sure that the astute among you will realize that to maximize this benefit, you want to book stays of EXACTLY 2 nights, which turns this into a B1G1F (Buy 1 Get 1 Free) deal – essentially getting 50% off your 2 night stays!
So in reality, if you were to book 9 2-night stays at a level 1 Club Carlson hotel, this card could actually give you 18 nights free! On the same trip to Miami I mentioned earlier, we used this benefit. The Country Inns and Suites we stayed at was I believe a Level 3 hotel, so it costs 28,000 points a night. But because I have the Club Carlson Premier Visa card, I only had to pay for 1 night (and got the 2nd night free, plus a free upgrade to a suite)
This benefit is actually SO good that it makes you never want to book any Club Carlson hotels at anything other than 2 night stays. Just spending 1 night at a Radisson is completely wasting the fact that you should have saved your points when you could have saved them for a time when you could have used those points to get 2 free nights. Similarly, why spend 3 or 4 nights, since that limits your 50% off to only 33% or 25% off.
In conclusion, this is one of the best cards out there for hotel stays. It isn’t going to get you tons of nights at super high-end hotels (though there definitely are some higher-end Radisson and Radisson Blu hotels), but the Bonus Award night is one of, if not THE best credit card perks out there.
What about you? Do you have the Club Carlson Visa in your arsenal?