Don't miss out! Join the thousands of people who subscribe to our once-daily email with all the best travel news

First – a little bit of background.  Back in 2015, Club Carlson had one of the best rewards deals out there – on any award that you booked, you got the last night for free.  So as long as you booked your awards in 2 night stays, you could essentially double your points.  Club Carlson removed this benefit back in April 2015, but as part of the uproar that went on, Club Carlson gave out a free night certificate to just about anyone who called in and complained about

I got my Club Carlson free night certificates back in August, but for some reason, even though I only have 2 cards (one for me and one for my wife), I ended up with 3 certificates.

Using my Club Carlson free e-certificates

I ended up using one of my Club Carlson e-certificates at our stay at the Radisson Blu Dubai Deira Creek, where I had an underwhelming experience.  It reminded me of my OTHER stay at a Radisson, which was at the Radisson Blu Roma hotel in Rome, where I also had a less than ideal experience.

The catch-22 of these free certificates at ANY hotel is that you tend to want to spend them at the most expensive hotels possible, but these are the very types of hotels that tend to nickel and dime you for everything, leading to a less than great experience

(SEE ALSO: 3 reasons “budget” hotels DESTROY nice ones)

(SEE ALSO: Why do people think free hotel nights are a good idea?)

So where should I use my remaining 2 certificates?

Option 1: Another “fancy” hotel

Like I said, typically the thinking with these types of certificates is to use them on the most fancy expensive hotel possible.  Carolyn and I just got back from a trip around the world with first class flights on JAL and Emirates, so we probably won’t be going anywhere by ourselves any time soon.

And whenever we’re with all the kids, I’m a little hesitant to stay anywhere TOO fancy, lest we break stuff and disturb other guests 🙂

Option 2: The Cincinnati spinning restaurant

One hotel we always pass here in Cincinnati is the Radisson Cincinnati Riverfront, which is of course not actually IN Cincinnati, but across the river in Covington, Kentucky


It has a revolving 360 degree restaurant up on top of the hotel, and as a Cincinnati landmark (not QUITE a landmark), I thought it might be fun to try that out.  This might be as a getaway “staycation” or perhaps as a fun family trip.  Though I’m sure we wouldn’t get breakfast and it’s probably super expensive…

I’m not sure I’d ever justify paying the points for this hotel anyways, so a free night certificate might be the only time I’ll ever stay here.

Option 3: Use them at a “boring” Country Inn and Suites

We are heading on a family trip in a few weeks, and we have 5 nights in hotels.  The first 2 and last 2 nights were booked as 2 separate award stays at a Country Inn and Suites back when Club Carlson had their Bonus Award night that gave us the last night of those 2 bookings free.  But the 3rd night of this trip is not yet booked.  I could use my 2 free nights as a separate reservation so that we would have all 5 of our nights at the same hotel.  The other option, if I don’t do this, is to just book some other hotel for that 3rd night, meaning we’d have to check-out and back in twice.  I’m not opposed to doing that, though it would be a bit of a hassle.

Option 3 is probably what I SHOULD do, but I hate using free night certificates at a hotel that has a rack rate of less than $100 / night.  I know that lighting them on fire is a bit of hyperbole, but I honestly do feel quite conflicted about where to possibly use them 

If I felt like I could legally and easily just sell the award and book a room for someone else, I’d probably do it, but I’m not sure that is a workable solution

So what would you do?  Which option do you like?  Or might you recommend something else (like giving them to you?!?!) 😀


Sign up for our once-daily email with the latest tips and tricks on how to travel for free / cheap. 

You have Successfully Subscribed!