Hotel credit cards are in a different area than airline cards, mostly in how generous the earning bonuses are on the cards. The two big reasons for that would most likely have to do with the high amount of points required for the more expensive hotels to begin with and also the fact that you are not redeeming for partners that the hotel would actually have to pay (like if you were to use United miles for travel on Lufthansa). So, it is easy to really take advantage of some of the hotel credit cards and their payout on non-bonus category spending to generate a lot of points for free stays.
The Club Carlson Premier As An Everyday Hotel Card
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Sign-up Bonus Details
There are actually two different Club Carlson personal credit cards that you can be approved for – the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature is the version with the top offer, but if you are not approved for that one, you will be considered and likely approved for the lower tiered Club Carson Rewards card.
Here are the details about the bonus for the Club Carlson Premier Rewards card:
- 50,000 points after first purchase
- 35,000 additional points after spending $2,500 in the first 90 days
- 40,000 points every anniversary
- Annual fee (not waived) of $75
Here are the details about the bonus for the lower Club Carlson Rewards card:
- 50,000 points after first purchase
- 10,000 additional points after spending $1,500 in the first 90 days
- 25,000 points every anniversary
- Annual fee (not waived) of $50
The Best Part Of The Club Carlson Credit Cards
While the bonus on the Premier version is very nice and the anniversary bonus is great, there is one feature about these cards that really turn them into a hotel award powerhouse, especially on short stays. That is the feature that gives you your last night free on award stays of 2 nights or more. That means, if you were to want to redeem points for a two night stay, you would only be charged the points for one night since the last one is free. That is huge as it really helps to stretch the value of the Club Carlson points (which are otherwise considered to not be worth much in the general point valuations).
Using The Club Carlson Premier Rewards Card For Everyday Spending
When it comes to spending, the savvy points/mile collector knows that it can be extremely advantageous to use specific credit cards at places that earn bonuses for various categories. For instance, the best cards to use when shopping at someplace like Office Max is the Chase Ink family of cards as you will earn 5x points per dollar spent! When it comes to gas stations, there are several cards that give a 2X bonus on spending there.
But, when it comes to general spending – at certain retail outlets, post offices, online bills, etc. – it is always a toss-up over which card to use. Many people default to the SPG Amex cards since their 1 point per dollar on all spending (except for SPG spending) is great when combined with the value you can achieve through the SPG program. However, not everyone has the full range of cards and everyone’s travel plans are different.
If you want to stay at any of the over 1,000 Club Carlson hotels around the world, you would not be doing bad using the Club Carlson Premier Rewards card for everyday, non-bonus spending. The card pays out 5 points per dollar on all non-Club Carlson spending.
The Category 1 range of Club Carlson hotels require only 9,000 points per night. That means it only takes $1,800 in spending to get a free night! Combine that with a 2 night award stay at that property (to kick in the free night) and you are looking at a great return on your spending – 2 free nights (at the lowest category) for only spending $1,800 in everyday spending.
The highest category – Category 7 – requires 70,000 points per night. That requires the spending on the card to jump to $14,000 to receive a free night (2 free nights if booked in a row as a cardholder). Of course, like most hotel award programs, a lot of the great, everyday value in hotel programs can really be achieved on the mid-tier hotels over the highest tier.
Category 4 and 5 in the Club Carlson brands actually deliver some very nice hotels in excellent locations around the world. They require 38,000 and 44,000 points, respectively. That translates to $7,600 in spending for a Category 4 and $8,800 in spending for a Category 5 hotel. That is more like it!
The map above shows all of the Category 5 Club Carlson hotels around the world. That gives you a lot of options for a two night stay when only spending $8,800 on just everyday expenses! I have stayed in some of these and they are very nice – in fact, the cash price on several of these hotels is well over $250 per night!
Here is the breakdown of what it would take in spending to get a 2 night award stay at the various category hotels (the 2 nights is really 1 night with the last night free from having the credit card):
|Category||Amount of Points Required||Amount of Spending Required|
As you can see, the value associated with the amount of spend required really falls off at the Category 7 level. If 1 of the 11 Category 7 hotels is really what you aspire after, then just plan on collecting the points a bit more diligently. But, keep in mind that the only Category 7 hotels are located in France, Kuwait, Netherlands, Russia, UAE, and the United Kingdom. There are not even any in North America or any of the other major locations around the world.
Handling the Spending
Fortunately, I am finally about to enter the REDcard spending/loading game (being overseas and not having any local to my family, as well as some other factors, have kept me from this thus far). If anyone else is involved in loading their REDcard with a credit card, that is an easy way to generate 25,000 Club Carlson points per month! Over the course of the year, that would be enough to pay for 6 separate 2 night stays at Category 6 hotels or 7 nights in a row at a Category 6!
If manufacturing spending is not your thing (or you are still new to this and want to take it easy), figuring about $1,000 per month in non-bonus spending would still get you 60,000 points in a single year. That is enough for a few nights at several different hotels, depending on how you break it up.
All In The Family
Taking advantage of the free night on award stays of 2 nights or more can be a little difficult if you are visiting a city for several days. Of course, you could hop around to a different hotel every third night and then come back to the Club Carlson for 2 nights in a row, but when traveling with family, that may be more than you bargain for.
Something that you can do is freely transfer points to members of the same household. If you and another family member were to each have the Club Carlson Premier Rewards card (or even the lower tiered Rewards card for one member), you could simply transfer over enough points for the stays needed and hopscotch reservations – 2 nights on your account, 2 nights on your family member’s account, 2 nights on your account, etc. That way, for a 6 night “stay”, you would only have spent points for 3 nights!
There are a lot of credit cards out there and many of them make strong cases for being used everyday. However, if one of your travel goals is more hotel stays, you cannot really go wrong with the Club Carlson Premier Rewards card for your everyday card. With the lucrative earning rate and generous free night on award stays, it can present enormous value for your stays on the road.
Editorial Note - Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.
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