Club Carlson Devalues Points Transfers to Miles With No Notice Whatsoever

Via reader Glenn L., Club Carlson has drastically cut the rate at which points transfer to airline miles — overnight, without any notice whatsoever.

Previously, points transferred to miles at a rate of:

  • 2000 points -> 250 miles
  • 50,000 points -> 8000 miles
  • 100,000 points -> 18,000 miles

Now the same 100,000 points transfer to just 10,000 miles. The new ratio is a consistent 10-to-1.

Significant changes to the value of points without notice is, I think, the worst thing a program can do.

Members earn points with an eye towards redemption. They spend money in good faith based on an articulation of benefits. Having the deal changed after they’ve spent that money, without any chance to redeem under the rules in place at the time they did so, is a true breach of trust.

Strictly speaking these programs say in their terms and conditions that they can do it. But the programs that don’t — the programs that give members fair notice, and an opportunity to exercise the benefits under the terms that points were earned — are the ones that deserve our business.

Those that make changes without notice will do so again, and again, and again. They aren’t to be trusted, and points should only be accumulated at your own peril.

In fact there is a long history of the program’s predecessor behaving in this manner. This isn’t the first time the hotel loyalty program associated with Radisson has reduced its mileage transfer rate, overnight.

The old Radisson Goldpoints program used to convert points to miles at 4-to-1. Then In May 2002 for most members) it became 8-to-1, with not chance for folks saving up points to redeem at the rate they had been accumulating and making plans under.

Ironically, the new 10-to-1 ratio is the same one that Goldpoints offered to TGI Fridays members when converting their points to miles. One could say that Club Carlson now seems to value its points like appetizers?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I think the warning was when they started saturating the market with points. I was going to buy some Wyndham points but I might not now

  2. Having just gotten the Club Carlson cc, with it’s very generous terms for points awards, I have to wonder if one day soon, without notice, I will find that the points required for award stays have doubled. Or the second award night free has been canceled. Or both… 🙁

    As with Tim2 above, I’m now questioning how much spend beyond the required minimum spend to put on this card.

  3. Aside from SPG, transferring points to miles seems to be a poor use of points, considering the ratio.

  4. Actually, the recent devaluation of the lowest tier redemption was from 9,000 to 15,000 points was 66.66%.

  5. And wasn’t the advance notice about four days? One wonders whether to think along the lines of, “If it looks too good to be true…” …or that it’s just plain old bait and switch.

  6. Blogged about this earlier, they were selling points with big bonuses in flash sales last week, obviously wanted some cash in before 30th June.

    I can understand the need for rates to evolve over time, but cutting them virtually in half overnight without notice is not a credible policy for a serious loyalty programme. Unless they provide us with a grace period.

    While you might be able to get better value out of them at hotels, many of us were saving them for dumping into airline schemes, including schemes we had limited opportunities to earn bulk quantities of.

  7. @Brian, well, it depends on how you come into the points and how you value them versus miles. For example i just picked up the chase Marriott card. I have never stayed in a marriott property out of my own choosing. Yet the 70k bonus converting to 25k AA miles with no strings attached? Why not?

  8. I’m confused… redeeming CC points for hotel stays makes for a good value proposition.

    Granted, CC has very few aspirational properties, but that’s ok. I’m not in a position where I can earn unlimited amounts of SPG or Hyatt points via reimbursable spend, so I have to pick and choose carefully. Sometimes that means a decent free hotel in a city I want to visit is A OK with me.

  9. I also am not worried at this change…; never really considered using CC points for miles.
    But… a reminder that CC can/does change quickly.

    I was VERY impressed with the 2×1 credit card nights at my local (AUS) Radisson recently. Would be sad to lose that, but I took the no annual fee card (with lower bonus), am not heavily “invested”. The same for my 200+K of points from those nice promos last year.

  10. Not that the 100k to 18k was a good redemption, but I’m glad I just did it a few weeks ago. I needed that many points to hit the Companion pass with Southwest, and it counted!

  11. @Dan “I’m confused… redeeming CC points for hotel stays makes for a good value proposition.”

    Nobody is commenting upon what value can be got out of them for hotel stays, if that is what you wanted to do with them.

    The point is airline partner conversions were marketing as a benefit of the scheme. And it was something valued by a lot of people. (The cut and paste responses from ClubCarlson to people do amazingly state this!)

    We all understand rates may need to change over time, but that would (for blanket change) be slow gradual changes and slight adjustments to rates.

    With some individual partner scheme you might need to adjust suddenly for some reason (changes with the partner programme, etc, or relationship between them).

    To change the conversion rates for all your airline partners slightly without notice would be one thing. To do it so radically (cut virtually in half overnight) is just not acceptable behaviour in the LOYALTY industry – without either notice, or a grace period.

    I’ve pulled every stay I am able to that is coming up that I was going to give them. They can’t be trusted.

  12. On the positive side I do recall an increase in required points for some hotels last year but it was announced weeks maybe months prior to taking effect.

  13. yet again – the Radisson/ Club Carlsson program shows that they suck. no other way to describe it!

  14. Many people chose Carlson for the ability to transfer to Southwest toward a Companion Pass.

  15. Nowadays, a Fridays point (“stripe”) is worth a minimum of 0.8 cents, since you can redeem 100 for $8 off. They can be worth more with other redemptions, but that’s the floor. So even at 4 to 1, I wouldn’t want to redeem for miles, since it would take 3.2 cents of Stripes to get a mile. At 10 to 1, that’d be a downright awful exchange, so that option is not missed. I’ll stick to sandwiches and baby backs, I guess.

  16. Club Carlson: The leopard does not change its spots. Caveat Emptor with them. I will now begin to burn my points on Radisson stays, and then they shall be no more, yet again. I previously went 8 years without setting a foot inside a Radisson due to their devaluation, and I can do it again.

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