Club Carlson Reduces Points-Earning, Increases Prices on Reward Nights, and Starts Counting Free Nights Towards Elite Status

2013 was the year of hotel devaluations, requiring more points to redeem reward nights.

Hotels are generally full, and prices up, so hotel loyalty programs haven’t needed to be as generous.

Devaluations took various forms — new award categories, wholesale point increases, shifting categories, and structural changes. And they were doing in varying degrees, at the extreme end was Hilton’s absolute bloodletting.

Some gave notice, others did not.

Meanwhile Club Carlson, the loyalty program for Radisson, Park Plaza, Park Inn, and Country Inns & Suites, didn’t make a move. Until now (HT: Hans)

There are some positive changes, but the biggest change from my perspective is increased award prices for many hotels and a new top tier redemption category.

Here’s the summary they sent by email:

More Redemption Options

Club Carlson is introducing premium room redemptions, the ability to redeem more points for better rooms. They’re also offering more gift card redemption options which is a total non sequitur in terms of deriving value from the program.

Changes to Points Earning

They’re adding points-earning for food and beverages charged to the room on award nights, something I didn’t realize didn’t exist previously. That just makes sense, but is hardly something to get excited about, you won’t accumulate tons of points unless you’re eating a lot at their hotels!

They also make this statement, which I assume means less points-earning in the future but is very vague:

Our Gold Points bonus for booking a stay online will now be offered only on a promotional basis, so watch for upcoming opportunities

In other words, the 2000 point online booking bonus won’t be a permanent part of the program — it won’t always be there, but it’s unclear whether that’s going to change immediately or later.

They’re also reducing elite points bonuses.

  • Currently Silver, Gold, and Concierge members earn 25%, 50%, and 75% points bonuses.
  • That will change to 15%, 35%, and 75% on March 1.

One More Modest Elite Benefits Change

Top-tier Concierge status members will lose the “24/7 Global Concierge Service” on March 1.

Award Nights Count Toward Status

Award nights will count towards status, something fantastic for US-based members with their co-brand credit card (who get 2nd night free on an award stay of two nights or longer).

Here they match Hilton, IHG Rewards, and Starwood. Hyatt is something of a hybrid, with cash and points awards counting towards status while standard award nights do not. Marriott stands alone without any points redemptions counting towards status (and the most nights required to earn status).

More Hotels Getting More Expensive to Redeem For, and a New Category 7

Effective March 15 for bookings on or after May 1, a total of 181 hotels will change price for award nights.

Here’s the list of new award redemption categories.

  • 114 hotels go up 1 category
  • 66 hotels go down 1 category
  • 1 hotel goes down 2 categories

In Asia just 4 hotels go up, while 21 go down.

In Europe and Africa 45 hotels go up and 13 go down.

In the Americas 65 hotels go up and 33 go down.

As a part of these changes, Club Carlson is introducing a new category 7 that costs 70,000 points per night — hotels going up to category 7 will cost an additional 20,000 points per night (40% increase).

There are (9) hotels in this new category, all in Europe, Middle East, and Africa:

  • Radisson Royal Hotel, Dubai
  • Radisson Blu Le Dokhan’s Hotel, Paris Trocadero
  • Radisson Blu 1835 Hotel & Thalasso, Cannes
  • Radisson Blu Le Metropolitan Hotel, Paris Eiffel
  • Radisson Blu Hotel Champs Elysees, Paris
  • The May Fair
  • Plaza on the River, London
  • art’otel, Amsterdam
  • Radisson Royal Hotel, Moscow

On net these changes are not good. You’ll earn fewer points, and it will take more points to redeem for many hotels.. especially their most expensive properties.

At the same time there are some positives, like award nights counting towards status (although elites who qualify for status without this change will see that as a negative — since they might face more competition for upgrades) and premium room night awards.

Club Carlson didn’t devalue in 2013 when everyone else did. So now it’s their turn. On the whole, since the change from Goldpoints Plus to Club Carlson they’ve been exceptionally generous. And exceptionally generous offerings don’t stay that way… so this also isn’t entirely unexpected. But it’s never good to see.

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. Obviously unfortunate, but some of those European hotels were a steal on the “second night free” credit card deal (in fact, I’m currently holding reservations at two of them). I guess these changes make their pricing more realistic. And — most importantly — the “second night free” offer remains, making this still the most lucrative hotel credit card to put spending on.

  2. Have the American people ever wondered why you are in the state you are? You’re a bunch of fools, honestly….”On the whole, since the change from Goldpoints Plus to Club Carlson they’ve been exceptionally generous. And exceptionally generous offerings don’t stay that way… so this also isn’t entirely unexpected. But it’s never good to see” What a joke…. this is yet another example of Seppo corporate greed and you sychophantic Americans bend over and tele it up the proverbial arse… why don’t you protest. object, boycott the bastards? You’re all too gullible…. Club Carlson is a crock, always has been. It’s not about loyalty to the customer, it’s all about them and the so-called marketing geniuses within that organisation. Full of Narelle’s and Kylie’s and Tiffany’s and Chucks and Randy’s. I wouldn’t pay any of them. Wankers. What a laugh you all fall for this crap they deal out to you. like I sad, bend over. take it like a man ha ha

  3. It feels like losing the concierge service means they’re not aiming for *true frequent travelers* but instead some subset, who never has a need to find a hotel at 1AM.

    I don’t consider myself a frequent traveler, but I have had to find a hotel at 11PM and it was not fun. I feel like losing the concierge service is the biggest devaluation here. It means I can’t depend on Carlson to help me, as a traveler, when I’m most in need.

  4. Did some commenter drink decaf by mistake?

    For the new top tier, what would the superior point cost be? There are several hotels already that never had anything but 66k and 75k redemptions. Will it be 100k now?

  5. CC had “outsized value” or whatever term they want to use. I spent 14 night at CC properties in Europe on award stays. Total $ that I spent to get those points? Two revenue stays, and two CC annual fees.

    They were clearly doing some promotional marketing to promote their brand, and they were quite effective at it. The deval was to be expected, but sucks nonetheless.

  6. Amazingly the Paris properties were not available on the Oct dates I were looking at in the past several weeks when I was trying to add 2 more nights. Suddenly they are all available with Premium rooms at 75K instead of the 50K.

    That said, the premium rooms include English breakfast, so the extra 25K pts while sucks (same size of room just being “business”), the included breakfast compensates somewhat.

    I would also point out that Club Carlson also practices the “category creeping” without any notice that SPG and Marriott are infamous for. Last year I noticed one of their properties at Riga, Latvia had gone up from 28K to 38K without any notice. I had to go back to check our existing reservation to make sure my memory wasn’t wrong that we booked it at 28K.

  7. So I take it bookings made between now and March 14 are at the old rates?

    This is a bummer, used two card signups for trip to London and Paris last year and was planning on paying the $75 annual fee in April for the 40k points, but this certainly makes me re-think that plan.

  8. Hey Robbo. What you say is probably true. But you should aim at hyatt and Hilton Wyndham etc.

    Cc sti has some of the best deals to be had.

  9. Matt B —

    Devaluations are always unpleasant, but are you telling us you can’t get $75 worth of value out of 40,000 ClubCarlson points as a credit card holder?

    Even if you don’t want to spend a penny more on the card, I’m sure you can find a Carlson hotel for 40,000 points that you’d want to stay at for 2 nights. And I’m sure that hotel will have room rates WAY about $37.50 per night.

  10. Some can certainly still get good value. I don’t really do their 38k or 44k point hotels. Don’t care to stay at the Country Inn and Suites in Mesa, Arizona, regardless of what price it goes for and how much money I would theoretically save. I tend to value many of their 50k point hotels, the best of which have now moved to 70k. There are still some gems remaining at 50k (like Radisson Blu Chicago, St Martin, and Sydney), but are those destinations in my travel plans for the next 12-18 months? They weren’t before today!

  11. @Robbo Time to take your meds again 😉

    While this of course isn’t “good news”, it’s not that bad either. I held my breath, looking for the part where they eliminated ‘last night free’ on award bookings, and relaxed when it wasn’t there.

    I agree with iahphx, you can get some real bargains, even at the new devalued rate.

  12. Very glad I stayed at Le Dokhan’s last year – had a lovely suite upgrade as a Gold too. It’s getting quite frustrating though to have this ongoing points inflation when they restrict their amazingly generous credit card offer to just the USA (you lucky sods :D) – sadly the same for many other hotel chains. Customers in the rest of the world end up being stung by the points increase with no free 2nd night on redemptions or sign up bonus to ameliorate the effects.

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