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Starting March 15, 2014, there will be changes to the Club Carlson award program. But if you book before March 15, 2014 you can still get the lower rates on award stays.
What Is Going to Change?
1. A New (Expensive) Category 7
Club Carlson currently has 6 reward categories to book free night awards at their hotels. But starting next month they will have a new 7th tier, which will cost 70,000 Club Carlson points per night.
Here’s list of the new category 7 hotels:
- art’otel Amsterdam
- Radisson Blu 1853 Hotel & Thalasso Cannes
- Radisson Blu Royal Hotel Dubai
- Plaza on the River London
- The May Fair London
- Radisson Royal Hotel Moscow
- Radisson Blu Le Dokhan’s Paris
- Radisson Blue Le Metropolitan Paris
- Radisson Blu Hotel Champs Elysees Paris
These hotels used to be in category 6 and cost 50,000 Club Carlson points. So this is a 40% increase in the redemption rate!
The new category 7 hotels are in cities where hotels don’t come cheap. For example, the Radisson Blu Hotel Champs Elysees Paris starts at 238+ euros (~$327+) per night.
But Club Carlson points have been very easy to earn. You get 85,000 Club Carlson points after completing the minimum spending & earn 5X points per $1 on all spending on the Club Carlson card. Club Carlson also has good promotions where you earn lots of points.
So you shouldn’t be surprised that it is going to cost more Club Carlson points to stay in certain hotels.
Club Carlson will also be launching a luxury brand called Quorvus (I wonder how much the consultants got paid for that tongue twister!) These hotels will hopefully be part of the new category 7 for 70,000 Club Carlson points.
2. Category Shuffle
Besides moving hotels into the new Club Carlson top-tier, there are also
other hotels moving up or down categories. ~114 hotels will move up a level and ~67 hotels will move down at least one level. This means that about twice as many hotels will cost more points than those that will cost less points.
I’m not too happy about this, but it could have been a lot worse given how easy it has been to earn Club Carlson points. Here’s a link to the full list of hotels costing more or less.
So book your Club Carlson award stay before March 15, 2014 to avoid paying more points for stays. The notice seems to suggest that the new categories apply to bookings on or after May 1, 2014, but the same page also says that the hotels move categories on March 15, 2014. So I’d book before March 15, 2014 to avoid any surprises!
3. Some Elite Status Members Will Earn Less Bonus Points
- Silver member bonus declines from 25% to 15%
- Gold member bonus goes declines from 50% to 35%
- Concierge member bonus stays at 75%
4. Earn Elite Status With Award Stays
You will get elite status credit when you redeem points for Award Nights. This could be useful for some, but you need 75 nights or 30 stays to get Club Carlson’s top tier Concierge status.
5. Book Non-Standard Rooms with Award Nights
You could only book standard rooms with Club Carlson points. But now you can use your points towards suites and larger rooms.
The details on this change have not been released. So we don’t know what type of rooms can be booked with points or how many points it will cost.
6. Earn Points for Food & Beverage Charges
You can now earn Club Carlson points when you charge food and drinks to your room. This is not a big deal because you would have to eat a LOT to earn enough points to make a difference.
7. 24 Hour Concierge Service Discontinued
On March 1, 2014 the 24 hour concierge service will be discontinued. I don’t think this is a big deal for us, because how many of us were top-tier Concierge elite members?
8. Online Booking Bonus Only During Promotions
You currently get up to 3,000 bonus points when you book a Club Carlson hotel online. This was an easy way to earn more points!
- Red members used to earn 1,000 points
- Silver members used to earn 2,000 points
- Gold members used to earn 2,000 points
- Concierge members used to earn 3,000 points
However, with the changes you will only get the online booking bonus when Club Carlson runs a special promotion. This will greatly reduce the number of points which I earn.
The Good News
Fortunately, the best part of the Club Carlson program is NOT changing. Club Carlson card holders will still get 1 free night when they book an award stay of at least 2 nights. This means that you get at least 50% more value from your points. I was expecting this benefit to be made less lucrative at some point, but fortunately that is not happening now.
Twice as may hotels will soon require more Club Carlson points. But some hotels are moving down a category or not changing at all.
For example, the Radisson Blu Mall of America is going from category 6 to category 5. This hotel currently costs 50,000 points, but after March 15, 2014 it will only 44,000 points.
When we took Emily’s mom to India we stayed at the Radisson Blu Agra. Luckily, this hotel will stay at the same redemption rate!
Book your Club Carlson hotel stays with points before March 15, 2014 to lock-in the lower points rate for your future stays! These changes aren’t good news. However, there have been some very good Club Carlson promotions which make this change seem inevitable.
However, it could have been worse. That’s because there are several hotels which will cost less.
And some hotels will still require the same number of points.
But most importantly is that there is no change to
the Club Carlson card which still gets you 1 free night when you book at least 2 or more award nights.