Club Carlson has been one of the most generous hotel loyalty programs over the past several years, as they’ve run a bunch of generous promotions to try and gain market share. Not only has their loyalty program as such been generous, but the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card is easily one of the most rewarding hotel credit cards. The most valuable benefit offered by the card has to be that the second night of every award redemption is free, so it’s basically like a “buy one get one free” award redemption for as long as you have the card. That’s really tough to beat. The card only has a $75 annual fee, and as far as I’m concerned that’s offset by the 40,000 Gold Points you get upon your account anniversary each year.
I’ve certainly wondered when their next devaluation will be given how generous they’ve been, and the answer seems to be next month.
Just today Club Carlson announced several changes to their program which kick in as of March 15, 2014. Here’s a rundown of the changes:
Club Carlson will be introducing new Category 7 properties
Many hotels will be shifting categories, with some hotels going up and others going down. While award rates stay the same for Category 1-6 properties, Club Carlson is also introducing Category 7 properties, which will cost 70,000 Gold Points per nigh (previously the highest category cost 50,000 points per night). The nine new Category 7 hotels are as follows (not surprisingly all except one are in Europe):
- 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
It’s worth noting that these new award rates only apply for bookings made on or after May 1, 2014.
While the addition of Category 7 sucks, it could have been much worse in my opinion.
Gold Points will be redeemable for premium rooms
Club Carlson members will have a choice of room types when redeeming Gold Points for award nights. In addition to standard rooms, members will be able to redeem points for premium rooms at participating hotels. Ultimately we don’t know what the rates or availability look like, so it’s anyone’s guess if this is actually worthwhile.
Award stays will now count towards elite status
Club Carlson members will be able to achieve elite status faster, because both eligible and award nights will begin to count towards status.
Reduction in elite bonus Gold Points
Previously Gold Elite members would earn a 50% points bonus, while Silver Elite members would earn a 25% points bonus. As of March 15 those bonuses will be cut to 35% and 15%, respectively. Concierge Elite members will continue to earn a 75% points bonus.
Earn Gold Points for food and beverage purchases on award stays
If charged to the room, elite members will be able to earn Gold Points for food and beverage purchases on award stays.
More minor changes
There are a few other changes which I don’t find especially significant:
- Club Carlson will now offer an enhanced variety of additional gift cards at top merchants, with new redemption levels starting at 7,000 points
- The Gold Points bonus for booking a stay online will now be offered only on a promotional basis, so watch for upcoming opportunities
- Concierge Elite members will still receive a 75% Gold Points bonus on Eligible Stays, and will still have access to the Concierge Elite reservation number on the back of the Concierge Elite member cards. Our 24/7 Global Concierge Service will be discontinued effective March 1st, 2014.
These changes are no doubt negative on the whole. They’re introducing new Category 7 properties and changing hotel categories, while also cutting elite points bonuses (including the bonuses for Gold Elite status, which is what comes with the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card).
On the plus side, award nights will begin to count towards status, and you can earn points for food and beverage purchases made during award stays. Theoretically it’s also exciting that award nights will be redeemable for premium rooms, though in practice it’s anyone’s guess what availability and rates will look like.
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