A lot of people are wondering whether it’s even worth keeping a Club Carlson Visa open now that the Bonus Award Night benefit is being replaced with a free annual night at any U.S. Club Carlson hotel (after $10,000 spent per calendar year). I personally would have been happier with a category restricted free night certificate good at any Club Carlson hotel worldwide, but that’s why I’m not in charge of their rewards program.
If you recall, I once wrote a Club Carlson redemption series, outlining the best hotels in each category. It was always a real chore trying to pick the best hotel in the U.S. – there really aren’t more than a handful that I would want to stay at even if I did have a free night certificate.
It also doesn’t help that Club Carlson has a strange way of categorizing their hotels. For example, following the June 1 program devaluation, the Radisson Hotel Bloomington By Mall of America will move from a mid-tier Category 5 to a top-tier Category 7 hotel. They’re putting a suburban hotel next to a shopping mall with rates as low as $139 per night in the same category as an acclaimed London hotel with rates topping $700 per night. I don’t care how big the Mall of America is – it doesn’t warrant a top-tier ranking.
Anyway, I’ve managed to scrounge together a list of 10 hotels where you might want to redeem your free night certificate from the Club Carlson Visa. Some of these hotels don’t belong on any list unless it has the word “mediocre” in the title, but we’re talking U.S. Club Carlson hotels, so we have to adjust our standards:
- Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago
- Radisson Hotel Martinique New York-Broadway
- Radisson Plaza – Warwick Hotel Philadelphia
Radisson Hotel Fisherman’s Wharf(Update: The Radisson Fisherman’s Wharf will no longer be a Club Carlson hotel, starting June 4. There is no decent hotel to replace it on this list, so we’ll just leave it at 9)
- Radisson Blu Minneapolis Downtown
- Radisson Hotel New Rochelle
- Radisson Suite Hotel Oceanfront
- Radisson Hotel Newport Beach
- Radisson Resort at the Port
- Radisson Hotel Orlando – Lake Buena Vista
Based on these choices, I definitely wouldn’t go out of my way to earn the Club Carlson free night certificate. I also wouldn’t necessarily get rid of the Club Carlson Visa for this reason, since you can definitely still put it to good use. I would just compare award redemption rates with cash rates before booking. After all, it would be a real shame to blow 70,000 Club Carlson points on a hotel stay that would otherwise cost just $139 per night.