Club Carlson: Your Best Bet For A Hotel Program

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Whenever I write about hotel programs, it tends to be in reference to one of the Big Five: Marriott, Starwood, Hilton, Hyatt and Intercontinental. And that’s too bad, because there may be a program that is better than all of them for you, particularly if you do a lot of leisure travel: Club Carlson.

What Is Club Carlson?

club carlson

Club Carlson is the loyalty program for the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. You may never have heard of the parent company, but you’ve definitely heard of its brands, which include Radisson, Park Plaza and Country Inn & Suites, among others. Its brands run the gamut in terms of hotel categories, but most fit comfortably in the upper midscale to upscale range.* It’s also starting to make a push into the luxury sector, with the Quorvus and Radisson Blu.

Why Club Carlson

club carlson

A nice geographical presence around the world

Like Avis, they are not the biggest, so they have to try harder. Here are a couple of reasons that you may want to consider them for yourselves.

The Program Is Generous

I value Club Carlson points at about 0.3-0.4 cents each. Ironically, the point value is on the lower side because hotel rooms are so inexpensive that it’s often more economical just to pay for the room outright rather than use points. But your earn rate is fantastic: Base members earn 20 points per dollar, meaning that those points are the equivalent of a 6-8% rebate. Elite members earn more.

What Club Carlson really does well, though, is promotions. Their quarterly promos are the most generous in the industry. The most recent was a double points promo, which is always good. A few quarters ago, they had a triple points promotion. The bonuses will easily get you a few free nights although, as we established above, you may not need them.

There Are All Kinds Of Rewards

club carlson

Sure, you can earn points toward stays, but you can use those points toward a bunch of other options, as well. For instance, you can earn miles at a rate of 2,000 Club Carlson Points equals 200 miles. In other words, every dollar you spend at a Carlson property is worth two miles. But you can also use it on Priority Pass, TSA Precheck or gift cards. The conversion rate is 0.1-0.2 cents per point, so a bit less than half of the rate you get when exchanging for a room, but there is a huge variety of what you can buy.

The Hotels Are Everywhere

Look at the map above. Need a hotel in the US, particularly in the east? No problem. How about Europe? No problem (Thank you, Scandinavian heritage.). Heck, they can even get you a room in Kazakhstan.** This is a global program, folks.

The Bottom Line: Cheap rooms, great rewards and a night just about anywhere you can think of. Enjoy Club Carlson.

Beginner’s Hint: Don’t worry too much about the terminology. A company called Smith Travel Research categorizes hotels based mainly on room rates. According to the company, here’s what those labels mean:

STR, smith travel

Smith Travel Research Categories

**I’d like credit for having spelled Kazakhstan right on my first try.


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