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Club Carlson Gold Points: How Good Is Gold?

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Club Carlson Gold Points: The basics

Club Carlson Gold Points can be redeemed for stays at hotels, hotel upgrades and gift cards. Hotel redemption includes brands like Radisson Blu®, Radisson®, Park Plaza®, Park Inn® by Radisson and Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM. Points can also be transferred to more than 20 frequent flier programs at a 10:1 rate. Eligible domestic frequent flier programs include American Airlines, United and Delta, and international carriers include Flying Blue and British Airways. Overall point value varies based on the specific redemption options you choose.

There are four membership tiers with Club Carlson: Red, Silver, Gold and Concierge, the highest. Gold status is achieved with 35 nights or 20 stays per year, and is included automatically for Club CarlsonSM Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card cardholders. Concierge status is achieved with 75 nights or 30 stays.

Benefits of Gold membership include perks such as complimentary room upgrades, points bonuses and a 72-hour room availability guarantee. Concierge membership includes all the benefits of Gold, in addition to a 48-hour room guarantee and free continental breakfast.

Cards that earn Carlson Gold Points:

Club CarlsonSM Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card

  • 10 Gold Points per dollar spent at more than 1,000 eligible Carlson Rezidor hotels
  • 5 Gold Points per dollar spent on all other purchases

How to get more Carlson Gold Points

There are a handful of ways to earn additional Gold Points:

  • Signing up for the Club CarlsonSM Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card comes with a points bonus: Earn 50,000 Gold Points after your first purchase, plus 35,000 points once you spend $2,500 on your card within the first 90 days - that's up to 9 Free Award Nights at Category 1 hotels.
  • Book at a qualifying newly opened Carlson Rezidor hotel and earn 1,000 bonus Gold Points per night
  • Earn 1,500 Gold Points per qualifying purchase on Flowers and Gifts from FTD
  • Earn 10 Gold Points per dollar spent on wine club shipments through Vinesse Wine Clubs
  • Earn 1,000 bonus points on eligible stays booked through the Club Carlson mobile app
  • Earn 1,500 Gold Points per day on qualifying car rentals from Alamo and National
  • Earn up to 9,000 Gold Points on qualifying car rentals of 3 days or more with Avis and Budget
  • Earn 750 Gold Points on qualifying car rentals and chauffeur service from Sixt

Club Carlson members can also purchase Gold Points at a rate of 0.7 cents per point (minimum of 1,000 points), which is generally higher than we value the points. So this probably isn’t the best deal unless you simply need a small bump to book a hotel with existing points.

How to redeem Carlson Gold Points

Good redemption options

Gold Points are, on average, worth a minimum of 0.4 cents each, which may seem low compared with similar programs. But Club CarlsonSM Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card users are guaranteed to earn a minimum of at least 5 Gold Points per dollar spent, with potential to earn up to 10 Gold Points per dollar at eligible hotels. As far as hotel stays go, Gold Points are, on average, worth around the same value whether you’re booking on a weekday or weekend, international or domestic. Average redemption values for free nights are listed below:

  • Domestic weekday stays 0.5 cents per point
  • Domestic weekend stays 0.5 cents per point
  • International weekday stays 0.4 cents per point
  • International weekend stays 0.4 cents per point

Club Carlson also has a “Points + Cash” option that allows club members to pay for a portion of their stay with points and cover the rest with cash. Points are valued differently when choosing this option, but not by much. We estimate points value overall at 0.5 cents.

  • Domestic weekday stays 0.7 cents
  • Domestic weekend stays 0.8 cents
  • International weekday stays 0.8 cents per point
  • International weekend stays 0.6 cents per point

When it comes to “Points + Cash” redemption, domestic stays typically provide the most value per point. So if you’re looking to book an domestic stay, this may be the way to go.

Bad redemption options

As with other rewards programs, Club Carlson has some redemption options that provide a lower rate of return than others. You need to consider which redemption options are best for you. We’ve outlined how some other redemption options stack up by simply looking at the numbers.

  • Gift cards: 0.13 cents to 0.15 cents per point
  • Prepaid cards: 0.13 to 0.15 cents per point

Other options

Club Carlson members can also redeem Gold Points for “express awards” upon check-in at hotels. Redemption value and availability vary based on the hotel, but many include things such as in-hotel food and beverage, laundry services, in-room movies, parking and spa vouchers.

Transfer partners

If you’d prefer to transfer Gold Points to a frequent flier program, you have more than 20 options. Gold Points can be transferred to frequent flier partners at a rate of 10 Gold Points to 1 mile.

  • Aeroméxico Club Premier
  • Air Berlin topbonus
  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • Air China PhoenixMiles
  • American Airlines AAdvantage
  • Asiana Airlines Asiana Club
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  • Czech Airlines OK Plus
  • Delta Air Lines SkyMiles
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Airways Etihad Guest
  • Frontier Airlines Early Returns
  • Gulf Air Frequent Flyer Program
  • Icelandair Saga Bonus
  • Japan Airlines Mileage Bank
  • Jet Airways JetPrivilege
  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue
  • Lan Chile Airlines LANPASS
  • SAS Airlines EuroBonus
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Airlines
  • United Mileage Plus

Fine print

Gold points will not expire as long as your account remains active by earning or redeeming points within 24 months.

›› MORE: Reviews of major rewards programs

Methodology

The calculated value of these points is based on an estimated redemption rate, not a credit card rewards earn rate. Therefore, you may notice that these numbers don’t match the rewards rates on our credit card finder tool. Read on for how we estimated these points values.

Free nights 

We tested 10 popular cities — five domestic and five international — to determine the value of a Gold Point when redeemed for free nights. These are the cities we used for our estimations:

  • Los Angeles
  • Orlando
  • New York City
  • Dallas
  • Denver
  • Toronto
  • Mexico City
  • London
  • Paris
  • Dubai

For domestic stays, Gold Point value ranges from 0.2 to 0.8 cents each for weekday stays, 0.2 to 0.7 cents each for weekend stays. For international stays, Gold Points value ranges from 0.2 to 1.3 cents each for weekday stays, 0.2 to 1.1 cents each for weekend stays.

To determine the value of your points for specific hotel stays, divide the cash value of the hotel stay by the number of Gold Points required. So if a night at your hotel of choice would cost either $200 or 15,000 points, the math would be as follows:

$200/15,000 = 0.013, or 1.3 cents per point

Points + Cash

We tested 10 popular cities — five domestic and five international — to determine the value of a Gold Point when redeemed for free nights. These are the cities we used for our estimations:

  • Los Angeles
  • Orlando
  • New York City
  • Dallas
  • Denver
  • Toronto
  • Mexico City
  • London
  • Paris
  • Dubai

For domestic stays, Gold Point value ranges from 0.08 to 0.8 cents each for weekday stays, 0.04 to 0.7 cents each for weekend stays. For international stays, Gold Points value ranges from 0.1 to 1.2 cents each for weekday stays, 0.4 to 1.2 cents each for weekend stays.

To determine the value of your points for specific hotel stays using the “Points + Cash” option, divide the cash value of the hotel stay (less the cash you’ll owe with the “Points + Cash” redemption option) by the number of Gold Points required. So if a night at your hotel of choice would cost either $200, or 5,000 points + $100, the math would be as follows:

($200 – $100) / 5,000 = 0.02, or 2 cents per point

Last updated on October 9, 2015

Kevin Cash is a staff writer covering personal finance for NerdWallet. Follow him on Twitter @kevin_cash and on Google+.