A forgotten gem – Club Carlson business credit card

Club Carlson properties, particularly in US, aren’t superb. On top of that (in comparison to Marriott and Hilton) there aren’t many Carlson properties worldwide. Besides that, IMO, everything else is in favor of this card. The earning rate is excellent, the free status is very good, the signup bonus is solid, the annual renewal bonus is very good, and above all Carlson points, while not valued a lot, are very flexible. Now before we dig deep, let’s look at some facts.



Key Facts:

  1. AF $60 (not waived)
  2. Earn 5 points at ANY purchase
  3. Signup bonus of 85k
  4. Receive annual renewal bonus of 40k (does not expire)
  5. One annual free night in US when you charge 10k and renew the card
  6. Warning: has FTF
  7. Gold Status
    • key benefits include complimentary room upgrade, 35% bonus earning rate, and early check-in and late checkout, in-room welcome gift. You can check full benefits by clicking here.

Good earning rate

As mentioned above, you earn 5 points per $ spend towards any purchase. If you conservatively value 1 point at 0.6 cent then you are getting 3% towards any purchase. This earning rate is good enough for this card to be my everyday non-category expense card.

What about earning rate at Carlson hotel you ask? This is where things get interesting. The card earns 10 points per $ spent at participating  Carlson Rezidor hotels (any participating hotels where “Quorvus Collection”, “Radisson Blu”, “Radisson”, “Radisson RED”, “Park Plaza”, “Park Inn by Radisson”, or “Country Inns & Suites By Carlson” appears as part of the merchant identified on your monthly statement). Even if value Carlson points at 0.5 cent, you will still earn 5% just from the credit card. An important piece of warning – the credit card has foreign transaction fee.

Additionally, the gold status that comes with this card gives you 20 points per $ spent on eligible hotel stays as well as food and beverages charges to your room during an eligible stay. Finally, in addition to standard points earned for eligible stay, gold members earn 35% bonus points. All in all, I believe you have a potential to earn about 40 points per $ spend. Again, even with low evaluation, you will roughly get around 20% return.

Now, even thought I gave you an estimated evaluation and threw some numbers your way, you should still figure out how much these points are worth to you based on where you want to redeem them.

For example, in next couple of months I will be redeeming my points in Radisson Kathmandu. The said hotel is a 4 star hotel that only happens to be category 2 and thus only costs 15k points. I only need to spend $3000 to earn 15k points. Now should I choose to MS at a cost of 1% fee then it would cost me $30 to earn 15k points. The interesting thing  is Radisson Kathmandu costs $100-$130 so I am getting a decent run out of my money, even when I include MS cost. I must mention that, I do not value Radisson Kathmandu at $100. There are many other hotels in the area that will do a good enough job for me but are nowhere near as costly. Nevertheless, I figure $30 a night at the said hotel is a good deal.


One annual free night for 10k expense

Every year when you spend 10k during the 12-month statement cycle period, you get an annual free night certificate valid for use in any US based Carlson hotel. As stated previously, I put my everyday non-category expense on this card and on top of that I am okaying with paying up to 1% MS fee for this card. Because of this, I won’t have much of a difficulty or regret hitting 10k expense…and as such, at the end of the year, I will be earning yet another free night.

Up to 4 free annual nights

Since you are given points (rather than a free night certificate) you can choose to burn them at higher property, conserve them at lower property, or mix and match as you desire.

  • 1 stay at category 4 property (costs 38k) / leftover 2k
  • 1 stay at category 3 property (28k) / leftover 12k
  • 2 stay at category 2 property (2*15k = 30k) / leftover 10k
  • 4 stay at category 1 property (4*9k = 36k) / leftover 4k


Points do not expire

Additionally, since these points do not expire, you can choose to burn all points this year or save them for next year or the year after that. For example, for 70k you can book at the highest category (7) Carlson hotel. It would only cost 2*60 = $120 in AF to earn 40*2 = 80k points.

Radisson Blu Reykjavik, a category 7 hotel, normally costs around $400.

Various booking choices

Needless to say you can book standard award rooms with points, but did you know that you can book premium award room entirely with points? Also, you can book standard room with cash and points.

These options might not always be ideal. For example, you may not always want to pay thousands of additional points for a better room. But sometimes cash and points booking is just the thing you need and on rare occasion cash and points booking is the ideal case.

Transfer points to anyone at no cost

Anyone with status (silver and above) will be able to transfer points to anyone. This, along with everything that has been mentioned above, makes Carlson Business card an excellent card for couples. If you and your SO (or a friend, family, etc) have this card, one of you could transfer your annual points to other. As such, every year, the two of you could be staying a night at category 7 hotel (costs 70k) for net AF of $120…and you would still have 10k points leftover.

Transfer to airline mile or redeem for gift cards or prepaid cards

Furthermore, should you choose to, you can burn your points for airline miles (generally 10:1 exchange ratio) , gift cards (ex: 34k for $50 GC of Best Buy, Target, CVS, etc), or prepaid cards (ex $50 Visa for 35k). It is interesting to note that you can buy $100 Visa GC for 67k points which surprisingly evaluates 40k at 100/67*40 = 59.70 which is almost the same as AF. Obviously, I would not recommend either of these options but nevertheless it is an option.

Redeem for in-hotel services

Last but not least, you can burn points towards in-hotel food & beverage, laundry, in-room movie, parking, room upgrade, meeting & events, or spa. The cost for these services varies from hotel to hotel and I seriously doubt you would be thrilled with most of their pricing.



  1. […] Some of you are probably flipping why Club Carlson is ranked #3 on my list. You’re probably yelling “BOGO is dead!” and “this card isn’t good anymore”. Well, I have good reasons for listing it as high as I have. You can read it on detail in my previous post. […]

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