Putting Non-Bonus Category Spend on the Club Carlson Visa – A Secret Weapon to Earning Free Hotel Nights with Minimal Effort for Infrequent Travelers and Families

If you and your family

  • Only travel once or twice a year;
  • Don’t mind staying at Country Inns, Park Inns, or Radissons (for free) for your vacation or road trips;
  • Would like to minimize the number of credit cards your use on a daily basis;
  • Have no time or desire to manufacture credit card spending;

Then, there might be an easy solution. All you have to do is to put ALL your non-bonus category spending on a single hotel credit card.

A lot has been discussed about the benefits of the recently launched Club Carlson Visa cards (see this link for a comparison of the three different versions and this for the fee-free version). The most generous benefit of all four versions of this card is the “Buy One Get One (BOGO)” feature. When you redeem your Club Carlson points for an award stay of two nights or more, your last night is free. To maximize the value of this feature, we would always book a stay of two nights only. If we need a longer stay, we would either hotel hop or have a family member book the next two nights (rinse and repeat if you need more than 4 nights).

This benefit is not the main topic of this post; it only serves as the basis for another less-discussed benefit of the new Club Carlson Visa. You earn 5 points for every dollar spent on the premier or business version of the card. With that BOGO feature, you are essentially earning 10 points per dollar. Most of you are well versed in earnings multiple points per dollar for certain categories of your everyday expenses. If you put all of your family’s non-bonus category spend on the Club Carlson Premier Visa ($1,000 per month?), you are looking at 120,000 points per year for doing practically NOTHING. Those points can give you and your family 13+ free nights at the Radisson Disney World in Orlando (up to 4 people in each room) , or 2+ free nights at a pricey Radisson Blu in an expensive European or Australian city.

I have mentioned in previous posts that a 2% cash back card for some of you might make sense. In this case, your annual spend of $12,000 would give you $240 in cash. I will let you decide for yourself whether you would rather have the cash or the free hotel nights.

The table below compares the Club Carlson Visa to some of the other well-known hotel cards. The imminent devaluation of some of the hotel chains’ award charts has been taken into consideration (updated as of February 21, 2013).

Club Carlson Visa versus Other Major Hotel Cards
Putting Everyday Non-Bonus Category Spend on the Club Carlson Premier Visa

The table purposely avoids comparing the sign-up and/or renewal bonus points offered by the various cards. Since we are on the topic of the Club Carlson Visa, I’d like to point out that the premier and business versions do offer 85,000 sign-up bonus points and 40,000 renewal points every year. If you are able to apply for the business version, you will save $15 in annual fees.

Lastly, the Club Carlson Visa cards are issued by US Bank. If you have never had any of its other credit cards, you will most likely get a pending message. Calling the credit analysts (at 1800-685-7680) doesn’t really help. TravelWhimsy recently got the pending message after applying. The card showed up in the mail about two weeks later.

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  • Thanks for sharing your experience, RedHat. Happy and safe travels!

  • royce

    Can you please explain to me how to get 10 points per dollar on everyday spending. I have been searching for this on the internet and cant find anything about it. I see deals like register to get 50k, and stay one night getting you BOGO. Stay 2 nights get the 3rd night free, but nothing on 10 points per dollar on everyday spending. Staying 2 nights and getting the 3rd night free is buy 2 get 1 free or a 33% free or 7.5 points per dollar if spent on free nights, not 10 points per dollar. I really hope that I am wrong here and can get 10 points per dollar with your explanation.

    • Royce, the “10 points per dollar” earning is assuming that you always do a 2-night award stay with the BOGO feature offered by the credit card. In reality, you earn 5 points per dollar, and the 10 points are only implied by your redemption strategy. Hope this helps. Good luck!

  • chopper

    You are incorrect about the two rooms as the rules state only one room can receive the bonus night award regardless of how many rooms are on the reservation. They are anti family for families that have over FOUR people and I have told them so.