Over the weekend a brand new credit card was released by US Bank.  I posted a little bit about it then, but wanted to do a more in depth post now that I have had a little more time to evaluate the details.  Brand new credit cards are always exciting because they are fair game for “everyone” since no one has had it before (and by everyone I mean those in the US with good credit).  This time the new credit card was tied to the Club Carlson hotel chain that many of us have become familiar with thanks to the “Big Night” promotions that have been held over the last year or so.  I personally got fantastic value of some of my Club Carlson points by staying at the May Fair in London during the Olympics for 50,000 points per night.  I have a stay at a Radisson Blu in Dublin coming up in the next few months, and I also have my eye on the Radisson Blu in Chicago and the Radisson Blu Ambassador or Radisson Blu Le Metropolitan in Paris for future trips.

Club Carlson Basics

The Club Carlson brand includes Radisson Blu, Radisson, Park Inn, Park Plaza, and Country Inn and Suites.  They have pretty good coverage around the world with close to 1,300 properties in 80 countries.  Free nights range from 9,000 points per night to 50,000 points per night for a standard room.  They do offer non-standard rooms for an increased point charge per night.  My own personal experience has found many of the US properties to be acceptable, but not exciting (though the Radisson Blu in Chicago looks pretty fun).  However, not all hotel stays need to be fancy and exciting, so being able to get a night at the Radisson Resort Orlando – Celebration near Disney World for just 9,000 points per night is pretty great – who cares if the hotel isn’t “fancy”!  Outside of the US they do seem to have some properties that a bit more upscale, if that is of concern for you and your family.

Club Carlson Credit Card Options

Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature

    • 5 Club Carlson points per dollar on everyday spending
    • 10 points per dollar on Club Carlson hotel spending
    • 85,000 point signup bonus — 50,000 after first purchase and 35,000 more after $2500 spend within 90 days
    • “Bonus Award Night” – your last night on an award redemption is free.
    • Automatic Club Carlson Gold status
    • 40,000 points annually for card renewal
    • $75 annual fee

Club Carlson Rewards Visa Signature

    • 3 points per dollar on most spending
    • 6 points on Club Carlson hotel spending
    • 60,000 point signup bonus — 50,000 after first purchase and 10,000 more after $1500 spend within 90 days
    • “Bonus Award Night” – your last night on an award redemption is free.
    • Automatic Club Carlson Silver status
    • 25,000 points annually for card renewal
    • $50 annual fee

Club Carlson Rewards Visa Card

    • 1 points per dollar on most spending
    • 3 points on Club Carlson hotel spending
    • 30,000 point signup bonus after spending $1,000 on the card within 90 days
    • “Bonus Award Night” – your last night on an award redemption is free.
    • No annual fee

Club Carlson Business Rewards Visa

    • 5 Club Carlson points per dollar on most spending
    • 10 points per dollar on Club Carlson hotel spending
    • 85,000 point signup bonus — 50,000 after first purchase and 35,000 more after $2500 spend within 90 days
    • “Bonus Award Night” – your last night on an award redemption is free.
    • Automatic Club Carlson Gold status
    • 40,000 points annually for card renewal
    • $60 annual fee

Analysis

85,000 Club Carlson points via the sign-up bonus on the Business and Premier Rewards versions is a decent sign-up bonus, but it isn’t fantastic when you consider that two nights in a top tier Club Carlson hotel costs 50,000 each night, so this wouldn’t even get you two nights if a top tier hotel is your goal.  On the other hand, it would get you over 9 nights at a Category 1 hotel, so in that sense it is a pretty good offer.  As always, it comes down to your travel goals and preferences.

However, this credit card comes with a  “secret weapon” that potentially makes the sign-up offer twice as valuable as it seems on first glance.  All four versions of the card come with up to 50 annual “bonus award nights”.  This means that when you redeem Gold Points for Award Nights of two or more consecutive nights at the same participating Carlson Rezidor hotel property, you will receive the last night of the award night stay free without deduction of points.  In other words, to stay at the May Fair in London for two nights it would only cost you 50,000 points, instead of 100,000 points.  Assuming two night stays (or at least hopping around every two nights) match with your travel plans, this makes the sign-up bonus twice as valuable.  It also makes any other Club Carlson points you have, earn, or even purchase (currently $280 for 40,000 points) twice as valuable.  My family has a track record of relatively short stays of 2-3 nights, so this would work out quite nicely for us.

If you use the bonus award night feature then you can now essentially get two nights in a top tier hotel for every $10,000 in spending you put on the card.  I can’t personally think of another credit card that even comes close to that.  Here are a few more details about the bonus award night (which if it isn’t clear, is my favorite feature of the card):

  • Log onto www.clubcarlson.com to make your award reservation. If you qualify to receive a Bonus Award Night, it will be available during the booking process
  • The Bonus Award Night benefit is available only on advance reservations for Award Nights paid in full with Gold Points and is not valid with standard paid reservations or Points + Cash redemption reservations.
  • The Club Carlson member must make the reservation and be the traveler to receive the Bonus Award Night redemption.
  • Only one room per reservation, per hotel, for an Award Stay will be eligible to receive the Bonus Award Night.
  • The maximum Bonus Award Nights per calendar year per member with an open Account is fifty (50). To check the number of Bonus Award Nights you have used, log into your account at www.clubcarlson.com or call Club Carlson member services at 1-888-288-8889

The Business card appears to be the best deal since the annual fee is lower, but the benefits are identical to the Premier card.  The annual points bonuses – especially the 40,000 point bonuses – absolutely off-set the annual fees in my mind.  This is a card I would get and keep.

Even though I am very interested in getting this card myself, however, there is a catch.  It is issued by US Bank.  One the one hand, this is a good thing since many of us are at or near the limit with Chase, Citi, Amex, etc.  However, US Bank is generally more conservative on approvals than those other banks.  They don’t like to see multiple credit inquiries in the last several months.  So, if you apply for a couple credit cards each quarter, you are very unlikely to get an instant approval.  If you apply for many credit cards each quarter getting approved will be very tough – even if your credit is otherwise stellar.  I got my first US Bank card in August, and I was happy to get approved after a few days, but it was not an instant approval.  Many others who applied during that time frame for the same card I did either didn’t get approved at all, or got approved for a lesser card/offer than what they applied for.  I am a relatively conservative card churner, so I think that worked in my favor in this case with a fewer number of inquiries.  I don’t plan to try for this card until a longer period of time has elapsed since I got my last US Bank card, but I do plan to try for it at some time in 2013.

If you are a family that needs two rooms when you travel, you may want to consider having both parents apply for this card, and then transfer Club Carlson points around to make good use of the bonus award night.  This is necessary since each person can only book one room at a time with the bonus award night.  Another bonus of having two people in the family with the card is that you could stay at a hotel for two nights under one person’s name and utilize the award night benefit, and then switch to the other person’s account and do it for two more nights.

Do you plan to apply for this card?  What features do you think will be most beneficial when you travel?

Disclosure: I do receive a commission if you are approved for a credit card using one of my affiliate links.  Some of the links in this post are mine, and some are not.  All are to the best public offers of which I am aware.  As always, your support is very much appreciated!

Posted by mommypoints | 31 Comments

31 Responses to “More Details on New Club Carlson Credit Card”

  1. John says:

    What are the chances I’ll get approved for both personal and business card if applying both on the same day? I do not have any US Bank cards.

  2. Mike L. says:

    Dont apply for this (bad word edited – keep in clean) card

  3. Tim2 says:

    When do you plan on applying in 2013 mp? I am in a similar situation. I would love to get this card but I have 3/8/8 iq on my reports (auto loan hit 4x at tu! 4/26/12), my last iq was 6/2/12. Do you think I’m ok now or should I wait till 6/13 or at least 4/13?

  4. Maury says:

    You interpret the reward night benefit as book two award nights and one of them is free while other bloggers state its the third night that is free. Please clarify. Thanks

  5. Tim2 says:

    I agree with maury I thought it was a two + 1 deal,

  6. Tim2 says:

    Its detailed on the thread I started at flyer talk 3 days ago when the deal went live at midnight

    http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/milesbuzz/1412784-us-bank-club-carlson-signature-visa-card-85k-sign-up-40k-yr-upon-renewal.html

  7. mommypoints says:

    John, I don’t personally have experience doing that with US Bank. Maybe someone else can weigh in.
    Mike, strong words!
    Tim2, if you don’t have inquiries in the last six months you are probably good. I had some inquiries and still got approved. You just don’t want a ton of recent inquiries.
    Maury, the offer says “Bonus Award Night – When you redeem Gold Points for 2 or more consecutive Award Nights, your last night is free.” To me two or more means two will work. Most of the interpretation I have read has been the same as mine (though I haven’t read any other blogs this morning).
    Tim2, it says when you redeem for two or more consecutive nights, your last night is free. To me that means if I redeem for two nights – then my last (second) night is free. Could be interpreting it wrong, but if so it is worded very very poorly.

  8. Ben L says:

    In order to get the 2nd night free, would I have to have 100k (assuming 50k/night) in my Club Carlson account at the time of booking?
    i.e. I need to have 100k in my account, and only AFTER I book 2 award nights will I then be refunded 50k? Or, can I ONLY have 50k in my account, book 1 night, and then it will somehow (magically) generate a 2nd night for free?

  9. Ric Garrido says:

    Carlson Rezidor Hotels Group has hotels in about 80 countries. The 150 countries on website refers to the Carlson Wagonlit Travel agency.

  10. mommypoints says:

    Ric, confusing – though 150 did sound like a bunch of countries. Updated. Thanks! ;)

  11. mommypoints says:

    Ben, just my guess, but I don’t think you would have to have the points. I think it would offer the free night when you went to book.

  12. Varun says:

    All the bloggers are posting the same info about the card. Have you even noticed that there is a no annual fee version of the card that might be a better option for some people?

  13. Ken says:

    If I were to apply for the business card, is there even a lesser card for them to switch me to? I own a small business so no problem getting business cards.

  14. Dell says:

    I do have about 5 inquiries on the bureau they pulled from in the last three months(one being as recent as last week). I received an instant approval for the Premier Rewards Signature card. I have approximately 20 open lines of credit right now, not including business cards. This was my first application with US Bank.

  15. mommypoints says:

    @Varun, I listed that option. ;)

  16. Oliver says:

    Ill def apply for it, though going to wait till next year. Way too many cards atm. :)

  17. InACents says:

    @John: We applied for both the personal and business versions of the US Bank FlexPerks cards earlier this summer. Personal was approved instantly, business I had to wait a couple days for approval. This also all happened while applying for other cards from different issuers. I had no issues, but we also do not apply that often over any given period, and maintain excellent credit.

  18. Sarah says:

    $10000 spend gets me a lot more at Hilton, so I am confused why you said this was a good offer. 100,000 base points plus another 100,000 for platinum and my bonus preference. That is already 200,000 pts….or 4 nights at level 7 or Waldorf….then there is axon and glon for further Hilton discounts. Tis offer does not sound so great to me, unless you want low level hotel stays.

  19. Robert Hanson says:

    @MP I apply for 4 or 5 ccs every 3 months or so. Virtually all of which are approved, although sometimes I have to move credit around with Chase. My rating is always over 750, and of course due to ALL of my ccs, my utilization rate is very low.

    I’d like to get this card for use in Europe, but I’m not about to give up two or three churns to do so. Am I reading you correctly that I shouldn’t even think of applying to US Bank, in that it would only get me a hard pull and no chance at an approval? Or make it my first app next March and try my luck… :}

  20. mommypoints says:

    Sarah, which Hilton card is giving 200,000 points for $10,000 in non-bonus spending? I think the card is a good deal because the card pays 5x at every day spending places and you basically BOGO, so 50K points ($10K spending) gets you two nights at any CC hotel. Plus, the sign-up bonus and rewards night in general are pretty decent. This is not my favorite offer out there, but I do think it is pretty good – especially if you already have Club Carlson points.

  21. Tim2 says:

    Mp, in your experience do bonuses go up after initial public offer

  22. [...] a complete overview of the new Club Carlson cards, you can check out Mommy Points’ write up: More Details on New Club Carlson Credit Card.  For now, suffice to say that there are four different cards, the two best of which offer a [...]

  23. robertw says:

    The people that ask about applyign for business and personal us bank at the same time_I would not do it. US Bank semes to be fairly conservative. I have their flexpoints personal and business cards which are a decent value for sandard domenestic ticket redemptions. Also their customer service is far better than Chase in so many ways if that matters.

  24. phil says:

    @Ben: In order to get the 2nd night free, would I have to have 100k (assuming 50k/night) in my Club Carlson account at the time of booking?
    i.e. I need to have 100k in my account, and only AFTER I book 2 award nights will I then be refunded 50k? Or, can I ONLY have 50k in my account, book 1 night, and then it will somehow (magically) generate a 2nd night for free?

    I have read you need 100K if you want to book a 50K pt property for 2 nights. Then they refund 50K.

    MP, I’d suggest you research this for us. :-) Thanks.

  25. mommypoints says:

    I’ll try – have no US Bank contacts but will do what I can. I’m pretty certain the wording does not imply you need the second nights points. First folks to get cards may know first. ;)

  26. Dell says:

    So something strange seems to be happening with US Bank. I called about my “approved” application and was today told that it was processing. The underwriter who I spoke with verified my address and stated that the online system just does a pre-approval and the underwriter team actually has to process the application. I found this strange as the online system gave me a credit line and the APR and I believe asked me to accept the terms once it said Congratulations. The underwriter told me it would be a few more days. I applied on Saturday and thought that the application had been approved.

  27. Kris says:

    Hi MP, thanks for the great post. You mentioned that this is a good deal, but not the best deal out there. I’m preparing for a churn this month and wondering… aside from this hotel chain, what other credit card associated with a hotel chain is good to include in an upcoming churn? I have my eyes set on this, together with an INK Plus and another credit card linked to a hotel. Thank you!

  28. Jennifer C. says:

    Applied for the Premier Rewards. Received the “Platinum Rewards VISA,” which doesn’t appear to be a VISA Signature, but has the terms of the Rewards VISA Signature. In any case, it clarifies the Bonus Award Night terms with an easy-to-understand graphic. Clearly, one night is free, even of a two-night reservation. Mystery solved.

  29. Ken says:

    @Jennifer – What’s your credit line? If it’s below $5,000 it’s the lower card which doesn’t award as many bonus points after spend or at anniversary.

  30. john says:

    If I am booking 3 nights at a property that requires 50k a night using points, will I have to have 150k in my account to receive the 3rd night free or can I just have 100k?

  31. mommypoints says:

    John, 100K is all you would need. Great benefit!

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