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The Alternative to Buying Club Carlson Points for a 75% Bonus

There are a few programs that are perpetually running sales on point purchases. The big culprits are US Airways and Avianca Lifemiles, though recently Club Carlson has jumped on the bandwagon, offering a 75% bonus on purchased points. The sale goes on until June 24 at 8:59 AM (ET). This makes me nervous because last time they gave away points this freely (via the Big Night Giveaways), a devaluation followed. I just read Angelina’s reasons for why she doesn’t buy points and many of them are in line with why I’m skipping this promotion.

The reason I’m mimicking the activities of a criminal to earn lots of points and miles is so I don’t have to pay for travel. To turn around and pay for points is hypocritical and a sign I’m slacking off on the manufactured spending front. I’d much rather put the cash I save by not buying points or paying for travel towards buying extra lives on Candy Crush Saga, reloading my Starbucks card before somebody else does, and maybe even respond to that pesky notification from my cell phone carrier asking for money. There are lots of other things I’d spend money on before investing in a currency that could devalue before I have a chance to use it. Plus, did I mention I have 600,000 Club Carlson points I need to burn through before the inevitable next round of devaluations?

The Alternative

With this promotion, you can buy up to 70,000 points (the maximum 40,000 per calendar year, plus 30,000 bonus points) for $280. A better alternative is  to pick up the Club Carlson Premier Visa Signature card, pay just $75 (annual fee) and rake in 97,500 points after meeting minimum spend. I like that alternative better.

If manufactured spending is your game, it takes just $14,000 in manufactured spending on the Club Carlson Premier Visa Signature card to earn 70,000 points. The total cost? $82.60 if you’re buying Simon Mall gift cards. You can also generate the points at a profit if you’re churning American Express gift cards via Visa gift cards. With the current 2.5% cash back rate via BeFrugal, you would earn $350 cash back. Even factoring shipping or card fees and the cost of unloading gift cards, you’d easily come away with at least a 50% profit. Compare that to spending $280 to earn the same amount of points. It takes longer, since you can only order $5,000 worth of Amex gift cards every two weeks. Not to mention liquidating gift cards and shopping bonus payouts take time, but you’re doing it at a profit.

If you’re headed to a Club Carlson hotel in the next few weeks and buying points really does work out to be cheaper than paying out of pocket (even when factoring in the points you’re giving up by not paying out of pocket), then by all means go ahead and buy points. Otherwise, I wouldn’t bother. My goal is to earn points (rather than buy them) so I don’t have to spend cash on travel. Yours may be different.

What are your thoughts on Club Carlson’s buy points promotion? Or these buy points promotions in general?

Disclosure: I will earn a $5 referral bonus if you sign up with my BeFrugal link and make a purchase.

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Ariana Arghandewal

4 Comments

  1. I might be doing my math wrong, but isn’t it $14,000 in MS to generate 70,000 Club Carlson points? ($14,000 at 5/points a dollar). And at that level, buying the points and putting that $14,000 in MS towards something like the Arrival card seems like it would be the better play (2.2% on $14,000 would be $308, so you’d come out ahead getting the Carlson points via the Arrival card + buying them through this promo)

    • Your math is right, mine was wrong. I fixed the post. 🙂

      As for using Arrival miles towards Club Carlson point purchases – these point purchases are done via Points.com, so unless Barclay decides to code it as a travel purchase, you won’t be able to redeem the miles at 1 cent per point. If you accrued 28,000 Arrival miles via Amex/BeFrugal and you wanted to redeem them for the Club Carlson point purchase and Barclay didn’t code them as Travel, you could only redeem the miles for $140 in statement credits as opposed to $308 in travel.

  2. I usually don’t buy points but this time I did because of the below:

    1. Buying Club Carlson points around 0.41 cents seems a “reasonable” value that I can use more than 0.41 cents return. I don’t stay at CC properties w/o points (I do that w/ lower Marriott/HolidayInn properties since they r everywhere). So, I am not giving up earning any CC points from a paid stay.

    2. I have a stay in CC property in Paris coming up that I snagged a value of about 1.33 cents. Unless they devalue by massive, I can beat 0.41 cents for a premium room stay.

    3. Buying from your computer, again at a reasonable rate, is much easier than $14K spend at SM and then head to WM to save few $.

    4. That $14K can be spend on our perpetual credit card applications for minimum spend (every 60-90 days) bec u never know what good deal is coming your way..

    • Do what works for you. For me, $14k in ms is a drop in the bucket and wouldn’t affect my ability to meet additional spend if a mega bonus came along.

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