Credit Cards

Finally Got Approved for the Club Carlson Credit Card!

Things have been dull around here for a while, especially after the Vanilla Reload shutdown. Aside from completing an $82,000 spending requirement, I’ve been twiddling my thumbs and getting bored with points and miles. Today, I’ve got something to be excited about: I finally got approved for the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature card! This card has been on my wish list since it came out, but my first application was rejected. Even after the obligatory reconsideration call, they would not budge.

Club Carlson Credit Card

When I brought this up, Howie explained that the reason it’s so hard to get approved for the card is because US bank looks at the number of credit inquiries. As a a result, card churners tend to get their applications rejected and the way to get around this is to freeze your ARS report. I didn’t follow this step before either application, but did get approved the second time. It may be because I received an invitation to apply for the card, with a specific code. A pre-approval of sorts.

In the spur of the moment, I decided to give it a shot and forget about it if it didn’t work out. This morning, three days after applying for the Club Carlson card, I received an approval email. I’m not sure why I was approved this time around, since I’ve racked up plenty more credit inquiries since the first application. But perhaps they’re loosening up the rules.

I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited about a credit card since my Sapphire Preferred application two years ago. The Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa is definitely the best hotel credit card in terms of point accrual and perks. For starters, cardholders who book at least two award nights get their last night free. This basically doubles the value of your Club Carlson Gold points. Currently, I have nearly 600,000 points saved up, which is enough for 8 – 66 nights at a Club Carlson hotel, depending on the hotel category.

While the $75 annual fee isn’t waived on the card, the 97,500 sign-up bonus is worth it. Plus, cardholders get Gold status along with a 40,000 point bonus each year for renewing the card. Which is worth well over $75.

Club Carlson is one of the best hotel program in terms of earning free nights. Standard Red members can earn a free night at a Club Carlson Category 1 hotel after spending just $450 on hotel stays. Combined with the Club Carlson card and the elevated Gold membership (which earns a 15% point bonus), it takes just $272 in spending for a free night at a Category 1 hotel.

This is totally starting to sound like a paid advertisement for the Club Carlson card. But if I could just have one hotel card, this would absolutely be it. It’s nice to get excited about something again when things have been so dull in the manufactured spending game. I’m looking forward to putting the card (and the points) to good use next year.

Have you applied for the Club Carlson Visa? What has your experience been?

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  1. I froze my ARS & IDA before applying and have both the personal and the business – on separate accounts, so can alternate resevations to maximize its use. Wife just got her own personal, so we’re rockin’ and rollin’ here. Just sometimes hard to find one of their hotels where we go, although there are getting to be more of them around. Wish there were more Radisson Blu hotels!

    • That’s a good strategy – for now, I’m just happy I got approved for one card. There are some great Radisson Blu hotels in Asia, Europe, and Africa. Hopefully the brand will expand and improve in the US.

  2. I was wary of applying for it because of the very reasons you list. While I don’t apply as much as some other people I did get several cards earlier in the year. But like you I had received a letter from them with a code and used it to apply and was approved. Even better, I managed to time it just before a trip and got my one purchase made & paid for and my gold status came through the day we checked into the Radisson Blu Istanbul.

  3. ok – so on their site it says
    “5 points per $1 spent in eligible net purchases everywhere else”
    So is that 2500 points for every giftcard purchased….or red bird card loaded…or however you MS?
    And a cat 1 hotel starts around 9000 points….so really you could rack up points fast…

    Not a bad card….like tscateh says, i wish there was more of them around. Right now I use barclaycard and rack up points on there and then use priceline to find the cheapest hotel. But 5x points is a lot more than the 2.2

    Although, just doing some math and look at their cat. a Cat 4 hotel in washington DC was advertising at 38k miles or $126 per night.

    Using barclay that is roughly $6300 in spend at 2 points per dollar.
    Using CC it would be $7600 in spend at 5 points per mile to = the 38000

    So like all things points and miles related…you need to do your own personal math in each situation.

    Don’t get me wrong though…that nearly 100k signup bonus is a heck of a lot…9 nights in a Cat 1 is nothing to complain about and i can see how there are situations where you could really maximize the usage!

    • The Arrival Plus is one of my favorites as well. Comparing Club Carlson vs. Barclay Arrival would make an interesting post…

    • In your analysis, you need to halve the points required IF you can take advantage of the second night free benefit. And I find a lot of nights around $90. That definitely skews in favor of Carlson vs Arrival as you’ll effectively be paying $45/night for a standard room.

  4. Naive question; how do you accumulate 600K in points without the card?

  5. I got this card two months ago and used bonus points to redeem two nights at Radisson in Washington DC last week. While paying one night for two night stays is the most value of this card, I felt regret to redeem 57,000 point for a Business Premium Award-1 Bedroom Suite. The room is small and old. In the bathroom, there is nothing except the bad tub and the a sink, nothing more.

    My last stay at Hyatt for 12,000 points was much much better than my Radisson room stay, and while I agree that Club Carlson point is easy and cheap to earn, I feel like they try to cheat me by giving me a lot of point earning opportunities and then took them back after putting me into a very standard room which they named Premium Suite.

    • Sorry to hear that Ben. Next time this happens, address it with the hotel and if they don’t do anything about it, reach out to Club Carlson. They’ll either move you to a better room or give you a partial point refund.

  6. Congrats! Club Carlson rocks. My Wife and I got the card in May @ the same time. Our 1st redemption was Aruba for 10 nights over Thanksgiving. We were literally treated like V.I.P.’s because my Wife peeked on the housekeeping sheet and next to our name was “V.I.P.”. We were given the absolute best suite in the Aruba Tower. Since we got the cards, I had thought we could rotate two day bookings to get the bogo. It worked perfectly. I’ve also booked two nights in May for my Daughters graduation @ Udel w/ points and I’m in the process of setting up another trip to Aruba in February for 8 nights w/ points. Between having the Southwest companion pass & Club Carlson card, the combination of air & hotel cannot be beat. In Aruba we booked a combination of both standard & premium awards and they just left us in the suite all 10 nights. Granted, Radisson has some shabby hotels in the U.S., but you can find some gems. When you leave the U.S., for the most part the properties look outstanding. If I have the points, I’m burning them because as you know in the MS world, good thing’s tend to come to an end.

    • Thanks David! I agree – the US hotels are pretty terrible. Oversees is where Club Carlson really shines.

      • Just booked another 8 nights @ the Radisson Aruba Resort & Casino for 2nd week in March. That’s 20 nights (560K points) so far since my Wife and I each got the card in May. Flying Southwest w/ the companion pass non-stop out of BWI. I don’t worry or care about burning the points because they are easy to come by w/ MS for Club Carlson & shopping portals w/ Southwest. Looking forward to Belize soon since Southwest just announced the new route and Club Carlson has a hotel there.

  7. Its a great credit card. I know for sure I will keep it because of the 40k anniversary bonus. I stayed at the Radisson in Austin Texas. I also had the pleasure of staying at the Radisson Blu Aqua in Chicago. Both times I was treated like a king because of the Gold status the card gives you. I wouldn’t recommend staying at country inns or park inns here in the US unless you want a cheap stay at a cheap hotel.

  8. Is the sign-up bonus 97,500 points? I thought it was 85,000.
    And how did you accumulate 600,000 points before you got the card?

    • It’s 97,500 after you complete the $2,500 spending requirement (at a minimum of 5 points per $1). I earned the 600,000 points mostly by mattress running during the Club Carlson Big Night promotions of 2012. I also picked up 50k in a Twitter giveaway.

  9. If you don’t mind low/mid range properties, or can use overseas, it is hard to beat the value with second night free. Heck, signup spouse and both get biz card versions and you can get 8 nights for 4 award nights by using each other’s accounts every 2 nights.

    That said, I have 400K Carlson points orphaned waiting for someplace I would consider staying in…

  10. I went through the process of freezing those weird credit reports before applying and then got an immediate approval. I love this card. And 5 points/dollar is great for MS. I’ve stayed at Country Inn near Mt. Rushmore and in Niagara Falls. Both were very nice. They give free cookies and I also got a welcome basket in Niagara Falls.

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