It was only seven short months ago that I wrote about cancelling my Club Carlson credit card after the annual fee was up. At the time I had decided that my (at the time somewhat limited) manufactured spending was better channeled towards other hotel credit cards or flexible reward cards like the Barclay Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard. I’ve since written about how Club Carlson is one of the best rewards programs for earning free nights, and pointed out the minimal amount of spend required to earn a free night at a top-tier Club Carlson hotel via credit card spending. I was aware of all this before canceling the card. However, a recent shift in my travel plans has made me realize I do need this card in my wallet.
A few weeks ago, my cousin and I were looking at booking a Fall trip to Europe. On our list was Dublin, London, and maybe someplace in France. Finding a decent hotel in London with a good location in our price range was tough during our preferred dates. When it came to award redemptions, there were a few reasonable options. However, generate the points needed for 4+ nights in each city via credit card spending was going to be tough. Remembering their huge portfolio in Europe and especially London, I decided to check Club Carlson’s website. It turns out they’ve added even more impressive hotels to their London portfolio, ranging from 50,000 – 70,000 points per night.
Earning those points via Simon Mall gift card purchases would cost $86 – $120 out of pocket. Of course, this amount would be further reduced through Visa gift card purchases made through giftcards.com. That’s when I kicked myself for getting rid of my U.S. Bank Club Carlson Visa Signature Credit Card. It’s not even about the accessibility of Club Carlson awards – they had some of the nicest hotels in the city and if the paid rate wasn’t so high (the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London for example, was going for over $650 per night), I would have totally booked a stay and then redeemed Barclay Arrival Miles for it. However, the nightly rates were too high and I didn’t have enough Gold Points for a 5 night stay. I really kicked myself for getting rid of my Club Carlson card.
It wasn’t just London: I’ve always wanted to check out the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Dublin and France is awash in amazing Club Carlson hotels. If you’re wondering at this point whether it wouldn’t be easier to just change travel plans, it wouldn’t have been. I was working with my cousin’s schedule (I don’t really have one) and taking her budget into account. Airfares were also much cheaper (i.e. $380 roundtrip from Toronto), so the dates weren’t really flexible.
As someone who wrote an extensive series on The best Club Carlson Hotel Redemptions and has been an advocate for a diversified points portfolio, I should have known better than to dismiss a credit card based on my immediate travel needs. I’ve decided to travel to Europe more often and Club Carlson really does have great properties there. So I’m rededicating myself to the program.
At the time I closed my account, many of these points were irrelevant because of my travel plans. Club Carlson wasn’t a good fit anymore. However, now that I’m looking to travel to Europe more frequently (where Club Carlson has a huge presence) and have more manufactured spending opportunities available to me, I can dedicate more spending to this card and get more rewards from my non-bonus category spending compared to other hotel credit cards.
The annual free night certificate issued after $10,000 worth of spending is still pretty useless since it’s limited to their shrinking U.S. hotel portfolio, but the 40,000 point renewal bonus is a nice way to top off my account every year. All of this is worth the $75 annual fee to me, so I’m willing to keep this card long term.
I’d love your feedback on this. Have you ever cancelled a credit card and then regretted it (i.e. an unintentional card churn)? What do you think of the Club Carlson credit card post-devaluation and what criteria do you use to decide whether a credit card is worth keeping?
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