Advice needed: What to do with 100,000 Club Carlson hotel points

Last year I began my mattress running addiction with the Carlson group of hotels, mainly Radisson and Country Inn & Suites here in the U.S., after having stayed at several properties and been comped Silver elite status. Not usually in any conversation in terms of preferred hotel loyalty programs, I started with Radisson since they were often within my price range when I didn’t use Hotwire or Priceline to book a hotel. That, and they didn’t charge for internet access so it was the right fit for me way back then in 2010.

I’ve vested myself in the Hilton HHonors program now and will keep my Gold status through 2012, so the likelihood I’ll be staying at another Carlson property is pretty slim at this stage in the game. As such, I’m sitting on a smidge more than 100,000 points and wondering what I should do with them. Here are my thoughts and I’d love your input.

First I looked at redemption options. Carlson has 6 categories of hotels in their program and to be frank, booking anything under a category 4 is a) no longer in my snobby elitist demographic and b) a waste of points when many hotels therein would be less than $85-95/night. Not a good idea in my opinion. There are some decent budget Park Inn properties in Europe at the category 4 level for 38,000 points/night, but that doesn’t settle right with me either.

So, category 5 and 6 redemptions require 44,000 and 50,000 points/night respectively. Here are a couple of examples from each category for properties I’d definitely consider staying at (and have). For what it’s worth, I picked a couple of dates in November as I’m looking to travel then and the amounts shown are for a two-night stay.

a chart with numbers and dollar signsFrom a purely financial standpoint, redeeming my full 100K for the Radisson in Zurich seems to be the best, and I don’t think the “discount†for the points+cash option is appealing. Okay, so there’s that.

Next up is a flat conversion of the points to airline miles, and I would net 18,000 American or United miles. I place a higher value to me here with American since I’m currently only a Gold and earning 18,000 miles by flying would take longer with only a 25% mileage bonus versus my 100% bonus for flying on United as a 1K. I haven’t looked at award redemptions yet with American, but I have a feeling that 18K in AAdvantage would put me closer to a better award.

Lastly, I can just sit on them longer as they won’t expire so long as I have some type of activity within 24-months from the last transaction. The risk of devaluation is there, of course, should Carlson change the game up again. I sort of want to be done with Carlson, though, and move on so sitting on them isn’t all that appealing.

I realize it’s pretty subjective and really up to what matters most to me, but if you were in the same position, which option would you choose?

a) Redeem them on a stay

b) Convert them to airline miles

c) Let ‘em sit there

d) Something I haven’t thought of



  1. Stay instead at Hilton Zurich aiport hotel – it is offering a 40 year celebration package – 40% off breakfast, dinner and deluxe room package. Search hilton or hotel’s website for specials. For comparison Nov 6-7, twin deluxe great gateway 14 day adv rate (cheapest) is $262 (incl breakfast) while 40 year anniversary package is $292. ======================================================

    Valid from: 08 February 2011 – 31 December 2011

    Join us as we celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Hilton Zurich Airport hotel and enjoy a 40% discount on our Dinner, Bed & Breakfast rate.

    Stay in one of our newly renovated Deluxe Rooms with a complimentary welcome drink. Indulge in our specially prepared ‘Retro’ dinner menu and wake up to a delicious Hilton Breakfast.

    It’s our way of saying thanks to all our guests who have joined us for 40 years of hospitality.

  2. Thanks for the feedback everyone. I’m still torn, but acknowledge the value of burning them on a Zurich stay, for example. Any more feedback?

  3. Hi Darren, this is Josh from Club Carlson. I recommend saving your points for a stay at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago, which opens later this year. It’s a stunning property, and it will be the first Radisson Blu in the United States. And before you give up on Club Carlson, be sure to check out to see how we redefined our hotel rewards program earlier this year. The new program provides members with a faster way to a free night stay and an enriched array of benefits and privileges at any of our more than 1,000 hotels worldwide.

    • Hi Josh,
      Thanks for stopping by & I didn’t know of the Radisson Blu opening up in Chicago… how cool as your Blu offering overseas is just incredible.

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