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There was a lot of internet ink spilled about last month’s Club Carlson promotions to earn 50k points for one night at any Radisson, 44k for one night at any Park Inn, and 44k for one night at any Country Inn & Suites. So much that I haven’t mentioned the promotion until now, since I try to provide unique and valuable content.

I registered for the promotions as soon as they went live as I’m sure many of you did. Each promotion had a cap on how many members could sign up. All the caps have been reached. You can still sign up, but the bonus at each hotel has been lowered to 15k.

So how do you exploit this promotion? By spending as little extra money as possible to receive the bonus. That means ideally you already had to make hotel stays at the properties that earn the bonus. If you had an upcoming stay at a Radisson planned even if there had been no bonus, this is a free 50k!

Since I never pay full price for a hotel room–because of Priceline, PointBreaks, or Caesars offering me discounted rooms in Vegas–I couldn’t get the points for free.

But I did just complete a three night stay in Krakow, Poland for which I would need some accommodation. I was excited to see the Holiday Inn Krakow on the PointBreaks list, so I tried to book it for all three nights, but it was only available for two nights. Since these promotions are running, I searched the participating hotels to see how cheaply I could earn the 50k or 44k Club Carlson points.

The Park Inn Krakow had a 99 euro rate for the night I was interested in. Upon checkout, my card was charged 429.89 Polish zloty, which is $126.45.

(By the way, the easiest currency converter is any google search toolbar. Type in the amount you want to convert, the word “to”, and the currency you want it converted to. It works even better if you use the standard three letter codes for the currencies, so I just typed in “429.89 pln to usd” and the top of google spit out the answer above the search results. Double by the way, Peru’s currency, the Nuevo Sol, is abbreviated PEN.)

So the key to understanding how cheaply I earned the points is by subtracting my value for the room from $126.45 to find out how much extra I paid for the 44k points. Like I said earlier, if I had had to stay in a hotel, this was probably my best option, so my value would have been full price and I would have earned the points for free.

But in reality, I would not have stayed in a hotel if not for this promotion. I would have stayed in a hostel for about $20. Now I certainly value the Park Inn more than a bed in a hostel because of its privacy and comfort, so I’ll value the night at the Park Inn at $60. Subtracting that from $126.45, we see that I paid $66.45 specifically to earn the points in this promo.

The points just posted and I earned 49,312!





As you can see, I didn’t just earn the 44k bonus. I also earned the 2,312 standard points based on the room’s price. I earned another 1k for booking online, and I earned 2k for signing up with a bonus code that earned 2k upon first night’s stay.

So I earned 49,312 for $66.45, which means I earned at a rate of 0.13 cents per point! Are Club Carlson points worth more than 0.13 cents? Yes. I haven’t valued them exactly, but even at a conservative valuation of 0.4 cents each, my points are worth almost $200. Far more than I paid for them. And even more than I paid for the stay!

So that’s how to exploit the Club Carlson promos. And as you can see from my experience, and numerous other anecdotes I’ve heard, the points generally post within a week of the stay, not the 6-8 weeks claimed by the promo pages.

I’m reading many reports of people booking Club Carlson hotels in their hometown for a night and not even using them, just to earn the points in this promo. That can definitely be a profitable strategy if the room rate is low enough and the points are used at much more expensive hotels in Europe. If you use this strategy, you simply divide the price paid by the points earned to find out how much you paid per point.

I won’t be tempted to book a hotel I don’t need just to earn the points in this promo unless the price is under $70, since that’s about the max I want to pay for a hotel room.

Has anyone else had any experience with the Club Carlson promos? How much extra did you pay to stay in one of the qualifying hotels? Did your points post as quickly?

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