Club Carlson – A Nordic Tour

We spent $483.42 for 11 nights in Club Carlson hotels throughout the Nordic Countries.

How We Gained Our Points

The Club Carlson Premier Visa used to be an amazing credit card. It’s not nearly as good anymore, but in my opinion, it’s still worth holding on to and paying the annual fee. The sign up bonus is 85,000 points: 50,000 points after your first purchase and 35,000 more points after you spend at least $2,500 within the first 90 days of account opening. The card also gives you 40,000 points every year you renew and pay the annual fee. The annual fee is $75 and is not waived the first year.

A Previous Benefit

Both Brittany and I signed up for this card well over a year ago. The reason we signed up for the card was for a benefit that the card no longer has. It used to give you the last award night free when making an award booking. This means for a 2 night stay you could get the second night free, essentially making awards buy one get one free on 2 night stays. However, with two people, you could alternate nights. I could book the first 2 nights and Brittany could book the second 2 nights, each of us getting one night free, making 4 nights the price of 2.

Getting the Points

To take advantage of this benefit, we first needed to rake in a big haul of Club Carlson points. Let’s say Brittany and I both originally spend $3,500 on each of our cards to get the sign up bonus. This card is one of the most generous in rewarding points in “non-bonused” categories. It earns at least 5 points per dollar spent (more if using it to pay for stays at Club Carlson properties). Taking into account both of us spending $3,500, that was another 17,500 points we each received after opening the cards.

Pete point total: 102,500 

Brittany point total: 102,500

At one point, Club Carlson was offering a promotion to buy 20,000 points for $70. I hopped on this opportunity.

Pete point total: 122,500

Brittany point total: 102,500

As I wrote in this post, Brittany and I were each able to secure about 45,000 points through a combination of promotions for checking into a Club Carlson hotel for 1 night.

Pete point total: 167,500

Brittany point total: 147,500

Making a Call

When US Bank took away the “last night free on award booking” benefits, many people were upset. I heard that calling US Bank to complain would usually net a free 2,500 points. Since I wanted Brittany to get to 150,000 points, I had her call and viola! She was granted 2,500 points. I did not need the points at the time so I did not call; however, I should have, as I could’ve used them now. Lesson: never give up an opportunity to earn free points for minimal work!

Pete point total: 167,500

Brittany point total: 150,000

This was more than enough for our stay in the Nordic countries.

How We Spent Our Points

Stop 1: Stockholm Sweden

Sweden was our second stop and the first place we booked hotels. I booked 2 nights in the Radisson Blu Waterfront Hotel, Stockholm for 50,000 points and Brittany did the same.

Pete point total: 117,500

Brittany point total: 100,000

Radisson Blu Waterfront Hotel, Stockholm – Mini Review

Offered a great welcome amenity of fruit and nuts. Room was pretty nice, but not outstanding. Located right next to the central train station, which was amazing. Did not offer free breakfast.

Rating: 6/10

Stop 2: Bergen, Norway

Brittany booked 2 nights at the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Bergen for 50,000 points.

Pete point total: 107,500

Brittany point total: 50,000

Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Bergen – Mini Review

Gave us an upgrade to a Business Class room, which included breakfast. The breakfast buffet was extensive and good quality, allowing us to save a lot of money! They gave a welcome amenity of some fruit. The room was super cute. The hotel is next to a lot of cute water restaurants in the historic Bryggen district and about a 10 minute walk from the train station.

Rating: 7/10

Business Class Room in Bergen
Business Class Room in Bergen

Stop 3: Oslo, Norway

Brittany booked 2 nights at the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel, Oslo for 50,000 points. I mistakenly thought we only had 2 nights in Oslo. When I double checked our flights one morning at breakfast, it turned out we had 3 nights. We decided to use some of my points to book a cash & points night at the Park Inn Oslo Airport hotel for 10,000 points and $133.42. A costly mistake that I hope not to make again!

Pete point total: 107,500

Brittany point total: 0

Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel, Oslo – Mini Review

Gave us free breakfast that was extensive and tasty. No welcome amenity. Located right next to train station and centrally located in Oslo. Room was very nice and offered great views.

Rating: 8/10

You could see our hotel from almost anywhere in Oslo!
You could see our hotel from almost anywhere in Oslo! 

Stop 4: Svalbard, Norway

This one was interesting. After taking away the benefit of getting the last night free on award bookings, US Bank sent some of its credit card holders a free night at any property in the world. Brittany was targeted for this; I was not. I messaged US Bank about this and they promptly got back to me and told me I was eligible for the free night and it would appear in my account in a few weeks. We used our two free nights to book a room at the northernmost full service hotel in the world: the Radisson Blu Polar Hotel, Spitsbergen!

The Radisson Blu Polar Hotel, Spitsbergen – Mini Review

No welcome amenity. Room was the most basic of any of the Radissons we stayed at. However, this was to be expected in the northernmost full service hotel in the world. It can’t be easy to build anything up there! One cool thing about this hotel and Svalbard in general is that people often take off their shoes when going inside. The hotel had an area in the front for guests to take off their shoes and offered slippers to walk around the hotel and to your room. They also gave us free breakfast, which served its purpose, but was not as good as the other breakfast buffets. The room was also scorching hot when we arrived and remained pretty hot the whole time despite us turning the heat all the way down.

Rating: 5/10

Our hotel in the midnight sun a little past 1 AM
Our hotel in the midnight sun a little past 1 AM

Stop 5: Helsinki, Finland

I booked these rooms after I had already lost the benefit of the credit card; booked 2 nights costing 44,000 points a night using my points. We stayed at the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Helsinki.

Pete point total: 19,500

Brittany point total: 0

Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Helsinki – Mini Review

This hotel room had a unique layout, but was very nice. The bathroom was gorgeous. They also offered free breakfast, which was the nicest out of any of the Radissons we stayed at. They even had someone at an omelette bar making custom omelettes if you wanted one. The hotel is centrally located and only a 10 minute walk from the train station.

Rating: 8/10

Conclusion

We really enjoyed our stays at Club Carlson properties in the Nordic countries. Club Carlson has a big presence and many properties in some amazing locations. The benefit of the credit card to get the last night free of an award booking was too good to be true. When something is too good too be true in the miles and points world, it will surely come to an end. This was the case here. We would have liked to take advantage of the benefit longer, but were grateful we got to squeeze some value out of it. If something seems too good to be true, be sure to take advantage of it as quickly and often as possible.

Did you take advantage of this benefit? What Club Carlson properties did you end up booking?

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge