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Caribbean for an Average Joe

By now you have probably heard about the Club Carlson devaluation and the fact that the program has added another category requiring 70,000 points. The good news is most of the properties affected are not located in the USA or the Caribbean. I focus primarily on domestic travel, but actually some of the best usage of Club Carlson points would be in Aruba or St. Maarten. I have mentioned before how you can use Avios points to get to those islands by applying for Chase BA Visa that comes with a 50,000-mile sign-up bonus and $95 annual fee. This card pays me commission as of now.

The flights are distance based, and it would cost just 15,000 miles roundtrip from Miami to Aruba, and 20,000 miles from Miami-St. Maarten on American Airlines (a partner). A nice thing about the Avios program is that you can copay with money on international flights at a little over 1 cent per mile. Alternatively, you could book your flights on Spirit Airlines, which flies from Ft. Lauderdale to those islands.

But what about lodging once you get there? Those islands are quite expensive. Club Carlson Visa to the rescue! Specifically, 2 cards, one in each spouse’s name. The best perk is that you can redeem points and get a second night free with each award. But who wants to fly to the Caribbean for only 2 nights? That’s why it would make sense to get a card for each spouse. You can book 2 consecutive stays of 2 nights each using both accounts.

In fact, if you wanted to stay longer, you can just alternate between the accounts. US Bank Club Carlson Visa comes with an 85,000-point bonus after spending $2,500 in 3 months. It has an annual fee of $75, not waived. You also get 40,000 points upon renewal each year. This  card is no longer listed on my affiliate site and pays me no commission at this time.

Let’s look at the potential value we could get on both of the islands.


Radisson Aruba resort, Casino and Spa

When I checked, the paid rate for the second week of May was $232 (plus tax). You would get an even better value if you decided to go during Spring Break, which is a high season in the Caribbean. Award rates run at 50,000 points, with the second night free. We would get close to 1 cent per point, a great deal!

Photo taken from hotel’s website.


The paid rate was 168 Euros (230 US dollars) per night, or 50,000 points, with the second night free. Once again, we would get close to 1 cent per point in value. I’ve recently learned from Mommypoints that this property will be rebranded on June 1st, 2014, so there isn’t a huge amount of time to take advantage of this deal.  If you have a good stash of Club Carlson points, this is a good place to use them.

Photos taken from hotel’s website.


If you met the minimum spend on both cards and bought just two $500 Visa gift cards (one per each credit card), you could potentially get 8 nights total in a world-class resort for your whole family of four. That’s  because the card earns 5 points per dollar on all spending. As I mentioned earlier, we would do it by alternating the reservations, so as to get every second night free.You could also spend 4 nights and use the rest of your points elsewhere.

If you have more than 2 kids or insist on privacy, the best way to maximize your redemption would be to make a two-night reservation for each room, a paid one night stay in between, followed by another 2-night award stay. The same principle would apply for hotels in U.S. as well. No matter how you look at it, this card could potentially provide a terrific value for a family.

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Author: Leana

Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.

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