1) I thought about dedicating a separate post to the latest Club Carlson category adjustments that will kick in March 1st (see full details here) But let’s face it, most of you don’t really care about Club Carlson, am I right? Still, here is my quick analysis for those of you who do.
First of all, kudos to Club Carlson for providing plenty of notice on the upcoming changes. Other programs (cough, Hyatt, cough) can learn a thing or two from these guys. That’s the good news. Otherwise, I would describe it as “mostly bad news with a few bright spots.”
Sure, if you are going to Russia, China or Egypt, you are probably happy about the upcoming changes. Otherwise, many good deals are going away. Lithuania is getting slammed. If your European itinerary includes Klaipeda, I recommend you burn your points on Radisson Blu hotel that is currently a Category 2 (will be 3 in March). My parents really enjoyed the area, especially Kuronian Spit.
If you are planning to visit Hungary, check out this Park Inn by Radisson Hotel and Spa Zalakaros It’s currently a Category 1 (9,000 points per night). It will cost 28,000 points per night starting March 1st. This looks like an incredible deal because the rate includes breakfast, dinner and access to a waterpark/spa. The hotel is located close to scenic lake Balaton. Even before the announcement I was actually thinking about treating my nephews to a stay here, but Zalakaros is a bit far from Belarus.
Let me highlight upcoming changes in USA:
When Club Carlson hotel goes from Category 2 to Category 3, it represents a drastic change. The rate essentially doubles. Category 1 to Category 2 increase isn’t really a huge deal, because paying 15,000 points per night is still dirt cheap.
One change that is good news for those who like to go to NYC is one category downgrade on Cassa Hotel NY 45th St It has stellar reviews, and rates in the summer are usually around $250 or more. Sure, paying 50,000 points isn’t exactly a bargain. However, let’s say you renew your Club Carlson credit card for $75 and get 40,000 bonus points.
You would have to charge an additional $2k in order to have enough points for one night at this hotel. Factoring in opportunity cost from not using a 2% cash back credit card, it’s an equivalent of paying $115 all-in. Not super cheap, but decent by NYC standards. Note that standard rooms have double occupancy.
Off topic, but Club Carlson is apparently opening a Radisson Blu hotel in Zakopane, Poland. The rates have not been announced yet, but I imagine the rooms will go for at least 44,000 points per night or more. Zakopane is off the beaten path, but totally worth a visit IMO.
2) SPG and Marriott programs have just announced category changes that will kick in on March 6th.
Just like Club Carlson gutting, it’s mostly bad news. Many properties in popular cities or by the beach will become more expensive via points. As always, some folks will find the changes to be positive, based on their travel patterns.
(Hat tip OMAAT)
3) A decent promo from Wyndham: Stay two times, get 15k bonus points. Details here
There are a couple of interesting data points I’ve noticed in the comments section of various blogs like DoC. Apparently, the rate has to be $25+, and Cash+Points rate will sometimes trigger a stay credit. I have a Wyndham stay coming up next month, so will update you.
If it does work, I will do a mattress run at a nearby Wyndham property in order to collect my 15k points. It would be worth it to pay $60 or so in order to take advantage of this promotion. Read my post on redeeming Wyndham currency on one-bedroom condos at popular resorts.
4) Through March 16th, you can save 35% on purchase of SPG points.
The price works out to be 2.25 cents per point. Keep in mind that your account has to be open for at least 14 days in order to take advantage of this promotion. I absolutely don’t think you should participate in this promo speculatively. However, if you need to top up a mileage account or redeem points on a Cat.1 or 2 hotel, it could certainly make sense.
I don’t have an affiliate link for purchasing SPG points. However, if you go through Topcashback (my referral link), you can buy SPG points from Points.com and get 2.5% cash back on purchase, plus $10 bonus for joining. Few months ago I wrote a post highlighting some good hotel deals in SPG program. The property in Niagara Falls (Cat. 2) is probably the best of the bunch, especially since it will soon be a Cat. 4.
Leana is the 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.