SITE NOTE: Unless any particularly good deals compel me to arise from my slumber, today’s post is the last for this week. I’ll return on Monday.
IT’S QUARTERLY PROMOTIONS TIME!: Check your mail and check your inboxes! And make sure you’re not opted out of marketing solicitations.
- I can always count on Citi to send out some respectable marketing efforts four times a year, and this time around my wife’s ThankYou Preferred is offering 5 ThankYou Points per dollar on electronics, office supplies, department stores, and clothing. My AA card is offering 3 AA miles per dollar on dining, groceries, and travel.
- Barclays is playing too! My wife’s USAir card (which we just cancelled last night, alas) offered 5 miles per dollar on grocery, drugstore, and electronics.
- If you have a Chase Freedom card, you should have already signed up for 5% cash back on gas stations, theme parks, and Kohl’s.
- Find out if you’re eligible for any Bank of America promotions here (for B of A cards) or here (for FIA Card Services).
MORE CLUB CARLSON MUSINGS: In response to Monday’s Club Carlson item, commenter rick b wrote:
Regarding the free night benefit…it’ll cost them all right. With two spouses booking alternating 2-day stays, you can do that for any even-day trip. Same applies to those who have a personal and business account. Another creative manager who didn’t think things through.
Scott at Hack My Trip echoed the theme in his post yesterday:
And then the Club Carlson credit card appeared, offering perks that seemed entirely too generous. If things weren’t crazy before, the inmates were running the asylum.
Unfortunately, in light of the recent change in points-to-miles valuation, it seems the devaluation spiral is underway at Club Carlson:
…Next we’ll see increases in the award chart, just like Hilton Hhonors. I wouldn’t be surprised by 75,000 points or more on the high end. Then the credit card will get hacked.
…If all you want is free nights, keep playing the Club Carlson game. I’m sure there’s some time left. The credit card will remain a good deal in the churn-and-burn category. Just realize it’s a short-term strategy prone to bumps in the road. There were many signs that something like this was coming, that more will be coming, and I want you to realize that before you over-invest yourself like many did with Club Carlson and Hilton.
It’s good advice, and if you’re looking for places to use some Club Carlson points, The Points Guy has a nice feature with some suggestions on where to use them.
If you recall, the Hilton points earning opportunities were wonderful for a year or two… before Hilton devalued and the Hawaiian Airlines credit cards (the miles of which could be concerted to HHonor points) disappeared. Always have a reasonably timed endgame in mind if you’re racking up points, otherwise you may be wasting time and possibly wasting money.
I do take issue with Scott on one thing though:
When I compared hotel loyalty programs a couple weeks ago, Club Carlson was by far the cheapest program in which to earn free nights. And people love it for that. I think that love is poorly placed because the only reason they love it is that it’s cheap, and cost is not the only indicator of a good value. If you weren’t getting these points at such low cost, you would probably ignore most of their hotels. Few if any of their hotels — even the “fancy” Radisson Blu properties — are truly aspirational and geographic concerns are still an issue.
Different strokes for different folks, I suppose. I don’t think Scott is wrong in any objective sense, it’s more a matter of one’s goals in the points game. There’s a lot of emphasis in the miles-and-points blogosphere on aspirational travel. Which is fine by me, as I have certain places I aspire to visit someday when my kids are a bit older and a bit more potty-trained. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading about cool places to visit.
But… sometimes you just need a place to sleep. I suppose this is more likely to be true if you have children.
And if all you need is a place to sleep, cost is a very important criterion. Obviously, you want the hotel to meet certain minimum standards of cleanliness, safety, and suchlike. But I’ve stayed in some Country Inn & Suites that were absolutely perfect. Why? Because they were clean rooms in a city we wanted to stay for the night. And my kids are as happy in a Country Inn and Suites as they are in more luxurious accommodations, and frankly when we’re traveling with kids we’re often too tired to enjoy any luxury associated with the hotel room.
I haven’t signed up for the Club Carlson credit card since I still have a chunk of points left over from the promotion they ran last year. But if you need decent places to sleep, you can do a lot worse than Club Carlson. The card really does provide great value.
Happy 4th of July!