Club Carlson slashes its airline conversion rates with NO notice

Naughty, naughty, naughty.  And very disappointing, too.

For the last couple of years, Club Carlson has been making a special effort to force itself into the top tier of hotel loyalty programmes.  It started by merging together the separate US and non-US GoldPoints schemes, followed by a rebranding, followed by a series of VERY generous promotions.  In 2011 and 2012, they were offering 40,000+ bonus points for ANY stay, anywhere – and those 40,000 points very nearly got you a night in their poshest hotels.

Club Carlson is still the best hotel partner that Amex Membership Rewards has, due to the generous 1:3 conversion rate and the 50,000 point cap on redemption levels.

And then, suddenly, Club Carlson goes and blows up the good reputation it has worked hard to generate.

Club Carlson

Overnight, the conversion rate from Club Carlson points to airline miles has been decimated.  And with no notice.

The old rates were:

  • 2,000 points = 250 miles
  • 50,000 points = 8,000 miles
  • 100,000 points = 18,000 miles

The new rates are:

  • 2,000 points = 200 miles
  • 50,000 points = 5,000 miles
  • 100,000 points = 10,000 miles

These new rates don’t even make sense!  What is the point of having 5,000 point and 10,000 point tiers when the conversion rate is the same?!

If you had been stacking up your Club Carlson points to transfer them to miles, you’ve just been stuffed.  Because of the tiered conversion system, it is far more likely that you would have been saving up your points as well.  After all, if you thought you could reach 100,000 points in a few months, it would have been silly to convert at the 50,000 level and lose out.

This is really not a good move by Club Carlson.  The lack of notice means that people will now be very, very cautious about hoarding their points – after all, given their record, a 50,000 point redemption could easily jump to 75,000 points tomorrow, with no notice.

The word “loyalty”, as in loyalty scheme, is meant to work both ways.  Schemes that forget this are making a mistake.

(To see our complete list of all current hotel promotions for the major chains, click here to visit our ‘Hotel Promos’ page or use the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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Comments

  1. Marriott / Ritz Carlton did something a bit similar a few weeks ago and almost no one has noticed – they upped the points required for 50k Avios (and equivalent) from 125k points to 140k points….

    • Although that would be a 12% increase (which I’d agree is stretching the limit for a gradual change, Club Carlson have done an overnight 80% increase in the number of points required to get the same miles.

  2. Mr Bridge says:

    do you not think that this has been done to be followed by a bonus conversion rate.
    like tesco who sell a bottle of wine for £12 for 2 months a year and £5.99 for the other 10?

  3. iantowns says:

    I think this should serve as a timely reminder to those who ‘hoard’ points. This can happen at any time, in pretty much any programme, so it’s important to burn points as well as collect them.

    It makes me wince sometimes when I hear some posters say they have hundreds of thousands or even millions of points in some programmes.

    They’re not cash, and shouldn’t necessarily be thought of as such.

    Use ’em or lose ’em.

  4. Jules Verne says:

    It’s all a kind of inflation…even if you spend them, you’re saving cash which also devalues over time…it’s just that cash is more flexible and you can lend that out for profit too, unlike loyalty miles.

  5. Peter Taylor says:

    I am not sure how the economics work out, really. The Club Carlson scheme is very generous and medium to long term I suspect unsustainable.

    My feeling is that the next step will be for some of the better hotels will want more points. As a precaution I have made some bookings for events when I know I will probably need a hotel (up to and including taste of London next June), using up all but a few points. They are flexible so if I need to change, and the hotel aspect of the scheme has not been devalued, then I can change at short notice.

    While investigating, I did notice that the Paris Champs Elysees hotel in Rue Monceau is only offering rooms at 75000 a night. THis seems to apply for all of the dates I looked at from July 2013 to May 2014, so I do not know if this is a taste of things to come.

    • Yup, 75k is technically what they can ask for a superior room, but not making standard rooms available looks a bit sneaky to me ….

  6. Just cancelled my seven night stay at Park Budapest because of this news. Switching to SPG – better hotels, better rewards.

  7. Squiggle says:

    Oh joy … So all of my point hoarding has just crashed in value!