What is the best hotel scheme? – Radisson Rewards – The Facts

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This is the fifth of our overview series of the main hotel loyalty schemes. Each scheme will be covered over two posts. One will list the facts of the scheme, basically, “How does Radisson Rewards work?”, whilst the other – on the following day – will be my subjective view of what is of particular merit.

Radisson Rewards was relaunched in March 2018 and rebranded from its previous name of Club Carlson.  If you are old enough, you’ll remember that Club Carlson itself was launched in 2011 from the ashes of Radisson GoldPoints.

Radisson Rewards covers 1,100 hotels globally under the Radisson Blu, Radisson RED, Radisson, Park Inn, Park Plaza, Radisson Collection and Country Inn & Suites brands (the latter is rarely seen in Europe).  The Radisson Rewards home page is here.

What is the geographic spread?

In the UK, Radisson Blu hotels are dotted around the major cities and there are a number of budget Park Inn properties. Radisson has a London-specific sub-brand called Radisson Blu Edwardian which is separately owned.  Park Plaza runs a number of high quality properties in London, particularly around Waterloo / Westminster.

Two of the Radisson Collection hotels are in the UK – The May Fair in London (review) and the G&V (ex Hotel Missoni) in Edinburgh. Redemption opportunities in London are good due to the sheer number of four and five-star properties.

Outside the UK, Radisson is especially strong in Scandinavia and Germany. The only Radisson RED hotel in Europe so far is Brussels. In general, the chain is weak in Asia and lacks high quality hotels in North America.

Do I use them?

I rarely pay to stay with them to be honest. I do transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Radisson Rewards via the generous 1:3 rate. These are generally redeemed for Park Plaza properties in London for visiting friends, usually County Hall.

I reviewed my pleasant stay at the Radisson Blu Hamburg Airport here and my stay at the Radisson Blu at Stockholm Arlanda Airport here. The Park Plaza Westminster Bridge in London is very nice as I reviewed here.

Whilst I didn’t review either, I had an excellent stay at the lovely Radisson Blu Edwardian in Manchester this year and a less lovely stay at the tired and small-roomed Radisson Blu Royal Viking in Stockholm.

I have Radisson Rewards Gold status via my American Express Platinum charge card.

Elite membership levels

The full table of benefits can be found here.  Here is a summary:

Silver – requires 6 stays or 9 nights. Benefits include a 10% bonus on base points and upgrade if available.

Gold – requires 20 stays or 30 nights. Benefits include a 25% bonus on base points and upgrade if available.

Platinum – requires 30 stays or 60 nights. Benefits include a 75% bonus on base points, upgrade if available and free breakfast (continental in North America, full breakfast elsewhere).

The ‘nights’ thresholds were reduced when Radisson Rewards was re-launched in early 2018 albeit that the ‘stays’ targets generally remained the same.

Note that Silver and Gold members should receive free breakfast if upgraded to a ‘business room‘ at a Radisson Blu since that is a defined benefit of that room category, although some hotels play hardball and refuse to provide it.  Other ‘business room’ benefits include free pay TV films and an in-room coffee machine.

Free internet is generally provided at Radisson Rewards hotels.

All elite members can roll over their additional elite nights – but not stays – into the following year to aid requalification.  They can also request late check-in and check-out.

Suite upgrades are NOT an elite benefit.

Reward nights count towards elite status qualification or requalification.

Radisson Rewards does not offer lifetime status.

Earning points

Radisson Rewards gives a substantial 20 points per $1 spent. You will also receive an elite status bonus if applicable.

The programme has historically been relatively light on promotions and you cannot be certain that they will always be running an offer, unlike Hilton, Marriott or IHG.  Radisson Rewards also tends to have very tight booking windows, often just a few weeks, on its promotions even if the stay window lasts for 2-3 months.  See our ‘Hotel Promos’ page for any current offers.

Spending points

Redemption rates for hotels run from 9,000 points in Category 1 (the cheapest Park Inn properties) to 70,000 points in Category 7.  The full chart is here.  There are no longer any 9,000 point hotels in the UK.

There are no discounts for extended stays, unlike the ‘stay 5, pay for 4’ deals offered by Hilton and Marriott.

Some hotels make business class rooms, family rooms and suites available at a premium – usually 50%.  This makes the programme more interesting for families.

At a Radisson Blu booking a business room would mean breakfast and Pay TV is included, which can represent a good deal.

A 5-star 70,000 point redemption would typically require a Gold member to spend $2,800, excluding promotions. This is better than most of its competitors. This is based on 20 points per $1 plus the 25% Gold bonus.

Points expiry

Yes, if you have no earning or redemption activity within a 24 month period.  The formal wording is here.  I wrote an article on how to stop your Radisson Rewards points expiring.

Radisson Rewards allows you to earn points by crediting car rentals which is one way of deferring expiry.  You can find out more about their car rental partners here.

Radisson Rewards review

Can you upgrade using points?

Not online, although you can at some hotels book higher room categories – not just standard rooms – for a larger number of points.  Some hotels also allow you, at the front desk, to use points to upgrade a cash room to a higher category.

Are ‘cash and points’ redemptions available?

Yes – see the Radisson Rewards website here – although not all hotels offer them. The cash element is generally 60% of the cost of a refundable room.  These deals are generally poor value if the hotel is offering aggressive discounts for prepaid bookings – the cash element on a reward night can be close to that of a prepaid ‘all cash’ room – but at other times they can work out OK.

Airline redemption options

Radisson Rewards points can be transferred to a wide range of airlines including Avios.  The ratio is a weak 10:1 and you would get far better value using the points for stays. Arguably it is not a bad deal based on the amount spent – you still receive 2 Avios or other miles per $1 based on 20 Radisson points per $1.

Many hotels offer in-hotel ‘instant’ redemptions such as breakfast, spa credit, upgrades etc. Points can also be redeemed, at poor exchange rates, for gift cards.

Can I earn Avios directly without collecting points?

Yes.  This page of the Radisson website shows you all of their airline partners including Avios / British Airways.

You can earn 500 Avios per stay by showing your British Airways Executive Club card at check-in. You do not need to be a member of Radisson Rewards to do this.

Credit card partnerships

Can you get elite status with a UK credit card?  Yes, American Express Platinum members receive Gold status in Radisson Rewards for as long as they retain the card.

Is there a Club Carlson credit card in the UK?  No

Is Club Carlson an Amex Membership Rewards partner?  Yes, at the very generous transfer rate of 1:3.

Purchasing and transferring points

You can buy Radisson Rewards points for $7 per 1,000 via this link. This is a very reasonable price. You can buy up to 40,000 points per year.  Radisson Rewards runs occasional bonus promotions which give you an additional 30% or more points with every purchase.

Points can be transferred to other members without charge, which is a useful benefit. Details are here under 3d. If you are not an elite member you need to share an address with the other person.

My opinion

Click here for Part 2 of this article which gives my personal view of the best and worst of Radisson Rewards.

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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  1. Andrew says:

    It can be worth asking the hotel directly for prices to upgrade reward nights with points. We were in Birmingham and had booked a business class room, and upgraded to the presidential suite for an extra 6,000 points, most of which we got back by charging a drink to the room and triggering a bonus. Each to their own but we thought that redemption good value.

    I do however miss the old Gold rewards (2-4-1 and 4-4-2 IIRC).

  2. Nitpicking alert: it’s the Radisson Blu Edwardian in Manchester, not the Radisson Edwardian. I’ve had a couple of very nice stays there too. They have my favourite sign of quality, which is a cooked breakfast to order, rather than a buffet. Great location.

    • Lady London says:

      @Jon what a lovely way to judge the quality of a hotel. Can use for trains too.

      • The Park Inn nr the station was pretty decent when I was there in Nov. I booked 3 rooms £82 eaxh, so 6 of us all got free breakfast with my Gold status.

  3. Richard says:

    OT but Radisson. Has anyone been to the Radisson Blu Gran Canaria (not the one at Mogan, the other one). Would you recommend? And are they restaurants nearby any good? I am Radisson gold.

  4. Slight OT, Hilton doing a 2x points bonus for the summer on paid stays. Hat tip to John.


    • I couldn’t quite work out what part gets doubled … Gold get 18usd per usd in the new scheme I think, but I think only the base points (10) get doubled, not the elite points.
      so 28 per usd?

      So a £100 spend (assuming gbpusd 1.4 – which I know they won’t) 140usd x 28 = 3,920 points?

  5. As a result off Radisson Rewards being relaunched in March 2018 and rebranded from its previous name of Club Carlson, have the Club Carlson Friends & Family rates therefore been discontinued? Or is there a new code to replace CARLSONF? Thank you

  6. “Can you get elite status with a UK credit card? Yes, American Express Platinum members receive Gold status in Radisson Rewards for as long as they retain the card.”

    I thought it was for the next year or so…

  7. Any data points for the following Hilton example:-

    2 rooms booked on one Hilton account, 7 nights
    One room has some nights paid on points and a visa wknd cert,
    The other room purely cash

    I know the first room with redemptions may not earn points at all
    Would the second room earn points ?

    (I know easiest to book on separate account, but want to book on my gold to get breakfast on both rooms hopefully).

    • As long as both bills are combined and only one payment is paid, Hilton will give points on two rooms.

      • Even though one room has points/wknd certificates?
        You think I’ll get points still on the second room?

        • Don’t see why not. For clarity, have the room number on the combined invoice as the paid room.

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