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 articles.  One will list the facts of the scheme, basically, “How does Radisson Rewards work?”, whilst the other 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.

The scheme is also due to see another overhaul in 2020, as Radisson Hotels was recently acquired by Chinese hotel group Jin Jiang and there are plans to integrate it in some way with Jin Jiang’s existing programme.

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 mainly 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.  This brand is separately owned but the hotels use Radisson as their marketing vehicle.

Two of the Radisson Collection hotels are in the UK – The May Fair in London (review) and the imaginatively named The Radisson Collection Hotel (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 hotels in Europe so far are in Brussels and, as of last year, in Glasgow. 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 or Westminster.

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 pleasant as I reviewed here.

Whilst I didn’t review either, I had an excellent stay at the lovely Radisson Blu Edwardian in Manchester last 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 in Radisson Rewards

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).

Note that Silver and Gold members will often 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.

How do you earn points in Radisson Rewards?

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.  Overall, adding together base points and promotional bonuses, you may find that other chains work out better even though Radisson has the highest rate of base points per $1.

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.

How do you spend points in Radisson Rewards?

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 – you will now pay at least 15,000 points for a Park Inn.

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 substantially more interesting for families and those who prefer larger rooms.

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.

Do Radisson Rewards points expire?

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.

Can you transfer Radisson Rewards points to airline miles?

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 free stays.

That said, arguably it is not a bad deal based on the amount you spend – 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?

It seems not.  This page of ba.com no longer lists Radisson Hotels as a chain where you can earn Avios instead of taking hotel points.

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 Radisson Rewards credit card in the UK?  No

Is Radisson Rewards 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 can be a decent deal – remember that some UK Park Inn hotels are just 15,000 points which would be $105.  You can buy up to 80,000 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

Part 2 of this article, which runs over the weekend, will give my personal view of the best and worst of Radisson Rewards.

You can find out more about Radisson Rewards on the Radisson Hotels website here.

Flying Virgin Atlantic Upper Class .... whilst pregnant
Redeem your points for O2 concerts, Ashes cricket hospitality, Aston Martin test drives .... and Disney on Ice

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Comments

  1. The Savage Squirrel says:

    I’m a fan given the generous Amex conversion rate and the good family rooms that are widely available; avoiding the need to book 2 rooms makes them an even better Amex MR bargain. Just had 3 nights at the Westminster Bridge property and agree with Rob’s opinion. Hadn’t realised the separate ownership of Blu and Plaza properties. Are these likely to remain in the rewards scheme when it changes?

    • the_real_a says:

      I have to agree. The AMEX conversion rate in my experience is the best of all the available hotels programs, especially at the lower end. Shame there is no stand alone credit card, but thats perhaps why they price at this level with AMEX MR.

    • Don’t see why not.

  2. El quiser really should be just 9k.

  3. When they ditched the 2-4-1 and 4-4-2 status benefit, Radisson as a whole became far less attractive.
    The conversion rate from Amex needs to remain a strong point.
    I have found the Blu and other radisson brands I’ve stayed at reasonable but bettered quite often by other chain & independent hotels nearby. There are a few exceptions to this mainly by having a perfect location.

  4. The Amex conversion rate shouldn’t be considered generous, but necessary in order to compete really.

  5. Upgrades to business rooms will not include lounge access. So the upgrade really just means a better coffee maker. Claims were free movies but no use to me, had seen them all…

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