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Is Radisson Rewards the best hotel loyalty scheme? (Part 1)

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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.

Our previous articles looking at how Accor Live Limitless works, how Hilton Honors works, how IHG Rewards workshow Marriott Bonvoy works and how World of Hyatt works are here.

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 programme will see another overhaul on 17th June 2021 as it splits into two, with North America being run separately from the rest of the world.  This is due to Radisson Hotels being acquired by Chinese state-owned hotel group Jin Jiang and US Government concerns over the sharing of guest data.

Radisson Rewards review

Radisson Rewards covers 1,500 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 Individuals brand was launched in 2020 for independent hotels which wish to market themselves via the Radisson ‘system’.  

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.

Three of the high-end Radisson Collection hotels are in the UK – The May Fair in London reviewed here (website), The Edwardian in Manchester 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, although Park Plaza has also been running very aggressive cash sales over the last couple of years.

The new Radisson RED brand is growing quickly but is having an indentity crisis. The initial wave of ‘funky’ city centre hotels will soon include a converted Travelodge on the outskirts of Gatwick.

Outside the UK, Radisson is especially strong in Scandinavia and Germany.  Hotels in North America are generally branded as just Radisson, as opposed to Radisson Blu or Radisson RED, and have a poor reputation.

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 a couple of years ago before it rebranded into Radisson Collection, and a less lovely stay at the tired and small-roomed Radisson Blu Royal Viking in Stockholm.

We were also impressed by the new Radisson Heathrow (review here) (website) and Radisson RED Heathrow (review here) (website) which is a conversion of the old 900 room Park Inn hotel into a fully refurbished dual-branded property.

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).

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.  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.

What will change when the North American programme is split?

In theory, the split of Radisson Rewards into two schemes is primarily an administrative issue.

The plan is that you can match your status in the ‘rest of the world’ programme to Radisson Rewards North America. You will also be able to move points back and forth without charge in order to redeem for Radisson properties in North America.

The key impact is that nights spent in North American hotels will no longer count towards status in the ‘rest of world’ programme, and vice versa.

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 promotions tend to have very tight booking windows, often just a few weeks, even if the stay window lasts for 2-3 months.  See our ‘Hotel Offers’ page for any current offers.

How do you spend points in Radisson Rewards?

From 17th June 2021, redemption rates for hotels run from 15,000 points in Category 1 (the cheapest Park Inn properties) to 75,000 points in Category 5.  The chart has been simplified and reduced from the previous seven categories. The full chart is here

At least in London, the net result of the category changes was a marked increase in the number of points required for a free night as this article explains. The situation is more mixed in secondary locations.

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 modest premium.  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 75,000 point redemption would typically require a Gold member to spend $3,000, 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.

Transferring a small number of American Express Membership Rewards points is likely to be the easiest method for HfP readers to stop expiry.

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?

No.  This page of ba.com lists chains 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.  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

In Part 2 of our review of Radisson Rewards – click here – I give my personal view of the best and worst of the programme.

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


How to earn Radisson Rewards points and status from UK credit cards

How to earn Radisson Rewards points and status from UK credit cards (October 2021)

Radisson Rewards does not have a dedicated UK credit card. However, you can earn Radisson Rewards points by converting Membership Rewards points earned from selected UK American Express cards.  These include:

  • American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 30,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 90,000 Radisson Rewards points. This card is FREE for your first year and also comes with two free airport lounge passes. 30,000 points is a special offer which runs to 9th November 2021.

Membership Rewards points convert at 1:3 into Radisson Rewards points which is a very attractive rate.  The cards above all earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on your card, which converts to 3 Radisson Rewards points.

Even better, holders of The Platinum Card receive free Radisson Rewards Gold status for as long as they hold the card.  It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Marriott Bonvoy Gold and MeliaRewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here.

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

Comments (4)

  • Tango says:

    The new Radisson Rewards covers not just North America but Central and South America as well. Radisson has nice hotels in Chile and Brazil

  • Kevin C says:

    Radisson sent out an email this week offering free breakfast for bookings before 31st August. I already have a booking and paid extra for breakfast. Presumably I need to cancel and rebook or can they amend it on the phone? If there’s already a discussion of this important breakfast topic can someone tell me where it is. Ta.

  • Russ says:

    I’d frequent Radisson properties more but their lack of guaranteed elite benefits doesn’t make the program a keeper so I only stay as a last resort. On saying that the Radisson Blu in Berlin never fails to impress.

  • Adam says:

    Some hotels constabtly play games with “no blackout policies” for points redemptions. All rooms in Radisson Vilnius are premium :-D.

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