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.
The full series of articles can be found here:
- Review: Is Accor Live Limitless the best hotel loyalty scheme?
- Review: Is Hilton Honors the best hotel loyalty scheme?
- Review: Is IHG One Rewards the best hotel loyalty scheme?
- Review: Is Marriott Bonvoy the best hotel loyalty scheme?
- Review: Is World of Hyatt the best hotel loyalty scheme?
Radisson Rewards has had a complex couple of years. After Radisson Hotels was acquired by Chinese state-owned hotel group Jin Jiang, the US Government forced the company to split into two separate businesses covering North America and the Rest of the World. This meant two different loyalty programmes.
The Americas arm was then sold to Choice Hotels. The Radisson Rewards Americas loyalty scheme is expected to be merged into the Choice Privileges scheme later this year.
Radisson Rewards now covers the non-Americas hotels operating 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’.
All references to Radisson Rewards in this article only apply to the non-Americas loyalty scheme which will continue to exist after Radisson Rewards Americas is absorbed into Choice Privileges.
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. The Artotel brand, also independently owned, has also just entered the UK at Battersea Power Station.
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 options in London are good due to the sheer number of four and five-star properties.
The new Radisson RED brand is growing quickly but is having an identity crisis. The initial wave of ‘funky’ city centre hotels now includes a converted Travelodge on the outskirts of Gatwick.
Outside the UK, Radisson is especially strong in Scandinavia and Germany. The hotels in North America which are now part of Choice Hotels 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. This is not a criticism of the hotels as much as the fact that they are rarely the standout best option wherever I am going and I can get better elite benefits elsewhere.
Before Radisson Rewards was gutted in late 2022, I would occasionally transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Radisson Rewards via the generous 1:3 rate. These were redeemed for Park Plaza properties in London for visiting friends, usually County Hall or Westminster.
(This article does not discuss the massive devaluation of the programme in 2022. It is purely a statement of facts as to what you get now. Some people who lost a substantial amount of value last year may be annoyed that this article is not more critical, but there are some good aspects to the new scheme. This doesn’t mean, of course, that anyone who had hundreds of pounds of points wiped out overnight last year will still want to use Radisson. I will discuss the 2022 changes in Part 2 tomorrow.)
I reviewed my pleasant stay at the Radisson Blu Hamburg Airport here. My wife stayed here a few times last Autumn and says it remains a good hotel. I covered 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 Edwardian in Manchester a few 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.
Rhys stayed at Radisson Collection Tallinn last year and was impressed.
I have Radisson Rewards Premium status – the rebranded Gold status – via my American Express Platinum card. American Express Platinum cardholders retain Premium status for as long as they hold the card.
Elite membership levels in Radisson Rewards
The full table of benefits following the 2022 changes can be found here. Here is a summary:
- Club (entry level, free to join) – 8 points per $1 spent, access to member rates, 10% discount on food and drink in selected hotels
- Premium (requires five nights or three stays) – 27 points per $1, a one category upgrade ‘when available’, early check-in and late check-out ‘subject to availability’, ‘Discount Booster’ (I will return to this)
- VIP (requires 30 nights or 20 stays) – 36 points per $1, 15% discount on food and drink in selected hotels, free breakfast for two people, upgrade to best available room
One key point about the new scheme is that you move from ‘Club’ to ‘Premium’ after just five nights or three stays. This is the easiest ‘elite’ status to earn across the major hotel groups.
Other elite points to note:
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.
Suite upgrades are NOT an elite benefit.
Radisson Rewards does not offer lifetime status.
Nights spent in North American hotels no longer count towards status in the ‘rest of world’ programme, and vice versa.
How do you earn points in Radisson Rewards?
Radisson has followed the path of other major programmes with increased earning for elite members at the expense of others.
Entry level members earn 8 points per $1 whilst at the top end, VIP members earn 36 points per $1.
What is most interesting is the position of Premium members. The standard rate is 27 points per $1. However, you can – in your profile – activate a feature called ‘Discount Booster’ which offers you an additional cash discount in return for reducing your earning to 9 points per $1. VIP members drop from 36 points per $1 to 12 points.
‘Discount Booster’ rates are genuinely better than any other pricing you will see. Since Radisson points now have a fixed value (see below) it is a no-brainer, if spending your own money, to activate ‘Discount Booster’ if you have Premium or VIP status. The cash saving is worth more than the points you are giving up.
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. With points now worth so little, recent bonus point offers have looked very feeble.
What are Radisson Rewards points worth?
We have an article dedicated to working out what Radisson Rewards points are worth which you can find here. However, this article is out of date and does not reflect the Autumn 2022 devaluation.
Our valuation is now 0.2p per point following the 2022 changes, and you cannot improve on this.
Full details of the 2022 Radisson Rewards devaluation can be found in this article. This is not the first time that Radisson Rewards has stuffed its members with a ‘no notice’ overnight devaluation and under no circumstances should you keep a high points balance in the programme. Members lost 50% of the value of their points overnight last year.
How do you spend points in Radisson Rewards?
Since the October 2022 changes, Radisson Rewards operates on the same model as Accor Live Limitless.
There is no longer such a thing as a ‘reward night’ or ‘reward availability’. There are no ‘reward charts’.
Your points now get you roughly 0.2p per point off any cash room at any hotel.
The rate is the same irrespective of when or where you stay, what room category you book or however many points you use. These factors are obviously positive ones, but at the same time you can no longer get outsize value by redeeming at hotels in peak cities on peak nights.
There is no reason to keep a points balance in Radisson Rewards. When my wife was doing regular Hamburg Airport stays last Autumn, we activated ‘Discount Booster’ (she has Premium status) to save an extra 10% or so. She would earn €2 or so of points back at the reduced rate for those who use ‘Discount Booster’, and we instantly redeemed these against her next stay.
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.
Can you upgrade using points?
You can’t upgrade a cash booking which has already been made.
You can book a higher category room in the first place, since your points now allow you to discount the cost of any room type at any hotel.
Are ‘cash and points’ redemptions available?
Yes, to the extent that you can use as few or as many points as you like to discount the cash cost of a stay.
Can you transfer Radisson Rewards points to airline miles?
Yes. Radisson Rewards points can be transferred to Avios, Flying Blue and SAS EuroBonus. The ratio is a weak 10:1 (7:1 for SAS) and you would get better value using the points for free stays.
With Radisson Rewards points worth roughly 0.2p per point off your next stay, you are giving up 2p of discount for every 1 Avios ‘bought’ via a points transfer.
That said, arguably it is not a bad deal based on the amount you spend. At 36 points per $1 for a VIP member, you’d be getting 4.3 Avios per £1 spent exc VAT.
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 mid-tier Premium 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 transfer rate of 1:3. Given that Radisson points are worth around 0.2p off your next booking, you’d be getting roughly 0.6p per Membership Rewards point you redeem. You can do a lot better than this as our article on the best Membership Rewards redemptions show.
Purchasing and transferring points
Bizarrely, you can still buy Radisson Rewards points for $7 per 1,000.
There is absolutely no reason to do this, given that the points now have a fixed value of around 0.2p each.
Points can be transferred to other members without charge which is a useful benefit. Details are here under 4d.
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 (March 2023)
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 cards earn Membership Rewards points:
- American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 20,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 60,000 Radisson Rewards points. This card is FREE for your first year and also comes with four free airport lounge passes.
- The Platinum Card from American Express (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 30,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 90,000 Radisson Rewards points
- American Express Rewards credit card (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 10,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 30,000 Radisson Rewards points. This card is FREE for life.
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 Premium 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.)