Last week, US Bank and Club Carlson released a set of co-branded credit cards. Three personal cards and a business one with full details on the cards and a comparison chart – . (The no fee card isn’t listed in the chart).
Up until last year I had stayed at a Club Carlson property a grand total of one time in my life. Since then I’m at about a dozen. Sure, I’ve spent over 100 nights both this year and last year in hotels so this is just a fraction … but it take a lot for me to change.
The majority of those nights stayed were due to promotions where it simply made sense to stay at a Radission or a Country Inn & Suites, but the promotion did its job: It got me to take a look at a new brand, and I liked it.
Prices for all of my stays have been more than reasonable, and from a value perspective I have a hard time finding one better than my most recent two stays at Radisson’s.
Having sold me on the family as another viable option for when I travel, the next logical step was to look for a way to further maximize the points … here come the credit cards. I have co-branded credit cards with every major travel (Air + Hotel) brand that I frequent; I’ve even got a few cards for brands that I don’t frequent because the benefits from the card (for me) outweigh the annual fees. Even if you’re not a frequent guest with Club Carlson, the card offerings here fit into that bucket.
When looking for a new card I look for a few things:
- Who issued the card (American Express, Bank of America, Barlclays, Chase, Citi, US Bank)?
- I want to keep my credit portfolio diverse. Just like you’d never invest your entire stock portfolio in a single stock (ok, maybe APPL really isn’t a bad idea), we want to do the same with our creditors. Sure, I’m loyal to specific brands (and it shows by which cards I hold), but I’m not afraid to look at new products / offerings.
- This follows the diversity track also. I want to make sure that any time I need to purchase something that a vendor accepts a credit card for that I’ve got one in my wallet to maximize my return.
- What am I getting in return for the 2-5 point hit on my credit report? I don’t *need* another line of credit necissarily, but I’ll give up a few points if I get something in return in the short term.
- What have you done for me lately? If you want me to maintain an ongoing relationship, keep me on the hook. Make it so if I leave it has a negative impact on me. Make me want to stay!
- Other than that initial credit inquiry, what’s this gonna cost me? If I’ve got an annual fee of $99 and what is being offered in return for it is solely the priviledge of being able to hold a card and have a credit account with your financial institution you’re not likely going ot keep me for long. I’m ok with paying you for keeping an account with you, just make it worthwhile.
Funny thing about these cards from US Bank & Club Carlson … they hit a home run across the board. It’d be a grand slam if the first year fee was waived, but the signup bonus and initial spend bonuses are so significant that I can’t argue it one bit.
I won’t mention any of the Visa Signature specific benefits (I’m not even sure how many Visa Signature cards I have), but instead I’ll quickly focus on the Club Carlson specific ones:
- Gold Points Per Dollar – A nice bump of up to 10 points / dollar spent at Club Carlson properties. If Club Carlson is your primary hotel family then this is a no brainer. Use it all the time when you stay there.
- First Purchase Bonus Points – 50,000. Thank you very much. That’s a free night at ANY Club Carlson property. Stay in a lower category property and you’re looking at 2, 3, 4, or 5 nights with those points.
- Spend Bonus Points – Up to another 35,000 points with $2,500 in spend. Signup + spend bonus + actual spend will net at least 97,500 points!
- Renewal Bonus Points – up to 40,000. I’m going to get ANOTHER 40,000 points just for keeping the card and paying a $75 annual fee for the Premier Rewards card. Complete no brainer. That’s almost another free night at a top tier property or 2, 3, or 4 nights at lower categories.
- Bonus Award Night – AMAZING benefit here. Book an award stay of 2 or more nights and your last award night is free. So that free night is now 2. 2 is now 3 and so on. This isn’t just good or great; it is outright AMAZING.
- Elite Status – Up to Gold. More bonus points, more upgrades … what’s not to like???
- Annual Fee – While she isn’t waived the first year at a max of only $75 across the line this card is a keeper year after year. The bonus points + elite status + bonus award night … heck, as long as you stay at least once a year they’re practically paying you to keep the card.
I have to give Club Carlson a lot of credit. In the past year they’ve gotten me to seriously consider their brand to where it is now in my list of places I’ll stay with and they’ve come out with a line of credit cards with US Bank that I’m not only interested in myself, but will also recommend to friends and family to check out.
In my opinion, this line of cards really is the offer of the year with credit cards … and from the looks of it it doesn’t even appear to be a limited time / temporary / promotional set of bonuses.
We talk a lot about diversity and flexibility with our points and miles; this is one to be looking at. I’ll be applying for the Premier Rewards for my personal use and Business Rewards for my consulting business come January.
IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card
- Annual Fee: $49 fee waived for the first year
- Foreign Fees: No
- Card Type: Hotel
The IHG Rewards Club Visa is often cited as one of the most underrated hotel credit cards, with good reason. The official offer is for 70,000 points after $1,000 spent within three months, with the first year’s fee waived. The card comes with an annual free night certificate that can be used at any IHG property, including Intercontinental hotels - making this certificate worth upwards of 50,000 points. This is far more generous than some other hotel cards, which limit the categories in which free night certificates can be redeemed.
Cardholders earn 5 points per dollar at IHG hotels; 2 points per dollar at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants; 1 point per dollar everywhere else. Moreover, you’ll get a 10% rebate on award redemptions, up to 100,000 points per year. The card also comes with Platinum status, though that doesn’t get you much with IHG. Still, this is a fantastic card to have in your wallet, with benefits that far outweigh the already low $49 annual fee.
- Earn 70,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of account opening
- Enjoy a free night of card membership at over 4,700 hotels worldwide
- Earn 5 points for each $1 spent at our hotels
- Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants
- Bonus points redeemable at hotels such as Intercontinental® Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza® Hotels & Resorts and Holiday Inn®
- Automatic platinum elite status, as long as you remain a cardmember
- $0 introductory annual fee the first year, then $49