Of the major hotel chains, Carlson has boasted some of the most lucrative loyalty-program promotions in recent years, featuring triple points, a free night after three paid nights, and so on.
But even as Club Carlson has been especially free in awarding points, the program been chipping away at the value of those points.
Last year, the company added a new top tier to its award chart, increased award prices at many properties, reduced elite bonuses, and discontinued its online booking bonus. And more recently, they stripped the Club Carlson credit card of one of its signature benefits: a second free night for every award night booked with points.
The program’s downward trajectory continues, with this week’s announcement of award-price changes scheduled to take effect next month.
On June 1, award prices will change at around 330 of the Carlson network of 1,370 hotels. Of the affected hotels, two-thirds are increasing in price. So a net change for the worse.
Worse still, a disproportionate number of the price hikes will be for stays at European properties. That creates a double whammy for American members redeeming for award nights in Europe. Not only will they pay more points at many hotels, their points also will have less value relative to the monetary value of those stays, due to the current strength of the U.S. dollar against the Euro.
Club Carlson may have been unsustainably generous, making a reversion to the value mean inevitable. The changes to the program don’t make it worthless; they just make it average.
As with all award-price changes, the standard advice applies: Book award nights at current prices before any increases take effect. And if your travel plans are flexible, wait until the new prices take effect to book award stays at hotels that will decrease in price.
This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.