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After an amazing week in Portugal, I’m off to my next destination, which is actually a “bucket list” destination — I’m going to Iceland!!!
Usually I don’t go to places for very long, but in this case I plan on doing at least a week in Iceland. That’s because realistically I won’t be able to do any full day tours into the countryside until at least next weekend, so I figured it would be fun to “hang out” there for a while.
In summer, hotel rooms in Iceland are not only expensive, but in many cases hard to book, given how few hotel rooms there are for such a popular seasonal destination.
I’ve been hoarding Club Carlson points for a little over a year now, and have a really sizable points balance. I’ve written in the past about the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card, which is one of the most lucrative hotel credit cards:
- The card comes with a sign-up bonus of 50,000 points after the first purchase, and an additional 35,000 points after spending $2,500 on the card within 90 days
- You get 40,000 points on your account anniversary each year, which more than justifies the $75 annual fee
- You get Club Carlson Gold status for as long you have the card, which most notably offers free internet and room upgrades, along with some other perks
- You earn five points per dollar spent on everyday purchases
- The second night of every award redemption is free, basically meaning you get “buy one get one free” award redemptions, assuming you stay in two night increments
Up until now I haven’t had a situation where it has been especially practical to redeem Club Carlson points, though Iceland is finally the perfect opportunity.
I’ll be checking out both Radisson Blu properties, and wanted to point out what a good use of points these hotels can be. As I mentioned above, when you have the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card, the second night of every award redemption is free. So I’ll be staying at both of the Radisson Blu properties for two nights each.
I’ll be staying at the Radisson Blu Saga Hotel, where I’m paying a total of 38,000 Gold Points for two nights. The lowest nightly rate would be 195EUR, so I’m getting 390EUR worth of hotel for 38,000 Gold Points.
Then I’ll also be checking out the Radisson Blu 1919 Hotel, which I hear has a better location. There I’m paying 44,000 Gold Points for two nights. The lowest nightly rate would be 262EUR, so I’m getting 524EUR worth of hotel for 44,000 points.
So in total I’m paying 82,000 Gold points for hotels that would retail for 914EUR (~$1,225).
How much did I acquire these points for? Well, lets not even consider the 85,000 sign-up bonus I received on the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card, or the 40,000 point anniversary bonus that the card offers, which more than justifies the annual fee.
Recently Club Carlson had a flash sale, whereby they sold points for 0.4 cents each. So at that rate the cost to acquire 82,000 points was $328. Divide that by four nights, and I’m paying $82 per night in Iceland for my hotel, when the average nightly rate would otherwise be over $300 per night.
I sure do love this hobby! I realize neither of these are “aspirational” properties, but in this case it’s all about the destination, and it’s not like there are any true luxury hotels in Iceland either.
I’ll also be checking out the Hilton Reykjavik Nordica. Maybe I’m crazy, but in the case of the Hilton I actually paid cash for my stay. There was a rate of $175 per night, which seemed like a better value than 40,000 points. That would have only been ~0.4 cents per point, which is about what I value Hilton points at. I figured I could do better than that at some other property.
On the plus side, I have Hilton status due to the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, so I’ll get free internet and lounge access, and hopefully a room upgrade as well.
I’m excited to finally be able to redeem the Club Carlson points I’ve been racking up over the past year for an efficient redemption. And I’m very excited to finally visit my ultimate “bucket list” destination.
You guys are always so helpful when it comes to providing destination tips. Back in June I wrote about my plan to possibly take a trip to Iceland this summer, and you guys provided some amazing tips, especially about things to do in the immediate vicinity of Reykjavik.
I of course would love any more tips, especially if anyone can recommend a day tour or tour guide to a destination within Iceland that would be most interesting? Since I’m traveling alone I’d rather not rent a car and drive into the countryside since I’m horribly directionally challenged and will no doubt will find myself face to face with the Loch Ness monster with a flat tire and dead cell phone (or something like that). But if anyone can recommend a private or group day tour to somewhere in Iceland, I’d be incredibly appreciative!