Bad news: Radisson devaluation announced and it stinks

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The other shoe has dropped, and it’s mostly bad news: Radisson Rewards has released the details of its new “Radisson Americas” loyalty program with a newly improved wrecked award chart that includes fewer tiers (what they call “simplified pricing”) while increasing both the bottom and top tiers of the award chart and most of what existed in between. Note that award chart changes and the new program take effect in June 2021 (there is still time to book at today’s rates). Some properties move down in category, but there really isn’t much good news here — and the coming program split will be as customer-unfriendly as possible. Boo, Radisson.

Radisson’s new award chart

Up until now, this has been Radisson’s worldwide award chart:

And here is the new “simplified” award chart:

Here is a link to the list of hotels changing in category, but read on first.

What you may quickly notice is that the new award chart eliminates the old 9,000-point Category 1 and moves the remaining tiers up for all but the most generous interpretation of the award chart. And it does a super slick job of it. More on that in a second.

Radisson touts in their email today that there are now double the number of properties available for 15,000 points per night, though I had to laugh about that since they eliminated the lower 9,000 point tier….so yeah, of course there are more 15,000-point properties. Nice try sugar-coating that one, Radisson.

Then if we go up the old award chart starting at 15K, here are the changes:

  • Old = 28K. New = 30K
  • Old = 38K. New = 45K.
  • Old = 44K or 50K (they eliminated a tier in here). New = 60K.
  • Old = 70K. New = 75K.

As devaluations go, that’s kind of ugly. The old 28K tier goes up to 30K, which isn’t terrible, but everything else goes up a ton:

  • Old 9K is gone, so those properties presumably cost 66% more at 15K
  • Old 44K and 50K properties that go into the new 60K category have gone up by 20 or 36%. As you’ll see below, a number of 28K properties moved up to the new 45K, which is a 60% increase.
  • New top tier only increases by 7%. Yay.

As if that wasn’t enough to turn my stomach before I even got a second cup of coffee this morning, the way they display their category changes at this page on their website is pretty disgusting. For example, check out this random selection from that page showing a few properties that are “decreasing in category from Category 5 to Category 4” with a new price of 60,000 points per night.

Now go back up to that old award chart and count with me to the old Category 5. Yup, those places are 44,000 points per night right now. Soon, they will decrease in category and you’ll get to instead pay the simplified price of 60,000 points per night. Did that sentence work on you? Me either.

The category changes page is a misleading mess with many properties that look like they are maintaining their current category yet jumping up wildly in price. For example, here is a random smattering of properties currently in Category 3 which will still be in Category 3 in the new program.

That’s a lovely bit of PR spin because if you look at the old and new charts you’ll see that those properties go from 28,000 points per night to 45,000 points per night, an increase of over 60%. What an incredibly misleading way to present the changes!

The same story happens throughout the page showing the changes.

My preferred Radisson property in the US has been the Radisson Blu Mall of America, which decreases from Category 7 to Category 5 — but that means it increases in price from 70K points per night to 75K points per night. Most of the time, cash rates just aren’t high enough to justify the current 70K pricing, though it’s a place where I’d ordinarily be happy to use my free night certificates (bummer that my 3 from last year are expiring June 30th as I won’t make it there this year).

The Radisson Blu Mall of America isn’t particularly special for the rooms itself (gotta love the blue carpet through!), but being physically attached to the mall and able to get off the elevator and go exploring is kinda fun.

Notable category decreases

This section of the post will be very short because I really couldn’t bring myself to get too excited about the flew positive glimmers, but here were some notable decreases that I noticed:

  • Park Inn by Radisson Barrancabermeja goes from 70K down to 15K (it’s a stretch to call this property in the middle of Colombia a positive glimmer only because I have to imagine that few readers have ever heard of Barrancabermeja no less through about visiting and while this is indeed a Category 7 for some reason beyond my comprehension, Google unsurprisingly makes it look like a Park Inn. If you’ve ever stayed at a Park Inn, you know what this looks like and are as perplexed as I am as to why it was Category 7)
  • Radisson Hotel New York Wall Street goes from 70K down to 60K
  • Radisson San Jose Costa Rica goes from 28K to 15K
  • Radisson Hotel Baltimore Downtown-Inner Harbor goes from 38K to 30K
  • Park Inn by Radisson, Calgary Airport North, AB goes from 44K per night down to 30K per night (might make for a good overnight on the way to/from Banff)
  • Radisson Hotel Recife (Brazil) goes from 44K per night to 15K per night

To be clear, I don’t know if any of the above hotels are nice places to stay, they are just places that have decreased in price. I see a selection of other properties that have decreased in price that are heavily concentrated in Latin America. Someday when I get back to Ecuador maybe I’ll be happy to pick up a hotel in Quito or Guayaquil for 15K points per night, but I just don’t see the decreases being particularly useful in most circumstances.

Overall, the hotels decreasing in category may be convenient in the right circumstances but are unlikely to be exciting to anyone.

Do you need to rebook?

If you currently have a reservation at a property that is decreasing in price, you will not receive an automatic refund. Radisson notes that if awards are available, you can simply cancel and rebook. If they aren’t available, you’ll have to call for a refund of the difference. Not exactly the most customer-friendly move.

If you are staying at a property that increased in price, this is what Radisson has to say:

What if I booked an Award Night for a hotel that is going up in points, will I be charged more?

No, you are in luck! We will honor the rate at the time you booked your stay.

That’s right, folks — you are in luck. They’re going to honor the rate they agreed to charge you when you reserved your room — you know, the way hotel reservations always work. If you book a cash rate today for a hotel stay on New Year’s Eve, I can guarantee that the cash rate will have gone up by the time you check in….but you don’t get charged the walk-up price for a reservation you made 8 months in advance. I don’t feel lucky nor do I give Radisson much credit for holding up their end of the bargain here. To be clear, I wouldn’t be angry about the inclusion of the question if they didn’t make it sound like they are doing members a favor.

Two bright spots: Family room awards and RewardSaver

One thing that stood out at me as a family traveler is that there is now a standard price for a “family room” on the award chart, which presumably means being able to book a room with a little extra space. I always appreciated a room with any extra space when my first son was sleeping in a pack-and-play, so hopefully there will be some decent room options there. Of course, it sounds like maybe I’ll be less likely to be able to book a standard room and be able to score a free upgrade to that family room . . .

Radisson also announced that they will introduce “RewardSaver” rates that you can see in the award chart. They say that this will not be tired to peak and off-peak dates but rather could happen “any time” and you should “keep your bags packed”. A reference to last-minute rates buried within the info leads me to believe that these will likely be offered last-minute when hotel occupancy is low — so not strictly limited to pre-determined off-peak rates, but more likely than not at times of low demand anyway.

What else is changing when Radisson splits programs?

As you may recall, we had previously reported that the Radisson Rewards program would split into a Radisson Hotels Americas program and a Radisson Hotels (i.e. Rest of the World) program. More information and FAQs can be found here.

Radisson Americas will cover North/South America and the Caribbean (so if you live in this region, you’ll automatically become a Radisson Americas member and be able to earn and redeem in Radisson Americas). The rest of the world will be under Radisson Hotels.

Here are my quick takes on the changes:

Good news:

  • You’ll be able to transfer points 1:1 between the split programs using the “new Global Points Transfer process launching in June”
  • You’ll be able to match status across the two programs
  • You’ll be able to earn and redeem rewards in both programs, but……

Bad news:

  • One has to wonder whether the points transfer process will be instant. If it doesn’t brag about it being instant, I’m skeptical.
  • You’ll have to call to status match, it won’t be automatic or possible online
  • You’ll earn points separately in the two programs. That is to say that if you live in the US and as such are a member of Radisson Hotels Americas and you stay at a property in Europe, you won’t earn elite nights or points in the Radisson Hotels Americas program but rather in the program covering the rest of the world. You should then be able to transfer the points to Radisson Hotels Americas, but not the elite night credits.

I don’t yet see any information about category changes for the global (non-Americas) program, which makes me wonder if there will be an award chart change there yet to come.

Overall, this just complicates things and is an unfortunate change.

Bottom line

There may be a few decent properties dropping in award price, but overall there is a lot of bad news on the Radisson front today. As someone sitting on a few hundred thousand points and some free night certificates, I’m not too excited at all. I may just book some nights at a Radisson Hotels (Rest of the World) property now hoping that when the programs split in June my points will be stuck on the “rest of the world” side, where I’m more likely to use them in the future anyway. Of course, as Greg pointed out when I floated that idea in discussion on Frequent Miler on the Air, maybe if I do that and cancel the points will just disappear into the ether since they came from an account that is split off from where the hotel is. What a mess! Radisson hasn’t been a program where it made sense to heavily invest for most US-based travelers and today’s news certainly doesn’t do anything to change that. Here’s hoping this Radisson Individuals boutique brand that Greg found turns into something.

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Nate

I’m mostly disappointed with the changes, but I’m not angry with Radisson, like I was with IHG. People still have time to use their points if they don’t like these changes. It’s not an overnight change. And they’re giving notice for a change that they have a right to implement.

Anita

Can I change my address and belong to the non-America program? What if someone moves?

I’m changing the CC to the NAF, using up my points and simplifying. With the pandemic bonuses I’m top tier in Hilton, Marriott and Hyatt, so that’s more than enough. Great write-up.

dale

Radisson was the first hotel group that seemed worth the effort with their promos some years ago … earning with a few stays in US (but far more points via the credit card renewals) and then spending points in Europe … Edinburgh was a particularly good redemption once, Vilnius another. That sort of earn / burn will continue to be the case, with little interest in staying at their crusty US properties. Seems a lot of us feel that way.

HADLEY V. BAXENDALE.

With respect to Edinburgh, the changes are not bad and again, compare the non-dynamic prices to the competiton where the prices are quite high even at non-dynamic levels. The Radissons in Edinburgh are quite well located, that can’t be said for many other properties.

Raffles

RewardSaver appears to be Americas only. Look at the new reward chart on the EMEA website (radissonhotels.com) and it doesn’t appear.

BlackHill

Right now in Americas region
7 Hotels in 9,000 category
45 Hotels in 15,000 category
320 Hotels in 28,000 category
178 Hotels in 38,000 category
52 Hotels in 44,000 category
8 Hotels in 50,000 category
7 Hotels in 70,000 category

After the devaluation, Americas region will have

101 Hotels in 15,000 category
374 Hotels in 30,000 category
101 Hotels in 45,000 category
29 Hotels in 60,000 category
10 Hotels in 75,000 category

Tyler

By this math, the average property went from 31,831 to 32,146 points, a 0.99% increase. It also implies 49 properties went form 28k to 15k. So maybe it’s not all bad?

BlackHill

It depends on how one sees. Top 3 category hotels went from 67 to 140. More than doubled.

BlackHill

Right now in Rest of the world region
42 Hotels in 9,000 category
62 Hotels in 15,000 category
94 Hotels in 28,000 category
123 Hotels in 38,000 category
143 Hotels in 44,000 category
46 Hotels in 50,000 category
68 Hotels in 70,000 category

After the devaluation, Rest of the world region will have

158 Hotels in 15,000 category
131 Hotels in 30,000 category
195 Hotels in 45,000 category
53 Hotels in 60,000 category
40 Hotels in 75,000 category

Number of properties costing 44,000 or more went from 257 to 288

NK3

If I am doing my math correctly, the average cost used to be 38003, and the new average cost is 36837. So about a 3.1% decrease.

HADLEY V. BAXENDALE.

158 hotels at 15,000 points vs. 104 hotels prior to change = Winner as ~ 54 more hotels fell into this category.

131 hotels at 30,000 ponts vs. only 94 at comparable 28,000 points = ~ 37 hotels decreased in price to populate this category = Winner.

195 hotels at 45,000 points now vs. prior 143 hotels at 44,000 points and ~ 52 probably increased in nightly cost by 7,000 points from 38,000 to 45,000 points = I can live with this.

Top Tier @ 75,000 points is populated by 40 hotels vs. 68 hotels in prior 70,000 point category = Therefore, 40 hotels went up a manageable 5,000 points/night and 28 DECREASED AT LEAST 10,000 POINTS/NIGHT = WINNER – I CERTAINLY CAN LIVE WITH THIS!

53 hotels @ 60,000 points/night of which ~ 28 decreased in price by 10,000 points and ~ 23 increased in price by 10,000 points = more hotels likely decreased in price that populate this category than increased in price. Moreover, ~ 23 likely decreased 5,000 points/night from the 50,000 point category to populate the new 45,000 point category. Overall a standstill at worst.

All in all, changes are gentler outside of North and South America but more lower point opportunites present themselves under this new reward chart.

I only wish that all such “devaluations” were so kind.

HADLEY V. BAXENDALE.

I always look for value so I concentrate on the lower categories.

By the way, thanks for the tabulation it is incredibly useful.

Therefore,

  1. New Lowest Tier Category 1 has 101 hotels in it, wherease previously, only a combined 52 hotels were at 15,000 points or less = Basically doubled the number of hotels at bargain basement prices = DEFINITE WINNER!
  2. Mid-Tier Category 2 @ 30,000 points has 374 hotels in it, whereas prior count at virtually the same point level of 28,000 points had only 320 hotels = WINNER!
  3. THUS, 475 HOTELS AT 30,000 POINTS OR LESS VS. PRE-DEVALUATION NUMBER WAS 372 = ALMOST 100 HOTELS MORE IN THIS CATEGORY UNDER NEW REWARD SYSTEM = WINNER!
  4. Top tier is now ten hotels whereas prior to change it was 7 hotels, thus 3 hotels likely jumped 25,000 points — But would you have stayed in them vs. competitor brands =This is indeed the question as Radisson Rewards, like IHG has very weak and difficult to attain top elite status. I think most would not have done so.
  5. 29 hotels in new 60,000 point category vs. 5 likely from prior 50,000 point category and ~ 24 from prior 44,000 point category. Again, would you stay at these properties vs. what competitors charge?
  6. 101 hotels in new 45,000 point category due to 28 increasing 1,000 points from prior 44,000 point category and ~ 73 from 38,000 point category = This tablulates perfectly with my rough allocation of about 100 hotels from the prior 38,000 point category DECREASING to 30,000 point Category 2 under the new system.Therefore, ~ 73 hotels jump a manageable 7,000 points/night.
  7. Consequently, 3 hotels jump ~ 25,000 points/night; ~ 5 hotels jump 10,000 points/night; and ~ 24 jump 16,000 points/night.
  8. When all is said and done, 32 hotels jump appreciably and 150 decline a decent amount and the rest stay roughly the same. Given that these are Radisson hotels that we are discussing and they are likely the very last choice among most of us here, I think many of us welcome new point use opportunities compared to those hotels that have moved up in price and for which we have likely much, much, much better alternatives – I’m generally happy with this “devaluation” inasmuch as Radisson is usually my last choice in redemption,and never for spending any $$!!
NK3

The more I look into this, the more I agree with you. A big structural change like this will undoubtedly affect everyone differently. Clearly Nick thinks this was a big devaluation. Overall, for me, there is a small net positive with the properties that I am most likely to stay at. YMMV.

But I also agree with you–Radisson is, at best, the fourth program I look at when I am traveling. Its mainly there when there are no good Hyatt, Marriott or Hilton choices. When I look up places where those 3 are lacking, most of the properties are similar in price or significantly better.

HADLEY V. BAXENDALE.

I actually think that Nick might re-evaluate and that he as well as many others have come to expect — quite correctly, unfortunately — than when one hears enhancement, one thinks the worst of the impending devaluation.

Moreover, as others have pointed out, the doublespeak happytalk that the program couched these changes are easily seen through and one can identify many areas where they are just spinning.

However, when one drills down into these award changes, they are not all that bad.

I was looking casually at the changes in Europe that I might use — the Radisson Blu Lublijana tumbles by almost 1/2 from 28,000 to 15,000 points!! Now, although there is an Intercontinental there, it could be upwards of 30,000 points or perhaps more. The Radisson is now a steal at 15,000 points. The Plaza Montini in Rome is 50,000 points, that is quite good for central Rome in a hotel with good ratings.

The Radisson Prague which is the old Sheraton is at 45,000 points and that is not a bad price for a fairly central Prague hotel.

Again, London may have gone up, but by how much and look at the competition!!

So all in all, at least with respect to my cursory review of some European properties that I am interested in, I’m pretty happy with the results of this change.

NK3

I would be very curious to the net change here across all properties. You mention that Category 1 properties are going up 66%. But overall, as they map the properties from the old categories to the new ones, how many have gone up in points per night and how many went down? And if you booked one night at every property, what would the cost be in points before and after this change. This would give an estimate of the overall devaluation of the program. I am guessing there is a way to do figure this out with a spreadsheet (hint for a follow-up post, I know how Greg likes to calculate award values!).

HADLEY V. BAXENDALE.

Many properties stayed about the same ~ 2,000 points or decreased as noted above. Others did increase, but the total number was not very much IMHO.

Yes, some properties really did jump, but given that awards are not dynamically priced, most of those that did, are within the realm of where their competitors are. Consequently, there are more gems than there were with the old award chart, IMHO.

BlackHill

Radisson considers Category 3 to 2, Category 5 to 3 also as remaining the same though points increase in both the cases its very less

HADLEY V. BAXENDALE.

I disagree with this assessment and the comments below.

First, one has to place Radisson in an appropriate place for me and probably most others in the hotel chain universe = AFTERTHOUGHT.

I have a fair bundle of Radisson points from when they had the Buy 1 get 2 nights gravy days. I never had the credit card that earned points thinking even then that this was an afterthought program that I signed onto because of its then fairly prevalent European hotels, when the majore US chains had not really that many properties in that area. The US hotels never struck me as ones that I would even consider, but since then, some Country Inns have been renovated and upgraded.

Second, I am big into other hotel chain credit cards with their free nights — which were far easier to use in the USA and better value than Radisson’s annual fee credit card. To wit, now as a Lifetime Platinum Marriott and a Hilton Diamond thru their credit card — I would always favor these chains because of the free nights earned and status conferred to me vis a vis Radisson.

Third, I have both the Hyatt Credit Card and both nights earning variation of the IHG credit cards, and these chains easily beat Radisson offerings given a no elite status showdown between these chains.

However, I think even on the greater hike in points properties — places I would probably not frequent in any event because the breadth of my free nights conveyed by the above credit cards, the dismal assessments of the Radisson changes in North and South America forget one thing — Radisson apparently is not going to dynamic pricing.

Although, the price increases at those properties may be out of whack during the week, they are probably not out of whack compared to the competition on weekends.

Marriott hikes point rates at most desirable locations on the weekends 5,000 – 10,000 points so as to render the free nights earned from the credit card useless.

Hilton points are always elevated on weekends, and so too are most IHg properties — Radisson increases in category/points for those destinations are not out of whack — 60,000 points at Ocean City, MD? I don’t think so for me, but for a beach lover, not so bad — especially at an earn rate at 20 points/$.

So too, for those other high rank propeties, and where they really have jumped, there is very good coverage from other chains — so no real loss in my book.

On the other hand, the second hotel on the list = Country Inn Flagstaff Downtown going from 45,000 points to 30,000 points is a steal for Flagstaff – take a look at what the other chains charge for hotels in Flagstaff and then answer me.

Country Inn Gettysburg decreases from 38,000 points to 30,000 points and unlike the Marriott, IHG, and Hampton properties, there is no increase on weekends.

There are plenty of hotels that change categories but not real point costs, and even those that are 7,000 to 10,000 points a night more are not onerous given that this is an afterthought program.

In sum, the changes to the program on this side of the pond are insignificant to good from my point of vies and the only question is what will occurr in the rest of the world to the award chart?

HADLEY V. BAXENDALE.

Sorry, meant to say that I never had the annual fee credit card, I have the no annual fee credit card to easily keep my points alive by making a purchase yearly.

NK3

FYI US Bank has a balance forgiveness of $1 and below. Every month I do an Amazon balance reload of $1 with my Radisson card (except for the month when annual fee posts). When the statement closes they forgive the $1 ($0 statement balance), but still award me 5 Radisson points. This is activity on my Radisson account, keeping the overall point balance active.

HADLEY V. BAXENDALE.

I knew about the forgiveness, but did not know about the increase in points! Nevertheless, I want at least one payment to US Bank to keep the credit card account open! Thanks very much!

Tom

Interesting that the 100,000 point credit card still claims “The card will reward you for each purchase starting with up to 100,000 bonus points good for up to 10 Award night stays worldwide“… 100,000/15,000 = 6 nights.

Grant

Bring back the Radisson Rewards CC BOGO!

AJM

That was, indeed, a sweet deal!

C.J.

The changes are a complete joke. As was pointed out in the article, even though a property dropped a category, their point requirement may have increased. I’m scratching my head at this point if I will ever spend a penny in a Radisson again; albeit, I’ve been hoarding Radisson points that will need to be used.

rdover1

A long way back the associated credit cards used to be crazy generous and you could stack bonuses like crazy. This all went away and I bet their card related revenue did too. So this approach allows them to inflate the card rewards they can offer to ‘get back in the game’. Net-Net it is still crap, but as you can see above they are very focused on spin.

MRL

Point bloggers should be telling all their readers to burn their points as quickly as possible and to not bother collecting anything that isn’t a transferrable point (UR, MR, etc.). That’s the most responsible thing to do. It seems like in the face of the current devals it’s been articles trying to convince the audience of a value in brand points because with extreme mental contortion you can get a great deal at some motel in North Dakota if you’re willing to travel Sunday to Tuesday. Point are an asset with decreasing value over time – push cash back cards or ones that at least earn you .00001 bitcoin.

Christian

I’ve found my best value with Radisson hotels in Europe in the past, particularly Budapest. Is there a new award chart for the other program that shows new prices? For that matter will the new award chart apply to the rest of the world?

BlackHill

Park Inn going to 15K and the other two going to 30K. All 3 are going down in Budapest. I already uploaded the link but it says awaiting for approval.

NK3

Yeah I also have a post that is waiting for approval with it. Honestly as I look in other parts of the world, where I am more likely to use my points, I would not consider this a massive devaluation, and more of a balanced restructuring. I originally got the Radisson card for a now massively delayed trip to Norway. A few properties there have gone up 1-5K points in price, while a similar number have dropped. I plan to go to Greece now that is open to Americans, and both properties there have dropped in price (44k to 30k and 70k to 60k). In Spain 3 properties went from 70k to 60k and one went from 44k to 45k. At least for the places I was looking to use Radisson, it has not been a huge devaluation.

I agree with Nick the messaging is deceiving, and the complex structure of having 2 programs is really, really annoying. And I wish they would extend our certs again, since most people are having trouble redeeming them.

Christian

Thanks so much. I appreciate the response and the link.

John

Totally insulting of Radisson to focus on the number of properties to change category levels. We don’t accumulate category levels; we accumulate points. I cannot imagine a more stunning display of dishonesty.

Lord Dima

Introducing “Bonvoyed by Radisson”

BlackHill

Do you know where I can find the 2021 Hotel Category Changes for rest of the world?

NK3

I was looking for the same thing. Here is one link I found, but it does not list the prior category and is in PDF format:

https://www.radissonhotels.com/en-us/media/hotelrecategorizationlist2021_tcm7-390592.pdf

Nate

Thanks for posting this. Why isn’t the Maldives property on the list, I wonder?

BlackHill

I got the link for the rest of the world. Maybe you can upload this for others to see
https://www.radissonhotels.com/en-us/media/hotelrecategorizationlist2021_tcm7-390592.pdf

Brant

…and now you know why Jesus was born in a manger.

Gene

Radisson is possibility the worst hotel chain. Their hotels are awful, and their awards program is worse. I am so glad that we emptied out accounts a couple of years ago.

Gene

Last year, US Bank waived the $75 AF and gave me my 40k renewal bonus. This year, I will just close it. The 40k became 4k free airline miles. Not a good conversion, but I have ZERO desire to stay in their crap hotels.

Ken

Be happy that US Bank waived your AF. I call every year and they always refuse to credit the AF, and they’re as rude as can be to boot. I’ll be happy to close both of our Radisson cards that we’ve held since the “stay 1 night and get 1 night free” award promo. Those were the really good days and we did Europe on the cheap.