Radisson Free Night Certificates: My Favorite Domestic Options
Recently, I described my current stay in the hotel free night certificate prison. My wife and I hold 14 total free night certificates; six are Radisson free night E-Certs. These nights will be the toughest for us to use for a few reasons. I’m trying to balance optimism and realism as I plan by having two redemption strategies. On one end, I’m planning for the stars aligning for the perfect redemption and “normal” travel experience. On the opposite, more likely end, I’m planning for subpar, pandemic-era travel that we’ve begrudgingly grown accustomed to since last March. Today, I’m sharing these redemption strategies and why I’m planning to pursue each.
But First, How Did We Get Here?
My wife and I earned these six Radisson free night E-Certs thanks to big spend bonuses we each met in 2019 with the Radisson Rewards Visa. Cardholders earn one free night good for any domestic property with every $10k of spend, up to 3 nights annually. In pre-pandemic times (and before our shutdown), we enjoyed earning 5x Radisson Rewards points and spend toward those E-Certs.
Instead, we got these E-Certs deposited in our Radisson Rewards accounts just prior to the world changing early last year. They’ve been in deep hibernation since. While Radisson has previously extended these E-Certs, they are now set to expire on 30 June 2021. I don’t have high hopes for Radisson extending these again, although I will be pleasantly surprised if they do. Regardless, I need to make plans.
My Favorite Domestic Options
In a perfect world, Radisson will extend these E-Certs, vaccine distributions will greatly increase, or both. I have my eyes one two properties for optimal redemptions.
Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago
Ever since I saw the completion of this hotel while on a Chicago Architecture River Cruise, I’ve been enamored with it. In addition to the property’s striking design, the hotel’s riverfront location is excellent. I enjoy this pedestrian-friendly area of Chicago, probably my favorite big city in the States. The hotel is just minutes from the Magnificent Mile, Millennium Park, Grant Park, and Navy Pier. The Aqua is on the top end of Radisson’s domestic properties, normally requiring 70k points for a free night. Therefore, I can easily maximize these E-Certs at this property.
Another reason the Aqua is #1 on my list for these E-Certs is because they’re part of an itinerary involving an Amtrak trip on the Empire Builder. After our stay, we’ll leave on the Empire Builder from Union Station and head west. This leads me to the next E-Cert redemption.
Radisson Blu Mall of America
The Twin Cities area, admittedly, wasn’t high on my list of places to visit until I started enjoying Amtrak travel. I’ve been through the state several times since but haven’t stopped to visit. Beyond the train route, the Radisson Blu Mall of America property gives me another reason to stop through for a visit. Another hotel that normally requires 70k points for a free night, my E-Certs would go far at this property. I’d love to see a Twins ballgame at Target Field, and visiting the Mall of America is a random curiosity of mine, as well. This hotel’s location isn’t bad for either of those agenda items.
While the above two hotels are the highest on my list, a strive to say at a few other Radisson properties in the next few years, as well. Let’s get into those now!
Radisson Red, Portland Downtown
One of the very three domestic properties in the Radisson Red line, this hotel normally runs 50k points per night. The Radisson Red Portland boasts an excellent central location downtown, within walking distance to many sites. I particularly like that the Portland Art Museum is only a few blocks away. The hotel is pet-friendly, allowing two dogs up to 40 pounds each per room – a nice touch for a property of this caliber. I’m even more interested since an Amtrak station is nearby along one of my favorite routes – the Coast Starlight.
Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel, Scranton
The Radisson in Scranton, Pennsylvania is normally 28k points per night, so using an E-Cert here doesn’t provide outsized value (in points terms). What’s the value for me then? The novelty – this hotel was originally a train station, which opened in 1908! I’ve been wanting to stay here since the Club Carlson days. I’m excited to check out the property’s French Renaissance architecture alongside modern interiors. The multiple restaurants and bars onsite also pique my interest. And there’s a Houdini Museum nearby! You’ve probably hit the nerd alert button by now. I don’t care.
More than likely, Radisson won’t extend the E-Cert expiration dates, we won’t yet have our vaccines, or both. Consequently, our E-Cert redemptions look more like this.
Country Inn & Suites, Asheville Westgate
Asheville is one of my favorite areas located relatively nearby within a day’s drive. Plenty of Country Inns are located in the area, but this one is the newest. Since we’ve been to Asheville before and have plans to continue visiting, we’re okay giving up a bit of location to try out a newer property this time. We stayed downtown on our last trip and are looking for a different experience, anyway. Normally 44k points per night on an award stay, this would be a solid, if not top end, E-Cert redemption. We would enjoy another trip to the Biltmore and perhaps a few visits to area breweries.
Country Inn & Suites, Virginia Beach Oceanfront
Of all feasible options, this would be the easiest one for us to impulsively pull off. We could easily use all six E-Certs here, and this stay wouldn’t require any major planning. We stayed at this property years ago and had a fine stay. It’s certainly not the nicest property on the oceanfront, but quality is on par with other reliable Country Inn locations. A free night is normally 44k points, so we’d enjoy another solid E-Cert redemption here. If none of our other preferred redemptions work out, we’ll simply use the E-Certs for a free oceanfront stay.
Radisson Free Night Certificates – Conclusion
While the future is uncertain, it’s safe to say that we’ll use up our six E-certs at one or more of the above properties this year. Of course, if Radisson decides to extend these E-Certs out another year or so, I would gladly take that before rushing in near-term stays at these properties. Taking a step back, these six free nights are a blessing that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise achieved. With that in mind, I shouldn’t consider any sub-optimal redemption a “loss”, rather I should consider it a “small win.” And a small win is better than no win! What are your plans for your expiring Radisson E-Certs?