Now that the Citi Prestige card has turned into a bit of a turkey through the loss of AA Admiral’s Club access, less valuable points, no more free golf, etc., I thought it was worth taking a second look at the key benefit that’s still somewhat intact: 4th Night Free hotel bookings.
Citi has changed this benefit in a few ways. First, the 4th Night Free no longer includes room taxes and fees. Second, the rebate is based on the average daily rate rather than the exact 4th night charge. The latter change is good when the 4th night costs less than other nights, but bad when it costs more. One area in which I’m excited about this change is when hotels offer their own 4th night free rate. I’ve run into this a few times in the past, but didn’t think the Prestige 4th night free rebate would work in that situation. With the new rules it certainly will. You won’t get 2 free nights, but you should get a 25% discount off of a 25% discounted rate. In other words, you should save 43.75% off the base rate before accounting for taxes and fees.
Citi has also added the ability to book 4th Night Free reservations online through their ThankYou Rewards portal (instructions can be found here). Citi has reached out to us to claim that if you book a chain hotel online you’ll still earn hotel points and elite nights just as you do when booking through the Citi Prestige Concierge. I’m skeptical about that, but let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. Assuming it’s true, is it a good idea to book online?
The short answer is no. If you can find better prices via AAA membership, government or senior rates, hotel promotions, etc., then you’re better off booking through the Citi Prestige Concierge since they can book those rates for you. The online booking engine cannot.
Here’s an example. I searched for a 4 night stay at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress. Via ThankYou Rewards I’m told that once the 4th Night Free benefit is factored in, the four night stay will cost $679.08, based on a $219.12 daily rate.
But when I search the same dates on Hyatt.com, I see a rate of only $186.
Let’s drill down. The $186 price shown above was the Hyatt Member Rate. I checked the box to include AAA rates and got an even lower $170 rate:
But I haven’t been comparing apples to apples. Citi’s results include taxes and fees. Hyatt’s results do not. So, let’s click through on Hyatt.com to find the real cost. Hyatt says that the four nights will actually cost $900 after taxes, and resort fees. That’s a nightly average of $225.
Now the $679.08 Citi price is looking like a awesome! Not so fast…
Resort fees will be charged at check-out and are in-addition to Citi’s charges. So, let’s add $135 in resort fees to the Citi price. Now the Citi total comes to $814.08. In this example, booking a Prestige 4th Night Free reservation online saves only $85.92. That’s better than nothing, but hardly the big win one might have expected.
Bottom Line: Book via Concierge
If you book the same stay via the Citi Prestige Concierge, you can request the AAA rate from the start. In this way, you’ll truly save $170 with the above example. With more expensive hotels you’ll obviously save a lot more.
Directions for booking 4th Night Free reservations via email, phone, or online can be found here: Complete Guide to Citi Prestige 4th Night Free.
TPG reporting that online prestige bookings unlikely to earn points/get benefits (and has had recent bookings where he got neither).
Data point: booked Hilton hotel through Thankyou portal for 4th night free benefit, and Hilton shows that the booking agency is expedia.com. Definitely won’t be getting any points.
Greg- please show us where Citi told you that online booking would qualify.
There isn’t a place online where it says that online bookings will earn points. Rather, it was a Citi representative that reached out in response to our post to say that they will earn points even when booked online through the ThankYou portal. We were (and continue to be) skeptical on that claim, but haven’t had a stay to prove the contrary.
On the other hand, I believe that phone bookings through the concierge will continue to earn points as they have.
If you do make this stay, please report back as to whether or not you get Hilton points. I share your belief that you likely won’t though, so I wouldn’t blame you if you cancelled/changed.
Thanks Nick. I do not expect points, but I called the hotel directly and had them manually attach my Hhonors number (I had read that hotels are lax and will attach it to 3rd party bookings) strictly for my Hhonors Gold benefits. A room upgrade and breakfast is much more important to me than points. However in the future, I will not count on this and will expect no points/elite benefits with any thankyou portal hotel booking.
[…] to 50% off”. I tried to test this out by calling for a reservation for the same dates that Greg used as an example in yesterday morning’s post about the booking the 4th night free online vs over the phone. Unfortunately, the Hyatt he used in […]
[…] the Prestige card, you can now book 4th Night Free hotels online (but you may not always want to). And, you can now pay with ThankYou points. If you also happen to have a Premier card, and you […]
I cancelled my card last week after Citibank gave me no points offer for continuing to pay the annual fee. It was going to be due this past Friday. They offered to remove the fee if I purchased around $7K in the next three months or $10K over the next six months. Neither appealed to me. I will not be staying at any hotel for more than three nights anywhere until February of 2019 so no big loss by saving money on the 4th night benefit. I can also then reapply for it with a new sign up bonus in July 2019. Citibank did offer me a bonus of 10,000 points for spending $1,000 in three months to keep my Premier card two months ago. I happily accepted. I will drop to 4/24 in September and can get the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Don’t forget to track your cancellation dates and re-apply dates, since many have 2 year wait periods. It is a part of the hobby.
Citi Prestige = boredom
does the concierge email still work?
do you search with TRIVAGO?
Went to cancel my prestige…received a few different offers. $1500/month for $50 credit for 7 months. $3k(? might have been 2k) / month for 3 months to receive a $200 credit and then some spend for 10k pts.
I decided to hold off cancelling on the call, although I’ll probably still cancel. I won’t do the downgrade and re-do of the prestige…a bit of risk/unknown in there and also getting close to being under the 5/24 as well. No need to ruin it at this point.
Resort fees are an interesting topic. Hyatt doesn’t charge resort fees to Globalists. How would that work when booking with Citi?
I’m a globalist and have booked Hyatt stays through Citi Concierge. The hotel removes the resort fee at checkout. Doesn’t impact the 4th night rebate since resort fees aren’t included in the rebate.
@Ron – that’s pretty crappy. Pure laziness indeed.
The other drawback (minor compared to the other considerations) is that their search engine is so limited and clunky! You have no filter options besides hotel name and the useless star rating…can’t sort by distance. I think the only time I’d consider booking online would be if the property didn’t offer any discounts that I am eligible to use (which is rare), the price worked out better with the 4th night benefit, and I wasn’t concerned about earning points. I know the last part seems sacrilegious but I don’t bother with some of the hotel loyalty programs and I often stay in non-chain hotels anyway.
I booked a stay at Atlantis in June (prior to the changes) through the Prestige concierge service. All went well, got my 4th night reimbursement quickly. After getting home I noticed Marriott never credited the stay (even though Cit had my rewards number). I sent Marriott a note and they responded that since I didn’t book direct, no points. I then sent a note to Citi asking about this (as prior reservations did result in points). They stated that since Citi booked the reservation on line (instead of via a phone call) oh so sorry, no hotel points. What??! Why would there concierge service ever choose to do that, except out of laziness. Making my renewal decision with this card easier!
Can I book 4 nights at a Hilton using points + cash thru the Citi concierge and get the fourth night free benefit for the cash portion of the daily average?