Citi Prestige – Best Credit Card Signup for 2015
I have previously posted why the Citi Prestige may be the best credit card signup for 2015:
- How to get $1350 worth of AA flights
- How to reduce the annual fee from $450 to $350
- How to score another $850 worth of AA flights
This post will focus on the Citi Prestige card’s most valuable benefit, 4th night free for hotel stays.
Fourth Night Free Benefit – Overview
Citi advertises the perk as “Extend your trip with a complimentary 4th night stay at any hotel of your choice.” While it is true for the most part, it is not 100% accurate since the hotel and room type has to be bookable by Citi’s “designated travel advisor” – Carlson Wagonlit Travel. See full terms and conditions at the bottom of this post for other restrictions of this benefit.
Why This is Prestige Card’s Most Valuable Benefit
Citi will refund you the 4th night’s actual hotel cost, as opposed to the average daily rate of your entire stay. For example, let’s say Hotel A has a rate of $200 per night after taxes and fees. Citi will reimburse you $200 via statement credit. Now let’s say Hotel B has a rate of $100 per night (after taxes and fees) for the first 3 nights, and a whopping rate of $700 for the 4th night. Citi will reimburse you $700 via statement credit.
For the casual vacationer, this can save hundreds per year. For business travelers who are not required to use corporate codes or not required to book through a corporate travel portal, this may be a game changer – making room for double reimbursement for the 4th night’s hotel costs (once from work and once from Citi via 4th night free).
Guide to Using the 4th Night Free Benefit
Here are the steps involved (warning – it is not intuitive/straightforward):
- Call Citi Concierge at 1-561-922-0158 and say that you would like to use the fourth night free benefit.
- FrequentMiler suggests asking for a travel advisor immediately; however, Citi will no longer allow this unless your trip is within the next 14 days.
- The Citi Concierge will take down your information and will email you a proposal within 24 hours. Provide your Citi Prestige credit card information even if not asked (optional) – you will see why as you continue reading.
- If you qualify for AAA, AARP, or military rates, ask that the travel advisor check these rates.
- Within 24 hours, you will receive the proposal via email. The proposal will state the exact amount you will be paying after all taxes and fees AND the exact amount you will receive in statement credit.
- If you wish to book and you had previously provided the Citi Concierge with your credit card info, simply reply via email with your authorization to book the hotel stay. Be sure to provide your hotel loyalty membership number.
- If you did not previously provide your credit card info, you will have to call 1-561-922-0158 again to complete booking. Note that travel advisors are very short-staffed so unless you feel like holding for 15 minutes while the Citi Concierge tries to get hold of a travel advisor, just provide the Concierge with your credit card info / your authorization and you can get off the phone.
- Within 24 hours, you will receive the hotel booking confirmation in pdf. Double check the amount you will be paying after all taxes and fees AND the amount you will receive in statement credit.
- Make sure you pay for your hotel stay with the Citi Prestige credit card. (Data points online suggest it is not necessary to pay with your Prestige card, but why risk it)
- Wait 1-2 statements and the credit will appear. For my first try, the statement credit came towards the end of my 2nd statement close (from the date charge was incurred).
Once you have popped your 4th night booking cherry, you can take a modified approach since you now have at least 1 email correspondence chain with Citi Concierge. For future bookings, you can simply email/reply to citiprestigeconciergeUS@tengroup.com with the details of your requested stay. You will receive a response the same day from Citi Concierge noting a proposal will be sent within 24 hours. If you wish to book, however, you will still have to call 1-561-922-0158 to provide your Citi Prestige credit card info since Citi Concierge will not accept it over email.
Combine 4th Night Free Benefit with Hyatt’s Diamond Suite Upgrade Certificates?
I was curious if using Hyatt’s Diamond suite upgrade certificates would cause any issues when combining with Citi Prestige’s 4th night free benefit. Technically speaking, you are not allowed to change the rate booked by the Citi travel advisors if you want to receive the 4th night free statement credit. For example, booking with AAA rate through Citi Concierge then calling up Hyatt to change it to one of the many Hyatt corporate codes – would not be allowed.
When a Hyatt Diamond suite upgrade is used, the room is changed from the room type booked to the Hyatt standard suite and the rate is temporarily increased to the Hyatt standard suite’s daily rate. Once the system fully processes the suite upgrade certificate, the rate is changed back to the original rate booked, and the room type stays as the Hyatt standard suite.
Anyway, I tested this out with the Grand Hyatt Playa Del Carmen and it surprisingly worked. See the following sections for more details
Here is the proposal that I received via email from the Citi Concierge for the Grand Hyatt Playa Del Carmen for dates 8/6/15 – 8/10/15:
Below is a screen shot showing the charges. The hotel charges 1 night’s rate when checking into the hotel and the remainder of the bill at checkout. As for the ($42.53) refund, the Grand Hyatt issued me a refund for overcharging me the first night. With multiple charges, a partial refund, and the rate override from the Diamond suite upgrade, I was getting nervous about the statement credit automatically posting.
But as you can see below, the statement credit automatically posted by the 2nd statement close:
My most recent stay was at the Grand Hyatt San Francisco, where I also combined a Diamond suite upgrade certificate with the 4th night free perk. I expect to receive the statement credit (~$350) within the next 30 days. As you can also see, I will be visiting Las Vegas and staying 4 nights at the Palazzo. The hotel charges 1 night as a deposit which is the ~$372 seen above.
Rebate posted for the Grand Hyatt San Fran:
Change in Hotel Booking Strategy
I have historically booked my hotel stays using cash and points or full points for SPG and Hyatt properties. Ever since I became a Citi Prestige cardholder, my mentality has changed. I am not sure if I will keep the Prestige card for a 2nd year given the hefty $350/$450 annual fee, but assuming no, I want to make sure I squeeze as much juice out of it as possible during my 1 year as a card-member. My new hotel booking strategy:
- If my stay is exactly 4 nights, I use the 4th night free benefit.
- If my stay is less than 4 nights, I resort to cash and points or full points.
- If my stay is more than 4 nights, I book 4 consecutive nights where the 4th night is the most expensive (usually Friday/Saturday), and the other nights using cash and points or full points.
- In the rare event my stay is 8 nights (I usually stay at one location 3-5 nights), I would take advantage of the 4th night free benefit twice by making two separate reservations.
Warning – Cancellations
If you need to cancel your reservation, make sure to call or reply via email to citiprestigeconciergeUS@tengroup.com to cancel the booking. For the Grand Hyatt Playa Del Carmen, I made the mistake of cancelling one reservation (previously booked at a higher rate through Citi Concierge) on Hyatt.com only to realize it only deleted my reservation from being visible on Hyatt.com. When I arrived at the hotel, I was informed I had 2 reservations, both made with Carlson Wagonlit Travel (aka Citi’s travel advisor). Fortunately, the Grand Hyatt Playa Del Carmen allowed me to cancel one of the reservations fee-free.
Citi Prestige 50K Bonus – Signup Links – $450 Annual Fee
- Direct Link (I don’t receive commission if you use this link)
Citi Premier 50K Bonus – Signup Links – $95 Annual Fee Waived 1st Year
- Direct Link (I don’t receive commission if you use this link)
Full Terms and Conditions – 4th Night Free
You will enjoy a complimentary fourth night with no black-out dates, when you book four consecutive nights at any hotel booked by a personal travel advisor designated by MasterCard (the “designated travel advisor” is Carlson Wagonlit Travel). Bookings made through other methods such as, travel agents, websites or directly with a hotel will not qualify.
To receive your complimentary night (via a statement credit) you must:
- Make a reservation for a minimum, consecutive four-night stay by contacting the Citi Prestige Concierge, to book directly with a designated travel advisor
- Fully pay for your stay with a Citi Prestige Card
Receive one complimentary night (room rate for the fourth night and applicable taxes only) for any consecutive four-night hotel stay booked directly with a MasterCard designated travel advisor. Hotel imposed fees and incidental guest charges are the Cardmember’s responsibility. The value of the complimentary night will be the actual rate, as provided by the designated travel advisor, on that fourth night of the reservation, even if the rate is different from the rate on other nights. Cardmember will be charged the total cost of the stay at checkout and will receive a credit to the credit card statement for the cost of the fourth night (and the applicable taxes). If the cardmember books a special “pre-paid” rate this may require upfront payment in full, at time of booking. Payment in full is defined as pre-payment for the total of all four consecutive nights. Only one complimentary night is eligible per each stay. A stay is consecutive nights booked and stayed on one reservation and does not include back-to back stays. Back-to back stays are stays at the same hotel booked on two reservations (as an example, you book four nights at a hotel on one reservation for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and book another four nights on another reservation for Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. In this situation, you would only be eligible for one complimentary night for the 8 night stay). Rates provided will be equal to or lower than the lowest publicly-available fare at the hotel’s official website. The benefit can only be used by the primary account cardholder.
Statement Credit for Hotel Program
All statement credits will be reflected on the Citi Prestige card statement as being a result of the Program and will appear within two billing periods following the month in which travel was completed; or in the case of promotional “pre-paid” that are paid in full as described above, rates the credit will be reflected within two billing periods following the date of payment in full of the “pre-paid” rate. Foreign exchange conversion rates may fluctuate resulting in slight differences in amount credited.
Cancellations and Reversals
All cancellations must be done through the designated travel advisor. If the reservation is cancelled, any statement credit relative to the offer will be reversed, based upon the eligibility and satisfaction of the terms of the offer. Citi and MasterCard reserve the right to reverse a statement credit including, and without limitation, any refunds, returns, disputes, adjustments or fraudulent card activity.