Anniversary Trip Dilemma: Citi Prestige 4th Night Free or AMEX Fine Hotels

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Team member Keith recently celebrated his 1st wedding anniversary in Los Cabos, Mexico.  So I asked him to share his experience researching how to book the hotel for this trip!

Keith:   Thanks, Daraius!  After taking an around-the-world honeymoon last year using mostly miles & points, my wife and I planned a trip to celebrate our anniversary in just one destination:   Los Cabos, Mexico.

And instead of using points for an award stay like we do for most trips, we wanted to use other credit card perks to book a paid stay at a luxurious boutique hotel called the One & Only Palmilla.

The challenge was deciding whether to use the Citi Prestige 4th night free perk, which has saved us thousands of dollars on previous hotel stays.  Or book through AMEX Fine Hotels & Resorts.

AMEX Platinum Versus Citi Prestige For Booking Hotels
The One & Only Palmilla in Los Cabos Is a Spectacular Hotel to Celebrate a Special Occasion! I Captured This Photo From My Drone When We Were There

I’ll share what I found when comparing the perks of the AMEX Platinum versus Citi Prestige for booking hotels.

Planning 4 Nights in Los Cabos

Link:   This Citi Prestige Perk Might Be the Most Lucrative Benefit of ANY Credit Card!

Link:   How to Get Big Travel With Small Money Using the AMEX Fine Hotels & Resorts Program

My wife and I decided on the One & Only Palmilla because it’s a ~35 minute drive from the Cabo San Lucas airport, which is a Southwest destination.  So we were able to take advantage of our Companion Pass to save money on flights!

And the hotel gets incredible reviews on TripAdvisor.  Some of the highlights of the resort include:

AMEX Platinum Versus Citi Prestige For Booking Hotels
The Infinity Pools at the Hotel Overlook the Sea of Cortez

Because it was a special occasion, we decided we would pay out of pocket for this expensive stay instead of redeeming miles & points at a different hotel.  So we researched the best deals using perks from our credit cards.  Here’s what we found.

1.   AMEX Fine Hotels & Resorts

To access the AMEX Fine Hotels & Resorts program, you must have an eligible AMEX Platinum Card (small business and Mercedes-Benz versions all work).

I have The Business Platinum® Card from American Express.  So I logged-in to the AMEX Fine Hotels website to check if the One & Only Palmilla was available for our desired travel dates.

AMEX Platinum Versus Citi Prestige For Booking Hotels
The One & Only Palmilla Comes Up First When Searching for Hotels in Los Cabos on AMEX Fine Hotels & Resorts

Keep in mind, not all hotels are included in this program.  But there are over 975 hotels that participate.

For our travel dates, AMEX was offering a promotion to get the 4th night free for many different room types.

I selected the cheapest room type to get more details about the stay on the trip summary page, including the cost and perks.

Here it says the complimentary 4th night is deducted from the total amount billed when you check-out.

AMEX Platinum Versus Citi Prestige For Booking Hotels
With the AMEX Fine Hotels & Resorts Promotion at the One & Only Palmilla, You’d Get a Credit for the 4th Night When You Check-Out

So the trip summary page shows a total estimated cost of $3,960.  But this does NOT include taxes & fees, which I estimated to be ~$1,000 based on the information on the hotel’s website.

This means the total cost would be ~$4,960.  But I would get a credit for the 4th night of ~$990.  So our total out of pocket cost would be ~$3,970.

I think it would be extremely helpful if AMEX added a summary of your total expected out of pocket cost to their website, so it’s easier to see what you can expect to pay.

Besides the 4th night free promotion, there are several other exclusive benefits you get by booking this stay through AMEX, including:

  • 12:00 pm check-in, if available
  • Guaranteed 4:00 pm late check-out
  • Room upgrades if available
  • Free daily breakfast for 2
  • Complimentary round of golf for 2 people
AMEX Platinum Versus Citi Prestige For Booking Hotels
Complimentary Golf for 2 Is a Valuable Perk if You Play Because You’d Otherwise Pay $175+ per Person for a Tee Time!

I calculated the breakfast and golf perks to be worth ~$550.  Because breakfast costs ~$25 per person each day or ~$200 total for 4 days.  And golf is $175 per person or $350 total.

And you can’t put a value on the late check-out, but it gives you more time to spend relaxing by the pool or beach.  Plus, room upgrades can be worth ~$800+ because nightly rates at the hotel increase significantly when you select a different room type.

2.   Citi Prestige

Using Citi Prestige card perks to book a hotel stay is much more straightforward.  I sent an email to the Citi Prestige concierge with our desired travel dates and the name of the hotel.

And I heard back within 2 days with pricing deals.  Including the 4th night free benefit, we’d pay ~$3,800, which includes all taxes & fees.

AMEX Platinum Versus Citi Prestige For Booking Hotels
The Information From the Citi Prestige Concierge Gives You the Pricing Information

So we would have saved ~$170 on the 4-night hotel stay by booking with the Citi Prestige instead of through AMEX.  But we won’t get any extra perks.  For example, just the free breakfast with AMEX is worth ~$200.

For folks who wouldn’t take advantage of the extra benefits, it might make sense to book with the Citi Prestige.  And consider you earn 3X Citi ThankYou points for hotel purchases with the card.  That’s more than 11,000 points with an expensive stay like this example.

Plus, the Citi Prestige also has some of the best trip protection coverage.  This can come in handy if a trip is cancelled or interrupted because of an illness or other eligible reason.

Bottom Line

For a recent wedding anniversary trip, team member Keith and his wife researched the best options for booking a 4-night stay at the One & Only Palmilla in Los Cabos, Mexico.

Through AMEX Fine Hotels & Resorts, there was a promotion to get a 4th night free.  And you also get exclusive perks for booking with AMEX, including guaranteed late check-out, free daily breakfast for 2, and complimentary round of golf for 2 people.

The total cost with AMEX is slightly more than using the Citi Prestige 4th night free benefit.  But the extra perks with AMEX more than offset the higher out of pocket expense.  So team member Keith decided to book through AMEX!

Do you have experience booking a boutique hotel stay with your AMEX Platinum or Citi Prestige?  I’d love to hear your experience!

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