Don’t Make This Costly Mistake Using the Citi Prestige 4th Night Free Perk!

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The Citi Prestige card’s 4th night free benefit is one of my favorite travel card perks.  Several Million Mile Secrets team members have used it to save thousands of dollars!  And with recent changes to the card, it’s easier than ever to use.

Easy doesn’t always mean better.  One of the changes is the option to book 4th night free hotel stays online instead of calling or emailing the Citi Prestige Concierge (although you can still do that).

But the convenience of booking online comes at a price!

Dont Make This Costly Mistake Using The Citi Prestige 4th Night Free Perk
Sure, It’s Easy to Book Citi Prestige 4th Night Free Stays Online. But You Might Want to Skip the Convenience and Call Instead

I’ll remind you of how the Citi Prestige 4th night free perk works.  And explain why you should avoid booking your 4th night free stays online.

Citi Prestige 4th Night Free Basics

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

Link:   Save Big Money on Paid Hotel Stays With the Citi Prestige 4th Night Free Perk

When you book a minimum 4-night hotel stay with your Citi Prestige card, either by phone or email through the Citi Prestige Concierge, or online through the Citi ThankYou Travel Portal, you’ll get a discount equivalent to the average nightly rate of your stay (excluding taxes and fees).  That means that you will be saving 25% off the total nightly rate (before taxes) for your stay.

If you book online, you’ll have the option to pay for the stay with your Citi Prestige card, Citi ThankYou points, or a combination of both.  By phone or email, you must book your stay with your Citi Prestige card.  Although some folks have had success applying Citi ThankYou points by phone.

Dont Make This Costly Mistake Using The Citi Prestige 4th Night Free Perk
Save ~$360 When Booking 4 Nights at the Sunrise Springs Resort & Spa With Your Citi Prestige Card

You can use this benefit for an unlimited number of 4+ night stays at any hotel that can be booked through the Citi ThankYou Travel Portal or Citi Prestige Concierge.  But, if you book consecutive 4-night stays at the same hotel (8+ nights, etc.) you will not receive more than one free night.

Before you book, make sure you are getting the best price.  Citi will match the price offered directly through the hotel, and if you book through the Concierge you should be able to apply special rates (like AAA discounts).   But Citi will NOT match prices offered by 3rd-party booking services like Priceline or Orbitz.

Booking Online Through the Citi ThankYou Travel Portal vs. Citi Prestige Concierge

You can book 4th night free stays 2 different ways:

Booking 4th night free stays online is a recent change.  Here’s what’s new for online bookings:

  • The discount is automatically applied at checkout, so no paying out of pocket (if you book through the Concierge, you’ll pay the full price upfront and receive a statement credit for the discount after your stay)
  • You can pay your bill with Citi ThankYou points at a rate of 1 cent per point.  If you redeem points this way, you will NOT earn Citi ThankYou Points for the purchase
Note:   Even you if want to book your stay online, you still might need to use the Citi Prestige Concierge if you can’t find the hotel you want.  Also, discounted rates like AAA or AARP can NOT be applied to online bookings.

The ability to book online sounds like a faster and more convenient way to take advantage of this perk.  But there are pitfalls!

Beware!   Booking Online Could Cost You Points!

When you make your booking online with the Citi ThankYou Travel Portal, hotels consider it a 3rd-party booking.  That means you will NOT earn elite stay credits or hotel points!

And you might not be able to enjoy the benefits of your elite status, like free breakfast or late check-out.

Dont Make This Costly Mistake Using The Citi Prestige 4th Night Free Perk
Don’t Count on Elite Status Perks Like Free Breakfast If You Book Your 4th Night Free Stay Online. And You Won’t Earn Points or Stay Credits, Either!

Million Mile Secrets team member Jasmin found this out the hard way, and missed out not only on points and stay credits, but a lucrative IHG Accelerate promotion bonus.  She’s still kicking herself because she would have otherwise qualified to earn 41,000 IHG points!

Booking Through the Citi Prestige Concierge Is a MUCH Better Deal

When you book online or by phone with the Citi Prestige Concierge, you WILL earn hotel points and stay credits.  It’s processed like a direct hotel booking, much like if you booked through a travel agent.

With a Citi Prestige Concierge booking you will pay for the full stay, and receive a statement credit for your 4th night, usually within ~10 days of the charge appearing on your account.  Because you are paying before the discount is applied, you will earn more Citi ThankYou Points compared to booking online.

Dont Make This Costly Mistake Using The Citi Prestige 4th Night Free Perk
You’ll Have to Wait ~10 Days After You’ve Paid for Your Stay to Get Your Statement Credit. But It’s Worth It Because You’ll Earn Citi ThankYou Points for the Full Amount Charged to Your Citi Prestige Card

With an online booking, the discount is applied before you pay for the stay.  So you’ll earn fewer points because you’ll have discounted amount charged to your card.

Million Mile Secrets team member Harlan verified this on a recent 4th night free stay.  And his statement credit appeared before his travel dates, because it was a pre-paid, non-refundable booking.

And remember, with a Citi Prestige Concierge booking, you’ll be able to combine your 4th night free with other hotel discounts, and promotions!

What Else Do You Get With the Citi Prestige?

Link:   Citi Prestige

Link:   Flexible Points, Terrific Travel Perks, and a Huge Sign-Up Bonus Make the Citi Prestige Worth Considering

Currently, there’s NO sign-up bonus on the Citi Prestige card.  But in the past, it’s been as high as 75,000 Citi ThankYou points after meeting minimum spending requirements.

So if you’re not in a rush to get the card, it’s best wait for a sign-up bonus to (hopefully!) return.

In addition to the 4th night free benefit, the Citi Prestige comes with lots of other terrific perks:

  • 3 Citi ThankYou points per $1 you spend at airlines, hotels, and travel agencies
  • 2 Citi ThankYou points per $1 you spend at restaurants and select entertainment (includes movie theaters, amusement parks, tourist attractions)
  • $250 annual statement credit for airline fees such as airfare and baggage fees appearing on your statement from December to the following December
  • $100 statement credit for Global Entry application fee
  • Priority Pass Select membership
  • No foreign transaction fees

The $450 annual fee is NOT waived the first year.   But you can easily offset the fee by using the card’s generous benefits.

Bottom Line

The Citi Prestige 4th night free perk is still one of the best travel deals around.  And they’ve recently added the convenience of booking a 4th night free online through the Citi ThankYou Travel Portal.

But just because you can doesn’t mean you should!  When you book online, you’ll miss out on hotel points, stay credits, and possibly elite status perks.  And you’ll earn fewer Citi ThankYou points for your booking, because the discount is applied before you pay for your stay.

Even though it’s a little more work, it’s better to book by phone or email with the Citi Prestige Concierge.  You’ll still get hotel points, stay credits, and elite perks.  And you’ll earn more Citi ThankYou points because the full amount of your stay is charged to your card.  You’ll just have to wait ~10 days for the discount (in the way of a statement credit) to appear.

Plus, you can take advantage of special rates and hotel promotions when you book through the Citi Prestige Concierge.

Have you saved Big Money with the Citi Prestige 4th night free perk?  Please share your experiences in the comments!

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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