How Do Credit Card Perks Work With Prepaid Hotel Stays?
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Million Mile Secrets reader, Jennifer, commented:
What happens if you use the Citi Prestige 4th night free perk for a prepaid hotel stay? Would anything happen to the reservation if I cancel the card before the stay?
Thanks for the questions, Jennifer!
The 4th night free benefit with the Citi Prestige Card can save you lots of money! While it’s possible to get a credit for the 4th night before your stay, you usually receive the rebate AFTER your hotel stay. It doesn’t matter if you prepay at booking.
That said, if you cancel your Citi Prestige card after booking a prepaid or regular hotel stay, nothing will happen to your reservation.
But keep in mind, while prepaid hotel stays might save you a few bucks, you should only book this way if your plans are firm. Besides typically being non-refundable, you could also lose certain credit card rebates, depending on the card you use.
I’ll explain what to consider when booking prepaid hotel stays!
Prepaid Hotel Stays
When you book a hotel stay, you usually have the option to book a prepaid non-refundable rate, which is cheaper than a flexible booking.
For example, a prepaid room night at The Westin Singapore is ~$21 cheaper per night than the regular room rate. So the savings can add up if you’re staying multiple nights.
For example, if you book a prepaid 4-night stay at a hotel that costs $250 per night through Citi, your card will be charged $1,000. But you’ll receive a credit for the 4th night of $250.
Million Mile Secrets team members Harlan and Keith have used this fantastic perk on prepaid and regular stays. And typically the credit for the 4th night posts within 1 to 2 billing cycles AFTER the stay.
Million Mile Secrets reader Jennifer mentioned receiving the 4th night credit for a prepaid stay prior to her stay. But she had to call Citi to request the credit.
In most instances, you’ll likely want to keep your Citi Prestige card open until after your stay to make sure you get the 4th night rebate. If your annual fee becomes due while you wait, you might have to pay the fee to buy more time to get the rebate. Otherwise cancelling the card could mean losing it altogether.
In general, you should only book a prepaid stay if you’re 100% certain of your plans. Because unexpected events can impact your travel plans, which means you could be out-of-pocket for the cost of the reservation. In addition, you might lose out on great credit card perks.
For example, booking a prepaid stay with a card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve could mean losing your $300 annual travel credit. Because if the travel credit is triggered after booking a prepaid stay, and you have to cancel the reservation, you will NOT get the travel credit back.
Even if a hotel refunds your prepaid stay, Chase will not put the travel credit back in your account.
If you cancel a credit card after booking a prepaid or regular hotel stay, your reservation will NOT be affected.
But if you use the 4th night free perk with Citi Prestige to book your stay, you could miss out on getting the 4th night rebate. Because the credit typically posts to your account AFTER the hotel stay, even if it’s a prepaid stay. Although there are some exceptions.
With other cards, you might lose out on certain benefits if you book a prepaid stay and your plans change. For example, the $300 annual travel credit with Chase Sapphire Reserve will NOT go back to your account if it is used towards a prepaid hotel reservation and you have to cancel your plans.
That’s why I only recommend booking prepaid hotel stays if your plans are firm.
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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! :)