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One of the things I love most about being The Points Guy is getting to hear stories from readers about how award travel has affected their lives — the exotic vacations they’ve planned, the trips they’ve made to be with family and friends, the premium seats and suites they’ve experienced and so much more, all made possible by points and miles. I love to travel and explore, and it’s an honor to be able to help so many of you get where you want to go.
I like to share these success stories to help inspire you the way you inspire me! From time to time I pick one that catches my eye and post it for everybody to enjoy. If you’re interested in sharing your own story, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org; be sure to include details about how you earned and redeemed your rewards, and put “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. If we publish it, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure!
Recently, I posted a success story from Michael, who used points and miles to celebrate his birthday in Vienna. Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Danielle, who made great use of credit card benefits while traveling the world for a year with her boyfriend James. Here’s what she had to say:
In April of 2015, my boyfriend James and I embarked on a life-changing experience to travel the world for a year. We made the decision to leave only a few months prior: The lease on our apartment in New York was up, and we both felt ready for a change in our lives, so we made that change happen! We packed up our stuff and headed off into the unknown.
Since we only had three months to plan and a budget to stick to, I spent many evenings scouring the internet for ways to save money. That’s when we discovered TPG and began taking in article after article. Neither of us had any rewards credit cards, so we had to start from scratch. We got a few different accounts to diversify our points and miles, initially focusing on cards with low or waived annual fees. However, we were intrigued by the Citi Prestige Card despite the higher price tag. After looking at all the benefits and how we could redeem ThankYou points for flights, it seemed like a good option for us.
The annual $250 air travel credit essentially dropped the annual fee from $450 to $200 right off the bat. We also figured we’d get plenty of use out of the 4th Night Free hotel benefit on such a long trip. The clincher was the Priority Pass and Admirals Club lounge access. I’ve only flown business class once in my life, and lounges were something I’d never really experienced. As budget travelers, being able to indulge in the occasional luxury seemed like an amazing perk to us!
We decided to go for it, and the card turned out to be a huge help. After earning the sign-up bonus pretty quickly, we started putting the other benefits to good use. We used the air credit in 2015 for flights around Europe, but we were able to use it a second time in 2016 since the benefit is based on the calendar year rather than the account year.
The 4th Night Free benefit has saved us over $600 in cities like Florence, Bangkok, Las Vegas and more. We like that we can use it at a wide variety of properties, and that the discount applies to the actual price of the fourth night (instead of an average of all four nights). That allowed us to maximize the benefit by making sure our fourth night was the most expensive one during our stay.
The lounges have definitely been one of the best perks of this card for us, and we’ve used the Priority Pass access in airports from Portland to Portugal. We haven’t taken a ton of flights, as we’ve done a lot of land travel, but when we’ve flown, we’ve almost always had a Priority Pass lounge to relax in. That has made flying and traveling so much more enjoyable!
One downside we encountered (with the 4th Night Free benefit) is that contacting Citi to make reservations can be tricky when traveling in different countries with no phone and spotty internet. It would be amazing if you could just book rooms yourself online and then receive the credit on your statement, but I understand why they set it up the way they do, and it really is a minor inconvenience when all is said and done.
Otherwise, we have loved this card and all that we’ve picked up from TPG in the last year. We’re still learning, but we’ve already gotten so much value out of the information provided, and we hope our story can help others as well! Even as budget travelers, we’re still able to use so many of these great perks, so you don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy some luxury every now and then.
Danielle and James aren’t the first readers to have written in with a success story about the Citi Prestige Card, and I’m not surprised. In my opinion, the 4th Night Free benefit is the most valuable credit card perk out there, and since it’s uncapped, you can save a massive amount on hotel stays. It’s a great fit for a trip where you’ll be moving from one city (or hotel property) to another, and it’s especially nice for international travel, since the Prestige Card has no foreign transaction fees.
There are several credit cards that offer lounge access, but Citi Prestige has a huge advantage when it comes to Priority Pass access, since you can bring up to two guests into lounges with you for free. By comparison, The Platinum Card from American Express only gives complimentary access to the cardholder — guests cost an extra $27 per person. Priority Pass doesn’t have a strong presence in the US, but this benefit can serve you very well when traveling internationally.
I love this story and I want to hear more like it! To thank Danielle for sharing her experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending her a $200 Visa gift card to enjoy on future travels (purchased from Office Depot with my Chase Ink Plus, of course), and I’d like to do the same for you.
Again, if the strategies you’ve learned here have helped you fly in first class, score an amazing suite, reach a far-flung destination or even just save a few dollars, please indulge me and the whole TPG team by emailing us with your own success stories (see instructions above). You’ll have our utmost appreciation, along with some extra spending money for your next trip.
Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!
While Citi announced some negative changes to this card back in July — including a lower sign-up bonus, the elimination of Admirals Club access and the end of the free rounds of golf benefit — one of its most valuable perks still remains, which is the 4th Night Free perk. This benefit alone can save you thousands of dollars a year if you use it to its full advantage.