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TPG reader AJ sent me a message on Facebook to ask about booking hotels:
“Does the Citi Prestige Concierge offer good rates on hotel rooms? How do prices compare to direct bookings?”
Perhaps the most lucrative travel rewards credit card perk out there is the 4th Night Free benefit on the Citi Prestige Card. As the name implies, you can get a free night when you book your stay of four nights or more and use your card to pay. The rebate is uncapped (in terms of both the total refund and the number of times you can get it on different reservations), so the potential savings is huge.
To get the free night, you have to make reservations through the Citi Prestige Concierge. Citi recently updated this process — the actual booking was previously handled by the Carlson Wagonlit travel agency, but earlier this month Citi enabled the Prestige Concierge to make reservations directly. Either way, it’s good to have a sense of how prices compare to other booking options. Some credit card benefits force you to pay a premium that can wipe out your potential savings (like the companion ticket on The Platinum Card from American Express). Fortunately, that’s not the case here.
You can get the fourth night free with most public rates. Even better, you can combine it with other discounts like AAA and AARP, as well as individual hotel promotions (like one TPG reader did last summer at the Four Seasons in Miami). Another plus is that unlike many third-party bookings, you should earn points and elite credits for your entire stay (including the free night, since that gets refunded to you later as a statement credit).
Prices are comparable to what you’ll get by booking directly; in fact, the Citi Prestige benefits guide specifies that “rates provided will be equal to or lower than the lowest publicly-available fare at the hotel’s official website.” Still, it’s worth searching on your own first to see what’s available. If you’re offered a higher rate for whatever reason, at least you’ll know what you should be paying. You can then request that the concierge contact the hotel or chain directly to figure out why you’re not getting the best price.
Overall, I think your chances of getting a good rate with this benefit are better than when you book through the Citi ThankYou Travel Center (or another travel portal like Chase Ultimate Rewards or Amex Membership Rewards). The Citi Prestige Concierge offers you a live person who has at least some capacity to look at prices elsewhere. If you can find a lower eligible rate than what they’re offering, the concierge may be able to help you book it. If you find lower ineligible rates, you’re probably still better off sticking with Citi and getting your fourth night free.
For more on maximizing Citi Prestige and hotel stays in general, check out these posts:
- How I’ve Gotten $2,250 in Value from the Citi Prestige Card
- Citi Prestige Sign-Up Bonus and Benefits
- Points Intervention: Maximizing Hotel Stays
- Using Hotel Best Rate Guarantees from Online Travel Agencies