Citi Launches Dedicated Concierge for Prestige Cardholders
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Last month, we reported that Citi had finally simplified the 4th Night Free booking process, as part of its new partnership with the Aspire Lifestyles concierge service. In theory, it's now easier to make 4th Night Free bookings, since you only need to speak to one representative to complete the entire process. 4th Night Fee is the Citi Prestige card's single most valuable benefit, so this was big news for cardholders.
Unfortunately, while my first booking through Aspire seemed to go well, I later discovered that the agent hadn't calculated my 4th Night Free rebate, and had initially determined that I wasn't eligible since I had booked a hotel rate that included the fifth night free (fortunately this was just a misunderstanding — both the fourth and fifth nights are free). Based on the comments on this post, however, it was clear that readers were experiencing some issues as well, so I reached out to Citi to see what could be done.
Citi's PR team responded right away, and I heard from a Citi Concierge manager a few hours later. It's clear that Citi's aware of the growing pains, and is working to improve the process. Still, for a $450 annual fee card, I'd rather not run into any kinks at all.
Citi Dedicated Concierge
In addition to improving the process for all cardholders, it looks like Citi's working to accommodate some big spenders right away through a new program called "Dedicated Concierge." Here's what Citi shared with me about the new program: "We are excited to now offer a named concierge who can provide personalized, streamlined, consistent service. We’re looking forward to sharing more about this new benefit with our cardmembers in the coming months."
It sounds like Dedicated Concierge is an invite-only program for now — I did get an invite directly from Citi Concierge, either because I'm a Citi Prestige power user, because I reached out to Citi's PR team or perhaps a little bit of both. Either way, my experience has been very good with Gabriella so far. Here's an early email I received from her below:
Dedicated Concierge feels a bit like SPG's Ambassador program — while I've grown to have an excellent relationship with my Starwood Ambassador, the experience felt a bit impersonal at first. Either way, this is a tremendous benefit for a credit card to offer — Amex's Centurion card reportedly offers a similar perk, albeit for a $2,500 annual fee (though Amex's concierges are presumably a bit better connected than those at Aspire Lifestyles).
Gabriella sounds more than qualified — from another intro email, it's clear that she's a well-traveled college grad, and even had experience as a concierge at Disney World, which is known for being pretty selective about its hires. She confirmed that she can help make dining recommendations and reservations, locate event tickets, book transportation, assist with flower and gift deliveries, and provide other services: "Whether you need anniversary reminders, a local dry cleaner, a list of child-friendly restaurants, a stroller rental or a magician for a birthday party, I can assist with multiple everyday (and not so everyday) requests."
Ultimately, it seems that Citi is aware that the concierge transition wasn't entirely seamless, and is currently working to improve the booking process. Despite some initial challenges, the good news is that it's still entirely possible to book 4th Night Free stays — while it might take a bit longer to lock in your stay right now than it will in a few weeks, getting hundreds of dollars back after a hotel stay is worth the effort. The Citi Prestige card is still worth its weight in gold, and if Dedicated Concierge turns out to be a solid, widely available offering, it'll make Citi's premium-fee card all the more valuable.
Did you receive an invitation to get set up with a Dedicated Concierge?