How to Save 25% on Hotels with the Citi Prestige Card
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Today, TPG Senior Points & Miles Correspondent Jason Steele explores one of the most intriguing benefits on the new and improved Citi Prestige to see how much value it offers cardholders.
Citi is attempting to capture the market for premium credit cards with its recently upgraded Citi Prestige Card, and to get the attention of new applicants, it's currently offering a sign-up bonus of 50,000 ThankYou points after spending $3,000 within the first three months after account opening.
To make a case for Prestige as one of the top travel rewards cards, this week I'll be examining some of its more valuable benefits in detail. Today I'll start with one that I find particularly interesting: the offer of a 4th hotel night free.
How the 4th Night Free Offer Works
Basically, when you use the Citi Prestige card to book four or more paid nights at a hotel, you'll receive one of those nights as a statement credit on your account. The hotel booking must be made through Citi's designated travel agent, Carlson Wagonlit Travel.
To use this benefit, you must call Citi's Travel Concierge service, since there's no way for you to book hotels through this service online. However, you can examine the available hotels in advance by using the Carlson Wagonlit website. In most cases, the travel concierge will take down the information about your stay (location, date, price range, etc), and Carlson Wagonlit Travel will send you an email within 24 hours with a list of available hotels and prices. If you have a specific hotel in mind, they can conference in representatives from Carlson Wagonlit to book your reservation more quickly.
Interestingly, your card will be charged normally (so you'll receive 3x points for your hotel stay, including the 4th night), and you'll later receive a pro-rata statement credit equal to one night's stay. So if your stay is four nights, you'll get 25% back as a separate statement credit. If you stay 5 nights, the credit will only be 20% of the total charge. If the hotel requires prepayment, your card will be charged immediately, and you'll receive the appropriate statement credit later.
There are some reports that you can add your hotel loyalty program information to your booking, which should entitle you to earn points and take advantage of any benefits offered by your elite status. However, I haven't been able to find any conclusive evidence either way. Most likely, this will vary from one hotel chain to another.
How to Maximize This Benefit
You could realize a discount of 25% when you're paying for a four night stay, albeit at the expense of having to call Citi and endure a more time consuming booking process. Another downside is that you forgo any other portal discounts such as those offered by the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal for purchases made through online travel agencies like Hotels.com. In addition, there are other cash back portals that might offer 1-3% back when booking directly through a hotel's site. To mitigate this, you could be sure to book stays of no more than four days through Citi's travel service, and then book additional nights as separate reservations using any other means.
This benefit will clearly serve you well if your travel is reimbursed by your company or client. While you will receive a statement credit on your card, every other aspect of your reservation, bill, and credit card charge will indicate the full price of your stay. You might consider submitting an expense report for the entire four night stay to be a moral grey area, but since the statement credit is a benefit of your personal credit card (for which you pay a $450 annual fee), I don't see it as any different from the points, miles, or cash back you might earn by using another card, especially since hotel rewards programs commonly offer points worth 14-17% of a paid stay.
You can only earn a statement credit for one night per reservation, no matter how long it is. The terms also prohibit splitting an eight night reservation into two back-to-back four night reservations. However, you should be able to split a hotel stay of nine nights or more, so long as the fifth night is booked through another channel.
This is an exceptionally generous offer that should attract the attention of anyone who regularly books paid hotel stays of four nights or more. When you consider the value of this benefit, as well as the 3x points earned for hotel purchases, and the ability to transfer ThankYou points to 11 different airline programs and Hilton HHonors, Citi Prestige may now be the best credit card to use for hotel stays.
Check out these posts for more info on the card:
- Citi Prestige Updates Benefits
- Amex Platinum vs. Visa Black Card vs. Citi Prestige: Who Wins?
- Citi ThankYou Rewards: Earning, Redeeming, & More
Have you used the Citi Prestige 4th night free benefit?
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