Caution: You might only save $7 with the Citi Premier’s $100 hotel credit
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Citi is a TPG advertising partner.
The Citi Premier® Card has really stepped up its benefits over the last year. In June, the card began offering 3x points per dollar at supermarkets, a permanent change that competing cards are only adding temporarily. Citi also introduced an annual $100 hotel credit per calendar year, which is pretty unique considering the card only has a $95 annual fee.
But is the $100 hotel credit really that valuable?
For starters, it applies to single-stay hotel bookings of $500 or more, after taxes. That means you won’t always save as much as you’d expect. Additionally, since you have to book your hotel through Citi ThankYou Travel, you won’t earn points or elite night credits through most hotel loyalty programs. The savings might also not be as substantial when you consider that Citi doesn’t always offer the lowest rate available.
Let’s take a look at some of the obstacles you may encounter when redeeming the $100 Citi Premier hotel credit and how much you can actually save with this benefit.
Want more credit card news and advice from TPG? Sign up for our daily newsletter!
How to redeem the Citi Premier hotel credit
Redeeming the Citi Premier’s $100 hotel credit is pretty straightforward. You need to log in to your Citi account and head to the ThankYou Travel site. Then, enter your search parameters and select the hotel you’re interested in booking on the results page.
Once you’re on the booking page, you’ll see a checkbox for the Citi Premier Hotel Benefit. Make sure it’s selected so you can see your total reflected accurately.
If you have both the Citi Premier and Citi Prestige® Card, you’ll see checkboxes for both benefits. Choose one and your total will be updated in the payment summary column. You’ll also need to enter your Citi Premier card number to finalize the booking.
The information for the Citi Prestige has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Related: Citi Premier Card review
How much you can actually save with the Citi Premier hotel credit
While the Citi Premier hotel credit sounds promising, you might save significantly less than $100. Citi doesn’t always offer the lowest rates, including member-only discounts offered through Hilton and Hyatt’s loyalty programs. The $100 credit also applies after taxes, which cuts further into your total savings.
For example, let’s say you’re looking to redeem the credit on a stay at the Hilton Istanbul Bosphorus. The cheapest rate available on the Citi ThankYou Travel site for a twin room for July 19 to July 23, 2021, is $1,009.24. With the $100 Citi Premier hotel credit, this drops to $909.24.
But that same room goes for $944.72 per night on the Hilton website, and Citi ThankYou Travel doesn’t show the Hilton member rate, which is even lower at 758.46 euros ($916.38).
In this case, the Citi Premier hotel credit ends up saving you just $7.14 over the Hilton Honors member rate and $35.48 over the flexible rate. That’s a far cry from the $100 savings you probably expected.
Price discrepancies are prevalent across the board and not just at Hilton hotels or properties in Istanbul. I searched hotels in various cities across all major chains and consistently found the Citi ThankYou Travel rates to be higher than both the flexible and member rates offered directly through the hotel. The closest I got to saving $100 was at the London Marriott Hotel County Hall, where the Citi Premier discount amounted to $67 off over the lowest rate on the Marriott website.
That’s not to say you can’t get substantial savings or that you shouldn’t try to use this benefit. Citi does periodically offer discounted rates that are lower than what you’ll find on the hotel website. In these scenarios, you can actually save quite a bit — with or without the hotel credit. In any case, it’s good to curtail your expectations when redeeming this credit.
What to do if the hotel you want to book isn’t listed
One major issue I came across when attempting to redeem my $100 hotel credit is availability.
When researching rates at the Doubletree Umraniye a few months back, the hotel simply didn’t show up in the Citi ThankYou search results. I even tried using the “search hotels” tool to look up the property by name.
Even though the hotel auto-populated, I was directed to a page with an error message.
Citi Prestige cardholders who run into this problem while redeeming their fourth-night free benefit can simply call the Citi Concierge to book their reservation. The same accommodation, however, can’t be made for Premier cardholders, since they don’t have access to Citi Concierge services.
Fortunately, I found.. If your hotel of choice does not appear in Citi ThankYou Travel search results, head back to the main search page and type the hotel chain into the “Preferred hotel” box.
You’ll get a narrowed down list of search results that include all properties within that hotel chain – even ones that did not previously appear. From there, you can proceed with booking the hotel.
Citi Premier hotel credit FAQ
When does my Citi Premier hotel credit expire?
The Citi Premier hotel credit expires on Dec. 31 of every year. You’ll get a new credit on Jan. 31.
Can you stack the $100 hotel credit with the fourth-night free benefit from Citi Prestige?
Unfortunately, you can’t stack the $100 Citi Premier hotel credit with the fourth-night free benefit from the Citi Prestige. You’ll have to choose one or the other. The Citi Prestige fourth-night free benefit will generally be more useful since you’re not limited to a certain spending threshold. You can use it to book a hotel that goes for $50 per night or $500.
Can you use the Citi Premier $100 hotel credit when you book with points?
You can use the Citi Premier hotel credit to bring down the total cost of a stay, then redeem points for the remaining balance. For example, on a $655.36 booking, you can apply the $100 credit, which brings your total cost down to $365.36. You can then use your Citi ThankYou points at a rate of 1.25 cents each to further reduce your costs.
Is the Citi Premier Card worth it?
Despite the questionable usefulness of the hotel credit, the Citi Premier is worth getting. The sign-up bonus of 60,000 points after $4,000 spent within the first three months of account opening is pretty substantial. You can use it for $600 worth of travel bookings or get even more value by transferring these points to one of Citi’s travel partners.
As an example, you can book four round-trip domestic award tickets by transferring 60,000 ThankYou points to Etihad Guest. That can easily get you over $1,000 in value, depending on when and where you’re traveling.
For 21,500 miles each way, you can book a round-trip ticket to Europe by moving your ThankYou points over to Flying Blue. I used my ThankYou points for a trip to Istanbul when round-trip airfare cost almost $1,000. It was nice to shell out just 43,000 Flying Blue miles instead.
Citi ThankYou points are undervalued, in my opinion, and the sign-up bonus from the Citi Premier Card can go quite a long way. But what makes a card truly great is how rewarding it is beyond the welcome bonus. With this card, you’ll earn 3x points at grocery stores. Considering what a big spending category this is for most people — and the fact that 3x ThankYou points is one of the highest returns you can get — the Citi Premier is a great long-term addition to your wallet.
While the Citi Premier is a great rewards card, the $100 hotel credit may not be as useful as you’d expect. The credit is already fairly limited since it only applies to single hotel stays of $500 or more (excluding taxes and fees).
Considering that you won’t always get the lowest hotel rates through Citi ThankYou Travel, your savings can end up way below $100. That being said, the card has generous category bonuses and only a $95 annual fee, so I don’t think the travel credit’s usefulness negates the card’s other positive attributes.
Screenshots courtesy of Citi.com
Featured photo by Jasper Cole/Getty Images
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
- Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.