How Valuable Is The Citi Prestige’s 4th Night Free When Booking Luxury Hotels Though Citi ThankYou

Jul 25, 2019

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The Citi Prestige’s fourth-night-free benefit has provided excellent value to Citi Prestige cardholders over the years. The Points Guy himself saved $1,560 on an overwater villa at the Park Hyatt Maldives. And TPG Editor at Large Zach Honig went so far as to call the fourth night free benefit “one of the travel industry’s top perks.”

Historically, the biggest downside of the fourth night free benefit has been having to call or email the concierge to book it — so many cardholders rejoiced when Citi added online fourth night free bookings in August 2017. But cardholders quickly found that booking fourth-night-free stays through the Citi ThankYou Travel Center has its downsides: limited properties, limited rates, no access to elite benefits and no access to elite earning. These limitations were a deal breaker for many cardholders, who continued booking most fourth night free stays with the concierge.

Then in January 2019 bad news arrived. Among many other changes to the Citi Prestige Card, Citi announced two major changes to the fourth-night-free benefit that will go into effect on September 1, 2019:

  • Fourth Night Free will be limited to twice per calendar year. This cap includes both the main card member and any authorized users.
  • No more Fourth Night Free bookings through the concierge. You’ll only be able to book these stays through thankyou.com or by calling Citi. This means you usually won’t have access to elite benefits and earning.

With the concierge being removed as an option for booking fourth night free stays starting September 1, 2019, and many cardholders reconsidering whether the Citi Prestige can justify its $495 annual fee, I decided to dive into how booking fourth-night-free stays through thankyou.com compares to other popular booking options from a price and points-earning standpoint. In this post I’ll consider high-end luxury options, and in a subsequent post I’ll consider mid-tier options. Let’s get started.

In This Post

Booking Options

When booking a luxury hotel, you’ll usually want to consider some of the following options:

In this guide I’ll consider these booking options, although I’ll exclude the concierge for the Citi Prestige fourth night free since this option will be removed soon.

Methodology

For this post, I considered four- or five-night stays at various luxury hotels. I randomly selected a date about two months in the future for my searches. For four-night stays, I use the dates of September 9-13, whereas for five-night stays I used the dates of September 9-14.

I used four-night stays for most searches, since this aligns with the Citi Prestige’s fourth-night-free benefit. However, for hotel brands that offer a fifth night free on awards to at least some customers, I used five-night stays for my searches.

All of the examples in this piece are for properties that TPG has reviewed. Additionally, I put a focus on properties that are bookable through all of the methods described above.

The rates listed in this piece are for two people staying in the least expensive room type. The rates include all taxes and fees that are disclosed during the booking process. The rates listed were available when I searched, but may not still be available for booking.

For direct rates, I considered member rates and promotional rates for popular hotel brands, as well as AAA rates. Although I recommend booking direct stays through a cash-back portal, I’m not considering cash back in my analysis since the rates vary greatly based on the portal used and the date booked.

For American Express’ Fine Hotels and Resorts and Chase’s Luxury Hotel and Resort Collection — both of which provide elite-like benefits during stays — I didn’t include any property credits or benefits in my numerical analysis, since different people may value these benefits differently.

Finally, remember that you usually won’t have access to elite benefits or earning when you book through hotels.com/Venture or thankyou.com. You’ll usually, but not always, have access to elite benefits and earning when you book through American Express’ Fine Hotels and Resorts and Chase’s Luxury Hotel and Resort Collection. And you’ll always have access to elite benefits and earnings when you book direct.

Now, let’s dive into some examples:

Park Hyatt New York (United States)

(Photo by Mitch Berman/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Mitch Berman/The Points Guy)

TPG Contributor Mitch Berman spent a stay-cation at the Park Hyatt New York and reviewed his experience last fall. The Park Hyatt New York is the global flagship property for the Park Hyatt brand.

The Park Hyatt New York is a Category 7 Hyatt property, so you’d need to pay 30,000 points per night. This means a four-night stay would cost you 120,000 points, which is worth $2,040 according to TPG’s latest valuation of Hyatt points at 1.7 cents each.

In the following table, I compare the cost, credit card earnings and World of Hyatt earnings for a sample four-night stay. In this table, I assume that you have Hyatt Discoverist status through the The World of Hyatt Credit Card, and that you’ll use the World of Hyatt card to pay for the stay when booking directly. Note that you’ll only earn Hyatt points on the room rate, not on taxes and fees.

Booking Method Sept 9-13, 2019 Credit Card Earnings Loyalty Earnings (as Hyatt Discoverist) Net Cost
Booking cash-rate directly (AAA rate) using The World of Hyatt Credit Card $4,135 ($3,591 for room) 16,540 World of Hyatt points, worth $281 19,751 World of Hyatt points, worth $336 $3,518*
Booking award nights 120,000 points (worth $2,040 based on TPG’s valuations) n/a n/a $2,040
Hotels.com/Venture using Capital One Venture Card $4,360 ($3,780 for room) 43,600 Capital One miles, worth $610 $378 of value towards Hotels.com free night $3,372
Thankyou.com (after fourth-night-free savings) using Citi Prestige $3,594 ($2,976 for room) 10,782 ThankYou points, worth $183 n/a $3,411
Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts using Amex Platinum $4,360 ($3,780 for room) 21,800 Membership Rewards points, worth $436 20,790 World of Hyatt points, worth $353 $3,571**
Chase Luxury Hotel and Resort Collection using Chase Sapphire Reserve $4,352 ($3,773 for room) 13,056 Ultimate Rewards points, worth $261 20,752 World of Hyatt points, worth $353 $3,738**

*Doesn’t factor in the potential cashback earnings you could get from clicking through a cashback portal (although many portals won’t pay on AAA rates).
**Doesn’t factor in the value of the benefits provided through these programs.

The obvious choice if you want to stay at the Park Hyatt New York on these dates is to use Hyatt points, even if you need to transfer them from Chase Ultimate Rewards points. If you don’t have enough points, then I’d recommend booking using the Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts program, so that you’ll get a space-available upgrade, 4pm check-out, a $100 property credit and daily breakfast for two.

Park Hyatt Beijing (China)

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(Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

I stayed at the Park Hyatt Beijing last fall to test whether pre-paid online bookings through Amex’s Fine Hotels and Resorts (FHR) program would earn 5x Membership Rewards points and still provide access to elite benefits and earnings.

The Park Hyatt Beijing is a Category 5 Hyatt property, so you’d need to pay 20,000 points per night. This means a four-night stay would cost you 80,000 points, which is worth $1,360 according to TPG’s valuations.

In the following table, I compare the cost, credit card earnings and World of Hyatt earnings for a sample four-night stay. In this table, I assume that you have Hyatt Discoverist status through the The World of Hyatt Credit Card, and that you’ll use the World of Hyatt card to pay for the stay when booking directly. Note that you only earn Hyatt points on the room rate, not on taxes and fees.

Booking Method Sept 9-13, 2019 Credit Card Earnings Loyalty Earnings (as Hyatt Discoverist) Net Cost
Booking cash-rate directly (member rate advanced purchase) using The World of Hyatt Credit Card $966 ($840 for room)  3,864 World of Hyatt points, worth $66  4,620 World of Hyatt points, worth $79 $821*
Booking award nights 80,000 points, worth $1,360 based on TPG’s valuations n/a n/a $1,360
Hotels.com/Venture using Capital One Venture Card $1,136 ($988 for room) 11,360 Capital One miles, worth $159 $99 of value towards Hotels.com free night $878
Thankyou.com (after fourth-night-free savings) using Citi Prestige $802 ($651 for room) 2,406 ThankYou points, worth $41 n/a $761
Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts using Amex Platinum $1,136 ($988 for room) 5,680 Membership Rewards points, worth $114 5,434 World of Hyatt points, worth $92 $930**
Chase Luxury Hotel and Resort Collection using Chase Sapphire Reserve $1,137 ($988 for room) 3,411 Ultimate Rewards points, worth $68 5,434 World of Hyatt points, worth $92 $977**

*Doesn’t factor in the potential cash-back earnings you could get from clicking through a cash-back portal.
**Doesn’t factor in the value of the benefits provided through these programs.

Booking a Citi Prestige fourth night free will be the best choice as long as you are okay forgoing elite benefits and earning — and you want to use your soon to be twice-per-year benefit on this stay. Otherwise, you’ll likely want to book direct or through Amex FHR for the benefits provided on these bookings.

Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills (United States)

(Photo by Brian Kelly/The Points Guy)

Brian Kelly, TPG himself, was intrigued by the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills after TPG Contributor Benji Stawski’s first look at the property — and he wasn’t disappointed when he finally got the chance to stay there last summer.

I considered a five-night stay because Silver, Gold and Diamond Elite Members get every fifth night free when booking a standard room reward. Unfortunately, I didn’t see standard room rewards available for any five-night stay at this property. Only Premium Room Rewards were available for September 9-14 at a cost of 224,000 points per night or 1,120,000 points for the five-night stay. TPG’s most recent valuations peg the value of Hilton points at 0.6 cents each, so the value of the room for the five-night stay would be $6,720.

In the following table, I compare the cost, credit card earnings and Hilton Honors earnings for a sample five-night stay. In this table, I assume that you have either Hilton Gold status through the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card or Hilton Diamond status through the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express (and that you use the corresponding card to pay for the stay when booking directly). Note that you only earn Hilton points on the room rate, not on taxes and fees.

Booking Method Sept 9-14, 2019 Credit Card Earnings Loyalty Earnings Net Cost
Booking cash-rate directly (AAA Stay and Save rate) $3,576 ($2,954 for room) 42,912 Hilton points, worth $257, with Hilton Surpass

50,064 Hilton points, worth $300, with Hilton Aspire

53,172 Hilton points, worth $319, as Hilton Gold

60,080 Hilton points, worth $360, as Hilton Diamond

$3,000 with Hilton Surpass and Hilton Gold status*

$2,916 with Hilton Aspire and Hilton Diamond status*

Booking award nights 1,120,000 points, worth $6,720 based on TPG’s valuations n/a n/a $6,720
Hotels.com/Venture using Capital One Venture Card $4,036 ($3,336 for room) 40,360 Capital One miles, worth $565 $334 of value towards Hotels.com free night $3,137
Thankyou.com (after fourth-night-free savings) using Citi Prestige $3,370 ($2,905 for room) 10,110 ThankYou points, worth $172 n/a $3,198
Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts using Amex Platinum $4,204 ($3,475 for room) 21,020 Membership Rewards points, worth $420 62,550 Hilton points, worth $375 as Hilton Gold

70,500 Hilton points, worth $423 as Hilton Diamond

$3,409 with Hilton Gold status**

$3,361 with Hilton Diamond status**

Chase Luxury Hotel and Resort Collection using Chase Sapphire Reserve $4,204 ($3,475 for room) 12,612 Ultimate Rewards points, worth $252 62,550 Hilton points, worth $375, as Hilton Gold

70,500 Hilton points, worth $423, as Hilton Diamond

$3,577 with Hilton Gold status**

$3,529 with Hilton Diamond status**

*Doesn’t factor in the potential cash-back earnings you could get from clicking through a cash-back portal (although many portals exclude AAA rates).
**Doesn’t factor in the value of the benefits provided through these programs.

If you have a AAA membership, or if you’re willing to purchase one to save a good bit on this stay, then booking direct using the AAA Stay and Save rate will be best regardless of whether you have the Hilton Surpass or the Hilton Aspire. Although Hilton Gold and Hilton Diamond status both provide breakfast for two, some cardholders may want to buy-up to booking through Amex FHR for the benefits provided by the program.

Conrad Tokyo (Japan)

(Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

After his stay at the Conrad Tokyo, TPG Editor at Large Zach Honig said the “Conrad Tokyo is a phenomenal pick for any high-end traveler.”

I considered a five-night stay because Silver, Gold and Diamond Hilton Honors Members get every fifth night free when booking a Standard Room Reward. Hilton doesn’t have an award chart, but a Standard Room Reward is available for September 9-14 for 95,000 points per night, which is 380,000 points for the five-night stay with the fifth night free. TPG’s most recent valuations peg the value of Hilton points at 0.6 cents each, so the value of the room for the five-night stay is $2,280.

In the following table, I compare the cost, credit card earnings and Hilton Honors earnings for a sample five-night stay. In this table, I assume that you have either Hilton Gold status through the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card or Hilton Diamond status through the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express (and that you use the corresponding card to pay for the stay when booking directly). Note that you only earn Hilton points on the room rate, not on taxes and fees.

Booking Method Sept 9-14, 2019 Credit Card Earnings Loyalty Earnings Net Cost
Booking cash-rate directly (Honors discount advance purchase) $3,186 ($2,550 for room) 38,232 Hilton points, worth $229, with Hilton Surpass

44,604 Hilton points, worth $268, with Hilton Aspire

45,900 Hilton points, worth $275, as Hilton Gold

52,000 Hilton points, worth $312, as Hilton Diamond

$2,682 with Hilton Surpass and Hilton Gold status*

$2,606 with Hilton Aspire and Hilton Diamond status*

Booking award nights 380,000 points, worth $2,280 based on TPG’s valuations n/a n/a $2,280
Hotels.com/Venture using Capital One Venture Card $3,251 ($2,603 for room) 32,510 Capital One miles, worth $455 $260 of value towards Hotels.com free night $2,536
Thankyou.com (after fourth-night-free savings) using Citi Prestige $2,044 ($1,869 for room) 6,132 ThankYou points, worth $104 n/a $1,940**
Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts using Amex Platinum $3,821 ($3,062 for room) 19,105 Membership Rewards points, worth $382 55,116 Hilton points, worth $331, as Hilton Gold

62,240 Hilton points, worth $373, as Hilton Diamond

$3,108 with Hilton Gold status***

$3,066 with Hilton Diamond status***

Chase Luxury Hotel and Resort Collection using Chase Sapphire Reserve n/a n/a n/a n/a

*Doesn’t factor in the potential cash-back earnings you could get from clicking through a cash-back portal.
**I believe about $288 of service fees are missing, which are included for the other booking methods.
***Doesn’t factor in the value of the benefits provided through these program.

Even if we include the service fees that I believe weren’t listed on thankyou.com, the Citi Prestige fourth night free is still the best option. A close second is using Hilton points, which may still be a solid option if you struggle to use Hilton points at a value greater than 0.6 cents each.

The St. Regis Rome (Italy)

(Photo by Jessica Puckett/The Points Guy)

The St. Regis Rome is thought by some to be the best hotel in Rome. Plus, unlike the St. Regis New York and the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, the St. Regis Rome is bookable by both Fine Hotels and Resorts and thankyou.com.

I considered a five-night stay because Marriott provides a fifth night free on awards. The St. Regis Rome is a Category 8 Marriott property, so you’d need to pay 85,000 points per night. This means a five-night stay would cost you 340,000 points, which is worth $2,720 according to TPG’s valuations. Unfortunately, there wasn’t award availability for September 9-14.

In the following table, I compare the cost, credit card earnings and Marriott Bonvoy earnings for a sample five-night stay. In this table, I assume that you have either Marriott Silver status through the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card or Marriott Gold status through the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (and that you use the corresponding card to pay for the stay when booking directly). Note that you only earn Marriott points on the room rate, not on taxes, fees and the “destination amenity fee.”

Booking Method Sept 9-14, 2019 Credit Card Earnings Loyalty Earnings Net Cost
Booking cash-rate directly (Member Rate Advance Purchase) with Marriott Boundless or Marriott Brilliant Card $4,661 ($4,116 for room) 27,966 Marriott points, worth $224 45,276 Marriott points, worth $362, as Marriott Silver

51,450 Marriott points, worth $412, as Marriott Gold

$4,075 with Marriott Silver status*

$4,025 with Marriott Gold status*

Booking award nights not available, but would be 340,000 points worth $2,720 n/a n/a not available, but would be $2,720
Hotels.com/Venture using Capital One Venture Card $4,767 ($4,262 for room) 47,670 Capital One miles, worth $667 $426 of value towards Hotels.com free night $3,674
Thankyou.com (after fourth-night-free savings) using Citi Prestige $4,119 ($3,672 for room) 12,357 ThankYou points, worth $210 n/a $3,909
Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts using Amex Platinum $4,363 ($3,895 for room) 21,815 Membership Rewards points, worth $436 42,845 Marriott points, worth $343 ,as Marriott Silver**

48,688 Marriott points, worth $390, as Marriott Gold**

$3,584 with Marriott Silver status**,***

$3,537 with Marriott Gold status**,***

$3,927 without status

Chase Luxury Hotel and Resort Collection using Chase Sapphire Reserve $5,292 ($4,724 for room) 15,876 Ultimate Rewards points, worth $318 51,964 Marriott points, worth $416, as Marriott Silver**

59,050 Marriott points, worth $472, as Marriott Gold**

$4,558 with Marriott Silver status**,***

$4,502 with Marriott Gold status**,***

$4,974 without status

*Doesn’t factor in the potential cash-back earnings you could get from clicking through a cash-back portal.
**Marriott elite status is sometimes not recognized on third-party bookings at Marriott properties, so you may not get loyalty earnings.
***Doesn’t factor in the value of the benefits provided through these programs.

Using Marriott points will be your best option, if you have enough points and you can find availability. If not, then you’ll likely want to book with FHR and hope you can get Bonvoy credit for the stay, or simply book through Hotels.com/Venture. If you book direct and have the Marriott Brilliant Card (or the The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card, which is now closed to new accounts), you may find a rate that provides a $100 statement credit for stays of two nights or longer.

The St. Regis Deer Valley (United States)

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

The St. Regis Deer Valley is a pricey, luxurious resort nestled in the mountains that is excellent for a ski vacation.

I considered a five-night stay because Marriott provides a fifth night free on awards. The St. Regis Deer Valley is a Category 8 Marriott property, so you’d need to pay 85,000 points per night. This means a five-night stay would cost you 340,000 points, which is worth $2,720 according to TPG’s valuations. Unfortunately, there wasn’t award availability for September 9-14.

In the following table, I compare the cost, credit card earnings and Marriott Bonvoy earnings for a sample five-night stay. In this table, I assume that you have either Marriott Silver status through the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card or Marriott Gold status through the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card (and that you use the corresponding card to pay for the stay when booking directly). Note that you only earn Marriott points on the room rate, not on taxes and fees.

Booking Method Sept 9-14, 2019 Credit Card Earnings Loyalty Earnings Net Cost
Booking cash-rate directly (AAA Hot Deals) with Marriott Boundless or Marriott Brilliant Card $2,028 ($1,611 for room) 12,168 Marriott points, worth $97 17,721 Marriott points, worth $142, as Marriott Silver

20,138 Marriott points, worth $161, as Marriott Gold

$1,789 with Marriott Silver status*

$1,770 with Marriott Gold status*

Booking award nights not available, but would be 340,000 points worth $2,720 n/a n/a not available, but would be $2,720
Hotels.com/Venture using Capital One Venture Card $2,459 ($2,015 for room) 24,590 Capital One miles, worth $344 $202 of value towards Hotels.com free night $1,913
Thankyou.com (after fourth-night-free savings) using Citi Prestige $2,037 ($1,767 for room) 6,111 ThankYou points, worth $104 n/a $1,933
Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts using Amex Platinum $2,436 ($1,994 for room) 12,180 Membership Rewards points, worth $244 21,934 Marriott points, worth $175, as Marriott Silver**

24,925 Marriott points, worth $199, as Marriott Gold**

$2,017 with Marriott Silver status**,***

$1,993 with Marriott Gold status**,***

$2,192 without status

Chase Luxury Hotel and Resort Collection using Chase Sapphire Reserve $2,487 ($2,036 for room) 7,461 Ultimate Rewards points, worth $149 22,396 Marriott points, worth $179, as Marriott Silver**

25,450 Marriott points, worth $204, as Marriott Gold**

$2,159 with Marriott Silver status**,***

$2,134 with Marriott Gold status**,***

$2,338 without status

*Doesn’t factor in the potential cash-back earnings you could get from clicking through a cash-back portal (but AAA rates may not earn cash back).
**Marriott elite status is sometimes not recognized on third-party bookings at Marriott properties, so you may not get loyalty earnings.
***Doesn’t factor in the value of the benefits provided through these programs.

Booking direct is the clear winner here, in part due to AAA Hot Rates. Plus, since Marriott properties may not provide elite benefits and earnings on third-party bookings, including FHR, booking direct is the only way to ensure you’ll get elite earnings on your stay.

Note that for this example, booking a Citi fourth-night-free stay is actually more expensive than booking the AAA Hot Rates. This example highlights why losing the option to book fourth night free stays through the concierge — who can access rates like this AAA Hot Rates and then apply the fourth night free benefit — is such a significant loss.

The Palazzo Las Vegas (United States)

(Photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy)

TPG Reviews Editor Nick Ellis visited The Palazzo Las Vegas back in 2016 when he was an intern with TPG. All of The Palazzo’s rooms are suites and Nick enjoyed his massive, base-level suite.

IHG gives a fourth night free on award stays to cardholders of the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card. For the purposes of this guide, I’ll assume you have the IHG Premier Card and the Platinum Elite status that comes with this card. The Palazzo Las Vegas costs 70,000 points per night. So, a four-night award stay would cost you 210,000 points, which is worth $1,050 according to TPG’s valuations.

In the following table, I compare the cost, credit card earnings and IHG earnings for a sample four-night stay. In this table, I assume that you use your IHG Premier Card to pay for your stay when booking directly.

Booking Method Sept 9-13, 2019 Credit Card Earnings Loyalty Earnings (as Platinum Elite) Net Cost
Booking cash-rate directly with IHG Premier Card (Stay 1 Night and Save 20% off Best Flexible Rate) $1,646 ($1,293 for room) 16,460 IHG points, worth $82 19,395 IHG points, worth $97 $1,467*
Booking award nights 210,000 points, worth $1,050 based on TPG’s valuations, + $204 resort fee n/a n/a $1,254
Hotels.com/Venture using Capital One Venture Card $1,670 ($1,293 for room) 16,700 Capital One miles, worth $234 $129 of value towards Hotels.com free night $1,307
Thankyou.com (after fourth-night-free savings) using Citi Prestige $959 ($832 for room) + $204 resort fee 3,489 ThankYou points, worth $59 n/a $1,104
Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts using Amex Platinum $2,036 ($1,616 for room) 10,180 Membership Rewards points, worth $204 24,240 IHG points, worth $121 $1,711**
Chase Luxury Hotel and Resort Collection using Chase Sapphire Reserve $2,014 ($1,747 for room) 6,042 Ultimate Rewards points, worth $121 26,205 IHG points, worth $131 $1,762**,***

*Doesn’t factor in the potential cash-back earnings you could get from clicking through a cash-back portal.
**Doesn’t factor in the value of the benefits provided through these programs.
***May not include resort fee of $204 for the four-night stay.

Booking a Citi Prestige fourth night free will likely be your best option for this stay, unless you have a couple more expensive stays in the same year for which you want to save the soon-to-be-capped benefit. If so, you may want to use IHG points for the stay or book through hotels.com/venture.

David InterContinental Tel Aviv (Israel)

(Photo by Nicky Kelvin/The Points Guy)

TPG UK‘s Nicky Kelvin enjoyed the beachfront location and comfortable rooms of the David InterContinental Tel Aviv on a recent trip.

IHG gives a fourth night free on award stays to cardholders of the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card. For the purposes of this guide, I’ll assume you have the IHG Premier Card and the Platinum Elite status that comes with this card. The David InterContinental Tel Aviv costs 50,000 points per night. So, a four-night stay would cost you 150,000 points, which is worth $750 according to TPG’s valuations.

In the following table, I compare the cost, credit card earnings and IHG earnings for a sample four-night stay. In this table, I assume that you use your IHG Premier Card to pay for your stay when booking directly. Note that Israeli citizens and passport holders will need to pay an additional 17% tax on these rates; if you have a three-month tourist permit with the appropriate stamp you’ll be excluded from paying this tax.

Booking Method Sept 9-13, 2019 Credit Card Earnings Loyalty Earnings (as Platinum Elite) Net Cost
Booking cash-rate directly with IHG Premier Card (Best Flexible Rate) $1,970 19,700 IHG points, worth $99 29,550 IHG points, worth $148 $1,723
Booking award nights 150,000 points, worth $750 based on TPG’s valuations n/a n/a $750
Hotels.com/Venture using Capital One Venture Card $1,970 19,700 Capital One miles, worth $276 $197 of value towards Hotels.com free night $1,497
Thankyou.com (after fourth-night-free savings) using Citi Prestige $1,389 ($1,127 for room) 4,167 ThankYou points, worth $71 n/a $1,318**
Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts using Amex Platinum $1,970 9,850 Membership Rewards points, worth $197 29,550 IHG points, worth $148 $1,625***
Chase Luxury Hotel and Resort Collection using Chase Sapphire Reserve $2,305 6,915 Ultimate Rewards points, worth $138 34,575 IHG points, worth $173 $1,994***

*Doesn’t factor in the potential cash-back earnings you could get from clicking through a cash-back portal.
** You may not need to pay the taxes included with the booking if you can present a valid tourist passport and stamp.
***Doesn’t factor in the value of the benefits provided through these programs.

The best option for this stay would be to use IHG points, if you have enough. Otherwise, booking through Amex FHR or using the Citi Prestige fourth-night-free benefit will be your best option. Since even IHG top-tier elites don’t get breakfast or lounge access, you may not mind forgoing elite benefits on this stay to get a fourth night free through the Prestige.

Bottom Line

I wasn’t sure how much value would still be possible from the Citi Prestige’s fourth-night-free benefit once booking through the concierge is discontinued this September. But from my experience researching this piece, it seems that value can still be obtained on some luxury stays. Indeed, based on the eight stays considered above, the best options from a net cost (price minus credit card earnings and loyalty earnings) standpoint are usually to book a cash stay directly, book an award stay directly or book a Citi fourth-night-free stay.

That being said, The St. Regis Deer Valley example above highlighted one case where having to book Citi Prestige fourth-night-free stays through the ThankYou portal will be substantially worse than through the concierge. In this case, the best direct rate is less than the portal rate for the fourth night free, making the fourth-night-free benefit useless. The other obvious downside of fourth-night-free booking through Citi ThankYou (as well as through hotels.com/venture) as opposed to through the concierge is the loss of access to elite benefits and loyalty earnings on these stays (although you may occasionally find a property that will still provide benefits).

The St. Regis Deer Valley provided an example that highlighted the savings that can currently be obtained though booking Citi Prestige fourth-night-free stays through the concierge. (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

From a broad perspective, the fourth night free benefit can still provide significant savings on select stays. For example, in the Conrad Tokyo example above, you’d effectively save $308 with the fourth night free compared to the next-best cash rate, and in the Palazzo Las Vegas example you’d effectively save $203. Combined, these savings — as well as the annual travel credit and 5x earning on airfare and dining — may justify the Citi Prestige’s annual fee for some luxury travelers.

This piece focused on luxury hotels. If mid-tier or budget hotels are more your style, a subsequent piece will consider how much value the fourth-night-free benefit can provide for these types of bookings.

Featured image by Jessica Puckett/The Points Guy.

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TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200

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.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 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, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
17.49% - 24.49% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

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