How Valuable Is the Citi Prestige’s 4th Night Free When Booking Midtier Hotels Though Citi ThankYou?

Aug 29, 2019

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If you have a Citi Prestige® Card, you’re likely very aware of the changes and cuts to benefits that have plagued the card recently. Unfortunately, even the Prestige’s unique fourth-night-free benefit is being devaluated as of Sept. 1, 2019. That benefit will see the following changes:

  • Limited to twice per calendar year. This cap includes both the main cardmember and any authorized users.
  • No more bookings through the Citi Prestige Concierge. You’ll only be able to book fourth-night-free stays through thankyou.com or by calling Citi. This means you usually won’t have access to elite benefits and earning, and you’ll be limited to the properties and rates available through thankyou.com, which does not include discounted rates such as those through AAA.

Without the concierge as an option for booking fourth-night-free stays starting Sept. 1, 2019, I recently considered how booking fourth-night-free stays through thankyou.com compares to other popular booking options for high-end luxury hotels. I found that the fourth-night-free benefit can still provide significant value on some stays.

But what if you don’t stay at luxury hotels? Today, as the Prestige is on the chopping block for many cardholders, I consider how booking fourth-night-free stays through thankyou.com compares to other popular booking options for stays at mid-tier brands. In particular, how much value can you expect to get from the fourth-night-free perk going forward if you don’t stay at luxury hotels?

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

In This Post

Booking Options

When booking a mid-tier hotel, you’ll usually want to consider the following options:

In this guide I’ll consider these options, although I’ll exclude the concierge since this option will be removed soon for fourth-night-free stays. Additionally, I don’t consider Chase’s Luxury Hotel and Resort Collection or Amex’s Fine Hotels and Resorts program in this piece, since these programs don’t usually include mid-tier hotels.

Methodology

Everyone has a different definition of luxury, mid-tier and budget hotels. For this reason, I include a variety of properties in this guide that loosely fall within the mid-tier range. Specifically, I selected properties from three different Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt and IHG brands for a total of 12 properties. I selected each before checking any prices.

For this post, I considered four- or five-night stays at the mid-tier hotels. I randomly selected a date about two months in the future for my searches. For four-night stays, I used the dates of October 21-25, whereas for five-night stays I used the dates of October 21-26. 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.

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 direct rates, I considered member rates and promotional rates for popular hotel brands, as well as AAA rates.

Finally, remember that you usually won’t have access to elite benefits or earning when you book through hotels.com/Venture, thankyou.com or Amex’s Hotel Collection. It’s possible that you may occasionally be given access to benefits or earnings on these stays, but this shouldn’t be expected. The best way to ensure you’ll have access to elite benefits and earnings is to book direct.

Now, let’s consider twelve booking examples:

Hyatt: Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa

(Photo courtesy of Hyatt.)
(Photo courtesy of Hyatt.)

The Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa is a family-friendly resort in Clearwater Beach, Florida. It’s a Category 6 Hyatt property, so you’d need to pay 25,000 points per night. This means a four-night stay would cost you 100,000 points, worth $1,700 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 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 Oct 21-25, 2019 Credit Card Earnings Loyalty Earnings Net Cost
Booking cash-rate directly using The World of Hyatt Credit Card $1,079 ($839 for room) including resort fees 4,316 World of Hyatt points, worth $73 4,615 World of Hyatt points, worth $78 (as Hyatt Discoverist) $928*
Booking award nights 100,000 points + $131 in resort fees due at property n/a n/a $1,831
Hotels.com/Venture using Capital One Venture Card $958 ($848 for room) + $131 in resort fees due at property 9,842 Capital One miles, worth $138 $85 of value towards Hotels.com free night $866
Thankyou.com (after fourth-night-free savings) using Citi Prestige $765 ($654 for room) + $131 in resort fees due at property 2,688 ThankYou points, worth $46 n/a $850
Amex Hotel Collection using Amex Platinum $1,035 ($916 for room) + $131 in resort fees due at property 5,306 Membership Rewards points, worth $106 n/a $1,060**

*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 this program.

In this example, the fourth night free provides the lowest net cost. However, once you’re capped to two fourth-night-free stays per year, you may not want to use your fourth night free for this stay if you have other more expensive stays planned in the same year. I could see reasons why someone would book using each booking method for this stay, although you’d need to be points-rich to choose to use Hyatt points.

Hyatt: Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach

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

The Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach is located five blocks from the beach in Waikiki, Hawaii. It’s a Category 4 Hyatt property, so you’d need to pay 15,000 points per night. This means a four-night stay would cost you 60,000 points, which is worth about $1,020.

In the following table, I compare the cost, credit card earnings and World of Hyatt earnings for a sample four-night stay. I assume you have Hyatt Discoverist status through The World of Hyatt Credit Card, and that you’ll use the World of Hyatt card to pay for the stay when booking directly.

Booking Method Oct 21-25, 2019 Credit Card Earnings Loyalty Earnings (as Hyatt Discoverist) Net Cost
Booking cash-rate (AAA Hot Deal) directly using The World of Hyatt Credit Card $1,128 ($849 for room) including resort fees 4,512 World of Hyatt points, worth $77 4,670 World of Hyatt points, worth $79 $972*
Booking award nights 60,000 points + $152 in resort fees due at property n/a n/a $1,172
Hotels.com/Venture using Capital One Venture Card $1,099 ($956 for room) + $152 in resort fees due at property 11,294 Capital One miles, worth $158 $96 of value towards Hotels.com free night $997
Thankyou.com (after fourth-night-free savings) using Citi Prestige $933 ($780 for room) + $152 in resort fees due at property 3,255 ThankYou points, worth $55 n/a $1,030

*Doesn’t factor in the potential cash-back earnings you could get from clicking through a cash-back portal (although many won’t pay for AAA rates).

For this stay, booking direct is the clear winner, especially since then you’ll get elite benefits and nights during your stay. This is obviously not a good use of a Citi Prestige fourth-night-free stay booked though the ThankYou portal.

Hyatt: Hyatt House New York/Chelsea

(Photo by Lori Zaino / The Points Guy.)
(Photo by Lori Zaino / The Points Guy.)

The Hyatt House New York/Chelsea 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 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 World of Hyatt Credit Card, and that you’ll use the World of Hyatt card to pay for the stay when booking directly.

Booking Method Oct 21-25, 2019 Credit Card Earnings Loyalty Earnings (as Hyatt Discoverist) Net Cost
Booking cash-rate directly using The World of Hyatt Credit Card $1,634 ($1,404 for room) 6,536 World of Hyatt points, worth $111 7,722 World of Hyatt points, worth $131 $1,392*
Booking award nights 80,000 points n/a n/a $1,360
Hotels.com/Venture using Capital One Venture Card $1,861 ($1,596 for room) 18,610 Capital One miles, worth $261 $160 of value towards Hotels.com free night $1,440
Thankyou.com (after fourth-night-free savings) using Citi Prestige $1,461 ($1,237 for room) 4,383 ThankYou points, worth $75 n/a $1,386

*Doesn’t factor in the potential cash-back earnings you could get from clicking through a cash-back portal.

In this case, booking an award stay is the best option. But if you don’t have enough Hyatt points, you may be better off booking a cash rate directly. In either case, you’ll get elite earnings and benefits on the stay. Since booking through Hotels.com/Venture has a net cost of just $6 less than booking direct, you might as well book direct to get elite benefits and nights.

Hilton: Canopy by Hilton Dallas Uptown

(Photo courtesy of Hilton.)
(Photo courtesy of Hilton.)

Hilton Silver, Gold and Diamond elite members get every fifth night free when booking a standard room reward, so I considered a five-night stay at the Canopy by Hilton Dallas Uptown. For a five-night stay from October 21 to 26, a standard room reward costs 280,000 points. 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 $1,680.

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’ll only earn Hilton points on the room rate, not on taxes and fees.

Booking Method Oct 21-26, 2019 Credit Card Earnings Loyalty Earnings Net Cost
Booking cash-rate directly $1,403 ($1,217 for room) 16,836 Hilton points, worth $101, with Hilton Surpass

19,642 Hilton points, worth $118, with Hilton Aspire

22,406 Hilton points, worth $134, as Hilton Gold

25,340 Hilton points, worth $152, as Hilton Diamond

$1,168 with Hilton Surpass and Hilton Gold status*

$1,133 with Hilton Aspire and Hilton Diamond status*

Booking award nights 280,000 points n/a $1,680
Hotels.com/Venture using Capital One Venture Card $1,431 ($1,242 for room) 14,310 Capital One miles, worth $200 $124 of value towards Hotels.com free night $1,107
Thankyou.com (after fourth-night-free savings) using Citi Prestige $1,196 ($1,022 for room) 3,588 ThankYou points, worth $61 n/a $1,135
Amex Hotel Collection using Amex Platinum $1,539 ($1,335 for room) 7,695 Membership Rewards points, worth $154 n/a $1,385**

*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 this program.

Booking with the Capital One Venture Card through Hotels.com/Venture technically wins here. But, although breakfast is included with your room rate at Canopy hotels, you may get enough value from elite benefits and nights as a Hilton Diamond or Hilton Gold to encourage you to book direct. Booking through the Citi portal for a fourth night free has a slightly higher net cost than booking direct, so there’s no reason to consider using the fourth-night-free benefit for this stay.

Hilton: DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Hotel Fiji – Sonaisali Island

(Photo by Katie Genter / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Katie Genter / The Points Guy)

I stayed at the DoubleTree by Hilton Fiji earlier this year, and highly recommend it. Hilton Silver, Gold and Diamond elite members get every fifth night free when booking a standard room reward, so I considered a five-night stay in this example. For a five-night stay from October 21 to 26, a standard room reward costs 132,000 points. 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 $792.

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 Surpass Card or Hilton Diamond status through the Hilton Aspire Card (and that you use the corresponding card to pay for the stay when booking directly).

Booking Method Oct 21-26, 2019 Credit Card Earnings Loyalty Earnings Net Cost
Booking cash-rate directly $568 (taxes included) 6,816 Hilton points, worth $41, with Hilton Surpass

7,952 Hilton points, worth $48, with Hilton Aspire

10,224 Hilton points, worth $61, as Hilton Gold

12,360 Hilton points, worth $74, as Hilton Diamond

$466 with Hilton Surpass and Hilton Gold status*

$446 with Hilton Aspire and Hilton Diamond status*

Booking award nights 132,000 points n/a n/a $792
Hotels.com/Venture using Capital One Venture Card $557 ($445 for room) 5,570 Capital One miles, worth $78 $45 of value towards Hotels.com free night $434
Thankyou.com (after fourth-night-free savings) using Citi Prestige $502 ($451 for room) 1,506 ThankYou points, worth $26 n/a $476

*Doesn’t factor in the potential cash-back earnings you could get from clicking through a cash-back portal.

Looking simply at net cost, booking through Hotels.com/Venture with the Venture Card is the best option. But, the Citi ThankYou travel portal books the lowest room rate into the best room category at the DoubleTree Fiji: a beachfront bure. So, I could see an argument for booking through the Citi travel portal for a fourth night free and beachfront bure, or for booking direct so you’ll get breakfast included as a Hilton Diamond or Hilton Gold as well as other elite benefits.

Hilton: Embassy Suites by Hilton Orlando International Drive Convention Center

Cinderella Castle
Taking a trip to Disney World? Embassy Suites has a shuttle to the park. (Photo by Ryan Wendler / Walt Disney World)

Hilton Silver, Gold and Diamond elite members get every fifth night free when booking a standard room reward, so I considered a five-night stay at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Orlando International Drive Convention Center. For a five-night stay from October 21 to 26, a standard room reward costs 193,000 points. 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 $1,158.

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 Surpass Card or Hilton Diamond status through the Hilton Aspire Card (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 Oct 21-26, 2019 Credit Card Earnings Loyalty Earnings Net Cost
Booking cash-rate directly $934 ($830 for room) 11,208 Hilton points, worth $67, with Hilton Surpass

13,076 Hilton points, worth $78, with Hilton Aspire

14,940 Hilton points, worth $90, as Hilton Gold

16,600 Hilton points, worth $100, as Hilton Diamond

$777 with Hilton Surpass and Hilton Gold status*

$756 with Hilton Aspire and Hilton Diamond status*

Booking award nights 193,000 points n/a n/a $1,158
Hotels.com/Venture using Capital One Venture Card $945 ($840 for room) 9,450 Capital One miles, worth $132 $84 of value towards Hotels.com free night $729
Thankyou.com (after fourth-night-free savings) using Citi Prestige $844 ($729 for room) 2,532 ThankYou points, worth $43 n/a $801

*Doesn’t factor in the potential cash-back earnings you could get from clicking through a cash-back portal.

Breakfast is already included with your room at Embassy Suites, so unless you are chasing Hilton status you’ll likely want to book through Hotels.com/Venture using your Venture Card. The fourth night free has a higher net cost than booking direct, so this isn’t a good stay to use the fourth-night-free benefit.

Marriott: Mansion on Forsyth Park, Autograph Collection

(Photo courtesy of Marriott.)

Marriott provides a fifth night free on awards, so I considered a five-night stay at The Mansion on Forsyth Park in Savannah, Ga. The Mansion is a Category 6 Marriott property, so you’d need to pay 50,000 points per night — but remember that Marriott is moving to peak, standard and off-peak pricing as of Sept. 14, 2019. Currently a five-night stay will cost you 200,000 points, worth $1,600 according to TPG’s valuations, regardless of your dates. But, starting September 14, you’ll pay 40,000 points per night for off-peak nights, 50,000 points per night for standard nights and 60,000 points per night for peak nights at The Mansion.

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 Oct 21-26, 2019 Credit Card Earnings Loyalty Earnings Net Cost
Booking cash-rate directly with Marriott Boundless or Marriott Brilliant Card $1,575 ($1,367 for room) 9,450 Marriott points, worth $76 15,037 Marriott points, worth $120, as Marriott Silver

17,088 Marriott points, worth $137, as Marriott Gold

$1,379 with Marriott Silver status*

$1,362 with Marriott Gold status*

Booking award nights 200,000 points n/a n/a $1,600
Hotels.com/Venture using Capital One Venture Card $1,621 ($1,408 for room) 16,210 Capital One miles, worth $227 $141 of value towards Hotels.com free night $1,253
Thankyou.com (after fourth-night-free savings) using Citi Prestige $1,392 ($1,161 for room) 4,176 ThankYou points, worth $71 n/a $1,321
Amex Hotel Collection using Amex Platinum $1,380 ($1,194 for room) 6,900 Membership Rewards points, worth $138 n/a $1,242**

*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 this program.

The Amex Hotel Collection comes out ahead for this stay even before you consider the $100 on-site property credit and space-available upgrade at check-in. There’s no reason to book a fourth-night-free stay, as the net cost of booking through the Hotel Collection or Hotels.com/Venture is lower — and the net cost of booking direct isn’t much more than booking a fourth-night-free stay.

Marriott: Aloft Tampa Downtown

(Photo courtesy of Marriott.)
(Photo courtesy of Marriott.)

Marriott provides a fifth night free on awards, so I considered a five-night stay at the Aloft Tampa Downtown. The Tampa Aloft is a Category 4 Marriott property, so you’ll pay 25,000 points per night until peak, standard and off-peak pricing begins on Sept. 14, 2019. Currently a five-night stay will cost you 100,000 points, which is worth $800 according to TPG’s valuations.

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 Boundless Card or Marriott Gold status through the Marriott Brilliant Card (and that you use the corresponding card to pay for the stay when booking directly).

Booking Method Oct 21-26, 2019 Credit Card Earnings Loyalty Earnings Net Cost
Booking cash-rate directly (AAA rate) with Marriott Boundless or Marriott Brilliant Card $843 ($730 for room) 5,058 Marriott points, worth $40 8,030 Marriott points, worth $64, as Marriott Silver

9,125 Marriott points, worth $73, as Marriott Gold

$739 with Marriott Silver status*

$730 with Marriott Gold status*

Booking award nights 100,000 points n/a n/a $800
Hotels.com/Venture using Capital One Venture Card $943 ($817 for room) 9,430 Capital One miles, worth $132 $82 of value towards Hotels.com free night $729
Thankyou.com (after fourth-night-free savings) using Citi Prestige $768 ($656 for room) 2,304 ThankYou points, worth $39 n/a $729

*Doesn’t factor in the potential cash-back earnings you could get from clicking through a cash-back portal (although most won’t pay on AAA rates).

All of the net costs are surprisingly similar for this stay, despite the cash prices varying. Booking a fourth-night-free stay through the Citi ThankYou travel portal has the same net cost as booking through Hotels.com/Venture, so you might as well save your fourth night free for a different stay. Or it might make sense to book direct for elite benefits and nights.

Marriott: Courtyard Austin-University Area

(Photo courtesy of Marriott.)
(Photo courtesy of Marriott.)

Marriott provides a fifth night free on awards, so I considered a five-night stay at the Courtyard Austin-University Area in Texas. This Courtyard is a Category 3 Marriott property, so you’d need to pay 17,500 points per night — but remember that Marriott is moving to peak, standard and off-peak pricing as of Sept. 14, 2019. Currently, a five-night stay will cost you 70,000 points, which is worth $560 according to TPG’s valuations.

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 Boundless or Marriott Gold status through the Marriott Brilliant (and that you use the corresponding card to pay for the stay when booking directly).

Booking Method Oct 21-26, 2019 Credit Card Earnings Loyalty Earnings Net Cost
Booking cash-rate directly with Marriott Boundless or Marriott Brilliant Card $917 ($790 for room) 5,502 Marriott points, worth $44 8,690 Marriott points, worth $70, as Marriott Silver

9,875 Marriott points, worth $79, as Marriott Gold

$803 with Marriott Silver status*

$794 with Marriott Gold status*

Booking award nights 70,000 points n/a n/a $560
Hotels.com/Venture using Capital One Venture Card $1,202 ($1,035 for room) 12,020 Capital One miles, worth $168 $104 of value towards Hotels.com free night $930
Thankyou.com (after fourth-night-free savings) using Citi Prestige $958 ($828 for room) 2,874 ThankYou points, worth $49 n/a $909

*Doesn’t factor in the potential cash-back earnings you could get from clicking through a cash-back portal.

For this stay, the clear choice is to use Marriott points. The second best choice will be to book directly, with a lower net cost than booking through Citi ThankYou for a fourth night free or booking through Hotels.com/Venture — plus you’ll have access to elite benefits, earning and nights.

IHG: Kimpton Vero Beach Hotel

(Photo courtesy of IHG.)
(Photo courtesy of IHG.)

The Kimpton Vero Beach Hotel costs 60,000 points per night. But 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. So a four-night award stay would cost you 180,000 points, which is worth $900 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 you only earn IHG points on the room rate, not on taxes and fees (including the $33.17 resort fee per night).

Booking Method Oct 21-25, 2019 Credit Card Earnings Loyalty Earnings Net Cost
Booking cash-rate directly with IHG Premier Card $762 ($567 for room) including resort fees 19,050 IHG points, worth $95, in first year with IHG Premier

7,620 IHG points, worth $38, for other IHG Premier cardholders

8,505 IHG points, worth $43, as Platinum Elite $624* in first year with IHG Premier

$681* for other IHG Premier cardholders

Booking award nights 180,000 points + $133 of resort fees n/a n/a $1,033
Hotels.com/Venture using Capital One Venture Card $755 ($680 for room) + $133 of resort fees collected at property 7,816 Capital One miles, worth $109 $68 of value towards Hotels.com free night $711
Thankyou.com (after fourth-night-free savings) using Citi Prestige $580 ($510 for room) + $133 of resort fees collected at property 2,139 ThankYou points, worth $36 n/a $677
Amex Hotel Collection using Amex Platinum $839 ($756 for room) + $133 of resort fees collected at property 4,328 Membership Rewards points, worth $87 n/a $885**

*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 this program.

The right call for this stay is to book a cash rate directly — especially if you sign up for the IHG Premier Card during the current limited time offer that provides an amazing 25 points per dollar spent at IHG properties in your first year, which is a 12.5% return.

IHG: Hotel Indigo Brooklyn

(Photo courtesy of IHG.)
(Photo courtesy of IHG.)

The Hotel Indigo Brooklyn costs 40,000 points per night, but IHG gives a fourth night free on award stays to cardholders of the IHG Premier 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. So, a four-night award stay would cost you 120,000 points, which is worth $600 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 Oct 21-25, 2019 Credit Card Earnings Loyalty Earnings Net Cost
Booking cash-rate directly with IHG Premier Card $922 ($791 for room) 23,050 IHG points, worth $115, in first year with IHG Premier

9,220 IHG points, worth $46, for other IHG Premier cardholders

11,865 IHG points, worth $59, as Platinum Elite $748* in first year with IHG Premier

$817* for other IHG Premier cardholders

Booking award nights 120,000 points n/a n/a $600
Hotels.com/Venture using Capital One Venture Card $983 ($844 for room) 9,830 Capital One miles, worth $138 $84 of value towards Hotels.com free night $761
Thankyou.com (after fourth-night-free savings) using Citi Prestige $789 ($668 for room) 2,367 ThankYou points, worth $40 n/a $749

*Doesn’t factor in the potential cash-back earnings you could get from clicking through a cash-back portal.

The best option for this stay will be to use IHG points. But if you don’t have enough IHG points, another good option is to book direct — especially if you recently signed up for the IHG Premier Card with its limited-time offer that provides 25 points per dollar spent at IHG properties. The fourth night free provided by booking through the Citi ThankYou portal provides about the same net cost as booking direct, so it’s not an appealing option for this stay.

IHG: avid hotels Oklahoma City – Quail Springs

(Photo by Katie Genter / The Points Guy.)

The first avid hotel to open to the public is in Oklahoma City and it costs 15,000 points per night. IHG gives a fourth night free on award stays to cardholders of the IHG Premier 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. So, a four-night award stay would cost you 45,000 points, which is worth $225 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 Oct 21-25, 2019 Credit Card Earnings Loyalty Earnings Net Cost
Booking cash-rate directly with IHG Premier Card $330 ($289 for room) 8,250 IHG points, worth $41, in first year with IHG Premier

3,300 IHG points, worth $17, for other IHG Premier cardholders

4,335 IHG points, worth $22, as Platinum Elite $267* in first year with IHG Premier

$291* for other IHG Premier cardholders

Booking award nights 45,000 points n/a n/a $225
Hotels.com/Venture using Capital One Venture Card $395 ($347 for room) 3,950 Capital One miles, worth $55 $35 of value towards Hotels.com free night $305
Thankyou.com (after fourth-night-free savings) using Citi Prestige $303 ($260 for room) 909 ThankYou points, worth $15 n/a $288

*Doesn’t factor in the potential cash-back earnings you could get from clicking through a cash-back portal.

Using IHG points will be your best choice for this stay, followed closely by booking a cash stay directly — especially if you have access to the IHG Premier Card’s limited time offer for 25 points per dollar spent earning. Booking through the Citi ThankYou portal for a fourth-night-free stay brings your net cost to the same approximate level as booking direct — but without elite benefits, earning or nights.

Bottom Line

I wrote a similar guide recently that focused on luxury stays: How Valuable Is The Citi Prestige’s 4th Night Free When Booking Luxury Hotels Though Citi ThankYou. In that guide, I found that the Citi fourth-night-free benefit could provide value for some high-end luxury bookings even once the changes kick in on Sept. 1, 2019. When I started researching this guide, I expected that I’d also find examples for mid-tier hotels where the Citi Prestige fourth-night-free benefit would still provide some value. But that wasn’t the case.

Out of the mid-tier Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt and IHG examples shown in this guide, only two of the 12 stays saw booking a fourth-night-free stay through the Citi ThankYou portal result in the lowest net cost. And even for these two stays, another option produced a net cost within $20 of the fourth-night-free cost. As someone who rarely stays at luxury hotels, I now have little expectation that Citi Prestige’s fourth-night-free benefit will produce much value once concierge bookings are eliminated on September 1.

Not being able to make fourth-night-free bookings through the concierge removes the ability to access the best rates as well as the ability to get elite benefits or earnings. Both of these losses result in an increased net cost. And, especially for mid-tier hotel stays, this increased net cost is often comparable to the net cost of other booking methods. So unless you stay in high-end luxury hotels, don’t expect to get substantial value from the Citi Prestige’s fourth-night-free benefit once concierge bookings are discontinued.

Featured image by the author from her recent stay at the DoubleTree Resort in Fiji.

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More Things to Know
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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.