One of the best benefits of the Citi Prestige card is its Fourth Night Free benefit for hotel stays. For stays of 4 nights or longer, you’ll receive a credit for the average room rate price during your stay. That is, until September 2019 when two major changes to this benefit take effect:
- You can only use the Fourth Night Free benefit twice a calendar year
- All bookings must be made on the Citi ThankYou website or by calling 800-THANKYOU. All bookings will be prepaid, either with cash or by using your ThankYou points.
I’m not happy about these changes but I was glad Citi gave almost an entire year notice before the changes took effect. Any bookings made before September 1, 2019, are still under the current rules. That means you can book through the Citi Concierge instead of through the ThankYou portal. Concierge bookings allow you to use any publically available discounts (Loyalty Member Rate, AAA Member), which can save a bunch of money over a four-night stay. Using the concierge also allows you to book a rate where you can pay at the hotel and still receive your loyalty benefits and credit for your stay. ThankYou bookings don’t receive either of those benefits.
So I’m using the Fourth Night Free benefit as much as I can before September and trying to lock in as many reservations I can for next year.
In February 2019, we completed a stay booked through the Citi Concierge and noticed a big change between how I received my credit now and the last time I used the benefit.
It took three months to receive my credit
We checked out of the hotel on 2/20. I received this email on 5/20.
To give a frame of reference, the last two times I used the Fourth Night Free benefit, it took 11 days and 16 days, respectively, for the credits to post.
Now, this reimbursement timeframe does just fall within the terms of the benefit:
All statement credits will be reflected on the Citi Prestige card statement as being a result of the Program and will appear within two billing periods following the month in which travel was completed; or in the case of promotional “pre-paid” rates, the credit will be reflected within two billing periods following the date of payment in full of the “pre-paid” rate.
So two billing periods after the stay was completed can be almost three months, depending on the timing of the stay.
I’d never make a conclusion based on a single data point but I found a thread on FlyerTalk where several members were commenting about the long delay in receiving their credits for stays made through the Citi Concierge.
Is Citi Slowing Down Credits on Purpose?
I hate to be cynical but when dealing with banks but it’s hard to think otherwise. Citi obviously doesn’t like it when people book through the concierge instead of through the ThankYou website; that’s why they’re taking away that option in a few months. Could they be slow-walking the credits for concierge reservations so that when you need to book through the website starting in September, you’ll be happy you’re getting the credit at the time of the booking instead of having to wait for months to get your money back?
What other reason could there be for a system that used to be able to make payments in two weeks to now take up to three months?
I eventually got my money back and I didn’t have to fight with Citi to receive it. They paid me within the time stated in the terms of the benefit. This isn’t going to stop me from making bookings through the concierge up until that option goes away. There’s too much benefit in doing so as opposed to booking a prepaid rate at Thankyou.com. I’ll just expect that it will take months to get my money back instead of weeks?
Is anyone else having the same problem with Citi and the Fourth Night Free benefit?
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary