Home Credit Cards Citi Prestige’s 4th Night Free Hotel Benefit Is Useless

Citi Prestige’s 4th Night Free Hotel Benefit Is Useless

by joeheg

The Citi Prestige is the luxury entry of the Citi ThankYou card family. However, no new applications or product changes have been allowed for the Prestige since mid-2021. If you didn’t have the card before Citi pulled the application link, there’s no way for you to get one.

Most people who still have the Citi Prestige are long-time cardholders and remember the good years. Back when you could find a good price for a hotel and have the Citi Concierge book it with the 4th-night free perk. As long as the rate was published and non-exclusive (like a subscription service or convention rate), you were allowed to use it.

Back in 2017 we stayed at the Candy Cane Inn near Disneyland on a AAA rate and got the 4th night free (at the time, Citi reimbursed you after your stay). Rooms booked with the Citi Concierge earned hotel loyalty points and you received your status benefits (upgrades, breakfast, etc.).

Citi made major changes to the 4th night-free benefit in September 2019. A huge limitation was put in place wherein you could only use the benefit twice per year. In addition, all reservations had to be made through the Citi ThankYou travel portal. Finally, all reservations had to be paid at the time of booking either with points, cash, or a combination thereof. The 4th-night free would be deducted at the time of booking the hotel.

There are major drawbacks to the changes, making the benefit almost useless for most hotel stays. Because you’re booking through a 3rd party, hotel chains won’t count the stay towards your status or provide any benefits. In addition, the prices found on the Citi ThankYou portal are usually more expensive than what you can find when booking direct.

I recently went to book a four-night stay at a Courtyard by Marriott. Even as a Platinum Bonvoy member, there aren’t many benefits we receive at Courtyards, so I wasn’t worried about losing out. It hurts to not earn points on the stay but saving 25% would make up for it. But I didn’t save 25%; not even close.

The total for the 4-night stay came to $1019.37 after deducting $293.60 which was the average room rate, minus taxes and fees.

I went to compare the rate on Marriott’s website. The same room was significantly less expensive for the same rate. I booked a flexible rate, which would cost $1170. Since joining Bonvoy is free, there’s no reason not to look at the Member Rate, which is $24 less expensive.

So unlike Citi’s website which says I’m saving almost $300, I’m closer to saving $125, which is a big difference.

However, we also have AAA, which gives a discount for Marriott.

The AAA rate is $1030 for 4 nights. That’s $11 more than the 4th-night free price from the Citi portal. If I booked through Marriott using the AAA discount we’d get our Platinum benefits, get 4 credits towards status and earn the bonus points for the stay.

The only good things about using the Citi Prestige were getting my $250 yearly travel credit applied to the account and earning 5X points for bookings through the ThankYou portal.

For a $495 card, If I’m only able to save $10 on a $1000+ 4-night hotel stay, there’s no reason to keep it. I keep hoping for the hotel stay that’ll make up for holding onto the card but each year that hope fades when I pay another annual fee.

I might be done with the Prestige. Is anyone else finding the same thing when booking through the Citi ThankYou Portal?

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6 comments

Andrew May 11, 2022 - 3:02 pm

Yes, similar experience. Only saved about $100 on a 4-night stay at most.

Keep thinking that I should cancel but for some reason am more hesitant than I should be.

Reply
Andrew May 11, 2022 - 3:32 pm

I feel your pain. But Im still getting value by using the 4th night at hotels that have no loyalty programs. Im getting outsize value at the Four Seasons in France and the Rosewood in Phuket. Over 2k savings for 4 nights. So just those two hotels im getting over 4K savings in
If there is one thing I want citi to improve on is I wish they listed more hotels. A lot of AMAN and other high end properties are not listed and that’s frustrating. The 5x restaurants on this card is unbeatable.

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Greg May 11, 2022 - 3:39 pm

The bigger story is why a Courtyard would cost nearly $300 a night for a leisure stay – travel somewhere else with your vacation dollar

Saying the benefit is ‘useless’ in a headline is misleading – it was not useful for one stay you checked

I enjoy the card and thanks for the reminder about this benefit which has been valuable to me using the portal at boutique hotels with no chain affiliation

Reply
jakebrown11 May 12, 2022 - 2:02 am

Like other users, for some hotels the savings can be significant and for others it would be better to book direct. What I always do is: Step 1: Look for the best rate on my own. Step 2: check what the cost would be through the TY Portal Step 3: Go with the cheaper/better option.

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Lew May 12, 2022 - 6:18 pm

I get good value booking a non loyalty expensive all inclusive in Mexico and use Citi points that I have earned with the prestige cc with 5x at restaurants. Also get credit for spending money at resort with the $250 travel credit. I like the Priority Pass benefit for me and my family.

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Brian May 14, 2022 - 10:28 pm

I booked the Rosewood Mayakoba during their PUBLISHED sale and it was cheaper than going with Citi with the 4th night free. 5 years ago I booked the same thing with my Citi card for a great rate and had free breakfast as a perk too; does anyone else remember added perks at hotels for using the card. The benefits of this card are definitely going down significantly. Is there any benefit to keeping the card for utilizing the points or should we just downgrade to a free yearly card and get something else?

Reply

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