Prestige 4th night free benefit, take 2

The last time I wrote about the Citi Prestige card’s 4th night free benefit, my review was lukewarm.  I complained a bit about the cumbersome booking process and the fact that booking through Citi means forgoing several options for savings.  As a result, your total savings may not be as large as expected.  I’ve now made a second 4th night free booking and my view of this benefit has changed a bit – for the better.

First, let me back up…  One of the Citi Prestige card’s benefits is the ability to book a four night stay and get the fourth night free.  The benefit works like this:

  • Call Citi Prestige Concierge to make the hotel booking
  • Book at least 4 nights
  • Pay for the entire stay with your Prestige card
  • Citi will reimburse the full cost of the fourth night (it is not a 25% discount – they literally reimburse the rate of the fourth night)

I learned several important details from my first booking, which was at a Hyatt hotel:

  • The rebate for the fourth night appeared on my credit card account approximately 4 weeks after my stay.
  • The rebate included all taxes and most fees.  The rebate did not include the hotel’s mandatory resort fee.
  • I earned both Hyatt points and a stay credit (towards elite status).

After making this booking, I learned a few other details that make bookings easier:

  • Before booking, you can find the hotels and rates which are eligible for the fourth night free benefit by searching for hotels here: cwtvacations.com (hat tip: MileCards).
  • You can call the Citi Concierge directly: 1-561-922-0158.  This is way better than going through a gauntlet of phone menu options when calling the number on the back of your card.

And, now that I’ve made a new 4th night free booking, I learned a few more details:

  • When calling, you may be given the option to receive a quote via email within 24 hours.  Say no.  Ask to speak with a travel advisor directly.
  • The travel advisors cannot apply AAA, corporate codes, etc. to your reservation through their booking system.  They can apply those rates by going around the booking system, but then (they say) you will not get the 4th night free.
  • The travel advisors do have access to MasterCard Luxury Hotels & Resorts rates.   I’ll elaborate on this below, but for now know that you can find these rates and benefits through this website: travel.mastercard.com/travel/arc.cfm.

About my new 4th night free booking

For our upcoming four night stay in London, my family and I need three rooms (we added another family member to the trip since I last wrote about it).  We will be staying at the Radisson Blu Edwardian Bloomsbury.  I booked two of the rooms with points (using techniques described here), but wanted to pay for the third room since it would be reimbursed (my wife is going to London for business – the rest of us are tagging along).  I checked prices numerous ways: Kayak, Orbitz with a 15% off coupon, ClubCarlson.com with AAA or corporate discount, etc.  Ultimately I found that the best rates were directly through Club Carlson with either the AAA or corporate code discount applied.  I would have used the latter since it would have given me an extra 10 points per dollar for the stay (details here).

Then I remembered the Prestige 4th night free benefit.  This was the perfect opportunity to use it!

I checked the CWTvacations website to see if their prices were competitive.  I found that their prices matched the Club Carlson “lowest available rate”.  This was an OK price, but AAA and corporate code rates were better.  My hope was that I could apply one or the other to the reservation…

A little cheaper, but possibly a lot nicer…

I called the Citi Concierge directly (see number above) and was quickly connected to a travel advisor.  She pulled up the same rates that I had found online.  I asked about applying AAA codes or corporate codes and was essentially told “no way” (but, in a polite way).  She could have applied the AAA discount, but then I wouldn’t get the 4th night free.  Or, so she said.  I decided not to test it.

On the plus side, the rate she quoted (which matched Club Carlson’s “lowest available rate”) included MasterCard Hotels benefits:

  • Complimentary breakfast for two daily
  • Upgrade at time of arrival, subject to availability
  • Early check-in, subject to availability
  • Late check-out, subject to availability
  • Special MasterCard Luxury Hotels & Resorts Amenities include: Complimentary fresh fruit, chocolates or dessert and two bottles of water per stay

Nice!  We could definitely use the free breakfast and whatever amenities we’ll be given (fruit, dessert, etc.)!  Even though I have Gold status with Club Carlson, the chance of getting a room upgrade in London due to status is probably close to nil.  My guess is that the chance is much higher with this rate applied.  Early check-in, if granted, will be huge too since my wife and son will be arriving in London in the morning (the rest of us will be a bit later due to a stop in Ireland).

I compared the total price I would pay after subtracting the 4th night free and found that the total was cheaper than the AAA / corporate code rate, but not by a lot.  I booked it, not so much for the savings, but in the hopes of getting more from the stay (e.g. free breakfast, room upgrade, etc.).

Price vs rewards

There is a side benefit to paying a higher rate up front: rewards are based on that higher rate.  The corporate code total would have been $1311.  The total, as booked, was $1611 (before receiving over $400 back for the 4th night).  So, let’s compare the costs and rewards that would have been earned either way:

Book with Corporate Code Book with 4th Night Free
4 night total price (before 4th night rebate): $1311 $1611
Rebate $78.66
(6% cash back by booking through portal)
$403
(fourth night rebate)
Credit card ThankYou points earned (3X) 3,933 4,833
Club Carlson base points earned (20X) 26,220 32,220
Gold 35% bonus 9,177 11,277
Triple Point promo bonus (details here) 52,440 64,440
Club Carlson Business Rewards (10X) 13,110 N/A
Total Price After Cash Rebates $1232 $1208
ThankYou Points Earned 3,933 4,833
Club Carlson Points Earned 100,947 107,937

As you can see above, the final price, either way, is roughly the same.  By booking the fourth night free, though, I’ll earn more rewards.  The difference would be more pronounced with almost any other hotel chain, though.  In this case, the advantage of the 4th night free benefit is counterbalanced by the inability to earn an extra 10 points per dollar with my corporate code.

Conclusion

The 4th Night Free booking process doesn’t have to be as cumbersome as I encountered originally.  By checking the appropriate website for available rates and by calling the Citi Concierge directly, I found the process to be relatively painless.  I would still vastly prefer an online booking option, but it wasn’t too bad as is.

As to saving money, I have no doubt that there would be occasions where one could really save 25% or more through this benefit.  In this particular case, though, the savings were minimal.  I’m OK with that if the trade-off is a better hotel stay.  I have yet to experience MasterCard Hotel benefits, but if they’re delivered as advertised, I expect we’ll enjoy our stay that much more.

I’ll leave you with this.  Below is a photo of the suite my wife once somehow booked at the same hotel (the Radisson Blu Edwardian Bloomsbury) with a fantastic prepaid rate.  Any chance our room upgrade will be to this?

RadissonBluBloomsbury

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Comments

  1. Great post. Isn’t the 4th night free valid for ANY hotel in the world? Would it be valid for high end places like Aman Resorts and One & Only?

  2. Just one more factor – I hate being locked in, and AAA rates are rarely nonrefundable (at least up until 24 or 48 hours before). What is the cancellation policy on the room you booked? If it is nonrefundable, I’d say the small savings isn’t worth it. If it has the same cancellation rules as the AAA rate, then definitely worthwhile.

  3. So, the hotel folio does not mention the 4th free night? It just shows up weeks later on your credit card statement?

    • Correct. The hotel folio does not mention the 4th night free. I doubt the hotel knows about it at all. When you book, you get an itinerary confirmation from Carlson Wagonlit Travel. This does mention the 4th night free. For example, my itinerary says:

      CITI PRESTIGE HOTEL STATEMENT CREDIT WILL BE 403.00 USD
      STATEMENT CREDIT WILL POST WITHIN 1-2 BILLING CYCLES
      AFTER CHECK-OUT

  4. Thanks for the post/ info! Do you give your Hyatt number at the time of booking and can you apply a suite upgrade? Any idea please?

  5. Thanks for the info. Do you think it’s possible to earn SPG points when booking through Citi? I know they prevent bookings from many OTAs from earning points. Would you expect to earn hotel points from all the major chains when booking this way? Thanks!

  6. Great post…similar to the Hyatt suite upgrade, do think it will be possible to use one of my Ritz Carlton suite upgrades that come with the Ritz Carlton card if they were available? I wasn’t sure if you needed to use the Ritz Carlton card to access the suite upgrade?

    Thanks,
    Mark

  7. Wow. So basically the Citi rep will book it directly through the hotel but the hotel won’t know about the 4th night being free? I am a Hyatt guy and I was worried this deal would preclude me from getting the Eligible Stay, points, etc. But it sounds like I don’t have to worry about this!

    By the way, I just tried searching on the CWT website… for Hyatt don’t select it from the “Chain” menu, just type in “Hyatt” for hotel name and you can find properties.

  8. Planning a girls long weekend to the new Hyatt in Playa Del Carmen Mexico for next February. We’ll be there for four nights but it doesn’t look like the property is listed on the website link to. Maybe because the hotel doesn’t open until June 1? Guess it can’t hurt to call. I am trying to book 3 rooms and have all three of them receive my diamond benefits – was one “guest of honor” booking and two paid stays using this fourth night free option. That is, if it is reasonable. A few of the folks traveling with us can get the government rate. I assume that rate wouldn’t qualify for the 4th night free?

    • I don’t think you’d be able to apply the government rate (at least you wouldn’t then be guaranteed the 4th night free). Also, I don’t think they’ll let you do more than 1 room at a time with the 4th night free. They didn’t allow me to do so.

  9. I’m interested in booking 2 rooms at the Hyatt Ziva in Puerto Vallarta. I found that hotel (at a good rate, no less) on the Mastercard site but it does not appear on the CWT site. Does anyone know if that means I won’t get the 4th night free offer? I don’t want to apply for the card and spend $450 for the annual fee if I can’t take advantage of the 4th night offer. I called the Citi Concierge and was told by the agent that she could check for me only if I provided my Prestige card number.

    • My guess is that the website doesn’t show everything available. I’d be very surprised if they couldn’t book the Hyatt Ziva. That said, I don’t know of any good way to check without calling.
      .
      By the way, the Prestige card is awesome to get for at least 1 year anyway. You get 50,000 bonus points plus $250 travel credit in both 2015 and 2016 and you can still cancel before the next annual fee hits.

  10. Great Analysis. This card is great. This would be a killer card when your business allows you to make your own travel plans. I would get this for a day like that.

  11. I’ve been pondering this card – just got the Citi Premier so I have at least 8 days before I have to decide. I have an upcoming trip to Tokyo for 6 nights, so the 4th night free is intriguing. The hotel I’m interested in staying at is on the Mastercard Luxury Hotels list, but NOT the cwtvacations site. Do you know if you can book at the Mastercard Luxury Hotels even if it’s not on the cwtvacations site? or does it have to be on both sites to get the benefits you described?

  12. Strange — the travel agent I was put in contact with from the concierge said she never even heard of the Mastercard Luxury Travel site and continually dismissed me trying to get her to look at it for the rate…

  13. I know you can’t do back-to-back bookings, but can you use the 4th night free twice if you were to reserve two rooms for the same dates (and if so, under two reservations, or one reservation for two rooms?)…

    Thanks…

      • I did ask them when I e-mailed them and they replied saying “Regarding your question about the 4th night credit, we offer the benefit for 1 room at the time per property. 2 rooms booked at the same time at he same property are only eligible for 1 credit only.”

        However, in practice… who knows….

    • Good question. As you said, they’ll tell you on the phone that you can only apply the benefit to one room, but it seems likely that if you called again to book a new reservation for the same time period that it would work. Its worth a test someday.

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