My failed (but profitable) Prestige 4th Night Free experiment, and an accidental redo

One of the Citi Prestige card’s many perks is its 4th Night Free hotel benefit.  Cardholders can book a four night (or longer) stay through the Citi Prestige Concierge, and about four weeks after their stay they’ll get reimbursed for the price of the 4th night.  For complete details about this benefit, please see: The Complete Guide to Citi Prestige 4th Night Free.

Technically, you’re supposed to pay for your stay with your Citi Prestige card in order to receive the 4th Night Free rebate.  But, do you really have to?  Every now and then it’s possible to get hotel gift cards at a great discount.  It would be great if it were possible to get the 4th Night Free rebate and pay for the stay with gift cards.  In situations like this, I find that it’s useless to call and ask.  I guarantee that you’ll be told that you have to pay with the Prestige card.  And, that might be the right answer.  Or, not.  We won’t know until we try.

Experiment 1: A profitable failure

In late April I had the opportunity to go to the Freddie Awards in Atlanta.  Originally I had booked a two night stay at the host hotel (a Hilton property).  But then I found a reasonably priced Hyatt Place nearby.  Paid Hyatt stays are useful for re-qualifying for Diamond status, so I decided to book that hotel instead.  And, even though I didn’t need four nights, I decided that this would be a good test of the Prestige benefit.

I happened to have a Hyatt gift card that I had bought for 14.5% off.  I wanted to test what would happen if I booked the hotel for four nights through Citibank, but then paid for my stay with the Hyatt gift card.  Would I get the fourth night rebate anyway?

After checking into the hotel, I got a text message from a friend. He was staying at another hotel that was even closer to the Hilton and he had been put into a large two bedroom suite.  Would I like to take one of the bedrooms?  Yep, that sounded good.  I went to the Hyatt desk and asked if I could pay for my stay in advance with my gift card.  I explained (completely truthfully) that I often forget to use gift cards when checking out, so I wanted to make sure to apply it while it was on my mind.  Done.

As I left the hotel with my bags, I did wonder what would happen when housekeeping found that I didn’t appear to be there at all…

Several days after the stay, I looked at my Hyatt hotel bill online.  It was very odd.  Instead of 4 nights, it reported 3.  Even stranger, it appeared that the entire amount that had been paid from the gift card had been reversed out and that just one night had been charged to my credit card.  Or something like that.  There were so many credits and debits on the bill that I really couldn’t make sense of it.

I called the Hyatt Diamond desk to inquire about the bill.  The agent I spoke with saw that I had only been credited with 3 eligible nights so he went ahead and added another eligible night to my account.  As to the gift card, he confirmed that it still had its full value, but he said that sometimes it takes a while for room charges to process.  I should check again later.

Weeks later, I found the following:

  • My gift card still had its full value.
  • My credit card had never been charged (beyond a temporary hold which eventually fell off).
  • I earned full points and elite stay credits for four nights

As to the 4th Night Free benefit?  It’s been over four weeks and my Prestige card account has not been credited with the 4th night.  Of course, that doesn’t surprise me at all.  Given the fact that I never paid for the nights anyway, with any currency, I would have been extremely surprised to receive that credit.

While I’m thrilled that I earned Hyatt points and stay credits for free, I consider this to have been a failed experiment.  I still do not know if an alternate form of payment would work under normal circumstances.

Experiment 2: An accidental redo

Some readers may remember that I had used the Prestige benefit to book a four night stay in London.  That stay wasn’t meant to be an experiment.  We happened to need a four night paid stay anyway (which would be reimbursed since this was a work trip for my wife), so I was merely taking advantage of my card’s benefit.  I used my Prestige card to book the hotel and I used it again at check-in to secure the room.

Prestige 4th Night Free experiment

Panorama view of the Tower of London

 

We then had a great 4 night stay.  I wrote a little about it here.  We walked through streets and gardens.  We saw a terrific musical (The Commitments).  We took a walking tour and a bus tour.  We visited the Tower of London.  We ate great food.

Prestige 4th Night Free experiment

Dinner at Savoir Faire

Then, on departure day, we were on separate flights.  I was with my mom and niece on an early flight.  My wife and my son were leaving much later flight, so they checked out at the desk.  When asked for payment, my wife handed over her credit card.  Not a cent of the room charge ended up on my Prestige card.

Now we wait.  Checkout was May 13th.  June 10th will mark 4 weeks.  In the past it has taken about that long for 4th Night Free rebates to kick in.  If I see the rebate in my account, we’ll have a positive answer.  It will mean that you do not have to pay with the Prestige card to get the 4th Night Free rebate.  If I don’t see anything by, say, June 24th (allowing for 2 extra weeks), I’ll throw in the towel and declare that the Prestige card must be used to pay for the stay.

Taking bets

What do you think will happen with my second experiment?  Will I get the 4th Night Free rebate?  My bet is yes, but I wouldn’t stake much money on it.  How about you?  Comment below.

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. I think the process is this…

    Citi account is tagged with CWT stay date and property name
    Tag is triggered when charges appear on your Prestige statement from that hotel
    4th night amount is passed through from the CWT tag

  2. I thithink that’s the first time I’ve ever read one of your posts and learned absolutely nothing. Happens regularly with other bloggers. Heck, I expect it from Lucky. But not you.

    • Gotta love trolls. Contributing nothing to the conversation, just out to boost their self esteem by trying to drag others down to their level.

  3. I think that you should have paid for part of your stay with a GC and made at least some charge hit your prestige to lock in the 4th night free benefit. (I don’t have the prestige card, but that is just my assumption for a better chance of being credited)

  4. I had only 1 stay that was booked from Citi for 4th night benefit. It was an all-inclusive property. This hotel did require a deposit for stay, so the deposit was charged on my Prestige card. What is strange, that the credit for last night was credit on my Prestige even before we stayed in the hotel. Reservation was made within 30 days of the actual stay, so I was surprised how quick the credit appeared. I wonder what would happen if I pay for my stay with another card.

  5. I bet no, if no charge hits the prestige. It would also be interesting, though, if you can split the bill between the prestige and another (credit or gift) card.

  6. This isn’t about the prestige, but I find that more often that not, front desk staff are flummoxed by Hyatt gift cards. The worst was the paper e-gift cards I bought during the newegg deal. Goodness, it took ages of standing at the front desk to get those credited to the bill.
    The first time I used a gift card, was at the Hyatt MM. I presented it at check-in, because I, too, forget about gift cards, and also just wanted to be sure it was all going to work OK before the last day. No problem, the guy credited the GC value to the bill, before anything was even charged to it. This gave me an overly high expectation at other Hyatts.
    When I’ve tried to do this at other Hyatts, they can’t do anything until there is a room charge. But they also couldn’t explain that to me, they just sat there trying to apply it but not being able to. Once I learned that it is much easier to wait until there is a charge applied to the room that is greater than the GC value, things go much more smoothly.
    It was also difficult to successfully BUY a gc from a local Hyatt Place during the AmEx sync promo. Everyone had to gather around the computer and try to figure out how to do it, and also call managers on the phone. I’m hoping that with the increasing popularity of gift cards, it will get easier to buy and use them.

  7. Didn’t read other comments, so others already probably said this, but what you should have done was pay 2.9 nights with GC and 1.1 nights with Prestige. If this experiment fails (as it likely will), that needs to be the next attempt.

  8. Trying to get Diamond with Hyatt. Would a Hyatt booked using citi 4th night free count as 3 or 4 nights? Thanks

    • Yes, you’d get four nights. Doesn’t matter how you pay, what rate you pay, etc. You just need to stay four nights.

  9. I read elsewhere that if you book a prepaid rate for this benefit you get the rebate earlier (potentially even before the stay has begun) as the time frame for the processing is from the time the stay is charged to your card, not from the time of check-out. That suggests that the stay does have to be charged to your card for this to work.

  10. I’ve never been able at Hyatt to pay with Gift Cards for any nights I had not yet stayed. So after staying two nights I could pay two nights the next morning, but I couldn’t before.

  11. It’s great to see you are eating well. For the leisure only travelers the 4th night free on a paid stay is much attractive than just using points for the entire stay.

  12. Unrelated to the Prestige card, but I wanted to say thanks for the sidebar about Savoir Faire. We ate there in London and it was the best meal of our 4 day trip.

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