You DO have to pay with your Prestige card for 4th Night Free. Here’s why I’m surprised.

UPDATE 6/26/2015 3PM EST: Please see my new results here: You DON’T have to pay with your Prestige card for 4th Night Free.

Among its many other perks, the Citi Prestige card has an interesting one: book a four night hotel stay and get the last night free.  The way it works is that a cardholder must call the Citi Concierge service to book their four night (or longer) stay.  At the end of the stay, the customer pays the full price of the stay.  Then, approximately 4 weeks after the stay, the customer’s Prestige account is credited with the full price of the fourth night.  This can be particularly rewarding when the fourth night is more expensive than the other nights.

It’s been 6 weeks since I inadvertently experimented to see what would happen if I paid for my four night stay with a credit card other than my Prestige card.  I had booked the stay through Citi’s concierge service, and I had held the room with my Prestige card, but I messed up a bit at the hotel itself.  My wife had checked in before I arrived and had given the desk a different credit card.  And, at the end of the stay, I had to leave early, so she was the one who checked out.  The full hotel charge went to her card.  Whoops.

I thought it would work anyway

Sure, Citi says that you must pay for your stay with your Prestige card to get the 4th night rebate, but I didn’t believe it.  Here are my assumptions that made me think it would work:

  1. Citi’s travel service gets a commission from hotels booked through them.
  2. Citi uses the hotel commission to help offset their 4th Night Free cost.
  3. Citi’s receipt of that commission is the trigger that credits the customer’s account with the 4th Night Free rebate.
  4. Citi will receive their commission regardless of the form of payment used at the hotel.

I still think that assumptions 1, 2 and 4, above, are correct, but I now have reason to question assumption #3…

6 weeks later, I’m ready to throw in the towel

I haven’t yet received a penny back from my stay.  Its possible that the 4th Night refund will take longer than 6 weeks to get credited to my account, but I think its unlikely.  In my last experience with this benefit, I received credit almost exactly 4 weeks after my stay.  Of course, if anything changes, I’ll let everyone know, but for now the safe conclusion is that you do have to pay for your stay with your Prestige card.

Questions not yet answered

A question that I’d still like to experiment with is whether the 4th Night Free benefit will work if I were to pay for a stay partly with gift cards and partly with the Prestige card.  I’d guess that it would be necessary to charge the full amount of the fourth night (or more) to the Prestige card for this to work.  I plan to watch for opportunities to test this, but if you’ve done so yourself, please let me know the results.

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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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  1. Just wondering, when you were younger and someone offered you a cookie were you the kid who grabbed two? Something tells me you weren’t a kid who said “Thank you” and appreciated the treat.

  2. Small fry,
    My guess, is he was the kid who was a schemer and was always looking for the angles on something. It isn’t about greed. It’s about adventure, solving puzzles, and finding where the boundaries are. I’m the same way, and so is my oldest son. It brings us joy in life. For others (my wife!), staying well within the boundaries is what makes them happy…to reach his or her own!

  3. Question on the Citi Prestige – Now what if I booked a 4 night stay at a Fairmont and used a 3rd night free certificate? Would the Prestige still refund the 4th night?

  4. As a data point, I travel for work and out of the 6 weeks (of 4 night stays), I’ve have only received 1 credit for the 4th night. I made a payment about 2 weeks ago and about 2 days after a credit posted. I testing to see if:

    1. they only credit 1 4th night / billing cycle (as technically the fine print says VACATION
    2. the payment triggers a check to see if a 4th night credit is due. To this end, I made another payment yesterday morning. We’ll see if anything hits by Saturday.

    On another note, the $250 airline credit hit LONG back, even though I never made a payment for another 5 days (5.11 and 5.6). I’m also still awaiting the TSA precheck credit to hit as well. Though that was billed on 6/1, cleared on 6/15. Odd it was tagged as: “REAL ESTATE AGENTS,BROKERS,MANAGERS” though the Category still says “PRECHECK….”

    HTH others…

  5. Booked my 4th night free in May. Its been 30 days since I checked out, no credit on my Prestige card. (yet, hopefully)

  6. As I commented earlier, I had only one reservation booked via Citi to get 4th night free (it was March 2015). The property required a deposit ($300) and 4th night credit was $287 or something. Anyway, since the deposit was charged on my Prestige card before our stay, I got a 4th night credit even before we stayed in the property. Since I paid the rest of my bill using Prestige card anyway, I don’t know what would happen (but I don’t believe Citi would claim back a credit) if I paid the rest using different card.

    • I can’t figure out why this worked for you. I looked back in my records and found that the first time I used this benefit, I had also paid a deposit, but I didn’t get credit until 4 weeks after my stay. Still, great that happened! I’m sure your rebate is safe regardless of how you pay for the rest.

  7. I have Platinum status at SPG. Anyone know if these Prestige stays/nights(even 4th free night) count towards re-earning status? And when you check in does the hotel give the upgrades and free breakfast etc as well?

    • Yes, I believe that the stay would count towards status and point earnings and you would receive all Platinum benefits. At least, that was true of my two Hyatt stays and one Club Carlson stay booked with 4th Night Free.

  8. UPDATE: This is really surprising, but I just got 4th night credit for my Hyatt stay from two months ago in which I tried to pre-pay the entire bill with a gift card. Since I didn’t actually stay there, the gift card credit was returned. I never paid anything on any credit card. This was 8 weeks after the “stay”. I’m going to have to give this London stay more time to see if I get credit after all. Now I believe I will!

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