You DON’T have to pay with your Prestige card for 4th Night Free (but you should)

UPDATE 6/15/2016: Recent evidence suggests that people do, at least sometimes, check to make sure that charges are placed on your Prestige card before credits are awarded.  I recommend always paying for 4th Night Free stays with your Prestige card.


Yesterday, I published a post with an opposite headline to this one.  I wrote:

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

It looks like I was wrong…

One of the commenters in that post hypothesized that the act of paying your credit card bill is the trigger that makes the 4th Night Free rebate appear on your account. It couldn’t hurt to try, so I went ahead and paid off my Prestige balance mid-cycle.

That was yesterday.  Today, I see a negative balance on my card.  I was credited with a 4th Night Free rebate for a stay in which I didn’t pay with my Prestige card!  The really surprising part of this is that it wasn’t credit for my London stay from mid May.  Instead it was credit from an aborted Hyatt stay from late April.  I wrote about both of these stays here:

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

Credit for my late April aborted stay took about 8 weeks to post.  It has only been 6 weeks since my London stay, so now I do expect that one to post as well.  Regardless, I now have evidence that you can get 4th Night Free credit without paying with your Prestige card.  I never paid a cent with my Prestige card for the stay that was just credited.

So, now we have a definitive answer.  I still don’t know whether paying my Prestige balance off early had any impact.  It could have been coincidence.  Just in case, though, I imagine I’ll be paying off my Prestige card balance mid-cycle quite often.

Why it matters

The Prestige card is actually an excellent card to use for hotel charges since it automatically gives you 3 points per dollar.  That said, in some cases there are good reasons to use other forms of payment:

  • You have hotel gift cards you want to use.
  • You want to pay with an Amex business card for a Hyatt stay in the US (to get 5% back via Amex OPEN Savings).
  • You mess up and pay with a different credit card by accident; or forget to bring the Prestige card for your stay.
  • Someone else in your group checks in or checks out instead of you (as happened with my London stay) and pays with their own credit card.

Caution

Obviously Citibank wants you to use their card for payment.  And, they’ll tell you that you have to use the Prestige card to pay in order to get the 4th Night Free credit.  As a result, if you pay with a different card (or with gift cards), they probably won’t help you if something goes wrong.  If the credit doesn’t post automatically, you’ll be out of luck.  So, I recommend using the Prestige card to pay whenever possible.

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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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Comments

  1. There goes that very useful benefit. I love your aggressive MS techniques, but why promote this? People, if you want to take advantage of this benefit, just put it on your Prestige card… please!

    • 95% of the time it probably wouldn’t be in your interest to pay with another card, so I don’t see what the big deal is about leaking this. Even if you’re MSing to hit a bonus, you’d probably be better off using the Prestige for hotels and putting spend elsewhere.

  2. Interesting. I agree with Matt B in that this is privilege that shouldn’t be (intentionally) abused. However…

    I recently booked 4 nights at a hotel that wasn’t in the CWT “network” so not technically eligible for 4th night free. I’m paying for it with my Prestige card – what do you suppose are the chances of me getting 25% cut off that charge if I call in after the fact?

  3. So the 4th night free is triggered by using their travel agency it seems?
    Another reason not to use the Prestige is you want a ZERO outlay stay and will use Barclay Arrival for the other three nights………..

  4. Why take the risk of losing hundreds of dollars just to get an extra 5% off and save $10-20. I would always pay with Prestige to make sure I get the benefit. Plus you get 3x points too.

  5. This benefit is useless for me since it doesn’t work with award nights! Also the golf benefit is useless! Hope Citi replace these 2 with something else!

  6. I booked an August stay for Vegas just last week. I had to put a deposit down with my Prestige card. Is there a chance that I get the credit even before my stay?

    So with this revelation I can use my Arrival to pay for the rest of the stay, and I would still get the credit?

    • There is a chance that you’ll get the credit before your stay, but I think its very unlikely. Regarding using your Arrival card, please carefully read the Caution section in this post. It will probably work, but you won’t get help from Citi if it doesn’t. So, it is risky.

  7. The research on this card has been pro, Greg.
    If they say it’s a benefit for using the card, there are only a few reasons to risk it. Don’t want to get stuck with a huge bill just because you wanted triple points. Not a good enough reason for me. But there would be some interesting ideas.
    Agree about the barclay arrival comment. Would be awesome to have a stay that pays you money and earns points. I’m sure there are some other ways to hack that too.

    • I never did get that rebate. The problem is that I don’t know why. It might be because I didn’t pay with my Prestige card, but it might also be because the hotel had merged together several separate reservations I had made. I think it is more likely the latter.

  8. Hey Greg, I booked a hotel with the 4th night free service in the south of France. The group handling the 4th night free service called the hotel and made the reservation. When we got to the hotel, it turns out that the hotel did not take credit cards. Do you think I will get the 4th night reimbursed?

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