I’m currently in Amsterdam enjoying the tail end of a recent Citi Prestige 4 Night Free booking at the Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht (which I’ll review in a future post). And last night (my time), Nick covered the breaking news about the Citi Prestige card: Benefit changes and a new 75K signup offer have been confirmed. And he shared our concern about the new ability to book 4th Night Free stays online: Did the Prestige card just get worse? Fortunately, a Citi rep reached out to us to let us know that offline bookings through the Citi Prestige Concierge will still be possible. That’s a huge relief. That apparently means that we will still be able to book discount rates, we will still earn hotel points on our stays, and we will still receive elite status benefits as long as we don’t book online. Nick then updated his post accordingly.
The fact that some of the 4th Night Free advantages will stick around is a relief. I had booked my current stay via email (you can find instructions here). It was super easy. I sent a single email to request the booking and I received a confirmed booking by email a few hours later. Sure, an online booking would be a wee bit easier, but I’d never do it unless I was booking a non-chain hotel that has no rewards program.
So, the good news is that Citi hasn’t entirely nerfed the 4th Night Free benefit. The bad news is that beginning July 23rd there will be two significant changes:
- The fourth night free will become the average cost per night over four nights rather than the actual cost of the fourth night
- The rebate will no longer include taxes
These changes will be positive only when taxes are low and when the 4th night charge is less than the 4 night average. Conversely, the changes will be very bad under certain situations…
Book now if….
In the following circumstances you will be much better off booking your 4th Night Free reservation before July 23rd:
- 4 night stays where the 4th night is disproportionately expensive. One example is if you book 4 nights in New York City with the last night being New Years Eve.
- Stays booked with hotel discounts of the form: get the 2nd night free, 3rd night free, or 5th night free.
- Stays that include very high taxes.
Fortunately, if you book before July 23rd you can still get the current 4th night rebate with taxes included even if your stay begins on or after July 23rd. So, if you have a Prestige card and you have future plans for a 4 night stay, book now!
For details about booking 4th Night Free stays, please see: Complete Guide to Citi Prestige 4th Night Free.
An awesome Fairmont example
Many of us with Fairmont cards are dreading the card’s imminent demise (details here), but we may still have Fairmont free nights to spend, along with Fairmont’s 3rd night free voucher and room and suite upgrade vouchers which are given annually to Fairmont Premier members. A reader named Zach explains how he turned his free night certificates, 3rd Night Free certificate, suite upgrade certificate, Prestige 4th Night free benefit, and Fairmont credit card points into six free nights in a suite. While some of these tricks will still be possible for a while after July 23rd, the stay then would not be entirely free. Here’s what he wrote:
I know it’s been awhile since your post, but I successfully did what you’re talking about. Citi Prestige called The Fairmont phone number and set it up so that I was able to apply my third night free and suite upgrade. I had 2 Ovation award certificates for free nights also. and the way those work is you pay for the hotel in advance, which citi prestige did, and then when you get there you hand them The Ovations rewards certificates. At the end of your stay the property deduct the cost of those two nights. I did not know if I would still get my 4th night free, but it was worth it anyway. I did end up getting it the 4th night credit from citi on my next bill. They ovations rewards also count as actual paid nights towards the “pay for 2 nights, get the 3rd night free” promo. Then I booked my two free nights from signing up for the Fairmont credit card on a separate reservation and when I got to the hotel asked to stay in the same room for all six nights which they did. I stayed at the Fairmont for 6 nights, in a suite for $0. Actually, I got paid 50 bucks for the stay because of my 2 $25 dining certificates. And when you use your use Ovations award certificates you get free breakfast. I’ve put together some good hustles in the past, but I think that was my masterpiece lol
For clarification, the Ovation certificates that Zach wrote about are rewards from Chase for Chase Fairmont credit card holders. Depending upon the category of the hotel, you can turn in a bunch of points for each certificate. Even without these certificates, and without the Fairmont 2 free nights, it should be possible to get 4 nights for the price of two under the Prestige’s current rules (by combining the hotel’s 3rd night free with the Prestige 4th night free). If you wait until July 23rd or later to book, the 4th Night Free rebate will be one-fourth of the price of the 4 night stay. Since the 4 night stay will cost the same as 3 nights (thanks to the hotel’s 3rd night free), the rebate will be significantly lower.
I asked Zach for more information and he followed up:
Here’s how it went down:
1. Yes I called prestige and gave them my fairmont loyalty account number and played naïve so that the lady was happy, excited really, to help me try to make all this work. I told her that I had a third night free promotion and asked if I could use it with the prestige fourth night free. Even though I already knew that it was at least a possibility in this scenario. She had to bring Fairmont on the line so that I could give them permission to talk with her but then it was no problem to do a four night booking where I got the third night for free from Fairmont certificate and paid for the first two nights and the fourth night, and later be reimbursed for the fourth night by citi.
2. Citi was OK with the third night free cert. It wasn’t a point booking or using free nights from the credit card sign-up bonus. So as far as they were concerned, it was a promotion from the Fairmont where I buy two nights and get the third night free. At least that’s how the rep made it work. YMMV.
I believe that I did the suite upgrade at the same time, but I might’ve called back to do that. Either way, that part was easy. Since the certificate is for a free suite upgrade from the Fairmont, you only pay for a regular room. It didn’t change the price so it doesn’t affect what citi’s cost is for the fourth night whether it’s a regular room or a free suite upgrade.
3. The third and most important part, is that I called the Fairmont FIRST and asked them exactly how using the ovations reward certificates worked. I had read that the way that worked was that you booked the room just like a cash booking. So I was curious if central reservations considered it a cash reservation for the third night free cert. As far as Fairmont’s reservation system was concerned, you didn’t have any ovations certificates. You presented a paper certificate to the hotel when you got there and they deducted the price of that night from your overall price. I asked the girl on the phone if I could use them with my third night free certificate and she said she wasn’t sure and would have to check. She put me on hold, and came back sounding very confident like she had talk to someone who done this before who said that it was no problem. I think that’s because the ovations rewards certificates are a separate system from Fairmont points. My (pure speculation) opinion is that as far as Fairmont is concerned, it is a cash booking and they’re getting reimbursed for from Chase. She did tell me that the third night free would not work with a booking using Fairmont’s proprietary points for the first two nights. She sitting pretty excited that I had figured this all out lol
4. I didn’t know if any of this would work. YMMV. I was assured from both ends that it would, but that’s no guarantee. I wrote down who I talked to, the call times, and the dates just in case. I knew that the two nights ovations rewards would at least work, and I was going to stay at that Fairmont property for 6 nights, even if I didn’t get the third and fourth night free. I then used my two free nights from the Fairmont sign up and added them as the fifth and six night at the regular room price. When I got to the hotel I asked them if they could keep me in the same room the whole week. They said as long as that room is still available that that was no problem but did warn me that I might have to be moved. I said that was fine and I ended up staying in the room the whole week.
5. For anybody who signed up since that April 15 cut off or whatever it was, they will have their Chase annual night free for spending $6000 in six months within 8 to 10 weeks after August 15. So they will be in the unique position of having a few months to be able to get seven nights for free, instead of just six nights like I did. And I believe people who signed up 11 months ago and didn’t finish their final spending until the last minute will also have a couple months to make that move.
6. Since the ovations rewards certs are not really a great value, but you do have to do spend 12k for the annual cert. someone might want to consider just spending that, using those 12 K points for $120 (you can use Fairmont points to pay for flights and one cent per point, and you don’t usually get much more valuable than one cent per point with all the spending you have to do to get an ovation reward certificate) on flights, or now I guess letting them become Chase Sapphire points, and paying cash for the first two nights so they don’t have to do 60 or $80,000 In spend in a year.
Let me know if you have any other questions.