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

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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.

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