When should you book a Prestige 4th night free?

Less than six months from now, the Citi Prestige 4th night free perk will be all but dead to me. Truth be told, until this last 9 or 10 months, I’d only used it once or maybe twice a year. But now that we’re on the clock, I find myself actively looking for opportunities to use it, which begs the question: When does it make the most sense to make a 4th night free booking? The answer might be more or less than you think.

Why the benefit will be dead to me soon

You can currently make Citi Prestige 4th night free bookings through the thankyou.com portal or through the Prestige concierge via phone or email. In our Citi Prestige 4th night free complete guide, we explain why you don’t want to book these via thankyou.com (in short, your stay won’t qualify for elite credit, elite benefits, hotel points, etc, nor will you have the opportunity for discounted rates through coupon codes / corporate codes, etc). Between the lack of hotel loyalty benefits and inability to use common discounts, you just can’t save much when booking through thankyou.com over booking it yourself.

As a quick example, here’s a look at a 4-night stay at the Kameha Grand Zurich (a Marriott Autograph Collection hotel) booked through ThankYou.com:

As you can see, after the 4th night free benefit is applied, the total would be $744.68.

That same hotel offers a AAA rate that is significantly better. At the time of writing, 1 CHF is worth almost exactly $1, so think of these rates in US dollars.

The Prestige concierge can book the AAA rate, so I’d expect to receive 1/4 of the total cash rate back for a total of about $452.50 after tax. That’s almost three hundred bucks cheaper than booking via thankyou.com.

The Prestige concierge is typically able to apply other coupon codes if you have access to a better discount than AAA and bookings made by phone or via email typically qualify for elite benefits, hotel points, etc.

Unfortunately, after September 1st, you’ll only be able to make 4th night free bookings online via the thankyou.com portal and you’ll be limited to 2 bookings per year (the benefit is uncapped for reservations made before September 1st). In other words, I probably won’t be booking any 4th night free bookings after September 1st, but I’ll likely make a few between now and then.

But with shopping portal rates reaching 10% or higher pretty regularly these days, when does it make sense to book via the concierge and when are you better off booking your stay via a portal?

Times when you should book the Prestige 4th night free

4-night paid stays

For the sake of completeness, this is the obvious scenario. If you’re booking a 4-night paid stay, you’d of course generally want to book it through the Prestige concierge.

3 night stays…or should you?

I’d long worked under the assumption that if I needed a 3-night stay, I should probably book a 4-night stay. Sure, I’d pay the tax on the 4th night, but I’d pick up a night of elite credit and hotel points on the 4th night even though Citi is footing the bill for the extra night.

However, that really depends on room rates for the fourth night. For example, here’s a look at that same Kameha Grand example used above. Again, since 1 CHF is almost $1 at the time of writing, let’s imagine the prices are in US dollars.

As you can see, the total cash rate for 4 nights is $590. After the 4th night free benefit (based on an average nightly rate of $147.50), the total should come to $442.50 + $10 (all-in price = $452.50).

Here’s a look at the same hotel for 3 nights.

The new total for three nights is $418.50. If you’re not making a 4th night free booking, you could alternatively book this through a shopping portal. We’ve recently seen rates hit 10% back on Marriott, Choice, and IHG. Assuming 10% back on the room charge via a portal, the net cost is in the $370’s. The hotel points and elite credit probably aren’t worth the additional ~$80 here.

This will of course vary wildly — sometimes booking that 4th night will qualify you for a better rate on all of your nights, sometimes you run into a special event that jacks prices up. If room rates are constant, it is likely advantageous to book a 4th night free.

When you can stack a Best Rate Guarantee

I’ve written a few times about what a great stack you can pull off with a one-two punch of a Citi Prestige concierge booking and a 4th night free. See these posts:

In short, since Prestige concierge bookings qualify as “direct” bookings, you should be able to file a best rate guarantee claim if you find a better rate than the one you’ve booked (provided it is for the same room, same cancellation policy, filed within the timeline set forth by the hotel chain, etc). Hilton or Marriott will give you 25% off of the better rate, so the savings there could be significant when stacked with the 4th night free benefit as shown in the second post above.

When you can stack conference / corporate code

If you’re making a business trip, it’s worth seeing if the Prestige concierge can book your corporate code or conference code. While I’ve read reports that the Prestige concierge sometimes can’t book special rates like conference rates, we’ve also received reader reports of success in booking such special rates.

Hotels sometimes offer promotion codes on their own websites — for example, you may find that a hotel offers a 4th night free when using a coupon code found on the hotel website. The Prestige concierge can often apply that code for you. Since the Citi benefit is determined by the average nightly rate, these should stack nicely.

Even something as simple as the AAA rate can save you a decent chunk of change, as shown above.

Paid stays of 4-9 nights

It’s not only 3- or 4-night stays that work out well when booking via the Prestige concierge.  You’ll also come out ahead on longer stays in many scenarios (though you can probably do better by booking separately).

Additionally, with the ability to now earn Membership Rewards via Ebates, you may value portal rewards more highly than before. We’ve seen payouts of 10% at Marriott recently, which could alternatively be earned as 10x Membership Rewards points per dollar (see this post for more). Our Reasonable Redemption Value for Membership Rewards is more than 1.8 cents each, so some would value that return as high as 18% — which could of course be more or less in reality depending on how you redeem your points.

The following chart assumes a constantly nightly rate of $100 per night. See the cost per night when paying $100 cash, after 10% back via a shopping portal, after 10x Membership Rewards valued at 1.8c each (18% back), or after a Prestige 4th night free booking. Keep in mind that you will additionally pay taxes — portal and Prestige rebates typically exclude taxes.

Number of nights 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
Cost at $100/nt $100 $200 $300 $400 $500 $600 $700 $800 $900 $1000 $1100
Cost after 10% back via portal $90 $180 $270 $360 $450 $540 $630 $720 $810 $900 $990
Net cost if earning 10x Membership Rewards at a value of 1.8c each $82 $176 $264 $352 $440 $528 $616 $704 $792 $880 $968
Cost after 4th night free booked via concierge N/A N/A $300 $300 $400 $500 $600 $700 $800 $900 $1000

As you can see, you can at least theoretically save money by booking through the Prestige concierge on stays of up to 8 nights. You may be better off booking a 9-night or longer stay via a shopping portal if your only two options were booking all 9 nights via a shopping portal or all 9 nights via the Prestige concierge.

Of course, it’s probably not a binary choice. For more stays greater than 4 nights, you’d be better off booking 4 nights via the Prestige concierge and making a separate reservation through a shopping portal for the additional nights needed. For a stay of nine nights or more, you might want to make two separate 4th-night free bookings and split them up with a separate 1-night booking. The front desk can usually combine your reservations when you check in so you can keep the same room throughout your stay.

Bottom line

The Citi Prestige 4th night free is a terrific benefit when used for bookings through the Prestige concierge. While you’ll need to book via ThankYou.com if you want to use your ThankYou points, you will likely have trouble getting good value that way since you will not be able to stack discounts, shopping portals, etc.

If you’re booking a stay of 4-8 nights, the Prestige concierge is likely the way to go if they need to be on a single reservation. Alternatively, book 4 nights through the Prestige concierge and additional nights as needed via a shopping portal to stack maximum savings.

Regarding comments: Comments posted at the bottom of Frequent Miler pages and posts are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

About Nick Reyes

Nick Reyes is a (fairly) regular guy with an animalistic passion for maximizing the value of miles and money to travel the world in comfort and style. There is little in life that he loves more than finding a fantastic deal and helping you shop smarter & harder to achieve your travel dreams.

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Jim
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Jim

Here’s a question: Let’s say I make a couple 4-night bookings through the Concierge for August and September and get the 4th night free. Can I cancel the card before the stays, or do I have to actually use the Citi Prestige card at the hotel to get the benefit?

Nicholai
Guest
Nicholai

Technically, you need to have the card during the stay. However, it’s happened to me before that I’ve booked a pre-paid 4NF and recevied the 4th night credit even before the stay. If that happens, I’d imagine you could cancel the card and nobody would care since Citi got what they wanted (you paid with the Prestige) and the hotel got paid.

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

When u Book online u get it right then ..Nice no forgetting ..

Jim
Guest
Jim

Yeah, but no elite benefits that way.

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

Correct I don’t need them I book for location and IF I do a flip I get the 5th free and Never usually go back there. I book about 50 or 60 nites a year some here Live on the road.
CHEERs

JetSetterFL
Guest
JetSetterFL

Can the concierge book places that are on VRBO Or AirBnB?

Nicholai
Guest
Nicholai

They cannot. I’ve even had instances of them refusing to book what appeared to be a hotel (and was surely marketed as a hotel), but was technically just a group of privately-owned rooms in a building.

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

Me too Condo Hotel but 24hr front desk ,then I just used Hotels.com

C j
Guest
C j

Love all your stuff nick …met you in Chicago I’m the tie dye guy …anyway …..with your math …with your chart at the bottom on 8 nights you have 700 ….wouldn’t it be 600 if you booked 2 separate 4 night stays ?

2nd ….with the Amex 18% in the same chart …..shouldn’t it be ….82….164 …246….328….410…492…..574…656

Kept up the great work and hopefully see you in Chicago ….long live tie dye

Robert
Guest
Robert

Thats what I was thinking as well.

SantiC
Guest
SantiC

This might not be the relevant forum but I thought Id give it a shot. I am trying to decide between using points (95k / night) for a four night stay at Conrad Koh Samui or taking advantage of the current sale at ~$450 / night plus a 4th night free credit by booking with the Citi Prestige. Including taxes, it comes out to about $531 / night and thats a very low redemption value of $0.56 / point. That said, looking at the 95k points category hotels, there arent many that seem that interesting (Ia m already going to the Maldives amd staying at the St Regis, so Rangali isnt interesting). Anyone have any thoughts on this?

Barry
Guest
Barry

If you’re planning a trip to Disney World and plan to stay in the resorts it probably makes sense to use this card for the 4th night free. Last time I checked the Disney resorts were still available through the Thank-you portal. Also Disney doesn’t have any kind of elite status that you’d be sacrificing by making a booking through the Thank-you portal. Just make sure to compare prices before making a booking.

Bill
Guest
Bill

Yeah, pretty much. There are a handful of things where you aren’t going to do better, and this card is nice for that. It’s a bummer that the old benefit is going away, but I’m frankly surprised it lasted this long without being completely nerfed.

Robert
Guest
Robert

NIck I’m on the same page on flexing the hell out of my card before Sept. You mentioned leaving a gap between two 4 night stays. They wont allow the discount if the two separate 4 night bookings are back to back?

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

I booked 4 then 1 (cash) then 4 so 9 total .

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

What I do now is book 2 hotels a few blocks apart 4 nites is enough .Then u cut down the odds of getting a bad hotel . Then u see a different part of the area u never know when u travel what the deal is.
CHEERs

Gabe
Guest
Gabe

Hi Nick:
Do you know if you can book Disney hotels with the Prestige? I know they took Disney hotels off the Chase UR portal not too long ago (even though they’re using Expedia and Expedia still shows the hotels). I just signed up for the Premier card and would like to also apply for the Prestige for a HI trip this summer. I know I won’t qualify for the Prestige sign up bonus considering I just received the Premier card, but I might consider forgoing the points to get that 4th night free benefit this summer. Thanks!

GPO
Guest
GPO

Yes you can – I stayed at Grand Floridian over New Years using 4th night free!

Gabe
Guest
Gabe

Thanks, GPO! Disney doesn’t offer discounts of any kind (ex. AAA) other than their own during off-peak travel dates so the 4th night free benefit would come of very high value at their resorts! The Aulani creeps up to nearly $700/night for the most basic room so I still see great value there.

Since I will be receiving 50K points on the Premier card, does anybody know if I can I combine cash and points with my 4th night free benefit on the Prestige?

Pointz
Guest
Pointz

If I get the card now and use it three times between now and Sep 1, will I be able to use it 2 more times between Sep 1 and Dec 31 or will I have to wait for next year?

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

Unlimited till 9/1-2x after 9/1 to 12/31 then 1/2020 for TWO more then We (me too) are done .

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