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

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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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