The Citi Prestige card is getting lots of virtual ink out there with the new 50,000 point sign up bonus–and rightfully so. 50,000 Thank You Points are worth $800 worth of flights on AA/US Airways or can be transferred to Citi’s transfer partners:
- Hilton (1.5:1)
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- Eva Air Infinity
- Etihad Guest
- Air France/KLM FlyingBlue
- Garuda Indonesia Frequent Flier (side note: Garuda should hire a branding expert)
- Malaysia Airlines Enrich
- Qantas Frequent Flier (maybe they should too?)
- Qatar Privilege Club
- Singapore KrisFlyer
- Thai Royal Orchid Plus
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
That’s a very solid sign up bonus and together with the great point earning structure, AA club access, and $250 airline fee credit (which basically makes the annual fee $200 for anybody who spends more than $250 on air travel in a given year…probably you if you’re reading this), it makes this card quite compelling already.
But one of the most overlooked benefits is the 4th Night Free hotel benefit. Here is the short version of the terms:
You will enjoy a complimentary fourth night with no black-out dates, when you book four consecutive nights at any hotel booked by a personal travel advisor designated by MasterCard (the “designated travel advisor” is Carlson Wagonlit Travel). Bookings made through other methods such as, travel agents, websites or directly with a hotel will not qualify.
To receive your complimentary night (via a statement credit) you must:
- Make a reservation for a minimum, consecutive four-night stay by contacting the Citi Prestige Concierge, to book directly with a designated travel advisor
- Fully pay for your stay with a Citi Prestige Card
Receive one complimentary night (room rate for the fourth night and applicable taxes only) for any consecutive four-night hotel stay booked directly with a MasterCard designated travel advisor. Hotel imposed fees and incidental guest charges are the Cardmember’s responsibility. The value of the complimentary night will be the actual rate, as provided by the designated travel advisor, on that fourth night of the reservation, even if the rate is different from the rate on other nights. Cardmember will be charged the total cost of the stay at checkout and will receive a credit to the credit card statement for the cost of the fourth night (and the applicable taxes). If the cardmember books a special “pre-paid” rate this may require upfront payment in full, at time of booking. Payment in full is defined as pre-payment for the total of all four consecutive nights. Only one complimentary night is eligible per each stay. A stay is consecutive nights booked and stayed on one reservation and does not include back-to back stays. Back-to back stays are stays at the same hotel booked on two reservations (as an example, you book four nights at a hotel on one reservation for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and book another four nights on another reservation for Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. In this situation, you would only be eligible for one complimentary night for the 8 night stay). Rates provided will be equal to or lower than the lowest publicly-available fare at the hotel’s official website. The benefit can only be used by the primary account cardholder.
So basically, you book 4 nights and you only pay for the first 3 — it’s not a 25% discount… and that’s the key. The 4th night is free even if the rate changes for that night. In many cases, that’s going to be a mattress-runners dream. In many cities, hotels that serve a lot of business travelers heavily discount Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights (sometimes only Friday and Saturday depending on the hotel)–often from $250+ per night down to ~$60-70 per night–because they go from very high week night occupancy to very low weekend occupancy. But Sunday night is usually back to being expensive again. So if your nightly rate breaks down to:
…then you’re going to only pay $69 x 3 (+ tax, yada yada…). So you’re still going to get credit for the $199 night with your hotel program, but you’re only paying for the first 3 (which you were paying for already on your mattress run). The benefits of this:
- Brings your effective cost per elite night down from $69 to $51.75 since you get 4 nights now instead of 3.
- You now get 4 elite night credits instead of 3.
- You earn points on the Sunday night as well as if you actually paid the $200, so you’re earning more points also.
- Lastly, in many cases, you’re not even worse off for having to pay with your Citi Prestige card which earns 3x points on travel purchases. At SPG hotels, for instance, you’d either earn 2x SPG points with your SPG card or 3x ThankYou points with your Citi card.
There’s also some potential to save lots of money at high end hotels, though, there’s other considerations there, too, since you’d lose any ability to book them through Virtuoso/FHR which comes with their own suite of benefits. I’ll probably write a separate post comparing options there…