Citi Prestige 4th Night Free Hotel Benefit: 5 Misconceptions

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I’ve written quite a bit about the Citi Prestige Card. I’d argue it’s the all around hottest card out there right now, between the sign-up bonus, perks, and return on everyday spend.

The card has a $450 annual fee, though has so many benefits which more than justify the annual fee, in my opinion. Among other things, these include:

The single benefit on this card I’ve gotten the most value out of has been the fourth night free hotel benefit, which I’ve used quite a few times.

I’ve described this benefit in great detail, though it’s still something I get asked clarification questions about from readers on a daily basis. As a starting point, here are the previous posts I’ve written about the benefit:

This benefit has saved me over $2,000 this year alone, which is insane. As I said above, for me it has been the single most valuable credit card perk of 2015.

With that in mind, I figured I’d address five misconceptions that many people seem to have about this benefit:

You don’t earn hotel points when booking with Citi Prestige

Most hotel chains don’t award you points if you book through a third party site. However, the exception is if you’re booking through what’s essentially a corporate travel agency. Carlson Wagonlit handles the fourth night free benefit on behalf of the Citi Prestige Concierge, and the stays booked through them are absolutely eligible for points accrual in all programs.

So you do earn points as usual on stays booked using the Citi Prestige Card fourth night free benefit.

Starpoints-Citi-Prestige

The benefit can only be used in conjunction with the flexible rate

There are all kinds of cards offering “free hotel night” promos, though they usually come with tons of asterisks. Often you have to book the flexible rate to take advantage of them, or sometimes they have even more inflated rates.

With the Citi Prestige Card fourth night free you can book virtually any paid, publicly available rate using the benefit. This includes flexible rates, pre-paid rates, AAA rates, AARP rates, etc. Corporate rates are excluded, however (as they aren’t publicly available).

For example, for my recent stay at the St. Regis Bali I booked a “Hot Escapes” rate, and was able to use the fourth night free benefit in conjunction with it.

St-Regis-Bali-Rate-2

Who wouldn’t want to save on a place like this?

St-Regis-Bali
Using the fourth night free benefit at the St. Regis Bali

Not many hotels are eligible for the fourth night free benefit

In the past I explained how to search which hotels participate in the Citi Prestige Card fourth night free benefit by using the Carlson Wagonlit website. In general a vast majority of chain hotels participate, so if you want to stay at a Sheraton or Park Hyatt or Renaissance, it’ll almost certainly be on the list. And even many non-chain hotels participate.

On top of that it appears you can even use this benefit at some hotels which don’t otherwise belong to the Carlson Wagonlit network. Reader Cathy sent me the following email a few days ago reporting her success booking another property:

I just wanted to let you know that I contacted Citi Prestige Concierge with a request for a 4th night free stay at a hotel that was NOT on the CW website.

Very happy to tell you that I was successful!

Just wanted to let you know so you can pass on my story to your readers if they ask!

I used the email service and did not call Citi Concierge. They got back to me, by phone, within 24 hours and hooked me up. Awesome.

The hotel refunds your fourth night directly

For the Citi Prestige fourth night free hotel benefit, the fourth night is refunded directly through your Citi Prestige Card, and not through the hotel. Actually the hotel has no clue that you’re getting the fourth night free.

Instead the cost of the fourth night is refunded a few weeks after you pay for the stay. In case of a pre-paid stay, this means you could actually be reimbursed before your stay. In case of a flexible rate where you pay at check-out, this means you’ll be reimbursed a few weeks after your stay.

It’s great that Citi refunds the fourth night and not the hotel directly, since it means you’ll get elite qualifying nights for all four nights (including the free one), and also earn points in the hotel loyalty program for the full cost of the stay, pre-discount.

Park-Tower-Hotel-Knightsbridge-London - 3
Using the fourth night free benefit at The Park Tower London

The booking process is complicated

Some people expect the booking process to be complicated. If approaching it right, I’ve always been able to complete the whole process in ~15 minutes or less. You have a couple of options for going about booking:

  • You can call the Citi Prestige concierge, and tell them you’re ready to book right away and know the rate you want, and they can connect you to a Carlson Wagonlit associate:
    • Some concierges might say they can only connect you right away if your stay is within a week, though I’ve usually been able to get around that by telling them there’s limited availability and I needed to book ASAP or the rate could change (which is usually true)
    • Otherwise the concierge will take down your information and request, and then within 24 hours you’ll receive an email with a rate quote; then you just have to phone up the concierge to book
  • You can email the Citi Prestige concierge, and the whole process can be started by email, which should allow you to complete everything within 24 hours or so

But the handful of bookings I’ve made never took me more than 15 minutes (or so) on the phone, so I have found the process to be extremely easy.

Westin-Frankfurt-1
Using the fourth night free benefit at the Westin Frankfurt

Citi Prestige Card fourth night free benefit bottom line

I can’t say enough good things about the Citi Prestige Card as a whole, and specifically about the fourth night free benefit. It’s something any semi-frequent traveler should be able to get outsized value from.

Have you used the Citi Prestige Card fourth night free hotel benefit?

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Comments

  1. Do you have visibility of these bookings on your hotel reservations list though? I’ve made a few and even with them being linked to my frequent guest #s, I don’t seem them on my reservations. I e-mailed the concierge service but never got a reply.

  2. @ TVH — Yep, have always appeared in my SPG and Hyatt account. Just be sure your loyalty number is on the reservation. Which chain were you booking?

  3. “More than a handful of times” – this is not a standard turn of phrase, i think you mean “quite a few times” or similar.

    I enjoy reading Lucky’s blog but everytime I read this it irritates me!

  4. Hey Ben,

    If I use my Citi Prestige card to book two rooms (one for myself/girlfriend and one for my parents) will Citi refund both rooms’ fourth night, or only the one affiliated with my name?

  5. Best of all, is that with proper planning, the reimbursed night can be the most expensive night of your stay. I’m staying at a hotel during the holidays that has a sub $250/night price for the 28th-30th of December, and then a $700+ price for NYE. Guess what night is my fourth night! Cha ching!

  6. FYI, I recently learned that if you’re citi gold, the annual fee is $350, making this an even better deal. With the $250 airline credit, I only needed to find $100 more in value from the card, which is easy with the 4th night (and frankly, $100 is worth it for the AA and priority pass lounge access since my employer has some, er, frugal travel policies. I value the lounge access!)

  7. @Lucky (or anyone else)

    Have you yourself (or someone you know) used 4th night free for a 3 night stay? I know you say you dont like to stay in any spot more than three nights in a row… I cant see anything in the T&C against booking a 4 night trip and checking out early (or arriving late) to still get 4 days worth of points (and an extra credited night).

    Is the hotel is being paid by Citi for that 4th night regardless?

  8. @ ecrich — Yes, the hotel is being paid. Don’t see why that wouldn’t work. Nothing wrong with booking an extra night if you plan on leave late or arrive early.

  9. @Deepak, I just booked my 4th night free + Hyatt Diamond suite upgrade at the Ziva Cancun.

    1. Check Hyatt Property if Suite is available for the 4 nights you plan to stay
    2. Call Citi Prestige and book for a base room at your Hyatt location
    3. Provide your Diamond Member#
    4. Call Hyatt and ask for Suite upgrade for your reservation.
    5. Get Confirmation email and go crazy 😛

    @Lucky, Thank you for all your continuous reports and reviews. I never imagined vacationing like a Boss. Thank You 🙂

  10. I used it twice in conjunction with the Hyatt Diamond Status Challenge. I found both the Citi and CW staff helpful and efficient. For one of my stays at a Hyatt resort, I booked an resort rate which gave me a large daily credit towards meals, spa services, etc. So basically, my meals and spa charges were reimbursed for the fourth night as well.

  11. @ Richard, right on. I recently finished stay at Fairmont Mayakoba (Playa del Carmen) on an all-inclusive rate (30% discounted published rate), then stacked with the 4th night Prestige benefit, which essentially gave us an extra day of food and beverage as well.

  12. This benefit has by far been the most appreciated by my family and I as we have 2 stays coming up in the next two months alone where we are getting >$700 back so it kills the $450 AF right there. Hong Kong Grand Hyatt for new years means we make like @ Sean BG because the 4th night (12/31) is SOO expensive n that’s what we get credited. Then Olive8 Hyatt in Seattle with 4th night free stacked with a Diamond upgrade in January…like whoaaa. This is the most valuable piece of plastic there is. Don’t sleep on the 4 rounds of free golf now! Thanks to Lucky for outlining this feature in such a detailed manner.

  13. Can you use Hyatt suite nights on these stays? Will you get free Wifi with the big hotel chains since you haven’t booked directly through them?

  14. I just used that today. I got a quote at Hyatt Paris yesterday, but today it jumped up 60 EUR so I had to bail on it. As I was sitting there talking to the guy at Wagonlit, it turns out they basically get the same rate as Expedia. The concierge service is a joke as they are slow, I can’t believe they don’t have a place online where you can just book it. The good news is that I get the 4th night refunded to me. With that service, I am going to be saving about $300. I still wish I had gotten into the Hyatt, but it is what it is.

    I am planning to stay a few nights in London too, but I ended up booking through Hilton directly as they had the 35% cyber sale.

    With that said, I opened my Citi Prestige in October. I paid $450, got my $250 credit for the airplane ticket, $100 for global entry, $500 sign on bonus of which I applied a portion of it to my other airplane ticket that I ended up getting an extra $80 of credit for.

    In 2 months, I am almost even before my $500 Thank You points and the 4th night free hotel ($300) credit kicking in. I also get 3x points for my hotels booking. It’s safe to say I am getting my money’s worth on this card.

    I do have to say the service at Citibank sucks, Chase is much better. Also the card design is weird and it looks extremely cheap compare to the Sapphire.

  15. Authorized user traveling, primary user not. Primary user books hotel for four nights, adding name of authorized user as additional guest. Problems upon arrival, or with Citi?

  16. I’ve had some success with this as well.. I recently booked a hotel that was running a 5th night free promo (an Aman to boot!) and was able to also get the 4th night free… pretty sweet I must.. I’ve also received quotes for hotels running third night free promos; giving the 3rd and 4th nights free.. I will say that for hotels requiring manual booking it can be quite a process and often the Citi Concierge tries to run interference. The key is to get transferred to a CWT advisor, which can actually be more difficult than you think…

    FDW

  17. @Sean BG: Same for me, except try sub $500 on the first three nights and >$9,000 on the fourth night! Wooooooo!

  18. I have it confirmed it for an upcoming stay at the Atlantis in Dubai-which is not a hotel on their website. I called Citi and they said they would email me my options in 24 hours. i called back in about 36 hours and they said it was taking a lil longer than expected, but i did receive the email in about 2 days. I then called them back and confirmed it all and got the confirmation email. this was great cause it allowed us to splurge more than normal and we are saving about $800 in just this one instance.
    Have also used it for some long weekends where we stay Thur-Sun but are taking a late flight home on Sunday. This way we basically get a guaranteed late checkout and the points associated for an extra night with no extra costs to us. (we do make sure that 4th night is not a more expensive rate first.)

  19. Hey lucky,

    The travel advisors have told me blankly that they can book any property as long as the property is willing to accept an IATA code. This has proven true twice.

    Last July I stayed 4th night free at a gourmet all-inclusive el dorado property in Mexico (all inclusive for two people!) (that was $600 per night over 4 nights).

    Last August I stayed 4th night free at a brand new property in Santorini that ran $630 per night. It took a few calls by the travel advisor but they got it done and the hotel accepted their IATA code.

    Both rebates have been credited to my account, and neither hotel was in the CW database.

  20. @Sean BG,

    Have you actually gotten a quote that states unequivocally that your fourth night @$700 is being refunded at that rate? That has not been my experience. Variable rates are not refunded, and I have been offered only for a refund for one night at the standard rate. I tried the same thing in Dubai for this New Year’s – no go.

    Calling this “4th night free” is a bit misleading. What I have found is that it’s closer to “buy four nights and get refunded for one”, but they are only refunding the standard rate, 60 to 90 days later.

  21. Hi, thanks for the info.

    Can a HHONOR diamond book 5 nights and get 4th night free from citi prestige and 5th night free from diamond benefit?

  22. Authorized users traveling without the primary cardholder are not allowed to use the fourth might free benefit. 🙁

  23. @Johnny- the 5th night free with HHonors is for award redemptions. That doesn’t apply to paid reservations…

    FDW

  24. Hi Ben, fantastic site! first time poster. This may be a stupid question but all my company travel is booked through CWT. does this mean that is the hotel is elligible, then they will automatically refund the 4th night cost?

    Also. What is your hotel stay is longer than 4 nights. Will they still refund the 4th nigt?

  25. @ Nukzter — If stay is longer than four nights then the fourth night still gets refunded. As far as business stays go, this benefit is only available on personal stays, and you have to specifically request this deal when you book. So going through your corporate CWT agent wouldn’t work.

  26. Could you combine this 4th night free benefit with the 5th night free benefit at Starwoods and Marriott? If 4 nights of hotel stays are paid for, and Citi refunds the 4th night, then one should be able to use the benefit to “book” 4 nights at Starwoods or Marriott and get their 5th night free, and then have Citi reimburse you for the 4th. Is this correct?

  27. @ MSD2179 — Fifth night free only applies on award bookings. You can’t use the fourth night free benefit on award bookings.

  28. I’m having a tough time trying to book the 4th Night benefit at the M Life Las Vegas Properties along with my MLife Platinum Status discounted rates.

    Looks like the only way to get the discounted rates is to login to MLife with your membership id and password which the Citi concierge cannot do.

    @Lucky, have you used or tried clubbing the MLife premium status discounts along with the Citi 4th Night benefit?

  29. Do you still get reward points with Hilton? I made a booking but the concierge stated that Hilton requires member login to add honors number. So they couldn’t add my Hilton honors number to the reservation. Is this correct?

  30. Now that Citi has changed from Carlson Wagonlit to Aspire Lifestyles, do you still get hotel points, also is there anyway to check which hotels participate now that the Carlson Wagonlit website is not relevant anymore?

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