Get Your 4th Night Free with the Citi Prestige Card (2021)
The Citi Prestige card has a unique and potentially lucrative benefit—it gives you your 4th night free on up to two hotel reservations per year.
The “4th night free” benefit works whether you are booking a $80 per night hotel on the outskirts of town or an $800 per night resort hotel in some exotic locale. Each time you can take advantage of the benefit, you can save hundreds of dollars.
If you stay put for four or more days a couple of times per year—whether you are visiting relatives, touring around a city, relaxing on the beach, traveling for business, or hitting the slopes—you can potentially save hundreds or dollars per year by using the Citi Prestige card.
Unfortunately, you need to book the hotel through the Citibank website, which doesn't usually have the best possible rate, often doesn't have the best availability, and is treated as a "3rd party booking" by the hotel's own loyalty program. So, it doesn't tend to pencil out quite as well as you might expect.
For most people, signing up for credit cards, just to receive travel benefits, good reward earning rates, or lucrative signup bonuses, isn't an irresponsible thing to do. It won't kill your credit rating—it just might improve it. But, if you have a problem with credit, or you aren't organized enough to avoid unwanted credit card fees, you'll need to stick to our other strategies for discounted travel. For more information, see our Credit Cards 101 guide.
- You can use this on every hotel stay of four or more nights—up to 2 times per calendar year.
- You need to book the reservation through Citibank’s travel booking website. That means you only have access to whatever rate they are offering, can only book hotels and room inventory that is available via their system, and generally won't receive any hotel loyalty program benefits or points with your stay. In practice, Citibank's website tends to have higher room rates than other booking options, frequently doesn't provide a non-refundable option even when they one is available elsewhere, and often shows "no availability" when hotels still have plenty of room.
- Reservations made through Citibank are treated as 3rd party reservations by hotel loyalty programs.. You won't earn points and elite night credit for your stay, and you are not entitled to any benefits from your hotel status. You might still get some of your normal benefits, but that is up to the discretion of the individual hotel. However, if you are saving a significant amount of money on your reservation, it often makes sense to forgo the hotel's loyalty program.
- They pay for the average room rate. You’ll pay the full price for the room upfront and then receive a credit on your card for the value of the free night later.
- You need to pay the taxes on the free night. This wasn’t initially true when they first launched. You’ll also need to pay any resort charges.
- Always check to see if the rate for all 4 nights on another site is actually higher than Citibank's rate for 3 nights. Sometimes, the 4th night free benefit will still save you a bunch of money. Other times, it may only be a little less expensive (or even more expensive) than booking elsewhere. In addition, for chain hotels, make sure whatever you are saving makes up for any potential loss of benefits and hotel rewards.
- There are no caps on how expensive the hotel can be.
- You need to pay with your Citi Prestige card. It is how they track that you actually stayed at the hotel. The good news is that you’ll earn 3x ThankYou points for the hotel stay. The bad news is that you can’t take advantage of another card. If you book online, you can also use ThankYou points to pay for some of the cost (at 1 or 1.25 cents per point).
- You CAN’T use this to book more than a single room at a time. If you need 2 rooms, you’ll only get the free night for one of them. Of course, if you and your partner each have their own cards, you can each book a separate room.
- You WON’T get 2 free nights on an 8-night stay. You can’t even break-up the stay into two separate four-night reservations. You’ll need to switch hotels, or have at least a one-night break, or Citi will consider them part of the same reservation.
You do have the option of calling in, but the travel agent will still typically only have availability for the same rooms and rates you can see online. Up until September of 2019, you could book through the Citibank concierge and they were able to make reservations directly with the hotel, giving you access to better rates and availability, and maintaining your eligibility for the hotel's loyalty program.
The Citi Prestige annual fee
Unfortunately, there is a cost associated with this extremely lucrative benefit. The Citi Prestige card has a $495 annual fee.
However, the real cost can be much less than that. The card includes a $250 per year travel credit which is automatically applied to your credit card statement. Just use the card to purchase airplane tickets or a hotel room, and Citibank will automatically subtract $250 from what you owe. Since you are almost certainly going to be buying at least $250 in travel very year, and the card provides one of the best reward rates on air travel, the travel credit nearly effortlessly drops the effective annual fee to $245. Furthermore, if you have a Citigold account, the base annual fee is $350, and your effective annual fee is $100.
Other Prestige card benefits
- Airport lounge access. Priority Pass access gets you, and up to 2 travelling companions, or your immediate family, into any of hundreds of airport lounges around the world.
- 5x points on airfare, online travel agencies, and restaurants.
- 3x points on hotels and cruises.
- Global entry fee reimbursement. You’ll receive a credit for up to $100 in US Immigration application fees (once every five years).
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