One of the most unique credit card benefits available is the Citi Prestige® Card’s 4th-night-free perk, which gives cardholders the opportunity to receive their 4th night free on certain hotel stays.
In 2019, Citi announced a handful of changes to their Citi Prestige® Card, including a more flexible travel credit, an increase in annual fee and changes to the 4th-night-free benefit.
Beginning Sept. 1, 2019, Citi implemented two major changes to the Citi Prestige® Card’s 4th-night-free perk: a limit on how many times you may use the benefit and an update on how you can book qualifying stays.
Limits on use
Prior to Sept. 1, 2019, cardholders could use the 4th-night-free perk as often as they wanted. For frequent travelers, having no cap on this perk could easily translate into thousands of dollars of savings per year. However, Citi made a major cut to this benefit: As of Sept. 1, 2019, the card’s 4th-night-free perk is limited to two uses per year.
How to book qualifying stays
Another major change to the 4th-night-free perk is how you can book qualifying stays. Beginning Sept. 1, 2019, in order to qualify for the 4th-night-free benefit, all qualifying hotel stays must be prepaid in advance and booked either through Citi’s ThankYou.com website or by calling Citi at 1-800-THANKYOU.
Prior to Sept. 1, 2019, cardholders had the option of booking qualifying hotel stays through the Citi Prestige Concierge, which gave cardholders the option to receive the 4th-night-free benefit while paying the hotel directly at checkout. This represented a major value because it allowed cardholders to take advantage of the 4th-night-free perk while still receiving the value of booking (via the concierge) and paying (after the stay) with hotels directly, including earning points directly with the hotel and receiving hotel status benefits.
What’s the best strategy now?
With the updated 4th-night-free benefit now in place, cardholders will need to choose between having their hotel status honored (including upgrades and receiving nights to requalify for hotel elite status) or receiving the 4th-night-free benefit. Even if hotel status isn’t a concern, the requirement that hotel stays be paid upfront will make it difficult for some travelers to take advantage of the perk.
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That said, if you are a cardholder who is not concerned about hotel status or points and can afford to pay for your hotel stay upfront, it makes sense to take advantage of the 4th-night-free benefit for hotels that are available to book through ThankYou.com or 1-800-THANKYOU. In order to justify the annual fee, you will also need to be careful in terms of maxing out the 4th-night-free perk. Ideally, you'll use the benefit on two of your more expensive trips during the year. You may also want to consider using the benefit on hotel stays where you need (or choose) to stay at a hotel chain that is not your primary chain of choice (where the points and status would be important to you).
The bottom line
Overall, the updates to the Citi Prestige® Card’s 4th-night-free benefit represent a significant loss in value to the card’s most unique benefit. You should reevaluate whether the cap on stays, and the limits on which bookings qualify, justify the card’s annual fee, even with a new strategy in place.
The information related to the Citi Prestige® Card has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.
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