Citi Prestige Limits Access to Good Hotel Rates for 4th Night Free Over Two Months Early

Citi Prestige has done the biggest 180 in the history of credit cards.

I let go of mine just over two years ago, after it lost American Airlines Admirals Club access, the ability to redeem points for paid American travel at 1.67 cents apiece, and other benefits like free golf (though I’m not a golfer). Many people kept the card for its 4th night free hotel benefit, and of course it kept Priority Pass and the annual airfare credit.

In late 2017 Citi tweaked the card, making it metal, letting you use points as cash at a penny apiece, and allowing you to book ‘fourth night free’ hotels online (but then you wouldn’t earn loyalty points or receive status credit or benefits since it meant making the booking through their online agency). They temporarily raised the initial bonus on the card to 75,000 points.

The Points Guy himself declared “It’s great to see a credit card company upping its game in an unmatched way.” The changes though were such a dud that they announced a revamp of the card again a year later.

They added cell phone protection, and really amped up points-earning: 5x on airline travel and restaurants; 3x on hotels and cruise spend; 2x on entertainment.

However along with these additions came cuts effective September 1, 2019: points would only be worth a penny apiece towards airfare if spending for paid travel, and fourth night free on hotels would only be available for use twice a year.

The other major cut was that the 4th night hotel booking benefit would only be able to be booked online. That means your reservations will count as a third party booking, so no elite benefits or hotel points, and it means you won’t be able to access discounted rates that Citi concierges have been able to book as well as hotels that don’t appear through their portal.

Cardmembers were supposed to have until September 1 for these cuts to go into effect however it seems that the restriction to only book fourth night free may already be in effect. Multiple readers have shared their stories trying to book fourth night free. In both case they were told that phone agents are already restricted to using their own platform for making bookings, that they can no longer access rates outside of that platform. And in both cases the rates in question were higher than what’s available on the hotel’s website (in one case 30% higher).

I wrote off the fourth night free hotel benefit when the changes were announced in November, capitalizing it as though the restrictions were already in place. It looks like the limitation on what rates can be booked may already be in effect.

If you have the card what’s been your experience this week with fourth night free hotel bookings?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. […] night, I felt a sudden wave of panic when I read this headline from View from the Wing, “Citi Prestige Limits Access to Good Hotel Rates for 4th Night Free Over Two Months Early. Thankfully, this was a case of mistaken identity as it sounds like the readers reporting this […]

Comments

  1. Without the 4th night this would be a $95 annual fee caliber card.

    I have a fall booking to make this weekend and will report back.

  2. I’m not sure who the others contacted. Yesterday, a reservation agent said he could not access a rate I’ve used previously. I asked to be transferred to a concierge and she made the booking no problem.

  3. In related news, the Points Guy has declared that this no-notice early limitation will “invigorate members and stimulate their engagement with the product, while permitting them the unexpected benefit of getting used to the new enhancement earlier than expected.”

  4. ^^ there are several reports on flyertalk that indicate either HUCA or ask for a connexions concierge who can do it for you.

    Regardless, the Thankyou travel portal stinks. Lots of specialty suites are not available, which is really the best use for 4th night free.

  5. The relationship between Aspire and Citi has already deteriorated. The “Prestige Concierge” is refusing to reimburse me for a 4th night on the grounds I didn’t spend the 4th “night: at the hotel. (I checked out at 11pm). Downgrading ASAP.

  6. I got the weirdest thing. I had a 4th night free credit from a stay I cancelled.
    I checked everywhere on my statements but I couldn’t see that I was ever charged for any of the nights.

  7. Confirmed that the Citi Concierge had issues applying a corporate rate to a new booking via phone earlier today. She wound up calling Hilton, and it worked, but maybe this is the underlying reason?

  8. Spurred by this article, I went straight to attempt to do a 4th night free booking. Found out that:

    1) Citi’s automated menu routes you to a Conexion/Thank You concierge if you ask the menu for “travel.”
    2) If you ask for “entertainment” you get routed to the usual Aspire/Citi concierge.
    3) The Citi concierge process worked as it usually had in the past, with me feeding her all the details of the stay and her confirming the rate, benefit and terms (primary cardmember only, etc.).
    4) FWIW, I asked and she researched the answer: bookings made prior to the September cut-off can be modified after the cut-off without affecting the 4th night benefit (e.g., if the rate drops, call them to modify; does not work if you’re canceling and rebooking at the lower rate. My guess is that the case number has to be generated prior to the cut-off). Don’t know if I would gamble on this, but this concierge was pleasant and competent and aware of the changes going into effect.

    Hope this helps.

  9. I just booked a hotel yesterday (with the concierge) and she had no problems with it (got the confirmation later in the day). She did say she had to call Marriott directly to book the hotel because the system was down (didn’t ask for details).

  10. I made two corporate postpaid 4th night free bookings yesterday (Hyatt), via email. Confirmations received within minutes.

    -David

  11. I booked a 4-night hotel stay in Utah for next Jan this afternoon and it went without any problem. FWIW I directly called the Aspire Lifestyle instead of dialing the # on the back of my Prestige card.

  12. Citi rhymes with something else.

    The card is lackluster…. total dud.

    TPG would say it’s exciting. Followed him from the beginning, he’s gotten too big and is corporate now. BTW, did you know about Chase Sapphire preferred?

    Also, making a card metal isn’t a selling point. That’s not a benefit by any means but people must fall for it.

  13. JC’s experience matches mine. Citi appears to have changed the phone button options in a way that is counter-intuitive (perhaps by design) — if you follow the prompts designated for booking travel, which specifically reference the fourth-night free benefit, you end up with the Thank You department, which is limited to the rates on ThankYou.com. If you get over to the actual Concierge staff, then you can make the booking under the current rules.

  14. Connexions sucks and can’t be trusted, be very cautious booking rooms through these crooks!

  15. This phone menu change actually happened over a month ago I believe. Or at least they tested it for a while. Just ask for the concierge.

  16. No recent data point, but I always made my 4th night free bookings via an email to the concierge. I’d be curious if those agents are similarly impaired.

    As far as the cards worth, as bad as the changes have been, earning 5x on air and dining is still pretty compelling.

  17. I had the same frustrating issue a couple of weeks ago. I had to ask for several supervisors, one who finally transferred me to the Concierge desk. I think others are reporting this as well. The secret is to contact the Citi Prestige Concierge directly: We may be contacted 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by calling 1-561-922-0158. If you call the 877 number, you will not be able to get anything other than what is on the portal.

    I used to e-mail the concierge for reservations. I am finding that there is often a week delay in getting a response. I missed a couple of good rates as a result. Best to call.

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