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Citi Prestige has a fantastic benefit (well many great benefits, but for this exercise I want to focus on one) in fourth night free on hotel stays.
- You book through the Citi Prestige Concierge, stays earn full points and stay credit, and then you pay at checkout with your Citi Prestige card. You then receive a statement credit for the 4th night of the stay.
- This is fantastic for stays where the rate goes up on the 4th night of a stay.
- And this is fantastic where you’re going to stay 3 nights anyway, just tack on a 4th night (best flexible rate, AAA rate, AARP rate) and earn additional stay or night credit towards status and promotions and additional points without coming out of pocket any extra money. It’s the perfect mattress run.
You can use this even at luxury properties, you can get huge savings if you book the kinds of rooms that are $400, $800, per night.
There’s no limit to the number of times you can use this benefit each year (other than the calendar, 365 divided by 4).
In response to my post on Citi Prestige’s free golf benefit, reader HoKo comments,
As Ben just posted about he has already saved thousands of dollars with the 4th night free benefit, and stands to save thousands more over the course of the year. I realize Ben is an outlier [because] he lives in hotels but so do the giant army of consultants and sales people that travel 4-5 days per week every week of the year. Those sort of people could absolutely clean up using this card, and I’d have to think they would absolutely destroy Citi’s profitability metrics for this card.
The two things that Citi has in their favor to prevent that from happening are:
1. A lot of companies require spend to be put on corporate cards and/or travel reservations made through their in house travel portals
2. Many consultants follow a model of flying out early Monday morning and coming home Thu[rsday] night so they are only doing 3 night hotel stays every week. I wonder if this is part of the reason Citi chose 4 nights as the threshold.
This is a fantastic benefit, and the consultant angle got me thinking about something.
For someone who follows an out Sunday, back Thursday schedule each week (or out Monday, back Friday) and books and pays for their own room and gets reimbursed, this card is a clear gold mine.
- They book their stay. They check out and pay for the full stay. They submit their folio for reimbursement.
- They also get the fourth night of their stay credited back to the Citi Prestige card.
It’s a perfect double dip.
Normally, a rebate isn’t taxable. But if you’re receiving tax free reimbursement and a rebate then technically that rebate should be considered income. That’s between you and the IRS and the subject of a different discussion.
Here I’m interested in the ethics. Should you take the full reimbursement for your hotel stay, or should your employer profit from the fact you happen to have a card with this benefit?
Your employer may be billing a client, but that’s not really relevant since it just pushes back the question to whether the client should be benefiting from the card you happen to have to pay for your stay.
- Your employer has you on the road four nights and expects to pay for four nights of lodging. You do actually pay for four nights of lodging, and you submit your receipt just like anyone else at the company. What’s wrong with that?
- But you aren’t actually incurring a cost for the full four nights. Should your employer really be reimbursing you for more than what you’re actually out for the stay?
- Citi Prestige is your card, not your employer’s. You pay the annual fee on it (even though you get way more out of it than the fee costs), not your employer. Should your employer really benefit from a rebate provided by that card? Isn’t that your cardmember benefit?
What’s right here? Who should benefit from the rebate, you or your employer?
I know who will most of the time under this sort of scenario…