Since the Citi Prestige Credit Card just went through some benefit changes, everyone who has the credit card is in assessment mode as to whether or not they’ll keep the credit card. And those who don’t have the credit card are considering whether it’s still worth getting. Even before the changes in benefits were announced, I had planned on writing about the credit card and why, for me, it’s been a keeper… and still is!
I was early on board with this credit card, originally thinking I’d primarily use it for the free rounds of golf and American Airlines Admirals Club access. And maybe the 4th night free hotel benefit. Turns out, I never used the free rounds of golf (which is no longer a benefit), though I did use the American Airlines Admirals Club access from time to time. The real surprise for me was how often I used the 4th night free hotel perk and how much money I saved. Let me get specific!
We all have different travel styles. Some of us are quick in-and-out-of-a-place travelers (like Grant), and some of us linger a bit longer. And some of us, even when lingering a bit longer, will switch from one hotel to another, chasing hotel status or to complete hotel bonuses. I’m in the linger a bit longer camp and I rarely switch hotels in the same city. So four nights in one place to use the 4th night free hotel benefit didn’t make me change my travel patterns.
I’m not exactly sure when being able to email the Citi Prestige concierge team began, so maybe it was available from the get-go. And now, there’s even an online option to book through the Citi Thank You Points portal. But I always called in my reservation requests. I know, old school, but let me explain. When I first got the Citi Prestige Credit Card, I called in because I wanted to see how it all worked. A few years ago, there was a bit of wait time, maybe 10-15 minutes, so I just did other things while I was on hold. Once I got through, the whole process went smoothly, and by the end of the conversation, I had a confirmation number and knew exactly how much my bill would be and exactly how much I’d be rebated with the 4th night free benefit. I liked closing the loop with one call. I also liked being able to ask the concierge about future hotels I was thinking about. Was this independent European hotel in their plan, or another hotel that I was considering in Asia?
I had them set up a profile for me so they had my AAA number and my hotel loyalty numbers as well. This made calls go even more quickly. And the more that people starting using the email option, the quicker my calls went :) Now it never takes more than a few minutes to book my hotel stays. At the same time I’m on the phone with them, I’ll go through the booking process on the hotel’s website to make sure the concierge is seeing the same price I’m seeing. A few times I’ve seen a better rate and the concierge has always gone to bat for me and gotten me the better rate.
When I’m booking a hotel stay that will be at least four nights, and it’s at a hotel that I have points for, I always compare whether it pays to pay cash and use the 4th night free benefit. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t, so it helps to do the math and know what each point is worth to you. I value my Hyatt and SPG points a lot. It also helps to know your upcoming travel plans because maybe you’ll need those hotel points in the not too distant future.
OK, I know what you’re interested in is my bottom line of savings, so here it is. This year so far, I’ve saved $1,045.77 using the 4th night free hotel benefit. That’s not small change. That includes some hotel chains as well as two hotel stays in Italy that were independent hotels. For each stay, I can look at how much I saved and then amortize it over the whole stay. For me, it averages out to about $40-$50 a day in savings, which in Italy, pays for a lot of gelato!!
If we look at the $350 annual fee I pay for the Citi Prestige Credit Card (I have a Citi Gold checking account), and then subtract the $250 I get in airline travel credits (which I always use), the net annual fee for the credit card is only $100. So I’m definitely ahead, in that sense. And then there are the Citi Thank You Points that I earn by using the credit card. Those allowed me to purchase two flights to Canada, and flights from the West Coast to Florida.
I still have a few more trips this year where I’ll be using the 4th night free hotel benefit. Even though some of the original perks of the credit card are gone, the value of Citi Thank You Points has dropped, and even the rebate on the 4th night isn’t as good as it used to be, the Citi Prestige Credit Card is still very useful and saves me plenty of money. And here’s my take on whether or not to use the Citi Thank You Points portal for booking your 4th night free hotel stays. Booking through the portal does not get you discounts for AAA, senior rates, or hotel promotions that would help you get your rate down even further. So do your own research before you book through the portal and run the numbers.
How much have you saved using your Citi Prestige Credit Card with the 4th night free benefit? Or did you decide to close your Citi Prestige Credit Card or convert it into another Citi credit card? Let me know in the comments below!