Gaming Hotel Elite Status With the Citi Prestige 4th Night Free Benefit

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One of the best benefits in all of travel is the Citi Prestige Card‘s fourth night free benefit for hotels.

Frequent Miler writes this morning about using this benefit to game earning hotel elite status that programs award based on annual spend.

He writes about it in terms of changes to the Hyatt program, but the same logic applies to IHG Rewards Club and Hilton. And you can use the fourth night free to goose qualifying for status based on nights, too.


Hilton’s Conrad Koh Samui

Earning Hotel Status Based on Spend

Hilton awards gold status after 20 stays, 40 nights or 75,000 HHonors Base Points. That’s $7500 in spend at their hotels. They award Diamond after 30 stays, 60 nights or 120,000 HHonors Base Points. That’s $12,000 in spend at their hotels.

Of course you get Gold status just for having the Citi Hilton Reserve Card and you get Diamond for spending $40,000 in a year on that card. I don’t see a reason to stay to earn status with Hilton.

IHG Spire Elite can be earned with 75,000 qualifying points, so:

  • $5000 in hotel spend (5 x 10,000 points) plus putting that $5000 spend on their co-brand credit card (5 x 5000), or
  • $7500 in hotel spend.

Hyatt lets you earn top tier Globalist status in the new World of Hyatt program for $20,000 in spend.


Hyatt Top Tier Elite Room Service Breakfast at the Park Hyatt Vendome, Paris

Using the Citi Prestige 4th Night Free Benefit

Here’s how it works:

  • You book through the Citi Prestige Concierge
  • These stays earn full points and stay credit.
  • You pay at checkout with your Citi Prestige card

For bookings made by July 23 you receive a statement credit for the 4th night of the stay including taxes. For bookings made July 23 onward you receive a statement credit for the average daily rate for your stay, excluding taxes.

The Perfect Mattress Run

Two years ago I described this benefit as “the perfect mattress run.”

There are two ways to play it:

  1. On any 3 night stay, just book four nights for the extra points and elite credit. The fourth night is free for bookings made during the next 6 months and then after that the extra night will save you more or less than the 4th night would have cost depending on the hotel’s rate for that night.

  2. For hotel programs that let you earn status based on spend, find a hotel with an exorbitant rate for the fourth night and book it before July 23. That exorbitant rate that you aren’t paying for makes outsized progress towards status.

Frequent Miler pointed out finding “a pre-Superbowl room rate in which the first three nights were $129 each, and the 4th night was $1200.” For bookings before July 23 that $1200 room night would be refunded.

You’re not going to use this technique to earn status from scratch — e.g. find a $99 Hyatt room for 3 nights which then costs $9700 for the third night, and repeat this a second time — but it could be useful to top off towards spend-based qualification.

In the meantime the Last Great Mattress Run with Hyatt is still possible.


Living Room of Suite at the Park Hyatt Chennai

Valuable for Real Stays, Not Just Mattress Runs

Since you can use the fourth night free benefit even at luxury properties, you can get huge savings if you book the kinds of rooms that are $400, $800, or more per night.

This is a $450 annual fee card. The signup bonus lets you earn 40,000 points after $4000 in purchases within 3 months. (Offer expired) There’s a $250 airline credit that works on direct purchases of tickets, no need to mess around with gift cards. It comes with a Priority Pass for airport lounge access. And it earns 3 points per dollar on air and hotel plus 2 points per dollar on restaurants and entertainment.

The fourth night free benefit, though, can pay for the card’s cost many times over — and over and over.

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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Comments

  1. I have three kids, so I prefer to book two rooms. Can I book two rooms for four nights and get both 4th nights refunded?

  2. Doug, no, but I am in same situation and we just got my wife a second Prestige card just for this exact purpose. It cannot be an authorized user on card 1. It has to be a whole new card, paying its own annual fee. You have to analyze, but the economics made huge sense for us. We got $17,000 back in 4th night credits last year. Think villas at Auberge resorts, etc. This is such a huge benefit…

  3. @Doug. While you can’t book 2 rooms, you can book a suite, which is what we do since we’re usually traveling with our 3 kids.

  4. I have this card and have used the benefit. I think it only fair to report that the experience is not always seamless or easy. You don’t just log onto a website and book 4 nights at any hotel and magically get the rebate. Instead you must book through their concierge service which has been laughably slow and laborious for me. One international booking took over 2 hours on the phone to get straight. In another instance they took the info on what I wanted and finally got back to me several days later with the wrong dates. The time invested was worth the money returned, but it has not worked like the easy CSR travel expense rebates.

  5. It is simply mind-boggling what self-anointed ‘travel gurus’ can peddle!

    @Gary has spilled much cyber-ink pushing the totally boneheaded notion that it makes sense or it is worth spending $75k on the all-around mediocre Chase Ritz-Carlton visa to earn status, then he turns around and makes this remarks about spending JUST $12k to earn HH Diamond on stays: “I don’t see reason to stay to earn status with Hilton.”

    Hello! Is anybody “home”? Compared to the mediocre Chase RC visa being peddled ad nauseam, there are at least 75/12=6 reasons “to stay to earn status with Hilton.” You’d know about the other reasons “to stay to earn status with Hilton” if you actually bothered to learn the most basic things about the program before constantly knocking it down (unfortunately for you it seems like the harder you work on knocking it down the better it looks compared to your now preferred programs that are now kaput!).

    BTW, this post is a half backed idea. I would not put spend for a Hilton stay on anything but a co-brand HH CC, especially if it a 4-night stay that’s likely to be pricey. I get all the advantages + the HH points from the co-brand CC.

  6. Warning: People gaming the system will likely lead to Citi eliminating the 4th night benefit… and we’ll all lose.

  7. @Gary – LOL. Resorting to fuzzy math with signs of inequality won’t change the facts that spending $75k, likely mostly unbonused, on a mediocre card to earn an elite status that has been shown to “best” only when you make up stuff, is boneheaded.

    And please do not get commenting on the value of points again since I am convinced that bloggers have no clue what it means. REALLY.

    Cheers from HK where I just landed!

  8. Question about this benefit (because I’ve seen mixed reports) – is it stackable with hotel program benefits the travel agent (Aspire, I think) who books this has access to? E.g. Virtuoso, Four Seasons Preferred Partner, etc? Can I get the 4th night free on a stay at a FS property as well as the free breakfast, upgrade, spa credit?

  9. Yeah, book a room for $100 bucks a night for the first three nights and a Super-Bowl-Rate of $1200 on night four and let Citibank (eventually all users of the bank) pay for night 4. And you don’t even stay that night, it’s just so you get some points from the hotel – and the room is empty.
    This behavior and “advice” is why Citi will change the program soon and refund the average nights’ cost of the stay. Funny how the same folks who complain about complicated rules always try to find loopholes which then leads to even more complicated rules. I am 100% guilty of taking advantage of a good offer but this is abusive and destructive advice.

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