I have had the Citi Prestige in my wallet for close to a year and a half now. But somehow, in all these months, I haven’t been able to use the 4th night free benefit on this card. Either I have used hotel points or made short stays of less than four nights in a row.

Per the Citi Prestige website, the primary card holder can receive a complimentary 4th night, when booking four consecutive nights at any hotel, without any black-out dates. The booking can be done either online via Thankyou.com or through the Citi Prestige Concierge by calling or emailing. The complimentary savings is based on the average nightly rate of stay, excluding taxes and fees.

Online wisdom says its best to call the Concierge as they can apply other rates like AAA, AARP, etc. It’s also possible to stack any available hotel discounts through the Concierge booking. Additionally, from what I have read, they can add hotel chain loyalty numbers resulting in credit for the stay and the ability to avail member status benefits during the stay. Payment for the booking can be made either at time of the booking or at hotel checkout. All payments must be made using the Prestige card. Once the stay is charged to the account, a statement credit is applied usually within two billing cycles.

Bookings made through Thankyou.com do not offer the benefit of using rates like the AAA, etc or stacking with other hotel offers. Also, there is no place to add a membership number, so elite benefits and stay credit may not be available. Payments are prepaid at time of booking and can be made using the Prestige card, ThankYou points or a combination of both. Savings are applied immediately when reserved through the website and the final charges shown is the discounted price for the stay.

These are the eligibility requirements, per the Citi Prestige website:

  1. Only one complimentary night is eligible per each stay. A stay is consecutive nights booked and stayed on one reservation and does not include back-to back stays. Back-to back stays are stays at the same hotel booked on two reservations.
  2. Rates provided by Citi Prestige® Concierge and at Thankyou.com may vary
  3. Group reservations, or other reservations consisting of multiple rooms, only one room will qualify for one complimentary night.
  4. Packaged rates, such as air and hotel, hotel and car rental do not qualify for this benefit.
  5. Hotel imposed fees and incidental guest charges are the Cardmember’s responsibility.
  6. Bookings made through other methods such as, travel agents, websites or directly with a hotel will not qualify.

Despite conventional wisdom, we decided to book through the online website as we had little time to spend on this reservation. The website offered us several different options to choose from, from 2 star to 5 star hotels and at all price points. We eventually chose the Marriott Executive Apartments Panama City, Finisterre. The location was easily accessible to all the places we wished to visit and was about 22 mins from the Tocumen Airport. The bedroom apartment meant a bit more space which is a must as the children grow older. Also, the apartment had a full kitchen with a range, microwave, fridge and some utensils. We felt certain we would be eating in a few times and this turned out to be a boon, both in terms of cost savings and being able to use fresh vegetables from the local market.

The final cost with discount worked out to $474. The same room on Booking.com cost nearly $200 more with taxes. The Marriott website stated a similar price. So we went ahead and make the booking on the Thankyou.com website. I was able to add my Marriott number at the hotel check-in but will have to wait and see if the credit for the stay comes through. Breakfast was not included as part of the deal on any of the websites. I am only a Silver Elite with the Marriott program, so I wouldn’t have qualified for breakfast benefits anyway. So we carried our own and that helped save time and money.

The Citi Prestige comes with a hefty annual fee but savings like this help to make it a bit easier to pay that amount. Our family has enjoyed using the travel credit of $250, the Priority pass lounges at several airports and until recently a better rate of redemption for travel on American Airlines with Thank you points (now down to 1.25 cents per point). We hope to use the Global entry credit this year as we reapply.

Do you own a Citi Prestige card? Have you tried using this benefit before? Share your experience with us.