One of the advantages of carrying multiple Citi ThankYou credit cards has been the ability to combine:
- Points into a single account
- The best redemption characteristics of each card
An example of this is how you could stack:
- Prestige 4th night free at hotels
- Premier 1.25 cents a piece of uplift (which is going away April 10, 2021)
- Rewards+ 10% back on redemptions (capped at 10,000 back per year)
Stacking Not Working Any More?
As recently as March 20, 2021 I was able to combine Prestige 4th night free with Premier 1.25 towards a hotel stay. But some time in the last couple weeks it stopped working. Now, when I elect to use a 4th night free I only get 1 cent per point with the Premier.
I’ve written before how Four Seasons hotels are good candidates for this type of redemption because you can combine:
- A Four Seasons 4th night free rate
- With Citi Prestige 4th night free
- Premier 1.25
- Rates tend not to be inflated
- You’re not missing out on loyalty benefits (since Four Seasons doesn’t have a loyalty program*)
Let’s take a look at a sample booking to illustrate what I’m talking about…
- Four Seasons Orlando
- June 6-10, 2021
- 4 nights, 2 adults, Golden Oak King
- Fully cancellable through June 1
- Four Seasons Direct: $2,688
- Citi: $2,523
We’re off to a great start: Citi is pricing this hotel lower than Four Seasons direct before we even apply Citi 4th night free.
Four Seasons Direct
Here is the pricing I see on FourSeasons.com:
Citi Pricing Before Discounts
And here is the price I see on the Citi ThankYou portal without electing to apply 4th night free:
Citi Pricing w/Prestige 4th Night Free
When I apply the Prestige 4th night benefit, the cash price drops down nicely to $1,956.
But notice the number of ThankYou points required. When using the Prestige 4th night I’m only get 1 cent per point of value out of my ThankYou points. If I was getting 1.25 cents a piece of value (as was possible until recently) it would cost only 156,551 ThankYou points.
Citi Pricing w/$100 Premier Benefit
The Premier card has a newish benefit where you can get $100 off a hotel stay if booked through their portal.
When applied, it reduces the price of this stay by $100 as you’d expect, but notice how the Premier’s 1.25 cents a piece of uplift kicks in.
It’s to the point where I’d, surprisingly, be better off using the $100 credit instead of the 4th night free on this stay because I’d also get 1.25 cents a piece of value out of the Premier. That’s crazy.
I don’t know, but it’s frustrating. And really surprising they’d make this change so close to the date when the Premier card loses its 1.25 cents a piece uplift altogether.
This has been working for quite a while and really did motivate me to get and keep the Premier and the Prestige cards.
It enabled some terrific redemptions. If it was still working it would enable a $2,688 stay for 156,551 ThankYou points for around 1.7 cents a piece of value. And that’s before considering a Rewards+ 10,000 point rebate.
What Am I Going to Do?
I tried calling Citi/cxLoyalty but they were of no help, saying straight away that “they only see what I see when booking.”
On the heels of a the devaluation of the points earned on the Citi Expedia card it feels like Citi is picking a really strange time to devalue their travel cards.
* – I mentioned before how Four Seasons doesn’t have a loyalty program. That’s mostly true, but they do allow Four Seasons Preferred Partner travel agent bookings that includes benefits like complimentary breakfast, room upgrades, and property credits. They also participate in Virtuoso and Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts.
A lot of Four Seasons properties also offer a 2nd room at 50% off when booking direct.
All in all, it’s probably yet another one of those cases where I’d be better off cashing out bank points and booking through one of those channels.
It doesn’t seem possible to combine Citi Prestige 4th night free with Premier 1.25 cents a piece of uplift towards hotel bookings any more. And Citi Premier 1.25 uplift is going away April 10, 2021 anyway.
While Chase has made it easier to cash out Ultimate Rewards and Amex continues to offer redemption upside, it makes me wonder what Citi is thinking.
I’ll probably be transferring Citi ThankYou points to foreign carriers going forward, to preseve Ultimate Rewards and Membership Rewards for more flexible redemptions. More on that in a future post.
This is just the tip of the iceberg with Citi. In Episode 118 of the podcast we discussed (among other things) Citi Shenanigans including a MegaPooling fiasco and a juicy retention offer on a card they don’t even issue any more. We’d love it if you joined the conversation over there in our subscriber Slack channel.