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The first day we had the Citi Prestige, we squeezed a net value of $2025.09 out of it planning a Disney World Vacation. Here’s how we did it, and how you can too!
Planning a Long Trip to Walt Disney World
Because of how the holidays worked out in 2017, we decided a nine-night stay in Disney World was in order. We were already set to run the Dopey Challenge, so adding New Year’s Eve to our trip wasn’t a hard decision since it would wind up only costing us one extra day of time off.
The money was a bit of a challenge, though. We were adding four nights to a planned five-night trip. Even using all the tricks in our bag for getting the best deal on our hotel, this one was going to hurt.
The original five nights at Beach Club were going to cost $3,011.65. Our first thought was just to add four nights to that stay, but boy did that make our bank accounts scream. We would be looking at an extra $2000 or so.
The Citi Prestige 4th Night Free Benefit
At the time we booked this trip, neither of us were Citi Prestige cardholders, but it was time to sign up. We've called the Citi Prestige the best card for Disney vacations for one simple reason—4th Night Free. The Prestige’s 4th Night Free benefit is pretty much what it sounds like: on hotel stays of four or more nights, you get 25% off the first four nights.
You can’t use 4th Night Free on trips of fewer than four nights, nor can you use it twice in one trip by staying eight days. Disney World, however, is particularly good for the one way you can use 4th night free twice - by changing hotels.
Using the 4th Night Free Benefit at Disney World—Twice
Four nights at Animal Kingdom Lodge club level—which we wanted to try since we’ve never stayed there before—came out to $2,502.02. Choosing separate hotels wasn’t just a matter of trying something new, though, it was our key to maximizing the value of the Citi Prestige. By booking at two hotels, we got to use the Citi Prestige’s 4th Night Free benefit on each stay.
So our five-night stay at the Beach Club had grown into a four-night Animal Kingdom Lodge stay followed by a five-night Beach Club stay.
Adding Up The Savings
4th Night Free wasn't the only way we saved on this trip. We'll take you step-by-step through how we got to over $2000 in savings, but here's a quick preview:
We used 4th Night Free Twice ($1160.43 saved)
We paid the annual fee but used the annual travel credit (a net $200 loss)
We earned a signup bonus (worth $1064.66)
Now, onto the specifics.
Step 1. $1,160 Saved Using 4th Night Free Twice
Using 4th Night Free on those two stays meant a savings of $639.93 on the Beach Club stay and $520.50 on the Animal Kingdom Lodge stay. That’s awesome, as it is already $1,160.43 in savings!
We called the Citi concierge and explained that we wanted to make two consecutive hotel bookings. Since they were at different hotels, she didn't even bat an eye and was clear that we'd receive two 4th Night Free credits.
Back when we did this, we had to wait for the statement credit to get these savings. Nowadays, when you book 4th Night Free online, the savings are built right into your rate.
Step 2. $250 Saved With the Airfare Credit...
The Prestige also has a $250 annual airfare credit. Since we had just signed up for the card, we hadn’t used that credit yet. We used it for our flights to Florida, so we’re up to $1,410.43 in savings.
Step 3. ...But $450 Paid For the Annual Fee
Okay, since we got the card for the purpose of booking this trip, we’ve got to take out the $450 annual fee for the card, so we’re down to only $960.43 saved.
Step 4. 66,541 Points Earned Booking the Trip (Worth $1064.66)
The signup bonus for the Prestige was 50,000 ThankYou points for $3,000 in spend—easily met by our Disney hotel reservations. Using The Point Guy’s point valuations (as of when we used this hack), those 50,000 points are worth 1.6 cents each for a total of $800.
We also get 3X points for the price of the hotel stays, which is another 16,541 points or $264.66. In total, then, we earned $1064.66 in points booking this trip.
You can quibble about the value of Citi ThankYou points, but they are worth a minimum of 1.25 cents when booking flights or 1 cent when redeemed as a statement credit. That means even if you can't find a way to get value out of Citi's many transfer partners, the 66,541 points earned would be worth $831 towards flights.
Adding it all up:
$639.93 (one night Animal Kingdom Lodge)
$520.50 (one night Beach Club)
$250.00 (airfare credit)
Minus $450.00 (annual fee)
$1064.66 (points from signup bonus and spending)
TOTAL SAVINGS: $2025.09.
By signing up for and using the Citi Prestige to book nine nights at two Disney resorts, we took a hotel stay that could have cost $5,513.67 and wound up spending (net) only $3,488.58. That’s a savings of $2,025.09 or 37% of the total cost. That’s like having three free nights!
Yes, we get that this is still an incredibly expensive trip, but our original stay was going to cost us $3,011.65 for just five nights at the Beach Club. So we wound up spending about $377 more to add four nights of club level!
How You Can save thousands on your Walt disney world stay too
The Citi Prestige doesn't currently have a signup bonus [Checked February 15, 2018], so you'll need to wait until a new one pops up. Recently, they were offering 75,000 points, which is huge!
The Citi ThankYou Portal has access to many if not all Disney resorts, including discounted rates sometimes. This should work on most any planned stay of four nights or longer. We'll keep our fingers crossed that Citi brings back that signup bonus in time for you to book your trip!
All Your Other Disney World Planning Questions Answered
Don't be overwhelmed by Disney World planning! Take a second to check out our most important content and you'll not only be an expert, but you'll save big $$$ along the way.
Just starting out? Check out our Walt Disney World planning guide! If you're still picking dates, we've got everything you need to know about Disney crowd calendars. For picking your hotel, check out our Walt Disney World hotels guide.
When it comes time to book we’ll help you find discount Disney World tickets. Decide whether you need a dining plan in our Complete Guide to Disney World Dining Plans! And at 180 days out it's time to book those Disney World Advance Dining Reservations!
Don't forget to master your Disney World FastPass+ strategy a few months in advance. We'll keep you out of long lines so you can maximize the magical time in the parks! We've got park-specific guides as well: Magic Kingdom FastPass, Epcot FastPass, Animal Kingdom FastPass, and Hollywood Studios FastPass.
Know what to ride with our guides to: Magic Kingdom rides, Hollywood Studios rides, Epcot rides, and Animal Kingdom rides! Plus learn about the water parks with our guide to Blizzard Beach and our guide to Typhoon Lagoon! And for some some fun prep, check out our Ranking of Every Ride at Walt Disney World.
Finally, before you head out, be sure to check out our to-the-point packing list, 10 essentials you forget to pack for every Disney trip. And if you're interested in saving, there's no better list than our 53 Ways to Save on your Disney trip from start to finish.