So I got a Citi Prestige card because Lucky and TPG and every other points hero/ine seems to love it so fucking much. I used to be all in on Citi years ago, but I’ve since gone full metal Chase, and I feel kind of awkward about the new card, like I’m wearing some jacket from the 90’s. Its I-wish-I-were-an-Amex design doesn’t help.
Anyhoo, I got the dumb thing because our fabulous educational system has made it possible for me to perform basic math, and the math said get this dumb card since I stay in a hotel for four or more nights at least once a year, and this card makes the 4th night free. I mean, that’s twenty-five percent back, which is some top-notch travel reward porn.
Yesterday, I finally got to take that shit for a spin, and I can say: it works! But it works a whole lot better if you do your homework. In this case, I wanted to stay in a hotel in Helsinki for eight nights. I was hoping that Citi would make every fourth night free, but they said nuh-uh, and they also wouldn’t entertain a back-to-back booking, because they are apparently not complete fucking morons. They said if I wanted to skip a night (presumably sleeping on the street and eating garbage), I could do it, though. If I was staying nine nights, I probably would have done that and then just booked that middle night without them, on a different card. (But, as my dad says, if my grandmother had wheels, she’d be a pushcart.)
Anyway, the Klaus K (I don’t know if the K stands for Kinski, but I can dream) is a Starwood brand called Design Hotels. I found a refundable rate on the Starwood site called “Business Unusual” that was lower than the usual refundable rate, but it only appeared if I clicked the “Packages & Promotions” checkbox on the right side of the page.
So, I called the Citi Prestige Concierge number, which is actually operated by some company called Aspire. You have to actually call to book — talk about 90’s. To my surprise and delight, and in contrast to some reports I read, they answered right away, although calling at 5:30 AM probably didn’t hurt. Dude named Aaron was super nice, and he couldn’t find the rate I was describing, only offering me the non-refundable, or the more expensive refundable, and I’m like Aaron, please try harder, it’s right there on the Starwood site, click this box.
Aaron put me on hold a few minutes, looked at the hotel (but not Starwood) web site, came back with a price that was too high, and I said, Aaron please, no. We can do this. Starwood site. So he called Starwood, figured it out, took my credit card number, and voilá, booked! I got an email from Starwood confirming right away. In theory, I get a credit in a few weeks after the stay. (If I really wanted to get crafty, I could have figured out which was the most expensive night, and booked so the fourth night landed on it, and created a separate booking without Citi for the first nights. But I’m still new at this shit, plus there’s only so much bonkers finagling that Caroline will tolerate.)
So, all in all, a win and a pleasant experience, and my first concrete redemption win since I got Reward Religion a few months ago. Me likey.
Footnote: for what is supposed to be an “elite” or “luxury” card, Citi sure does make it out of some cheap, thin, soft plastic. My Sapphire Preferred just sits there in my wallet all day, mocking and taunting it. Try harder, Shitti.