In September last year, Visa introduced a 4th Night Free (4NF) benefit for Visa Infinite cardholders, called “Infinite Night”. Under this program, cardholders enjoy one complimentary night with every three paid nights booked through the Inspired Lifestyles portal.
Everyone loves a free hotel night, but is this offer worth your time? Let’s find out.
How it works
Navigate to the landing page and enter the first 9 digits of your Visa Infinite card to verify your identity.
You’ll then be able to search for hotels through a regular OTA interface.
Enter the city and dates you’re looking to stay, then browse through the results and select what you like. Rates are quoted in USD, and include all taxes and fees.
Do note that all bookings made through the 4NF program are strictly non-changeable and non-refundable. It’s a good idea to make sure you have travel insurance to cover you in the event you can’t travel.
Does it really save you money?
When you read about an offer called “4th Night Free”, the natural assumption is that you save 25%. That’s incorrect, for two reasons.
First, only the room rate for the 4th night is free- you’re still on the hook for the taxes and fees. Therefore, mathematically speaking, your savings will never be 25%. Here’s an illustrative example:
Second, the rates offered through the 4NF program may be higher than other booking channels, which offsets the overall savings.
Let’s take Singapore as an example. Here’s the total cost (including taxes and fees) of a four night stay in March 2020 through the Visa Infinite 4NF program, versus the competition.
|Property||Visa Infinite 4NF||Competition||Savings|
|Fairmont Singapore||US$984||US$1,110 (Expedia)||11%|
|Le Meridien Sentosa||US$768||US$875 (Trip.com)||12%|
|W Sentosa||US$1,027||US$1,172 (Expedia)||12%|
|Royal Plaza Scotts||US$576||US$595 (Agoda)||3%|
|St Regis Singapore||US$1,019||US$1,132 (Trip.com)||10%|
|JW Marriott South Beach||US$1,115||US$1,308 (Trip.com)||15%|
|PARKROYAL Kitchener||US$406||US$472 (Agoda)||14%|
|Amara Singapore||US$566||US$594 (Agoda)||5%|
|The Quincy Hotel||US$670||US$633 (Trip.com)||-6%|
|Hotel Royal||US$384||US$250 (Trip.com)||-54%|
As you can see, the savings are much less than 25%- they’re even negative in some cases!
Take The Quincy Hotel, for instance. If you book through the Visa Infinite 4NF program, you’ll pay ~S$932. If you book via Trip.com, you’ll pay S$878. So much for savings…
The FAQ section laughably says the following:
How competitive are the rates I can get for the paid nights?
Book with confidence: you are getting the best available rates. To deliver on this promise, we benchmark rates in real-time against the largest online travel portals in the market. These comparisons are clearly displayed in the search results to give you full pricing transparency.
“Book with confidence” not because we have a best rate guarantee, but because we “benchmark rates in real-time”. Gotcha.
I can tell you right now that the Inspired Lifestyles portal does not always offer the cheapest rates; in fact, it very often shows rates that are higher than the competition. It doesn’t mean the benefit is useless, but it does mean your savings will tend to be more modest.
Don’t forget that you also need to factor in the cashback foregone by not booking through an OTA and cashback portal like ShopBack or RebateMango.
How does this compare to the Citi Prestige’s 4NF benefit?
Most of you will know that the Citi Prestige also has a 4NF benefit of its own. Here’s how the two measure up:
|Visa Infinite||Citi Prestige|
|Hotel range||5,000+||Virtually unlimited|
|Rate type||Bookings are non-refundable and non-changeable||Bookings must be fully prepaid (from 1 Mar 20)|
|Booking deadline||48 hours||N/A|
|Back-to-back stays||Allowed||Not allowed|
|Available to supplementary cardholders?||Yes||No|
Where the Citi Prestige is better than the Visa Infinite
In all but the most exceptional of cases, the Citi Prestige’s 4NF program should offer lower rates than the Visa Infinite’s.
Remember that Citi Prestige cardholders can ask the Citi concierge to book any publicly-available rate on the hotel’s official website or on Expedia, while Visa Infinite cardholders are limited to whatever the Inspired Lifestyles portal shows.
Visa claims that “more than 5,000 hotels” are available through the Inspired Lifestyles portal.
This would be a mere fraction of the selection available through Citi Prestige, which covers pretty much any hotel worldwide (with exceptions for suites, villas, and serviced apartments, come 1 March 2020).
As mentioned earlier, all rates made through the Visa Infinite 4NF program are strictly non-changeable and non-cancellable.
With the Citi Prestige, all bookings from 1 March 2020 must be fully prepaid. I’m not clear what that means in practice- does it mean you can only book non-refundable rates, or does it mean you can book flexible rates, just that you’ll pay upfront (and how does that work anyway)? My guess is that you’ll still have more flexibility iwth the Citi Prestige.
All Visa Infinite 4NF bookings must be made at least 48 hours before you stay; there’s no such restriction with the Citi Prestige.
Where the Visa Infinite is better than the Citi Prestige
Back-to-back stays are permitted with the Visa Infinite 4NF program. That’s to say, if you stay 4 nights, you get 1 free night. If you stay 8 nights, you enjoy 2 free nights.
The Citi Prestige does not allow back-to-back stays (i.e the same hotel within the same city or a different hotel within the same city) where the check-in date is within 7 days from the previous check-out date.
Supplementary cardholder benefit usage
Only the principal cardholder is allowed to book and enjoy the Citi Prestige’s 4NF benefit.
There is no such restriction for the Visa Infinite 4NF. I’m aware that there’s a term at the bottom of the Visa Infinite 4NF landing page which says “primary card holder must be a guest on the itinerary”. I’ve clarified that “primary card holder” means the person whose name is on the card, not the principal cardholder per se. In other words, a supplementary cardholder can book a 4NF stay, but he/she must be physically staying at the hotel.
What Visa Infinite cards are available in Singapore?
If you don’t have a Visa Infinite card yet, here’s some potential options. Do note that with the exception of the SCB X Card, all Visa Infinite cards require at least S$120,000 annual income.
The Visa Infinite 4NF benefit can be useful, but you’ll definitely want to comparison shop using a meta-search engine like Kayak. Expect to save ~10%, and remember that your bookings cannot be changed or cancelled.