Get 10,000 IHG Rewards Club points for joining IC Ambassador – worth it?

Yesterday I wrote about the current IHG Rewards Club ‘Your World Sale’.  There is also a special offer on for joining the InterContinental Ambassador loyalty scheme.

There is a link at the bottom of this IHG ‘Your World Sale’ page to this offer.  When I click the link it does not divert properly, but it is meant to divert to the Ambassador home page here.  Annoyingly the offer is not mentioned there.

A lot of people instantly reject the idea of joining Ambassador because of the $200 membership fee.  Given that IHG will sweeten the deal with 10,000 IHG Rewards Club points (not status qualifying, I think) worth $60-$70, I thought it was worth explaining why I DO think it makes sense for many people.

I have, after all, been a member myself for many years now and only last month paid for my 2018 renewal.  My wife is also currently a member as it was worth signing her up purely to get benefits on one stay in Hong Kong earlier this year.

Putting InterContinental Ambassador in context

InterContinental, the luxury hotel brand inside IHG Rewards Club (which also covers Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and others) is a little odd when it comes to loyalty schemes:

As part of the Holiday Inn / Crowne Plaza group, it participates in IHG Rewards Club

InterContinental does not officially recognise your IHG Rewards Club status.  In reality, they often do, but it is not guaranteed.

InterContinental also has its own loyalty scheme – Ambassadorwhich costs $200 to join

InterContinental Ambassador

And yet, despite the $200 fee ($150 to renew), I consider Ambassador a good deal.  This article summarises why it works for me.

The key thing about Ambassador is that, once you are a member, the benefits are GUARANTEED on paid stays. They are NOT guaranteed on reward stays, but most properties do let you have them. These benefits are:

A certificate for a free weekend night when you join and each year when you renew. In one swoop, you can save your entire membership fee with this benefit. To use the voucher, you need to book a 2-night weekend stay and pay the Best Flexible Rate for the other night. The letter of the rules says that only standard rooms can be booked. However, most hotels let you book club rooms or suites – this is an important benefit, especially if you have children and want larger rooms.

(As Best Flexible Rate is more expensive than a non-refundable Advance Purchase rate, your free night is not totally free if you would otherwise have booked a pre-paid rate as you have paid a few Euros or $ more.  It is totally free if you would otherwise have booked at Best Flexible Rate though.)

GUARANTEED one-level room upgrade – this is usually processed before you arrive and is visible online

4pm check-out – this is a GUARANTEED benefit and comes in very handy on a weekend break with an evening flight back home

A free pay-TV movie per stay, every stay

Free fruit and mineral water in your room

A welcome gift – varies from chocolates or wine to weird local souvenirs!

Double occupancy for single occupancy rate – useful in Germany, one of the few countries where they still charge a ‘second person’ supplement

Obviously InterContinental Ambassador is not for everyone. You can earn back the cost of membership in just one weekend stay, though. It may even be worth it even if you had just one long stay booked and wanted to guarantee your upgrade. Ambassador members also receive Gold status in IHG Rewards Club, although that doesn’t get you far.

The Ambassador ‘free weekend night’ voucher can be better than using points to book a free room.  I used my 2017 free night at InterContinental Hong Kong over Easter.  The only reason to stay at this hotel is the astounding views over the harbour from the harbourside rooms.  IHG Rewards Club redemption nights, however, only book into the street side – and if you get upgraded, you only ever get a bigger room on the street side.  Using a ‘free weekend night’ voucher let me stay on the water side whilst also making a big saving.

Renewal is even cheaper, at just $150, and you receive another ‘free weekend night’ certificate and a bonus of 5,000 IHG Rewards Club points.  More interestingly, on renewal you are offered a second option:

Renew for $200 instead of the standard $150

Receive 15,000 points instead of 5,000 points

Receive a 10% points rebate on all of your redemption bookings – across all brands – for the following year.  I do this, and find that this really adds up which makes the $200 renewal option the best choice for me.

You can learn more about InterContinental Ambassador here if it sounds interesting.  However, I recommend clicking through from the link on the sale website here if it is working properly.

There is an option to use 32,000 IHG Rewards Club points instead of paying $200 in cash.  With the fall in the value of the £, this payment route is looking more attractive than it was.  I am assuming – although it isn’t written anywhere – that you also get the 10,000 bonus points for joining Ambassador if you pay with points.

The offer for 10,000 bonus IHG Rewards Club points runs until 29th November.

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Comments

  1. Christine says:

    Yup. Joined Ambassador program at check in at IC Boston 2015, which was booked through hotel booking site (can’t remember which). Full benefits honored straight away – double upgrade actually. Also good experience at IC San Francisco, booked through Priceline. Emailed ahead with membership number. Since then I have booked direct.

    Have renewed twice since using points and can confirm I received bonus points (5000 was the latest one arrived this week)

  2. Christine says:

    Yes. Joined Ambassador program at check in at IC Boston 2015, which was booked through hotel booking site (can’t remember which). Full benefits honored straight away – double upgrade actually. Also good experience at IC San Francisco, booked through Priceline. Emailed ahead with membership number. Since then I have booked direct.

    Have renewed twice since using points and can confirm I received bonus points (5000 was the latest one arrived this week)

  3. OT: Do only club rooms access the lounge at IC HKG, or do suites also? Looking at booking a deluxe JS.

  4. Am considering taking advantage of this but just want to clarify exactly how it works.
    Have done a couple of test bookings for a weekend using a certificate and not sure I’ve understood it right.For Porto I was quoted 400euro for the weekend. Is that the rate after the certificate is taken into account or would it be 200 Euro for the stay?(I.e half the cost). After doing a few test bookings on other locations it seemed to be pretty expensive using the ambassador rate if you don’t get the price halved with the certificate.

    • johnny_c-l says:

      You get the second night free, so best to check in the booking how much each individual night prices up.

    • You don’t pay for the 2nd night, so you need to look at the breakdown of the rate by night.

      If a hotel is discounting sharply from Best Flexible then the saving can get eaten up a bit.

    • Note that Porto IC is expensive, IIRC around €400 a night when we’re there in June. I therefore booked on points at 45k a night. I’d never pay that much cash in the first place though but happy spending the points.

  5. “Double occupancy for single occupancy rate” – I’m a Gold Ambassador now, I’m currently looking at doing some hiking around Antalya in October half term and staying at the Crowne Plaza. I’m currently seeing an “extra person” charge for 2 people of 20 euros pn. How do I make it disappear? I am logged in.

    • I believe this only applies to stays at an IC, since Ambassador benefits only apply at ICs (so you’ll still have to pay double occupancy at a Crowne Plaza).

    • If this is an Ambassador benefit it would only apply at an IC. If it is a Gold benefit just book for 1.

  6. Just a data point re timing – I joined Ambassador on November 11 (on-line) and have already received the envelope which includes the weekend certificate today, so it took 13 days. This seems much quicker than when my husband joined last year. No idea if I will get the 10,000 points of course.

  7. Graham Walsh says:

    Still thinking about whether to pull the trigger on this. I’m 696 points away from hitting Spire Elite level. That will be done with card spend probably by next week and will hit my account 22nd December. As you say it will mainly be beneficial for the free night plus maybe some upgrades when I stay at IHG properties next year.

    • Been swithering too but paying 32k points seems a decent deal – with 10k back (which judging by other posts and the T&Cs seems a reasonable assumption) you’re looking at 22k, which I value at £88. [vs £110 if paying cash… $200=£150, minus £40 for 10k points again]

    • Have just pulled the triggered, paid with points. Will give it a couple of weeks then email the IC Singapore (Creation free night cert stay in Jan) to try and make the most of it!

      • *trigger lol

      • IIRC the old IC on Middle Rd only recognise AMB on cash stays

        • Bugger! I was going on all the reports of general honouring of AMB on most reward stays too. Ah well even if I look at is as a 22k cost for a night at an IC it’s not too bad – might also extend Spire next year if I don’t hit it again!

          Will email them anyway as Spire AMB hopefully will get some vague recognition, esp as only for a one-night stay and will be leaving early in the morning for flight – planning for breakfast at the SQ Private Room 😀

        • I emailed them when was planning my stay and was basically told no. Good luck though. Things might have changed.

        • Ah well, will see what happens – will play up that I’m defecting from the Conrad and see if they feel up for competing lol

        • I’ve said it before but my wife and I preferred our two night AMB cash stay at the IC over our two night stay at the Conrad as Diamonds.

        • Will certainly be interesting to compare, have stayed at the Conrad three times and had superb treatment every time – will feed back come Jan!

  8. Graham, it may depend on whether, and when, you are planning to stay at actual IC hotels, rather than other IHG properties. Also when you want to use the “free” night certificate at an IC because it only lasts a year. Just allow their 6-8 weeks in case for the certificate before you plan to use it though. Spire itself will probably be more important for upgrades than Ambassador at other IHG hotels, and I think the 4pm check-out is only for ICs. Hope you enjoy Spire.

    • Graham Walsh says:

      Thanks Lyn. Some good points. I use IHG for work and then treat myself and the kids to IC for leisure if available. Decisions decisions

      • Do some analysis. How many IC stays do you do? Cash vs points? Price up a paid stay that you’re interested in using the 241. Then decide.

        For me, last year used 241 in Singapore (that was only IC stay)
        This year, got a decent upgrade at Amsterdam on a points stay, decent upgrade at Paris on a points stay (and free breakfast for two) but currently no plans to use the 241 yet. May try and effectively convert to cash on a work trip next year to USA. An up coming stay at Porto was v expensive using 241 so used points. The 10% rebate alone on renewals is proving v valuable and will pay for my AMB this year, even if don’t use the 241.

        • Yep – the 10% off redemptions upon renewal is probably what’s going to sway me, along with the 10k reduction in cost via this promo. Have noted that the 10% only counts going forward after renewal so would need to make sure any redemptions rebooked after renewal takes place in a year!

        • I rebooked points stays when renewed AMB a few months ago and all went back to reward inventory and so rebooked. However, playing around with other places, it didn’t. I now therefore occasionally double book some nights to remain flexible (eg. booked two of the same night for Porto as likely to sub that for my wife’s credit card night once posts. I cancel one, hopefully going back into reward inventory then rebook in wife’s name, though if goes wrong, I still have one reward night booked).

        • Haha nice idea 😉

  9. Anyone else having trouble pulling the trigger on this? Paying with points, when I submit the form to join Ambassador, the page just refreshes. Tried in Chrome, Safari, Firefox. No errors on the page at all – frustrating!

    • Yes I had the same problem, I had to call up to do it. She said it came with 5k points but that she would add 5k to my a/c straight away .. did you get it to work?

    • Worked fine on Chrome for me – signed in to IHG account, agreed to terms and immediately points deducted and new status confirmed.

  10. Peter Bambridge says:

    I just renewed my Ambassador for a second year.
    It cost me 24,000 points, instead of the $150.
    And I am told I will get 5,000 new points for renewing.
    We will see 🙂

  11. Spoilsport, can dream 😀

  12. John O’Sullivan says:

    I may be just lucky but I have had amazing benefits from IHG.

    Currently on the 8th floor of the Intercontinental Park Lane overlooking Hyde Park and the lights of London using my IHG free night from the premium IHG card plus a double upgrade from a classic room redemption as it is my wife’s birthday.

    We also have been offered free £35/ person breakfast at Theo Randall’s, plus £25 credit off the minibar, 2 free drinks at the bar which came with bar snacks, we also had a slice of chocolate cheesecake, a fruit platter and water delivered to the room.

    After reading the above article I got platinum ambassador status for 32k points. I had 5k of those points back for accelerate (I registered after I joined) plus I’m expecting k10 points for joining bonus.

    I think we maxed benefits for Ambassador status, IHG credit card, my wife’s birthday and a festive promotion on the minibar.

    It is great when the points game works

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