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 – Ambassador – which costs $200 to join
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.
(Want to earn more hotel points? Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)