It seems that even IHG Rewards Club admits that it has devalued its points with the changes to reward pricing over the last couple of years.
Joining Ambassador used to cost $200 or 32,000 IHG Rewards Club points. Without notice, that was increased to 40,000 points last week.
Even more startling was the rise in renewal costs. Renewal is usually $150 or 24,000 points. It has now jumped to $150 or 40,000 points. I actually recommend you take the 3rd option for renewal, which is to pay $200 but receive 15,000 points back plus a 10% rebate on all of your points bookings for the year.
This change is not hugely surprising. Whenever IHG was running a 100% ‘buy points’ last year (and it has got addicted to these offers recently) it was cheaper to buy the points than pay for Ambassador for cash …..
What is InterContinental Ambassador?
If you don’t know how the Ambassador scheme works, read on. (If you do, scroll down to the next story!)
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 or 40,000 points to join
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!
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.
(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.)