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IHG Rewards Club pushes up the points price of InterContinental Ambassador hotel status

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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.

buy ambassador intercontinental with points

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. 

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.

IHG One Rewards update – June 2024:

Get bonus points: IHG One Rewards is not currently running a global promotion.

New to IHG One Rewards?  Read our overview of IHG One Rewards here and our article on points expiry rules here. Our article on ‘What are IHG One Rewards points worth?’ is here.

Buy points: If you need additional IHG One Rewards points, you can buy them here.

Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from IHG and the other major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.

Comments (84)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Hamza Alagha says:

    I never liked RJ, very poor service, old planes (part from their 787) and very expensive.
    last time I flew with them it was from AMM- CDG in 2001
    I like their business class lounge in Queen Alia airport and that is it.
    Keep your expectations very low,

    Looking forward to read your review

    • Travelling Inspector says:

      I’ve flown out of Queen Alia a couple of times in the last few years, using the very slick Business check in – slick until you get to Security (there’s a special one for the Business fast track) where the first time they got incredibly excited about a pair of cheap binoculars, which took about 20 minutes for them to sort out with some high-level security person; the second time they invented (?) a rule that no batteries were allowed on board, so I had to remove them from torch, alarm clock etc. When they asked if my camera had a battery I lied – I wasn’t going to give up an expensive Canon Lithium battery without a fight! And they believed me…

  • S879 says:

    Re IHG Ambassador, has someone got a link to the offer we had in November to get Ambassador membership and receive 10,000 points back. It’s been 2 months or so and nothing has posted.

    • Steve says:

      It was the same for me. I could see Ambassador status in my account for some time already. I emailed them two weeks ago asking why I didn’t get the points. They ask me to provide the copy of the offer.

      I sent them the screenshots from that link. The response was that I should have enrolled on the link provided on the invite (which I did).

      Long story short I told them that I have no idea what they are talking about. I registered through the link on that website and I never got any points. I haven’t got any package yet so I am happy to cancel it and get the refund.

      After that, they posted the 10000 goodwill points to my account. It took 4-5 rounds of emails. I am still waiting for the package.

      • KevMc says:

        Same here; I have had to request that they re-send me the welcome pack, which they said would take yet another 7-8 weeks. I can only assume it is being posted from Mars.

        This means that by the time I receive it, it will be more than 4 months after I joined, and they have said I definitely can’t use the certificate unless I physically have it, which seems totally ridiculous in 2018.

        I did finally manage to get them to credit my 10k points yesterday, after weeks of emails.

        It just shouldn’t be this hard, and I doubt I will renew to be totally honest, as I was only joining as we were planning a week at the IC in Athens over Easter anyway.

      • Craig Strickland says:

        I’ve had the 10000 points, at least I think I have, there was a manual adjustment. Still waiting for the pack though, signed up mid November.

      • S879 says:

        Thank you for the screenshot

    • Claire says:

      I also became and Ambassador using that offer in November. I had to do it over the phone as the link was not working. I was told the Ambassador pack would arrive in 6-8 weeks and would contain a voucher for 5000 points and so she added 5000 goodwill points there and then. I still haven’t received the pack but I called last week and she said give it a bit longer and if not received in another 4 weeks to call back.

    • Mr dee says:

      Not received either will contact them

      • Rob MC says:

        Took me four emails and finally today they posted the bonus points and are sending the welcome pack again which will take 6-8 weeks…! I joined in November and haven’t received anything. Very poor

    • Lyn says:

      I happened to apply on the first date of the promotion without being aware of the 10,000 bonus points, so definitely didn’t use the link. But I have just received the bonus points a few days ago. The welcome letter itself had arrived very promptly.

  • Steve says:

    I feel like since I joined this hobby everything is getting more difficult. Not being able to pay VAT/Taxes with the credit card (without the 3rd party). The possible end of 6 months Amex churn. Now the IHG devaluation. All this in less than a year. Things are getting worse for the new starters.

    • Tim B says:

      A nice big global recession will readjust things 🙂

    • Rob says:

      You couldn’t pay tax on a credit card 2 years ago though!

      • Peter K says:

        You could pay self assessment tax with a credit card. I first did it about 10 yrs ago. Don’t know about VAT however.

    • Bryan says:

      1 month ago there was a fee if I bought my heating oil with an American Express card.

      Today I just spent 1k on oil and put it all through without a fee.

      Not everything moves the wrong way.

  • Concerto says:

    That’s exactly the routing I had planned last September. I still think SWISS First is one of the best, but I went in SWISS Business and it was great. SWISS can, however, be variable, probably like most airlines. Coming back I had done a backup booking on RJ to Berlin on what appeared to be small planes, but BAEC rebooked my original award ticket on AB over to BA (so I cancelled the RJ one within the 24 hour window). The BA flight was better than LX.

  • Richard says:

    I recently renewed for the 200 dollars and get 15k points and the 10% rebate. Do the 15k points come with the welcome pack? As they haven’t been deposited into my account

    • Felix Flyer says:

      Yes. They are in the welcome pack in the form of a letter with a code. Just be prepared for a few weeks wait for the pack though!

  • Richard says:

    Jw marriot is an impressive business hotel with a ridiculously sized lounge with a great selection of v nice food throughout the day! Enjoy!

    • Neil says:

      I’ve stayed there a couple of times as it’s next door to our office out there. Very nice hotel! Nice bar on the top floor (sometimes a little loud though). Amazing, huge, buffet breakfast – probably the best I’ve had anywhere. The Indian restaurant deserves a mention, too.

  • Adam W says:

    JW, soon to be the worlds second tallest hotel as the Gevora Hotel in DIFC will open in the coming days/weeks.

    On another note, just returned to Dubai from a weekend at the Waldorf Astoria in RAK following your review on the site. Booked a Junior King Suite and was upgraded to the Royal Suite as a HH Diamond member. Amazing room/floor(!!) fantastic resort, a few hiccups but all in all a wonderful stay – thanks for the recommendation!


  • Luke says:

    OT – expert advice needed before calling BA – can I claim tier points and avios for BA flight (on IB ticket) which was cancelled 6hrs before departure and airline moved me onto Emirates flight instead? Logical answer is yes, but with BA you never know. thanks

    • Matt says:

      You should be able to claim “original routing credit” I think, ie the Avios and tier points you would have got from the BA flight(s)

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