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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.

  • Lee says:

    Can’t wait for your WA on the Palm review, managed to bag two nights over the Easter weekend with two free nights certificates from Barclaycard.

  • Alan says:

    Impressed your ticket wasn’t cancelled, Rob – I thought they all were!

    Re Ambassador 10k back during their World Sale last year – this never posted for me so I contacted them and quite surprisingly they posted the points immediately! Still no welcome pack, have promised me that will be in the next week.

    Still find it frustrating they don’t honour benefits on reward stays – with a lot of emailing I managed to get the IC Singapore to grudgingly give me a room upgrade on a redemption stay (free night cert), but marked contrast to the corner suite upgrade and amazing breakfast I received at the nearby Conrad!

    • CV3V says:

      I wish IHG would follow Hilton and apply status benefits to all stays, cash or points. The fact they dont slightly reduces the value of IHG points, combined with hotels that then try and charge the full cost for breakfast, whilst via a cash booking it can be had for as little as an extra £10 for 2 people.

      Recent stay at IC Tokyo on points was upgraded at check in. They also met all my standard room requests (i.e. high floor away form lift) by actually putting me on the top floor in a room diagonally furthest away from the lifts!

      One room upgrade on a cash booking moved me to a room on a higher floor which was much smaller than the original room.

      IC ambassador gifts have ranged from a v nice business card holder, to a fruit bowl (i.e. the bowl. Which was handed over to me at reception! No box, no bag for it), a jar of horseradish, some jamon and caremlitos, and a little box of IC branded chocolate. Guess the hotels based on the gift!

    • Alan says:

      Haha yes perhaps – it was OK but the upgrade and inclusive breakfast on redemption stays put the Conrad way ahead again for me. I’ve got a good email relationship with the GM’s PA, which seems to help 😀 IC on the other hand were extremely grudging re offering an upgrade although what they did then provide was decent.

      • BP says:

        IC Singapore gave me a 1 cat upgrade on a redemption for my honeymoon. Bit of an unwanted upgrade tbh as I wanted a shophouse wing room!

  • Leo says:

    So Rob where are you considering valuing IHG points now? If still at 0.4 the I make the $200 option costing about £80 not including the 10%. I hardly ever seem to actually redeem because I never want the basic room…..

    • Rob says:

      0.4p is still fair I think for the top end hotels, perhaps a touch less. I generally assume £250 per night cost for a top IC.

  • Toddy says:

    I thought it was incredibly unreasonable not to provide notice of the increase from 24k to 40k for renewal.

    Long story short but they have agreed to let me renew for 24k (40k cost with 16k added as goodwill). It did take several emails and a phone call from a supervisor.

  • Helen says:

    We have just come back from 6 nights at the JW Marriott Marquis, impressive hotel & business lounge, food is great & the views fantastic. If check-in is busy you can go to the 37 floor to as you can check-in in there at the lounge, make sure you’re in Tower A, If you’re there on a Friday the 068 Brunch at Prime 68 which is fabulous, the food just keeps on coming!

  • CV3V says:

    IC Ambassador status never really appealed to me for a number of years, but having used it for the past year, and using the free night certificate on a club room to get max value as a treat then it does have a decent value to it. The 4pm late checkout has been of real benefit for long weekend breaks effectively allowing most of the last day to be part of the holiday. 4pm late checkout also means i get to keep using the club lounge, so again, a little bit extra benefit. The IC Madrid lounge was great, especially on a Sunday where they get a lot of the food from the main restaurant’s Sunday buffet!

  • Alex W says:

    I doubt we are going to use our Ambassador “free” night this year. There just aren’t any ICs in any places we want to go. Not even a single one in Italy yet.

    • Leo says:

      Mine is also going to gather dust till it expires in about 6 weeks time. I got value out of the programme this year but the BOGO is not necessarily that useful – unless it is obviously…

      • Rob MC says:

        Are these certificates transferable? I remember reading somewhere that they’re marked now to stop gifting them?

        • Rob says:

          Yes, they now have your name on. You could transfer the old ones to other Ambassadors and I occasionally did.

    • BP says:

      I got £800 value out of mine on a Beachfront Pool Villa at IC Samui over Christmas. I also got to keep the villa for my last night which was a redemption booking. They were trying to get me to pay £250 to upgrade but I told them I’d be staying in the room in till 4pm checkout then would call them to move my bags. They decided it wasn’t worth having me move – I was checking out at 7:30am the next morning.

  • Mick says:

    O/T I have downgraded BA Premium to BA Basic Amex, as I had to use my voucher and was going to refer my partner later in the year and get the bonus.

    I have an unexpected £15k to spend on a Travel Company Purchase via AMEX, and I’m wondering should I charge it all to my new Gold AMEX, or charge some to my BA, take it over the 10k threshold and upgrade the card when I want the 2-4-1 activated, can I do this?

    • mark2 says:

      I would charge £2,000 to the Gold card to get 22,000+ Avios, then upgrade to Platinum here and spend £1,000 to get a further 21,000. You can then cancel if you wish or keep for 18,000 MR referrals e.g. other half for Gold to use remainder to get even more.
      Then put enough on BA to take over 10,000. I would also refer myself for SPG etc.
      Time may be a problem.

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