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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)

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  • AndyGWP says:

    “The key thing about Ambassador is that, once you are a member, the benefits are GUARANTEED on paid stays.”

    Apols for the dumb question – but assume these benefits are only on direct bookings? (no benefits received via. third party bookings?)

    • Rob says:


      • BP says:

        And there are some exclusions such as higher category rooms. I was given 15% off F&B instead of an upgrade at IC Koh Samui as I booked a Beachfront Pool Villa.

  • Mikee says:

    My AMB is up for renewal in a few days time…last year, my renewal also extended my Spire Elite for 12 months but a post on Loyalty Lobby last Nov suggests this was a glitch and no longer works now:

    Can anyone confirm for sure?

    • Pid says:

      Please report back your findings as mine is due next month. Renewal is also an accelerate target.

  • Talay says:

    OT but has anyone flown Gulf Air in Falcon (business) class recently ?

    I have been offered some sub £1000 returns on LHR-BAH-BKK on A330 aircraft and whilst I see they might still only have 160 degree seats, I am wondering whether the short flights (14/15 hours) and cheap fare are worth it compared to the ME3.

    By contrast, the ME3 are offering similar dates for £1800/2000 per seat and as I’m buying 3, the difference is material.

    • Rob says:

      Hard to argue, to be honest, if you’re near Heathrow and doing an ex-Europe is painful. You can credit some fare classes to American or Cathay. On the other hand …. Qatar would be 560 tier points – and 16,000 Avios and a better seat – so you need to think what value you’d put on BA Silver.

  • Jon says:

    Re IHG Ambassador, does anyone know – if you renew with the 10% rebate option, would already-made (but not yet stayed) redemption bookings qualify? Or does the booking have to be made during that membership year, as well as the stay? (I have a fairly hefty points stay coming up a few weeks after my renewal date… not currently on the rebate option, but could renew with it.)

    • Rob says:

      To be honest, I have benefited from this option for about 5 years now and I am no nearer understanding exactly how it works. I am sure that I have occasionally been paid for cancelled rooms and multiple times for the same room. At other times I have gone ages without getting any rebates.

    • Jon says:

      Thanks both – will ponder…

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