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Is an offer of 15,000 IHG Rewards Club points for joining InterContinental Ambassador worth taking?

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UPDATE – JANUARY 2022  This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.  We produce a monthly summary of the top hotel bonus point offers – please click HERE or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ menu above.

IHG Rewards is running a ‘Double Points’ promotion from 1st February to 31st March 2022. You can register here. Existing bookings are included.

IHG Rewards Club is currently offering a widely targeted offer of 15,000 IHG Rewards Club points if you sign up for InterContinental Ambassador by 10th August.

I had a lot of emails this week asking if I thought this was a good deal or not, so I thought I would take a proper look.

Note that you are only eligible for this offer if you were emailed by IHG.  There is no mention of the offer on the Ambassador website itself.

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 hotels do 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 – Ambassadorwhich costs $200 or 40,000 IHG Rewards Club points to join

And yet, despite the $200 fee ($150 or $200 to renew depending on benefits), I consider Ambassador a good deal and was a member for a number of years.  I let it lapse last year but this was purely due to a change in our travel patterns, as I found myself with over 1 million Marriott Bonvoy points to spend post the Marriott / SPG merger.

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 Ambassador Weekend Rate, usually equal to Best Flexible Rate. The rules say that only standard rooms can be booked. However, many hotels let you book club rooms or suites which is especially useful for families.

(As the Ambassador Weekend 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 cheaper pre-paid rate.  It is totally free if you would otherwise have booked at Best Flexible Rate.)

A GUARANTEED one-level room upgrade on every InterContinental stay – this is usually processed before you arrive and is visible online

$20 daily food and beverage credit

4pm check-out – this is a GUARANTEED benefit and comes in very handy on a weekend break or on a trip with an evening flight back home

Free fruit in your room

Double occupancy for single occupancy rate – useful in Germany, one of the few countries where they still charge a ‘second person’ supplement

Platinum Elite status in IHG Rewards Club

If a hotel does not deliver either a) your guaranteed upgrade or b) your guaranteed 4pm check-out, you will receive a food and beverage or spa credit of $50, or 10,000 IHG Rewards Club points, per stay.  Note ‘per stay’ and not ‘per night’.

Does 15,000 IHG Rewards Club points make a difference?

If you were targeted by IHG Rewards Club for their current offer, you will receive 15,000 IHG Rewards Club points as an additional bonus for joining Ambassador before 10th August.

In my view, this should not make any fundamental difference to how you see it.  The bonus is not worth a huge amount – I would value 15,000 IHG points at £60, whilst Ambassador membership is $200 (£160).

Note that the IHG Rewards Club bonus points do not count towards elite status.

I would say that:

if you know that you will use the ‘buy one get one free’ voucher at an InterContinental hotel over the next 12 months, you should definitely join Ambassador – you will save money

if you have a few InterContinental stays coming up which would benefit from a guaranteed one-level upgrade and, perhaps more importantly, a guaranteed 4pm check-out, you should join

if you have regular InterContinental stays, the cumulative value of the $20 food and beverage credits will soon cover your membership fee anyway

Another way of looking at this offer – irrespective of how many InterContinental stays you do – is that you are ‘buying’ Platinum Elite status in IHG Rewards Club for £100 ($200 Ambassador fee minus £60 value of the 15,000 bonus points).  However, you can get Platinum Elite status as a benefit of the £99 per year IHG Rewards Club Premium Mastercard – and the card comes with 20,000 bonus IHG points for signing up.

At the end of the day, you can earn back the cost of membership in just one weekend stay via the voucher.  It may even be worth it even if you had just one long stay booked and wanted to guarantee your upgrade and late check-out.  I wouldn’t be swayed either way by the extra 15,000 IHG Rewards Club points.

You can learn more about InterContinental Ambassador here if it sounds interesting.

IHG Rewards update – January 2022:

Get bonus points: IHG Rewards will be running a ‘Double Points’ promotion from 1st February to 31st March 2022. You can register here.

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

Buy points: If you need additional IHG 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 (57)

  • Joachim says:

    Getting Ambassador is basically a no-brainer. It pays for itself if one has at least one weekend stay at an IC per year. (If one stays at a IC in a region with low hotel prices such as Sofia, booking a club room may be necessary in order to get good value.)

    Then, the 15k bonus points become basically free money.

    Also, they increased the value of Ambassador by giving Ambs Platinum status with IHG (used to be just Gold).

    Contrary to Rob’s occasional assessment that IHG status isn’t worth much due to lack of guaranteed benefits, in practice I have decent experience with IHG. Yes, no free breakfast except at a few random CPs, but other benefits such as room upgrades and late checkout are given out reliably.

    • Chrisasaurus says:

      Amb instead of gold when spire was introduced, to maintain the status quo

      • Joachim says:

        You got Gold Elite until the changes to the Ambassador program came into effect early 2019.

        The introduction of Spire a fews years ago had nothing to do with it.

  • Ben says:

    Does the guaranteed one level upgrade count from a standard room to a club room?
    I’m wondering if I can use this to get a weekend of club room access

    • Young L says:

      You can get the club room if that’s the next level, but not lounge access.

      • Ben says:

        Well that is a deal breaker for me I reckon
        I wonder if it applies when using points to book also?

      • Rob says:

        Depends on the hotel, although I was legged over by this at IC Abu Dhabi. The upgrade is effectively not an upgrade in this scenario – perhaps you gain a coffee machine but that’s it.

  • AlanC says:

    As a Spire I renewed my AMB membership again this year. Going back to the Malta IC next week on mostly points but with a paid weekend in the middle using the AMB CERT.
    Had some great upgrades just by adding a small cash supplement. This stay we are in a 6 person Family Suite for just over 100 euros a night inc Club Lounge access.

  • socceric says:

    Called Ambassador team who said the target audience are holders of the UK credit card.

  • Graham Walsh says:

    Catching up with things and I got this and wondering if I could stack with the IHG card night. Looks like I can but not sure its worth it. Yes I could probably make it back with a nice weekend somewhere. Decisions decisions.

  • @mkcol says:

    Any idea if it’s charged as an IHG transaction so worth using my IHG credit card, or just stick with Curve to avoid the fees?

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