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 – Ambassador – which 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.
(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.)