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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UPDATE – JULY 2021:  This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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. 

The current IHG Rewards promotion is ‘Triple Your Points’ – our full article is here. It runs from 15th May to 16th August. You receive double base points on your second stay and triple base points on your third and subsequent stays. You can register on this page of ihg.com.

There is a 75% bonus when you buy IHG Rewards points by 13th August. You can buy here.

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 – July 2021:

Get bonus points: The current IHG Rewards promotion is ‘Triple Your Points’ – our full article is here. It runs from 15th May to 16th August. You receive double base points on your second stay and triple base points on your third and subsequent stays. You can register on this page of ihg.com.

New to IHG Rewards?  Read our two-part overview of IHG Rewards here and here and our article on expiry rules here.

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

There is a 75% bonus when you buy IHG Rewards points by 13th August.

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)

  • Jon says:

    Interesting that you let yours lapse, Rob. I did the same earlier this year. Did you get anything from IHG to try to persuade you to stay, or return later? I got absolutely nothing – not even a simple email. Not that I’m bothered, but I’m surprised they weren’t more proactive at trying to prevent me leaving, or win me back afterwards – surely everyone knows that retaining an existing customer (let alone a loyal one!) is far cheaper than acquiring a new one? To me, that speaks volumes about what IHG thinks of its members…

    • John says:

      ICs are fully occupied with non-members paying ridiculous rates, IHG doesn’t care about Ambs too much. Many RAs were not renewed this year.

    • Rob says:

      No, no follow up despite 7-8 years of membership.

      • Jon says:

        Same. I get John’s point that they don’t need to care when they’re full with paying non-members – but that strikes me as short-sighted of them. It will come back to bite them eventually. I wonder whether they view the $200 membership fee as revenue or (marketing) cost?

  • John says:

    At some ICs you are now “guaranteed” 10000 points per stay and no upgrade.

    • Jonathan says:

      I seem to recall you being a bit more scathing about this when it was announced Rob? Essentially if you have 7 STAYS with no upgrade then you’ll earn one free NIGHT in an IC. Puts the pitiful compensation in perspective & certainly makes me think the decent IC’s will use this as a default policy unless they’re empty or the 1 category upgrade is a meaningless one eg. to a corner room.

      • Rob says:

        Correct, but very few reports of hotels taking advantage so far so I am giving them the benefit of the doubt.

  • Henry says:

    If only they would forget all the confusing waffle and just offer a free breakfast the same as Hilton.

  • NigelthePensioner says:

    If only all IC’s were like the IC in Da Nang……

    • Craig says:

      First trip there next March.

    • Jon says:

      +1. IC Danang is superb!

    • James says:

      2nd visit coming up in Feb.

      The $20 rebate on food/drink isn’t valid at this hotel according to the amba Ts&C’s in the latest email about the 15k bonus points for joining.

  • EBerries says:

    IHG account was hacked twice within three hours yesterday….Points deemed and already checked in. Points refunded and membership number changed after I requested when I found the account been hacked the second time just 50 min after the first phone call. Only 4 digit password so no wonder 😣

    • Chrisasaurus says:

      4 digits (10k combinations) and no limit on tries

      Question really is why arent we all getting our accounts compromised?

      • EBerries says:

        I used my account in two different hotels in China last year…and I may have used the same email registered on other chinese website…the email address is no longer safe so Im going through old emails and unlink it from important account….

        • CJ says:

          My unique IHG email address started getting regular spam about property investments earlier this year, so it’s been leaked from somewhere.

    • Chrisasaurus says:

      From an ‘inside job’ perspective how many people have te same Amex PIN as IC PIN?

      Front desk staff could easily see PIN entered on checkin at the odd hotel that require preauth for elites and they already have IHG#…

  • Dimitri says:

    Any idea if you can use points to buy membership and use this offer and get 15k points back?

    • Rob says:

      Was not clear – all the wording talks about paying $200 – so I thought it safest not to mention it.

  • Phil says:

    “($150 or $200 to renew depending on benefits)”
    The renewal options seem to have changed a bit: my choices this year are 40,000 points or $200 with 15,000 points and 10% back on redemptions.

    Shame the weekend nights are no longer transferable to another Ambassador.

  • Yuff says:

    I’ve just used my IHG voucher and points for a 2 night stay at IC park lane last week.
    Upgraded to Ambassador before the stay and our daughter was able to stay in our room due to the Ambassador membership.
    Upgraded to a stunning suite and also paid extra for lounge access.
    Have to say, however many points I used to upgrade to AMB, it was definitely worth it just for the room upgrade…..

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