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UPDATE – JULY 2021:  This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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

  • Optimus Prime says:

    We arrived yesterday at IC Porto and got upgraded to a Duplex Suite. This booking is a combination of a weekend night certificate, points and credit card free night.

    Instead of fruit we had four Pasteis de Belem.

    They also give you EUR 15 credit to use in the restaurant or in-room service.

    • Genghis says:

      Enjoy! We had a great time there last year and planning to return next year.

      • Optimus Prime says:

        Thanks Genghis!

        The city is really beautiful, we may come back too.

        Would you recommend any places to eat?

        • Genghis says:

          We ate at Tapabento just next to Sao Bento station both nights. Simply fantastic.

    • RussellH says:

      Great place. Hope to go back again too sometime. Location is really good, as well as the hotel itself.
      Stayed there quite a few years ago now, on an early Accelerate offer which gave me the completion option of 28 000 points or a free two night stay at ‘selected’ IHG hotels. Not a difficult choice to make anyway, and then discovered that someone had forgotten the ‘selected’ bit, so we went to IC Porto.
      Having previously stayed at the IC Frankfurt, I was not expecting much, TBH. But…
      Like you, got the upgrade to Duplex. Probably got some fruit too, though I would have preferred the Pasteis. No €15 credit.
      Out of habit paid the Porto equivalent of the ‘taxe de séjour’ (€3,40 in total) on my Barclays IHG Visa. They failed to give me the double points due, I complained, and got a wodge of cash in compensation.
      Not a bad deal overall!

    • Pid says:

      We had a great time there two years ago for four redemption nights. Treated very well and would love to go back.

      Enjoy.

      • Optimus Prime says:

        We have taken one of the sightseeing buses to Matosinhos (neighbour town by the beach). Loads of places to eat fresh fish. We’re having g lunch in one called Meia-Nau, it’s fantastic.

  • Chrisasaurus says:

    Guaranteed $200 for mostly non-guaranteed benefits?

    Not rushing to renew I gotta say, let mine lapse a couple years back and it’s even less appealing now

    • TGLoyalty says:

      The 2-4-1, room upgrade and 4pm checkout are guaranteed. Backed up but 10k points if they don’t deliver (which costs the hotel something).

      From what I’ve heard not many reports of people not getting the benefits and the points instead. I’d probably ask for 4pm checkout everytime and hope they cough up 10k points when they can’t deliver 😉

  • Ian M says:

    I was targeted for this offer and have been considering it. Something you don’t mention above Rob but I’ve seen mentioned in the past is the 10% (I believe?) points rebate on redemption bookings? I have quite a lot of IHG points to burn so this would be of interest.

    I have Spire status and always get a room upgrade, fruit/chocolates, bottles of water and a late checkout at the IC I stay at. So I seem to be getting most of the benefits of Ambassador already.

    • Judge says:

      10% rebate on points is an option only when you renew.

    • Lyn says:

      Spire plus Ambassador would probably get you a double upgrade if that is worth anything to you,

      Our IC stays are extremely limited, but we do still manage to benefit from the weekend night certificate and also the 10% point rebate since our first renewals,

      • Matt says:

        I am spire Ambassador and have never received a double upgrade 🙁 I find the upgrades very poor perhaps a bigger room but more than likely a better view i.e. river. Sometimes the better views are actually worse for example from inner courtyard to city view because they’re noisier.

  • Judge says:

    The free fruit plate is now only in China. As I discovered recently on a European stay, and confirmed on their website (“Welcome fruit platter for every stay**” – the asterisks footnote says Greater China only).

    Disappointing as although can obviously survive without it, to my slight surprise it made me feel at lot less valued as a guest not to receive that welcome gesture, which surely wasn’t a majorly expensive benefit.

    • Peter K says:

      I’m not surprised you feel less valued. If someone only does something for you because they have to, then as soon as it’s optional they stop, it means that they don’t care about you. It’s the same with IHG ambassador.

  • Olly says:

    I am pleased that I have still to hear of examples of an IC that had chosen the 10,000 points option over upgrade or late checkour and it is a bit heartening to hear upgrades mentioned here being to a suite not the usual same room type but better view out of the window or a higher floor! Can I ask if in people’s experience, the upgrades were to a site from a standard room booking? Thanks.

  • DaveL says:

    Couple of queries on this, if anyone has data:

    – On the certificate…would a sat/sun/mon booking count as a 2-night weekend stay (I.e is it ok if the stays are longer and is Sunday night counted as weekend?

    -Also, do Hilton do status match to diamond from ambassador?

    Thanks

    • Chrisasaurus says:

      1 yes but make two bookings I think
      2 no because you can buy ambassador, but they may match from the corresponding plat ihg it gives you

    • Rob says:

      1. yes
      2. no (I assume)

    • David says:

      The 2nd night of your weekend stay has to be Sat or Sun (Fri or Sat in the Middle East). So, buy Fri, free on Sat; or buy Sat, free on Sun. The catch is that you don’t receive a big discount on the paid night, so the saving is not as much as you might expect.

  • Peter Cashen says:

    OT…. Hilton related.

    My friend tried to send some Hilton points to me from his new Hilton account, transferred from Amex, but he can’t as his account isn’t 90 days old.

    Can I transfer to him? Or is there any other way?

    Thanks

  • John Matrix says:

    All in all it’s a pretty crappy scheme suitable only for those with lots of cash for IC stays and few IHG points.

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