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NEW OFFER: Get a free hotel reward night when you join InterContinental Ambassador

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InterContinental has launched a special offer to encourage you to join, or indeed renew, your membership of their InterContinental Ambassador loyalty scheme.

If you join or renew before 15th November, you will receive a voucher for a free reward night (costing up to 40,000 IHG Rewards Club points) when you stay at any InterContinental, Kimpton or Regent hotel by 31st January.

For clarity – this offer is good for renewals too.  Ambassador usually lets you renew 30-60 days early, so you may be able to take advantage of this deal even if your membership does not expire by the closing date of 15th November.

How does the new Ambassador sign-up or renewal offer work?

InterContinental has gone out of its way to make this offer more complicated than was absolutely necessary!

For a start, it hasn’t bothered to mention the offer on the Ambassador website.  It IS outlined in the small print, and InterContinental has been emailing people to promote it, but it isn’t helpful that it’s not on the landing page.

The ‘free night’ is also conditional:

you have to stay, for cash, at an InterContinental, Kimpton or Regent hotel before 31st January

the voucher can only be used at a hotel where reward nights cost no more than 40,000 IHG Rewards Club points (this should cover hotels up to the £175 mark)

the voucher must be used by 30th April 2021

It would have been a LOT easier if IHG had just dropped 40,000 points into your IHG Rewards Club account as soon as you signed up, but obviously that wouldn’t drive any fresh stays.

40,000 points for joining Intercontinental Ambassador

What is the small print of the Ambassador free night offer?

If you scroll to Clause 42 of the Ambassador terms and conditions here you will find this:

InterContinental Ambassadors who enrol in the programme or renew their programme membership between 30 July 2020 – 15 November 2020 and then complete one Qualifying Stay at InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, or Regent Hotels by 31 January 2021 will be awarded a Reward Night redeemable for a Reward Night priced at 40,000 points or less. The Reward Night will be deposited into the Free Nights section of the member’s account within 72 hours after check-out from the qualifying, paid stay and will be valid until 30 April 2021. This Reward Night is in addition to the complimentary weekend night that is already included as an InterContinental Ambassador member benefit. Ambassador benefits are not honored at Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants globally or at Regent Hotels & Resorts in Greater China.

The Reward Night must be consumed by 30 April 2021 and cannot be extended or transferred. The number of points required for a Reward Night at IHG hotels varies by date, brand and individual hotel and is subject to availability. Taxes and fees apply and the member may be required to pay such taxes and fees even for a Reward Night. IHG Army Hotels, Mrs and Mrs Smith properties, and Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas are excluded from this Offer.

This Offer is not valid for InterContinental Ambassador membership enrolments or renewals obtained on a complimentary basis or using the IHG Employee discount. Ambassador members must be within their standard renewal window in order to take advantage of this Offer. A Qualifying Stay is defined as a paid, minimum 1-night stay booked under a Qualifying Rate, with total spend exceeding US $30 per night. Reward Nights do not count as Qualifying Stays. A Stay is defined per IHG Rewards Club Membership Terms and Conditions as one night or consecutive nights at the same hotel, regardless of frequency of check-in/out. Only one room per member per Qualifying Stay will be eligible to earn the member a Reward Night under this Offer. If more than one member checks into the same room, only one member may use it as his or her Qualifying Stay for this Offer.  No credit will be awarded for Stays completed prior to the member’s enrollment or renewal.

Is Intercontinental Ambassador worth joining?

How does InterContinental Ambassador work?

InterContinental and Regent, the two luxury hotel brands inside IHG Rewards Club (which also covers Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo and others) are a little odd when it comes to loyalty schemes:

As part of the Holiday Inn / Crowne Plaza group, they participate in IHG Rewards Club

InterContinental and Regent hotels do not officially recognise your IHG Rewards Club status.  In reality, they often do, but it is not guaranteed.

InterContinental and Regent also have their own loyalty scheme – Ambassadorwhich costs $200 to join

InterContinental Ambassador worth it?

For new members, there is an option to use 40,000 IHG Rewards Club points instead of paying $200 in cash.   Given my 0.4p valuation of an IHG Rewards Club point this is a fair deal, although it is always possible to exceed 0.4p – often by a large margin – at peak hotels on peak dates.

Via this new offer, of course, you are virtually joining for free.  You could pay 40,000 points to join but, if you triggered the free night voucher, you would receive a voucher worth 40,000 points back.  The snag is that the voucher has an April 2021 expiry date and there is no change given if you use it for a hotel which is cheaper than 40,000 points.  You also can’t ‘pay the difference’ by booking somewhere more expensive.

The key thing about Ambassador is that, once you are a member, the benefits are virtually 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 night (BOGOF) 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 stay (weekend only at InterContinental, any day at Kimpton Hotels and Regent Hotels) and pay the Ambassador Certificate Rate, which is 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 Certificate 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.  For clarity, the free night is the 2nd night.  It is NOT the average of your two nights.)

A GUARANTEED one-level room upgrade on every InterContinental and Regent stay – this is usually processed before you arrive and is visible online.  If the hotel cannot provide an upgrade, you receive 10,000 IHG Rewards Club points compensation at an InterContinental.  There is no compensation at a Regent.

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.  If an InterContinental hotel cannot provide late check-out, you receive 10,000 IHG Rewards Club points compensation.  There is no compensation at a Regent.

A $20 food and beverage credit per InterContinental stay (not valid at Regent)

Free mineral water in your room

Platinum Elite status in IHG Rewards Club (usually requires 40 nights or $4,000 of qualifying spend)

The benefits package is slightly different for stays in Mainland China, including free restaurant breakfast for one person.

Is InterContinental Ambassador worth it?

Obviously InterContinental Ambassador is not for everyone.  Even without this special offer, however, you can earn back the cost of membership in just one stay by redeeming the free night voucher.  It may even be worth it if you had just one long InterContinental or Regent stay booked and wanted to guarantee your upgrade.

Ambassador members also receive Platinum Elite status in IHG Rewards Club.  This will make your future Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo etc stays a little more pleasant although it is unlikely to lead to major upgrades or lounge access.

InterContinental Ambassador free night offer

Does this new offer change the maths?

Joining InterContinental Ambassador is a lot more attractive under this offer – IF you are sure that you can complete an InterContinental, Kimpton or Regent night by 31st January 2021 to trigger the voucher.

In the UK, you would be looking at the InterContinental hotels in London or Edinburgh, or the Kimpton hotels in London, Edinburgh, Glasgow or Manchester.  There are no Regent hotels in the UK.

You also need to fairly confident that you can use the free night voucher by 30th April 2021, for a hotel costing no more than 40,000 IHG Reward Club points.

If you can manage all this then Ambassador looks good:

Cost to join for 12 months: $200 (£156) or 40,000 IHG Rewards Club points

Value of 40,000 IHG Rewards Club points certificate after your qualifying stay:  £160 (conservative, based on 0.4p per point)

Other benefits:  ‘buy one get one free certificate’ valid at InterContinental (weekends only), Kimpton and Regent; Platinum Elite status in IHG Rewards Club; attractive upgrade, check-out and in-hotel credit offers at InterContinental hotels

Looked at another way …. if you use 40,000 IHG Rewards Club points to join Ambassador, you will get those 40,000 points back (admittedly in voucher form with an expiry date) after your first stay.  The other Ambassador benefits are therefore ‘free’ for a year.

You can learn more about InterContinental Ambassador, and sign up, here if it sounds interesting.  Remember that this offer is NOT shown on their landing page, but the terms and conditions make it clear that it exists!  I’ve also seen the email at IHG is sending out, which is where the top image above comes from.

Comments (68)

  • Chrism20 says:

    How far in advance does the renewal appear on your account page on IHG? My renewal was 1st July but with the extension it’s now January 1st so depending on how far in advance they drop the renewal into the accounts I might just sneak in with this one

    • ChrisC says:

      Between 3 months (But it could be 2) early and 1 month late rings a bellAs a renewal. It will appear in your account when you can do it so it looks like you’ll be OK.

      Like Rob I’ve moved house this week so brain not totally in gear!

      • Chrism20 says:

        Thanks, hopefully I might benefit from this one. Hope all goes well in your new home. We moved last year, I think I’m still recovering.

        • ChrisC says:

          Thanks. All very frantic!

          I’d just start checking your account (think via the web than the app)

          Good luck

  • Simon says:

    The tie up with Mr and Mrs Smith is more useful! No idea when this is happening?

  • BJ says:

    My bet is on a similar or better offer on 16+ November for Black Friday so I’m not jumping now. This year seems certain to be the best ever Black Friday, particularly for travel.

    • Harry T says:

      I hope you’re right. However, my Ambassador now expires in August 2021 due to the extensions. I spent my free weekend night voucher very early too. Oh well, I’m just going to use my points and status on nights at the Amstel and be completely unoriginal!

      How are things with you?

      • BJ says:

        Can your partner not take advantage? You like Amstel so why not, the right redemption is always the one that works for you. I’ve never been a fan of blowing miles and points on something just to maximise value or do something out of character as there is increased chance of it ending in disappointment. I’ve noticed a lot of your plans have come unstuck, must be hugely disappointing but on the plus side you can get all the fun of planning another trip in their place. I have nothing to lose by waiting for a potential BF offer as current offer is not ideal on dates. I can best exploit it if my partner and I can both join and then use the free nights at Kimpton Shinjuku so we will see. Looks like we are getting lucky with Osaka, HI Namba is down to 17.5k from 35k a night. Would be my last choice in the area from IHG offering but I’ll take it as we will be out all day and much of the evening anyway.

  • SammyJ says:

    With the US closed indefinitely, I won’t be renewing. I can’t even find a way to use the existing AMB weekend cert I’ve got, despite being in Europe for 3.5 weeks this summer – not a very family-friendly place to book.

    • Harry T says:

      How about the Intercontinental Amstel in Amsterdam? I’ve stayed a couple of times and would very strongly recommend it. Rob has a review on the website too.

  • Simon D says:

    This has suddenly made Ambassador very tempting. I have two October nights booked in the Clocktower in Manchester anyway (I am guessing pre-booked stays are okay?). Has anyone had any experience of getting any Ambassador benefits in Kimptons? I am guessing not, but never mind. Am tempted by a December trip to Paris

    • ChrisC says:

      AMB benefits are only at ICs

      Not even sure if they can see if you’re AMB or not. They’ve only ever mentioned my IHG status even though I’m AMB.

      • Rob says:

        And Regent!

      • TGLoyalty says:

        I’ve been welcomed to other non ICs as a Spire Ambassador member so they can see I guess they just don’t get told to recognise it for anything.

  • jacko bloggo says:

    So this is an offer for the paid-for Ambassador program, which provides benefits soley at IC hotels, offering a free night, the value of which will mean that you will not be able to use it at many IC hotels and will be forced to use it at hotels that are not part of the Ambassador program, meaning that the membership you were enticed to buy/renew will be irrelevant for that stay, and should you manage to book an IC night for 40K or less, as it’s an award stay the IC will not be under obligation to provide the benefits of the program that you just bought.

    That’s a well thought out promotion.

    • Harry H says:

      That is why I have let my IHG status fall away. As a Spire Ambassador, the words “subject to availability” meant that you could not rely on the benefits. IHG hotels disappoint me on reward stays with the worst rooms next to the lift shaft, no upgrade options and no benefits.

      Having said that, a recent points stay at the Staybridge suites on Bath Road saw an upgrade so at least one manager sees the benefit in seeking loyalty that is what, after all, the program is about.

      • Paul74 says:

        +1 I also let my Ambassador membership lapse. This was triggered by a very disappointing stay at the IC in Washington DC last November. Not saying I won’t return to other ICs (although I wasn’t very impressed with the ones in Malta and Sydney either), I’m just not going to commit anymore money/points to them for the time being.

    • Rob says:

      To be fair, with the new ‘variable pricing’ quite a few ICs will come in at under 40k – although not all cities are currently on variable pricing.

      • Andrew says:

        Yes I’ve booked IC Singapore for early next year for 22,500 points. Of course probably won’t get to go, but thought it was worth putting my points into some bookings on the off chance rather than just leaving them in my account.

      • Simon D says:

        I found Porto for 38k in December which could be a decent pre-Christmas jolly. Sadly no points availability in the Amstel and Le Grand was still 70k. Annoyingly the other Paris one was 42k…

        • meta says:

          It was 35k for August bank holiday, now 45k. 38k is very good as used to be 55k.

      • Harry T says:

        Amstel was briefly 40k on some dates. Changed the day after I booked to be 60k for all dates again.

  • Colin JE says:

    Shame renewals have to be within 30-60 days. My AMB membership got extended by six months from it normal January renewal, so this won’t work for me. I wonder why they won’t let people just add 12 months to whatever their expiry is.
    The 10% discount on redemptions if you renew for cash is a nice perk, and my Spire Elite status hasn’t dropped in 3 years despite not having enough stays. Coincidence?
    I’ve had some nice upgrades with Crowne Plaza and Staybridge from that status. Am missing the two hotels in Manchester that opened a year or so ago, then jumped across to Hyatt, but the Vauxhall Staybridge is great and am looking forward to trying the Bath Road, Heathrow one.

  • apbj says:

    Perhaps because I don’t tend to stay in Amsterdam or Paris, I find the value of IC AMB consistently overstated. Have never found a Weekend Certificate Rate matching even the Best Flexible Rate, let alone the Best Available Rate (and on weekends when it is actually available). Paying a 40-60% premium just to use a voucher seems mad to me, especially given how flaky IC properties are about benefits. If I could turn the voucher in for 10,000 points, I would.