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

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

If you join or renew before 31st July, you will receive a voucher for a free reward night (costing up to 40,000 IHG Rewards points) when you stay at any InterContinental, Kimpton or Regent hotel by 31st August 2021.

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 31st July.

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 in Clause 45.  IHG is emailing selected members about it and I also saw it pop up in the app.

The ‘free night’ is also conditional:

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

the voucher can only be used at a hotel where reward nights cost no more than 40,000 IHG Rewards points (this should cover hotels up to the £160 mark)

the voucher must be used by 30th November 2021

the voucher cannot be used at Mr & Mrs Smith or Six Senses hotels

It would have been a LOT easier if IHG had just dropped 40,000 points into your IHG Rewards 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 45 of the Ambassador terms and conditions here you will find this:

InterContinental Ambassadors who enrol in the programme or renew their programme between 15 April 2021 – 31 July 2021 and then complete one Qualifying Stay at InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, or Regent Hotels by 31 August 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 November 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 November 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, fees and Resort Fees apply and the member may be required to pay such taxes and fees even for a Reward Night. IHG Army Hotels, Mr 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. […..] 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, two of the luxury hotel brands inside IHG Rewards (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

InterContinental and Regent hotels do not officially recognise your IHG Rewards 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

The process of integrating Six Senses hotels into Ambassador is starting but will take some time to complete

InterContinental Ambassador worth it?

For new members, there is an option to use 40,000 IHG Rewards points instead of paying $200 in cash.   Given my 0.4p valuation of an IHG Rewards Club point this is a fair deal.

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 November 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 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 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 (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 weekend 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.  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 August 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 November 2021, for a hotel costing no more than 40,000 IHG Rewards points.

If you can manage all this then Ambassador looks good:

Cost to join for 12 months: $200 (£145) or 40,000 IHG Rewards points

Value of 40,000 IHG Rewards 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; attractive upgrade, check-out and in-hotel credit offers at InterContinental hotels

Looked at another way …. if you use 40,000 IHG Rewards 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.


IHG Rewards update – May 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.

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 (95)

  • Richard says:

    Is this essentially a re-run of the offer in the autumn. I signed up for that and was completely unable to take advantage given the multiple lockdowns since then. Maybe it’s worth contacting IHG to see if they could extend the period on the prior offer as well?

    • Anna says:

      It is worth it but you have to keep on emailing them till they give in. I got 40k points for not being able to use the bonus free night and OH who couldn’t even trigger the free night got the offer extended until the end of June.

      • Sina says:

        I got 40k points yesterday with just an email.

      • Vivian says:

        Hi Anna – how many emails did it take for them to extend the offer window to your OH? Like Richard I renewed my status last autumn but was unable to book a stay to trigger the award.

  • Ian says:

    If I am currently Spire Elite, I assume that when this year expires (I assume end of the year? ) I will just drop to Platinum Elite?

    • John says:

      No, officially you will drop to the level you earned this year, which could be nothing. But maybe you have a credit card that comes with a status. If you buy Ambassador this year you might stay at spire. Or IHG may forget to downgrade you. Or they may downgrade you to platinum.

  • Chris says:

    Very few IC hotels give ambassador benefits on reward stays

    • Rob says:

      In my experience they do – I have never been flatly refused everything.

      • Peggerz says:

        Hi Rob.
        I was going to ask this very question about recognition on free nights etc.
        I am Amb at the moment but was considering not renewing. Then I booked two nights next year at an IC, one on points and one on the IHG black cc free night. I would renew Amb for this stay if I believed it would be of benefit and would use it again probably later in the year too. What are your thoughts? The hotel is in Italy if that makes any difference in experience from the UK IC’s.

        • Peggerz says:

          I should say my room has not been upgraded on booking, but my present Amb year will have finished for the dates booked. Would this possibly upgrade likely happen if I renew when the time comes?

    • Andrew says:

      Agree with Rob. And I have a reward stay booked at the O2 for the summer and already showing the room has been upgraded.

      • meta says:

        My experience is that if I book club access room/suite then I get to keep the same room/suite, but not club access on reward night. They usually ask for an extra fee between $20-50 which is offset by $15 credit.

  • David says:

    Was going to renew and take advantage of this but ambassador have extended my membership to March 2022 ?

    • ChrisC says:

      As I posted last night in the chat thread when it got mentioned there their inconsistency is so frustrating.

      It seems some people are getting 40k points in lieu of not being able to use the Weekend voucher or is it the voucher connected to the previous issue of this promo and others not.

      Some had the vouchers extended when they asked for the 2 or 6 month extension and others didn’t.

      And now it looks like some people are getting extensions but not others.

      It’s not generating good thoughts towards IHG at the moment.

      • Andrew says:

        And on top of that the recent points devaluation!

      • David says:

        I asked to have my voucher extended by 6 months which they did ( offered 2 months initially) and renewed by membership by 8 months without me asking – all very odd.

      • Anna says:

        ChrisC – people are only getting these after some quite intense lobbying of IHG, it hasn’t just happened automatically!

        • David says:

          Anna – I didn’t do any intense lobbying 🙂

        • James says:

          Nor me, just asked once, politely, and got extension first time.

        • Cal says:

          I only received 20,000 points and my voucher/status lapsed. This was due to my annual activity which is admittedly very low with IHG. 6 stays in the last 3 years with none in September 2019.

        • Dubious says:

          I emailed ambassador services and their response was negative, but they could help me to find a hotel…

          (actually they can’t because the hotels are closed except for one).

          • Dubious says:

            It seems a second email that appears to have been picked up by the UK team did the trick. Now converted into 40,000 points.

            I think the first email must have been picked up by someone from their North American office.

  • Tom says:

    I’ve tried to ‘buy’ it with points and it comes up with a payment error m, even though I have enough points.

  • LEWIS says:

    Unlikely to lead to major upgrades or lounge access seems a bit harsh. I would say I tend to get an upgrade and lounge access about 9 out of 10 times. Although I guess it depends what hotels you go to.

  • YC says:

    Will a BOGOF weekend stay trigger the 40k free night?

    • SammyJ says:

      I also have this question, I guess it depends whether that is classed as a ‘qualifying stay’.

      • Ed says:

        From my view this is the potential sweet spot. Pay for ambassador with 40k ihg points. Get 2 nights for price of 1 and trigger a 40k free night. Assuming you can get some use of the free night certificate, the BOGOF night is in essence free, with a year of ambassador benefits thrown in.

        • meta says:

          For me sweet spot is find a cheap IC/Kimpton/Regent, stay 1 night for cash then use the free night voucher and bogof one to get 3 nights for the price of 1 at a more expensive property. I plan doing it this summer, travel restrictions permitting.

          • YC says:

            If you had an existing BOGOF, could you renew today and subsequently use the existing BOGOF to trigger the 40k night. Or by renewing, I have foregone my current BOGOF (e.g. only be able to hold 1 BOGOF at a time)

      • Rob says:

        I would guess yes because the paid counts earns points, counts towards elite status etc.

    • Judge says:

      Yes it will be qualifying. And yes YC, you can have more than one BOGOF at a time. I will be using my current one to trigger the offer by renewing early.

    • Alan S says:

      The latest IHG Qualifying Rate/Non-Qualifying Rate grid that I can find for IHG staff, says that “Buy / Get Offers (BOGO)” are Qualifying Rates –

      The rate associated with leisure programs offering one or more
      free nights, or stays at a reduced rate with the purchase of one
      or more nights at a specific rate. Available at participating
      hotels only. The points will be awarded on the purchased nights
      only.

  • Andrew says:

    It’s a bit confusing where you can use the voucher – because with dynamic pricing a HIX by a motorway could be a hotel that costs more than 40k. Is it just whatever stay you book needs to be 40k or less which could be somewhere nice if you were lucky on the dynamic pricing on that date? Or can it only be used at a hotel where the award chart says rooms are 40k or less outside dynamic pricing?

    • memesweeper says:

      I’m assuming it’s 40k on the night you want to book. Given the uncertainty of international travel, you probably need to be looking at a UK redemption for <40k. If you’re looking for 5* IC/Kimpton type quality that’s going to be a struggle IMO.

      • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

        The IC O2 is pretty reliably under 40k at the moment

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