Is InterContinental Ambassador Status Worth buying in 2020?

Intercontinental London Park Lane review entrance

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The Intercontinental program is a paid membership rewards program that allows you to receive a myriad of benefits across the world at InterContinental Brand Hotels and resorts. After recent changes to the program, I wanted to update you on all the reasons why the InterContinental Ambassador Status is worth every penny. As I covered when the changes occurred in July 2020 the InterContinental Program has become even better!

What is InterContinental Ambassador?

The InterContinental Ambassador status is purchasable for $200 USD annually which may seem steep, but it pays for itself with amazing benefits that have recently been amended.

Technically InterContinental is under the same umbrella as the IHG Rewards Club. What does this mean? If you have 40,000 IHG Rewards Club points you can use this instead of paying the $200 USD.

 

Is InterContinental Ambassador Club worth it?

With so many changes in the travel industry, it is important to take stock of our rewards programs and decide what is worth it. The InterContinental Ambassador program has undergone some changes. Some of those changes for the better! Intercontinental Ambassadors is a paid membership that usually pays for itself with a free weekend night if you reserve a minimum of two nights on a weekend stay. In fact, if you plan to stay at any InterContinental hotel for 2 nights at a weekend and the cost is more than $200 per night, it’s worth joining. You still get the perks of the program for a year and it does not cost you anything even if you just break even. Michele used hers in New York at the InterContinental Times Square where rates can easily be $500 a night in normal times. 

A weekend night varies according to the country you are visiting. Mainly weekends will include a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. However, if you are traveling in the Middle East, hotels may definite the weekend as Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  It’s a lot easier to use them now as it can all be done online. You need to make sure they are made on the Ambassador Complimentary Weekend Night Rate (“AMB Certificate”). The certificate is not valid at any other rate. You can check the free night rates on this site. 

The rates are not the same as the cheapest rates published as the free night is only available at the most flexible rate. So make sure you check the rates as above before working out if you will save your $200 fee. For example, the InterContinental Park Lane is £289 on the free night rate meaning £289 for two nights with cancellation up to 4pm on the day, but the cheapest rate would be £233 a night with cancellation up to 3 days before. The total would be £466 so you would still be saving over $200.

However, now it seems Kimpton Hotels are accepting certificates during the weekdays! While not as luxurious as the InterContinental they are still youthful and great for a short vacation.  They also offer free wine hours and other perks which make them worth checking out. You can read our review of the Kimpton in Amsterdam, here. 

To renew you can pay $200 USD and receive 15,000 IHG Rewards points.  

Lobby of the InterContinental in New York.

InterContinental New York Reception

 

What does IHG Ambassador get you?

On top of a free weekend night stay at the InterContinental or what is looking like a buy one night get one free at Kimpton, IHG Ambassadors will also be guaranteed a one category room upgrade, a USD 20 restaurant/bar credit and Platinum Elite Status in IHG Rewards Club. My favorite added benefit is the extended 4 pm check-out for those that like to take a little longer saying goodbye to their vacation. 

If a hotel cannot provide a late check-out you receive 10,000 IHG Reward Club points to compensate for the inconvenience. Don’t forget your complimentary mineral water and free wifi as well. 

Here is the full list:

⁃ Guaranteed one category room upgrade
⁃ Guaranteed extended 4pm check-out
⁃ Complimentary weekend night*
⁃ Platinum Elite status in IHG® Rewards Club, and the corresponding benefits
⁃ Restaurants & bars credit of up to USD20 for every stay*
⁃ Complimentary mineral water
⁃ Complimentary internet
⁃ Dedicated check-in area
⁃ Single room rate for double occupancy
⁃ Mainland China Only: Complimentary breakfast for one each night you stay
⁃ Greater China Only: Welcome fruit platter for Platinum Elite & Spire Elite members

*Benefits applicable at participating Regent Hotels & Resorts until 31 December 2021. Not applicable in Greater China.

 

How do you become an InterContinental Royal Ambassador?

A Royal Ambassador status is extended by InterContinental is invite-only. It is granted to only a small percentage of InterContinental Ambassador members.

 

According to IHG’s site “Royal Ambassador status is extended annually to a small percentage of InterContinental Ambassador members, based on their qualified activity at Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Regent Hotels & Resorts and participating Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas. Invitation is at the sole discretion of IHG Rewards Club.” 

 

 

IHG Status

 

IHG Rewards Club

 

Immediately after purchasing the InterContinental Ambassador membership, you will also receive IHG Platinum Elite status. This usually would require 40 nights of stays at qualifying hotels or 40,000 points.

Not only are you receiving the benefits of the InterContinental Ambassador Program, but you are also receiving the IHG Platinum Elite benefits providing complimentary room upgrades, 50% bonus earnings on base points, elite rollover nights, priority check-in, and late check-out. These will be good at hotels such as Kimpton, Holiday Inn Hotels, Crowne Plaza, and Hotel Indigo. The full list of benefits is:

  • Bonus points  Platinum members enjoy a 50% point bonus on paid stays
  • Late checkout
  • Points don’t expire
  • Priority check-in 
  • Room upgrades Space-available complimentary room upgrades but specifically excludes suites. It’s also not available on award stays. 
  • Guaranteed availability 
  • Welcome amenity  Platinum Elite travelers also enjoy a welcome amenity for every stay. which will usually be a Raid the Bar/Mini Bar credit at Kimpton properties and a choice between bonus points or a food/drink voucher at others.

To get the full benefits with the uncertainties of travelling at the moment, I would recommend joining just before you book your weekend stay to get a full year or perks unless you need to use the benefits on another IHG stay before then. Free night certificates are valid for 12 months from joining. 

With hotel status constantly being extended, it could also get you a couple of years of hotel status in IHG if you are lucky. It is also worth considering if you wanted to get status in another chain that will do a status match. You will most likely have to show that you have stayed at an IHG property but if you do the free weekend night, that would count. Check the T&C of the status match you want to achieve before you decide. There is more about status matching in this article.

One thing to be aware of is that they have been pretty stingy with extending Ambassador status and benefits. IHG so far has only given two three-month extensions(six months total) to membership and the free night certificates which is very poor when many hotels were shut for months. 

You can find more information and join on the IC Ambassador page here. 

 

What are your thoughts? Have you enjoyed your membership or looking for a way to upgrade your upcoming holiday? Let us know in the comments below. 

10 Comments on "Is InterContinental Ambassador Status Worth buying in 2020?"

  1. As a Platinum IHG member I can say that upgrades and other perks are very hit and miss, specially in Europe (and the UK). Sometimes we got a great upgrade, most times they don’t even notice the status. There were countless times we got bad rooms at Holiday Inns and even Crowne Plaza despite being Platinum, to the point I don’t even bother with IHG anymore. I used to love IHG with all the bonus points offers, can’t really see the appeal since they stopped most of them. Apart from that, great, informative article as usual.

  2. Great Article, I’ve been trying to condense my hotel group affiliation with IHG at the top of my list due to the majority points with these, this has encouraged me to try the Ambassador status as I can utilise some of my points so not much to lose and a great way to try it. Do you know when this opportunity (40,000 points ends). I don’t forsee any hotel stays until at least spring, feel its best to wait until my next stay?

    • The 40,000 points is not a specific offer so I don’t expect it to end, although obviously, they could decide to end it or change the price but unlikely at the current time I would say. It’s definitely not worth buying it now if you won’t use it until March unless you wish to book a free weekend night before (which could be for travel at any point in the year) then as you will need to be a member to book it.

  3. The 10% points rebate on all bookings across all brands does not exist. It used to (but I’m not sure it was across all brands), but only if you paid for your membership with $200 rather than points. There is a current offer of a free night for people who renew their membership by a certain date. Dig down in the terms and conditions for details. The so-called free weekend night isn’t even close to free as they jack up the price of the paid night. (They can ONLY be booked online at a dedicated URL so check the price before you go there and just compare.) Also, IHG has issued two three-month extensions of status due to COVID, not one. Why don’t you join the IHG Rewards Club Members on Facebook. You’ll find all these issues, and others, discussed and tagged under “InterContinental Ambassadors.” We’d love to have you!

    • Thank you for letting us know about the 10%. It has been corrected. However, I have to disagree that they hike the rates up. They only offer the most flexible rate on a free night, that’s why it’s more expensive. You are not comparing like with like. It’s a bit like sales that are always based on a discount on the most flexible rate, not the cheapest advance purchase. You can still make significant savings with it.

  4. The InterContinental Royal Ambassador program is revenue-based. You can’t stay your way into membership.

  5. Christine Hall | 14 November 2020 at 12:32 am |

    I found the details of the current offer of a free night. Hope this helps. InterContinental Ambassador enrollment offer: Enroll or renew between July 30 and Dec. 31, 2020, and then complete one qualifying stay at an InterContinental, Kimpton or Regent property by Jan. 31, 2021 to get a reward night worth 40,000 points or less that’s valid until Apr. 30, 2021.

  6. COVID aside, I’ve been trying to find a way to use my certificate all year where I live (Australia). Weekend rates tend to nearly double when I switch from cheapest flexible –> Ambassador Weekend rates. ICs in Sydney will jump from 250-300 / night to 500+. Using the certificate almost invariably is either a break-even or a flat LOSS compared to just paying for a room using the normal, non-Ambassador rate.

    I’ve been Spire Elite for 4 years and held Ambassador for that long as well — don’t think I’m going to bother renewing after this. At least in Australia it’s basically impossible to get your $200 worth back out of the Ambassador membership without really putting in some work and being very flexible.

  7. I’ve been an Ambassador Spire Elite for years. In my opinion it is not worth it. I just renewed on 1/1/2021 for a stay in Cancun and got nothing for it. Called IHG for a refund and after much hemming and hawing they finally agreed to it but have to cancel my account (which I’ve had for more than 10 years) and open a new one. If you have Platinum or Spire Elite paying the additional for Ambassador is definitely not worth it. I can’t tell you the number of times Guest Services Managers have quoted the T&C that Ambassador benefits do not apply to reward stays. There is not much/anything better between Platinum/Spire Elite and Ambassador on paid stays. Nothing at London Park Lane, nothing at Paris Le Grand, nothing at Presidente Cancun, had to fight for something at Sydney. You already get an upgrade with elite status, so unless you have a specific, good redemption in mind that will save you $200 on a weekend stay, the additional cost is not worth it.

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