Is InterContinental Ambassador Status Worth It?

Is InterContinental Ambassador Status Worth It?

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While IHG One Rewards is the loyalty program for InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), there’s separately the InterContinental Ambassador program. This can cause some confusion, since often people don’t really get the distinction between IHG One Rewards and InterContinental Ambassador. In this post I wanted to take a closer look at that.

What is InterContinental Ambassador status?

The InterContinental Ambassador program is a paid guest recognition program intended specifically for frequent guests of InterContinental hotels. InterContinental is one of IHG’s premium hotel brands, and if you stay at InterContinentals with any frequency, then a membership should pay for itself.

This status is separate from IHG One Rewards Platinum and IHG One Rewards Diamond status, so it could make sense to buy into this program even if you have those status levels. Similarly, qualifying for IHG One Rewards Milestone Rewards is independent of the perks offered to Ambassador members.

Ambassador is InterContinental’s guest recognition program

How do you get InterContinental Ambassador status?

InterContinental Ambassador is purely a paid program. Any IHG One Rewards member can buy a 12-month Ambassador membership for either $200 or 40,000 IHG One Rewards points. I value IHG points at 0.5 cents each, so to me it’s breakeven whether it makes sense to pay with points or cash (in which case I’d pay with points).

The 12-month membership year doesn’t have to coincide with the calendar year, so I’d only recommend signing up shortly before your first planned stay. Note that sometimes there are also promotions for new InterContinental Ambassador members, in which case it could make sense to sign up then.

Joining InterContinental Ambassador costs $200 or 20,000 points

What are the benefits of InterContinental Ambassador status?

What are the benefits of InterContinental Ambassador status? When staying at InterContinental hotels, you receive the following perks:

  • Complimentary weekend night reward; I’ll share more details on that below
  • A guaranteed one category upgrade; this excludes club access and certain suite types, and isn’t guaranteed on award stays
  • A $20 credit with each stay to use toward the hotel’s restaurant, bar, or minibar
  • Guaranteed 4PM late check-out; this applies at both city hotels and resorts
  • A dedicated check-in area
  • Complimentary internet and mineral water
  • Single room rate for double occupancy
  • IHG One Rewards Platinum status; you also receive this status just for having the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card (review) or IHG® Rewards Premier Business Credit Card (review)

I think most of these benefits are pretty straightforward. I’d say the complimentary weekend night reward is potentially the highest value perk here. For those curious about how that works:

  • It’s valid for 12 months from the date of issue, and it’s issued as soon as you sign up for the program (or renew)
  • It’s valid for a minimum of a two night paid weekend stay, using the Ambassador Complimentary Weekend Night Rate at any InterContinental property (this will show as “AMB Certificate” when booking)
  • Weekend nights are defined as Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, except in the Middle East, where hotels may define the weekend as Thursday, Friday, and Saturday
  • The weekend night certificate can be used for most room types, including many suites and club rooms
  • If you’re curious to see what rates are like using this benefit but don’t yet have a certificate, you can search the rates at this link; as you’ll see, this rate is sometimes a bit higher than the regular best available rate, but not by much

Note that InterContinental Ambassador members also receive select perks at other premium brands:

  • InterContinental Ambassador members receive benefits at select Six Senses properties, though they differ from what you’d get at InterContinentals
  • InterContinental Ambassador members receive perks at Regent properties, but only through December 31, 2022
  • InterContinental Ambassador members don’t receive perks at Kimpton properties, but rather Kimpton has its own Inner Circle program
Select Ambassador perks apply at Six Senses properties

What about InterContinental Royal Ambassador status?

In addition to the paid InterContinental Ambassador program, there’s also the InterContinental Royal Ambassador program, which is invitation-only. As it’s described, this is extended “only to a small percentage” of guests based on their spending and stay activities at Kimpton, InterContinental, and Regent.

This is invitation only, but you can generally expect that you won’t get an invitation if you don’t spend at least $12,000 or so per year with these brands (and even that isn’t a guarantee).

What are the benefits of InterContinental Royal Ambassador?

  • A guaranteed two category upgrade
  • Guaranteed 10AM early check-in and 4PM late check-out
  • Club InterContinental lounge access where available, and complimentary daily breakfast for two at properties without a lounge
  • A free night certificate at an IHG property
  • IHG One Rewards Diamond status
  • A complimentary minibar credit of up to $50 per day
  • A choice of a savory or sweet snack, or fruit
Receive club access as an InterContinental Royal Ambassador member

Yes, InterContinental Ambassador status is probably worth it

If you stay at InterContinentals with any frequency, then buying Ambassador status is almost certainly worth it. The free night certificate alone should more than justify the annual fee for most. On top of that, you can easily recoup your membership fee with a stay or two, thanks to the guaranteed upgrade, late check-out, $20 food & beverage credit, and more.

If you like InterContinentals, this program is absolutely for you. Personally I haven’t been a member in many years, simply because InterContinentals don’t appeal to me much. To me the brand has no personality, and seems like it’s stuck in the early 2000s. What exactly is the selling point of InterContinental as a brand?

That’s not to say there aren’t nice individual properties, but it just seems like the brand lacks a vision. Personally I’m much more excited about IHG’s other upscale and luxury acquisitions in recent years, including Kimpton and Six Senses.

InterContinental Ambassador status pays for itself

IHG’s loyalty recognition is a hot mess

Let’s start on a positive note. I’m extremely impressed by the relaunch we saw of IHG’s loyalty program earlier this year. IHG One Rewards is finally competitive with other hotel groups, and we’ve seen the introduction of free breakfast for elite members, confirmed suite upgrades, club access memberships, and more. All of that is fantastic.

However, in my opinion it’s now time for IHG to harmonize the IHG One Rewards program and the Ambassador program. How is the average member supposed to make sense of the difference between the two? The learning curve is too great for this to make any sense to consumers.

Bigger picture, I’d like to see IHG make three changes to truly make IHG One Rewards even more competitive:

  • It’s time that all brands owned by IHG fully join IHG’s loyalty program; for example, many Six Senses properties still don’t belong to IHG One Rewards
  • It’s time that all elite perks apply on both cash and award stays; IHG has the only major loyalty program that doesn’t honor all elite perks when redeeming points
  • It’s time that IHG create a single loyalty program that properly rewards stays at all brands; there shouldn’t be separate programs for select luxury brands, as that takes away from the incentive to be loyal to IHG overall

For example, personally I’d probably be invested in IHG’s loyalty program if my stays at Kimptons, Six Senses, etc., were all fully rewarded in the same way, rather than all these separate programs, many properties not participating, etc. I just have a hard time getting excited about any individual IHG brand, based on how benefits are currently executed.

I’d love to see IHG have a single loyalty program

Bottom line

InterContinental Ambassador is a paid program that offers extra benefits for stays at InterContinental properties. You can sign-up for just $200 or 40,000 IHG points per year. I’d say this could represent a fantastic deal, between the free night certificate, guaranteed upgrades, late check-out, food & beverage credit, and more.

I’m curious to hear from OMAAT readers — what do you make of the InterContinental Ambassador program?

Conversations (29)
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  1. matt s New Member

    Lucky - Slightly off topic, but have you received any information about when the new milestone $20 food and bev certificates will go live? I reached a ton of milestones when the awards went live and now I’m sitting on a bunch of certificates that I can’t use and are now nearing 3 months into their 1 year expiration. I’d like to know if they will be available by end of year as I’m planning out a certain trip, etc.

    Thanks for any thoughts.

  2. Esb Guest

    I remember the days when in Intrrcontinental property stay only earned 2000 loyalty points, no matter how high your bill was! So there have been great strides, The IHG program is still woefully deficient with lounge access. Diamond and Ambassador and lounge access not included like it is at Marriott and Hilton. Shameful, really over a $2 Coke,

  3. Points MN Guest

    Worth it if they give you 20,000 points with the $200 purchase. Not sure the value is there with just 15,000 points as a bonus for buying/renewing the status.

  4. Richard Miles Guest

    I had a terrible experience staying at the Vienna Intercontinental last month
    Total confusion on my benefits even though I am Ambassador Diamond Elite.

    Richard Miles

  5. Kaan Guest

    I have been in it for a year and stayed many different IHG properties as well as IC. My status (ambassador + platinum) had never ever never been recognized apart from the IC properties. Also I found the booking process of one free night very misleading. At the end I didn’t renew my status and made IHG my least favorite chain

  6. polarbear Member

    "I value IHG points at 0.5 cents each, so to me it’s breakeven..."

    For you and people like you, traveling for work - would not paying cash qualify as business expense and tax deduction?

  7. polarbear Member

    Was surprised - very unpleasantly - that weekend night is no longer valid in Kimpton. It was one or two years ago - and it was useful given how many more Kimpton hotels are out there

  8. iamhere Guest

    May have value if you stay in IHG hotels often enough. Consider just based on the free night and the $20 credit per stay you would need to have a few stays each year to make this of enough value. The other benefits are minimal or coincide with other status or methods to obtain.

  9. Pam Guest

    A benefit I love with Ambassador status not offered with Diamond/Platinum is GUARANTEED 4 pm late checkout. D/P is only 2 pm & then based on availability. So great when needed for a later flight, check-in to another property, enjoying the sights on Cannery Row, etc!

  10. objektiw New Member

    I agree it is a hot mess. I stayed at the same IC after the change as a Diamond Elite and Ambassador and got the upgrade, the $20 off, and the late checkout as benefits, same as a Platinum Ambassador before. If these were all Ambassador, the Diamond meant nothing extra. Unfortunately, I had booked it with pre-paid breakfast well before the changes, so that one was a wasted perk. They need to harmonize these...

    I agree it is a hot mess. I stayed at the same IC after the change as a Diamond Elite and Ambassador and got the upgrade, the $20 off, and the late checkout as benefits, same as a Platinum Ambassador before. If these were all Ambassador, the Diamond meant nothing extra. Unfortunately, I had booked it with pre-paid breakfast well before the changes, so that one was a wasted perk. They need to harmonize these two sets of benefits indeed. Their staff were rather confused at the front desk, saying they were all still learning the details of the relaunched program.

  11. Mordrydd Guest

    I've used two Ambassador Weekend Vouchers, at the Kimpton Fitzroy in London and the Kimpton Eventi in NYC, and both were midweek stays too. Great bolt-on perk. I think I read somewhere that Kimpton's involvement in the IC Ambassador programme might be ending this year, though?

  12. Lin Guest

    The point is higher now. Used to be 20k. And benefit is better room, late check out and fruit tray or something. But it is more for intercontinental, doesn't really apply for other lower brand. Used to have for many years before using dog then Marriott more. It should have better benefit.

  13. Bill n DC Gold

    I’ve been an Abassador for over ten years because of the Kansas City InterContinental was close to work and always got my favorite room and lounge access.

    I’ve used the weekend certificate at some great InterContinentals: Tokyo The Strings and ANA, Hong Kong, Sydney (plan to use this year’s Cert here in November after the renovations are complete), London, Park Lane (once upgraded to the 2 story London Suite), Los Angles, Century City and...

    I’ve been an Abassador for over ten years because of the Kansas City InterContinental was close to work and always got my favorite room and lounge access.

    I’ve used the weekend certificate at some great InterContinentals: Tokyo The Strings and ANA, Hong Kong, Sydney (plan to use this year’s Cert here in November after the renovations are complete), London, Park Lane (once upgraded to the 2 story London Suite), Los Angles, Century City and Downtown; San Francisco Mark Hopkins with terrace suite upgrade; & Staycations at both the Willard and the Wharf here in DC

    I’ve used points to renew since my first $100 payment. Have a couple more years of points available Also have two CC including $49/yr old one.

    1. Pam Guest

      Hi BIDC - I am staying at KC IC soon, any tips on better rooms to request? Thanks!

    2. Bill n DC Guest

      Pam. I like the *36. I. E. 836 in the main building, not the newer addition rooms which also face CCP. It’s balcony faces Country Club Plaza across the creek and is by itself. The other rooms in the main tower either face the pool or the back/parking ramp/residential neighborhood and balconies are all exposed to each other. Enjoy

    3. Pam Guest

      I like the understated elegance/minimalism of the ICs I have stayed. Refreshing cool colors with an Asian vibe.

      The Amb fee can more than pay for itself with 1 stay. One advantage over other programs is you can book into a higher grade room, Premier Suites even, & have IT taken off 2nd night as well. So ensure a good room in advance & aim towards the 2nd night being more expensive.

      I always...

      I like the understated elegance/minimalism of the ICs I have stayed. Refreshing cool colors with an Asian vibe.

      The Amb fee can more than pay for itself with 1 stay. One advantage over other programs is you can book into a higher grade room, Premier Suites even, & have IT taken off 2nd night as well. So ensure a good room in advance & aim towards the 2nd night being more expensive.

      I always spring a little more for a higher level room so I can upgrade to a suite (the next room cat) if available.

      The program allows 1-time 3 & 6 month extensions if that can work out for getting use of your free certs.

  14. pstm91 Diamond

    Just stayed at the IC Budapest using an IHG free night cert. We were upgraded to suite with a very nice view of the river, but my god that hotel needs a refresh.

    1. kevin l Guest

      It does need a refresh, but how many rooms in the city have a view of the Chain Bridge and Buda Castle at night.

    2. objektiw Guest

      About half the rooms I would say (~200).

    3. Nils Guest

      I remember looking at the Hotel when I stayed in Budapest (stayed at the Matild Palace which was excellent) and thinking that it's a really, really ugly building.

      I get the feeling that with many hotels the main brands (like Hilton, Intercontinental or Marriott) are often the worst when it comes to renovations / refreshes, they often seem to live on inertia and location and not much else.

  15. Rob Guest

    If I remember correctly, when I paid cash to renew for Ambassador status, I got 15,000 bonus points. This option was not available if you paid with points and is worth an extra $75.

  16. Lone Gunman Guest

    The issue with any hotel loyalty program is always whether the individual properties actually (and graciously) deliver on the earned tier status benefits. If they don't or if it involves a struggle, it's not.

  17. Barry Guest

    Intercons brand seems to be "high end corporate", meaning it's somewhat sterile by design, but in a way that is comfortable for the guest who is looking for nice amenities without floroush.
    I'm ok with this, even for leisure travel.

  18. richyjoye New Member

    Totally worth it for me - especially in Europe Intercontinental hotels are truly high end like in Marseilles and Lyon (best hotels in these 2 cities)

  19. tom Guest

    The free weekend night can be tricky to use. Many hotels require a check in on either FRI or SAT with the 2nd night free. Many hotels do not allow you to check in on a THU, for example, and check out MON, to be eligible for the "free" weekend night.

    1. Alby Guest

      That is my experience also. Recently tried to book Intercontinental Bali Thur-Mon, unable to do so on one booking incorporating a free weekend night. When attempting two separate bookings the free weekend night jumped up to a ridiculous rate for each night. Even though one night would be refunded it still amounted to a much higher rate per night.

  20. LEo Diamond

    The only way I see amb status worth it is the great bug/feature of buying amb status to renew your diamond

  21. Tracy S Guest

    I've only stayed twice at an InterContinental (only once at a Kimpton, never at a Six Senses or Regal). It's not frequent enough to make it worthwhile to me personally. But I take friends & family on some trips, and for those I seek out high-end properties. I'd sign up if an InterContinental was part of the itinerary.

    1. Beachfan Guest

      I e been it occasionally, more iften than not, the sting of no recognition in award stays left more of an impression.

      Exception was IC Cozumel.

      IC Hong King - award stay required a very still upgrade charge for bay view.

      IC Amstel was great.

      IC de la Ville ( no longer), meh recognition.

      I have an award stay , when I click on display your platinum elite benefits it displays “0”.

      (Literally”0 points...

      I e been it occasionally, more iften than not, the sting of no recognition in award stays left more of an impression.

      Exception was IC Cozumel.

      IC Hong King - award stay required a very still upgrade charge for bay view.

      IC Amstel was great.

      IC de la Ville ( no longer), meh recognition.

      I have an award stay , when I click on display your platinum elite benefits it displays “0”.

      (Literally”0 points earned” and nothing else, but the 0 is in your face.

      However I should give props to IC DTLA, they give platinum elites lovely rooms).

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Pam Guest

I like the understated elegance/minimalism of the ICs I have stayed. Refreshing cool colors with an Asian vibe. The Amb fee can more than pay for itself with 1 stay. One advantage over other programs is you can book into a higher grade room, Premier Suites even, & have IT taken off 2nd night as well. So ensure a good room in advance & aim towards the 2nd night being more expensive. I always spring a little more for a higher level room so I can upgrade to a suite (the next room cat) if available. The program allows 1-time 3 & 6 month extensions if that can work out for getting use of your free certs.

2
Lone Gunman Guest

The issue with any hotel loyalty program is always whether the individual properties actually (and graciously) deliver on the earned tier status benefits. If they don't or if it involves a struggle, it's not.

2
Points MN Guest

Worth it if they give you 20,000 points with the $200 purchase. Not sure the value is there with just 15,000 points as a bonus for buying/renewing the status.

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