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 One Rewards Premier Credit Card (review) or IHG One 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 don’t receive perks at Kimpton properties, but rather Kimpton has its own Inner Circle program; they also don’t receive perks at Regent properties, which is one of IHG’s other luxury hotel brands
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 InterContinental and Kimpton.

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 impressed by the relaunch we saw of IHG’s loyalty program back in 2022. 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, Regent, 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 (15)
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  1. Tomm Guest

    I have been a member for many years and am writing this from
    IC Berlin,one of my favourite hotels.(great pool)

    I am Ambassador Diamond

    I miss the amentities/a welcome card ;a fruit plate/ anything.
    Such a small gesture from the management to show frequent ,returning guests that they appriciate our busniss.
    It is ridicolous that at Kimpton and Regent hotels,this status is not recognized at all,when they all belong to the same chain.

  2. jessie Guest

    My IHG status has changed from Amb+Platinum -> Amb & Diamond -> Platinum. In my limited experience mostly in the Middle East, I don't feel much difference in treatment/upgrade etc. except 4pm vs. 2pm check-out (personally I don't care about breakfast as a solo traveller and prefer to have a simple one outside). With that useful $20 credit, Amb & Platinum combo would be enough and ideal for me, and now waiting for next Amb...

    My IHG status has changed from Amb+Platinum -> Amb & Diamond -> Platinum. In my limited experience mostly in the Middle East, I don't feel much difference in treatment/upgrade etc. except 4pm vs. 2pm check-out (personally I don't care about breakfast as a solo traveller and prefer to have a simple one outside). With that useful $20 credit, Amb & Platinum combo would be enough and ideal for me, and now waiting for next Amb sign-up promo. Any idea approximately when such a promo might be available?

  3. Mark Guest

    The Intercontinental Warsaw just played a very bad game with me. First they tried to overcharge me and said I need pay the Club lounge access again for the free night even I booked a club lounge access room for 2 nights on the Ambassador rate. Then they refused give me the guaranteed upgrade and said this is only space available on checkin. This is clearly against the terms and conditions. The hotel kept on...

    The Intercontinental Warsaw just played a very bad game with me. First they tried to overcharge me and said I need pay the Club lounge access again for the free night even I booked a club lounge access room for 2 nights on the Ambassador rate. Then they refused give me the guaranteed upgrade and said this is only space available on checkin. This is clearly against the terms and conditions. The hotel kept on refusing and at the end totally ignored my emails. Only when I involved the Anbassador hotline the hotel finally confirmed the upgarde and changed it in the reservation. I stayed in the hotel several times and never experienced this. It is a nightmare and I will feel very unfomfortable on my upcoming stay!!!

    1. Samo Guest

      The upgrade thing was in line with the rules. There's no requirement to pre-upgrade you. You are guaranteed an upgrade (or else eligible for compensation) but it doesn't have to happen weeks in advance.

      What I suspect has happened is that you just managed to get yourself a worse room by forcing the hotel to pre-upgrade you. I'm currently staying at IC Warsaw, the upgrade was done one day before arrival and all the way...

      The upgrade thing was in line with the rules. There's no requirement to pre-upgrade you. You are guaranteed an upgrade (or else eligible for compensation) but it doesn't have to happen weeks in advance.

      What I suspect has happened is that you just managed to get yourself a worse room by forcing the hotel to pre-upgrade you. I'm currently staying at IC Warsaw, the upgrade was done one day before arrival and all the way to the suite, which I assume they wouldn't be able to confirm weeks in advance.

  4. James W Guest

    I don’t currently have Ambassador but have done in the past and had excellent value. In particular in Bordeaux - upgrade from standard room to wonderful suite with an enormous wine tasting bar and free night. Good upgrade in Bahrain too with free night. But I’m not using IHG at all at the moment so not worth it unless planning ahead.

  5. John Guest

    Great point @Daniel M.

    Lucky argues for getting all IHG brands under one roof. Be VERY careful what you wish for, Lucky. If someone thinks the upper-end benefits would remain undiluted, then I think you're simply dreaming. They wouldn't. Programme mergers invariably settle on the lowest common denominator. I favour IC Ambassador over all other paid memberships because it pays for itself after just two stays (in my experience) and the benefits are real,...

    Great point @Daniel M.

    Lucky argues for getting all IHG brands under one roof. Be VERY careful what you wish for, Lucky. If someone thinks the upper-end benefits would remain undiluted, then I think you're simply dreaming. They wouldn't. Programme mergers invariably settle on the lowest common denominator. I favour IC Ambassador over all other paid memberships because it pays for itself after just two stays (in my experience) and the benefits are real, meaningful and tangible to me. And if you're a regular, the hotel sometimes offers more than is advertised..

  6. InternationalTraveler Gold

    For me the Ambassador status has been valuable at US city hotels, such as the San Francisco Mark Hopkins. I generally received nice rooms even on award stays.

    Just be aware that the "Ambassador Complimentary Weekend Night Rate" may not be available at all properties. In French Polynesia, this rate was not available on any of the weekends, even as rooms and suites at standard rates were easily bookable.

  7. Santastico Diamond

    I find IHG program atrocious. Looking for a stay in Europe and absolutely no option to book using points but only cash+points. The option is absolutely ridiculous where you basically have to spend a ton of points and still pay money for the stay.

  8. Daniel M Guest

    Hi Ben.

    I think your post misses the point that IHG Ambassador and Diamond benefits are additive to each other when staying at Intercontinental hotels, so if the two programs were to merge into one, there would almost certainly be a devaluation/reduction of benefits. It's weird that you argue for simplification when 99% of your posts (correctly) argue that simplification of elite programs leads to devaluations for savvy users like the readers of this...

    Hi Ben.

    I think your post misses the point that IHG Ambassador and Diamond benefits are additive to each other when staying at Intercontinental hotels, so if the two programs were to merge into one, there would almost certainly be a devaluation/reduction of benefits. It's weird that you argue for simplification when 99% of your posts (correctly) argue that simplification of elite programs leads to devaluations for savvy users like the readers of this blog.

    The ability to enjoy benefits from both Ambassador and Diamond (with the 40 night Lounge pass milestone reward) makes me enjoy my Intercontinental hotel stays more than any other brand in the world across IHG, Hyatt, Marriott, and Hilton.

    First of all, Intercontinental has the greatest consistency of operating club lounges (Club Intercontinentals) at its hotels across the world, even in North America post-COVID, and even 7 days a week. At hotels where the lounge is closed due to low occupancy, I've been given access to the restaurant for dinner instead. The top brands with other chains lack lounges (Park Hyatt, St. Regis) or require payment for elites (Ritz), and the lower tier brands (like Westin, Hilton, Hyatt Regency) still haven't reopened their lounges or have a lower standard than Club Intercontinentals. If combined with Diamond, then you can invite friends or additional guests in your room to eat breakfast in the restaurant while you go in the lounge - or go to both since they have their different comparative advantages. Plus you also get the $20 food and beverage credit on top of all this.

    Secondly, no other brand guarantees 4pm late checkout even at resort hotels. I've used the Intercontinental 4pm late checkout countless times without question, including at resorts. On top of that, you also enjoy 100% points (Diamond) and the free weekend night certificates (Ambassador). I earn and save points like water thanks to that 100% extra earning and the 4th night free benefit from the IHG Premier credit card.

    To summarize, you can double-dip and get the best of all worlds at Intercontinental hotels by cross-leveraging the benefits of both Ambassador and Diamond status in a lucrative way that no other chain allows.

    Your statement that "It’s time that all brands owned by IHG fully join IHG’s loyalty program" doesn't make any sense at all. Unlike with Marriott, the Diamond free breakfast is honored at all IHG brands, including Regents, Intercontinentals, and Kimptons. Six Senses is just a marketing alliance like Design Hotels and doesn't make sense as the basis to criticize IHG. Confirmed Suite Upgrades also work at all brands (Intercon, Kimpton, and the other brands).

    Finally, I haven't been denied any Diamond or Ambassador benefits on reward stays since IHG was revamped a few years ago. In fact, Confirmed Suite Upgrades (CSUs) can now be used on reward nights as of maybe 6 months or a year ago.

    I've moved the vast majority of my stays from Marriott to IHG since the program improved. I wouldn't change anything about the current system except the lame 2pm not-guaranteed late-checkout at non-Intercontinental brands.

    1. Bobby J Member

      IHG fully owns Six Senses. The marketing partnership you’re thinking of is the IHG-Iberostar tie-up.

    2. Phillip Diamond

      Yes, but they don’t all participate in IHG One Rewards. Try booking, say, Six Senses Zighy Bay and you’ll see an announcement that “IHG One rewards is not applicable at this hotel”.

    3. TheTruthIs Guest

      I 100% agree. You laid out your position so well I almost believe you’re you are employed by them. I usually agree with Lucky but in this case you’ve made an excellent case.

  9. Bill n DC Diamond

    Thanks for this review and I understand your position. However for me growing up in the late 50s & 60s, when traveling with my family staying at a Holiday Inn was Aspirational. :-)

    My last job required travel to the Kansas City office. One of the closest hotels to that office was the InterContinental at the Country Club Plaza neighborhood. This property is a mid 20th Century architectural beauty. I signed up for the Ambassador...

    Thanks for this review and I understand your position. However for me growing up in the late 50s & 60s, when traveling with my family staying at a Holiday Inn was Aspirational. :-)

    My last job required travel to the Kansas City office. One of the closest hotels to that office was the InterContinental at the Country Club Plaza neighborhood. This property is a mid 20th Century architectural beauty. I signed up for the Ambassador program for then $100. Even with the Government Rate I would get access to the Club Lounge and almost always got my preferred room (*36) with single private balcony overlooking the Country Club Plaza with sunset.
    I’ve renewed each year using points (
    - I’m just not into using hotel points for a variety of reasons. I have had plenty of points from the CC bonuses as well as the weekend nights’ paid rate for the 2 4 1 rate to cover the annual fee.

    Over the years I’ve had great stays at various good IC Hotels. Most often the Sydney IC then Hong Kong (now a Regent), London Park Lane, NYC Times Square (Jr Suite with views on 3 sides), LA Century Plaza (huge patio) & LA Downtown, San Francisco Mark Hopkins with outdoor terrace, and two staycations in the new DC IC @the Wharf and the Iconic Willard Hotel IC.

    YMMV ;-)

    1. harry hv Guest

      You can argue that the benefits are cumulative but for the average Joe the paid-loyalty crowd always trumps even the highest-tier regular member, And that automatically creates a glass-ceiling for loyalty-benefits, the hotel can't be seen to be giving something away (to higher-tier members) at the same time as they're trying to get other people to pay for it! Case in point, Accor-Plus, the paid program of Accor, gets you 50% discount on breakfast -...

      You can argue that the benefits are cumulative but for the average Joe the paid-loyalty crowd always trumps even the highest-tier regular member, And that automatically creates a glass-ceiling for loyalty-benefits, the hotel can't be seen to be giving something away (to higher-tier members) at the same time as they're trying to get other people to pay for it! Case in point, Accor-Plus, the paid program of Accor, gets you 50% discount on breakfast - so the hotel's going to fight tooth and nail against being seen to give away a free breakfast to, say, Gold and Platinum members.

      Another drawback, what's called a "free" night that you've paid for as part of the package, in every paid program this seems to be a shimmering mirage, the free night is never available when you want it.

  10. Sel, D. Guest

    As you say easily worth it. Typically buy it prior to a stay, and might be good for one more stay throughout the year. While properties don’t have to provide the same benefits on award stays, they typically do in my experience. Room upgrades have been to oceanfront in Cancun (no bueno) and Cozumel (bueno) and a massive balcony room in Rome (fantastico).

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John Guest

Great point @Daniel M. Lucky argues for getting all IHG brands under one roof. Be VERY careful what you wish for, Lucky. If someone thinks the upper-end benefits would remain undiluted, then I think you're simply dreaming. They wouldn't. Programme mergers invariably settle on the lowest common denominator. I favour IC Ambassador over all other paid memberships because it pays for itself after just two stays (in my experience) and the benefits are real, meaningful and tangible to me. And if you're a regular, the hotel sometimes offers more than is advertised..

3
Daniel M Guest

Hi Ben. I think your post misses the point that IHG Ambassador and Diamond benefits are additive to each other when staying at Intercontinental hotels, so if the two programs were to merge into one, there would almost certainly be a devaluation/reduction of benefits. It's weird that you argue for simplification when 99% of your posts (correctly) argue that simplification of elite programs leads to devaluations for savvy users like the readers of this blog. The ability to enjoy benefits from both Ambassador and Diamond (with the 40 night Lounge pass milestone reward) makes me enjoy my Intercontinental hotel stays more than any other brand in the world across IHG, Hyatt, Marriott, and Hilton. First of all, Intercontinental has the greatest consistency of operating club lounges (Club Intercontinentals) at its hotels across the world, even in North America post-COVID, and even 7 days a week. At hotels where the lounge is closed due to low occupancy, I've been given access to the restaurant for dinner instead. The top brands with other chains lack lounges (Park Hyatt, St. Regis) or require payment for elites (Ritz), and the lower tier brands (like Westin, Hilton, Hyatt Regency) still haven't reopened their lounges or have a lower standard than Club Intercontinentals. If combined with Diamond, then you can invite friends or additional guests in your room to eat breakfast in the restaurant while you go in the lounge - or go to both since they have their different comparative advantages. Plus you also get the $20 food and beverage credit on top of all this. Secondly, no other brand guarantees 4pm late checkout even at resort hotels. I've used the Intercontinental 4pm late checkout countless times without question, including at resorts. On top of that, you also enjoy 100% points (Diamond) and the free weekend night certificates (Ambassador). I earn and save points like water thanks to that 100% extra earning and the 4th night free benefit from the IHG Premier credit card. To summarize, you can double-dip and get the best of all worlds at Intercontinental hotels by cross-leveraging the benefits of both Ambassador and Diamond status in a lucrative way that no other chain allows. Your statement that "It’s time that all brands owned by IHG fully join IHG’s loyalty program" doesn't make any sense at all. Unlike with Marriott, the Diamond free breakfast is honored at all IHG brands, including Regents, Intercontinentals, and Kimptons. Six Senses is just a marketing alliance like Design Hotels and doesn't make sense as the basis to criticize IHG. Confirmed Suite Upgrades also work at all brands (Intercon, Kimpton, and the other brands). Finally, I haven't been denied any Diamond or Ambassador benefits on reward stays since IHG was revamped a few years ago. In fact, Confirmed Suite Upgrades (CSUs) can now be used on reward nights as of maybe 6 months or a year ago. I've moved the vast majority of my stays from Marriott to IHG since the program improved. I wouldn't change anything about the current system except the lame 2pm not-guaranteed late-checkout at non-Intercontinental brands.

3
Mark Guest

The Intercontinental Warsaw just played a very bad game with me. First they tried to overcharge me and said I need pay the Club lounge access again for the free night even I booked a club lounge access room for 2 nights on the Ambassador rate. Then they refused give me the guaranteed upgrade and said this is only space available on checkin. This is clearly against the terms and conditions. The hotel kept on refusing and at the end totally ignored my emails. Only when I involved the Anbassador hotline the hotel finally confirmed the upgarde and changed it in the reservation. I stayed in the hotel several times and never experienced this. It is a nightmare and I will feel very unfomfortable on my upcoming stay!!!

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