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It’s that time of year again where I have to decide whether or not to renew my InterContinental Ambassador membership and this time around it’s a tougher decision than it has been in the past…and I may need some help.
In past years I’ve felt that I got good value out of my Ambassador membership and felt that I justified the cash outlay so renewing for another year was a no brainer. This year I can’t honestly say the same.
What Is InterContinental Ambassador?
For those not familiar with InterContinental Ambassador here’s a quick recap of what the program is and what it offers.
Although InterContinental hotels are part of the IHG group (Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza etc…) and are therefore part of the IHG Rewards loyalty program, they also have their own separate loyalty program called InterContinental Ambassador.
Not only does InterContinental have its own loyalty program but it’s one that you pay to belong to – $200 or 40,000 points to join and $150 or 40,000 points to renew
It’s only worth having Ambassador status if you visit InterContinental properties because it isn’t really recognised anywhere else and because IHG Rewards status is unlikely to get you much special treatment at the InterContinentals around the world. Not even those with Spire IHG elite status can expect very much.
The benefits that come with InterContinental Ambassador status are as follows:
- Guaranteed room upgrade: enjoy an immediate upgrade to a superior room (one category higher than purchased) each time you stay.
- Choice of sweet snack, savoury snack or fruit on arrival and mineral water (water replenished daily)
- Complimentary weekend night certificate valid at the InterContinental Hotels & Resorts property of your choice (only useable if you book a second night at a flexible rate)
- 4pm late checkout
- One complimentary pay TV film per stay
- In-room welcome gift
- Instant checkout
Some properties also offer a dedicated Ambassador check-in area.
InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown – Image IHG
Over the last year I’ve been very remiss and I haven’t made any use of my Ambassador status so I’ve successfully wasted the renewal fee I paid in 2017 – that annoys me.
Now its renewal time again and I’m having to think long and hard about just how much I may get out of Ambassador status in the next 12 months.
Here’s my renewal offer:
As indicated I would likely choose the $200 renewal option as the 15,000 IHG Rewards points and 10% rebate on rewards nights is worth an extra $50 to me (even without the 10% rebate I’m essentially buying points at 0.33 cents each)….but do I renew at all?
I’m not 100% sure that I’ll be able to make the most of the free weekend night certificate (that’s a major selling point of the program) and my focus on earning Marriott Lifetime Platinum status by the end of the year means that my InterContinental stays are going to be limited.
So why am I even considering renewing?
This time next year I will definitely be staying at an InterContinental property (it’s already booked!) so there’s a chance Ambassador status will come in useful.
Two of the nights I’ve booked have been paid for with Free Night certificates (courtesy of the IHG Rewards Credit Card) but the other has been paid for with points – 60,000 points to be exact – so Ambassador status will net me a 6,000 point rebate.
6,000 points are worth ~$30 to me so that would help offset some of the cost of the status.
Right now I don’t know what time my flight at the end of my trip will be but there’s a chance that it will be an evening departure meaning that a 4pm check-out (a benefit of Ambassador status) would be very useful.
Not having to vacate a hotel hours before I actually have to leave for the airport is a benefit I really enjoy and one which often makes me feel like I’ve had an extra day to my trip – I value this at ~$50 so that could also, technically, be considered as an offset to the annual cost.
I don’t have a monetary value to assign to any of the other benefits that come with Ambassador status as most of them aren’t important to me (the upgrade benefit is usually important but it won’t be for the one stay I know I’ll be making).
All this leaves me with the following bit of math:
Cost of Ambassador status = $200
- $50 for the bonus points
- $30 for the 6,000 point rebate
- $50 for the late check-out
Net cost of status = $70
That may not seem like a lot of money (because it isn’t) but I’m not in this hobby to throw money away and I’ve already done that with last year’s membership so I don’t want to double down on a bad idea.
If I don’t renew now and then, further down the line, I decide that Ambassador status would be useful again (which I think it may well be) I’ll have to pay $200 ($50 more than the current base renewal fee) to get it back…so that’s not ideal either.
This is a dilemma (albeit a relatively unimportant one).
If I could be sure that I’d make at least one more InterContinental stay before this time next year (preferably over a weekend when I use the free night certificate) then this would be an easier decision to make…but that’s not where I’m at.
Marriott is getting all of my business right now and if there are some bargains to be had when the new Marriott award chart comes into effect in August it will be getting even more of my business….and that doesn’t bode well for getting value from the Ambassador program over the next 12 months.
Right now I’m really not sure what to do but I’m leaning towards not renewing….what would you do?