Why I’m Probably Going To Buy InterContinental Ambassador Status

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As IHG has been devaluing its points on a yearly basis and, more recently, has appeared to significantly devalue its PointBreaks deals as well, I’ve been spending a lot less time at IHG properties and, as a result, I gave up my InterContinental Ambassador status in May 2018….but now I think I may want it back.

a woman standing on a patio with chairs and tables

What Is InterContinental Ambassador Status?

Although InterContinental hotels are part of the IHG group (Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza etc…) and therefore are part of the IHG Rewards loyalty program, they also have their own, separate, loyalty program called InterContinental Ambassador.

Although InterContinental Hotels are part of IHG Rewards they don’t actually have to recognise IHG Rewards status so, if you’re spending any significant amount of time at InterContinental properties, you shouldn’t be relying on IHG Rewards status to make your stays easier, nicer or cheaper….and that’s where the InterContinental Ambassador program comes in to play.

How To Get InterContinental Ambassador Status

The InterContinental Ambassador isn’t a status you achieve so much as a status that you buy – it costs $200/year.

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InterContinental Ambassador Benefits

As of 1 March 2019 these are the benefits InterContinental Ambassador Members can expect to receive on paid stays:

  • Guaranteed one category room upgrade, based on room type purchased, will be assigned. (Click here for more information)
  • Guaranteed Late check-out time of 4pm on day of departure
  • Complimentary mineral water daily
  • Complimentary Weekend Night. (Click here for more information)
  • Complimentary premium Internet access will be provided in guest room only at select hotels where available for purchase
  • Single room rate for double occupancy
  • Guaranteed room availability for member’s room with 72 hour advance reservation.
  • A restaurants and bars credit of up to USD20, per stay, valid in select hotel restaurants, bars and minibar (excluding in room dining).  Currency & credit varies by country and are subject to change

There are fewer benefits on offer for InterContinental Ambassadors staying on reward night bookings but some can be quite useful.

Of the InterContinental Ambassador benefits open to guests on paid stays the following also apply to reward night bookings.

  • Restaurants & Bars credit
  • Guaranteed 4pm late check out
  • Complimentary premium internet access
  • Complimentary mineral water daily

Link to terms & conditions page

a row of huts on stilts in water
The InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa

Why I May Buy InterContinental Ambassador Status Again

In the year leading up to May 2018 and in the 10 months since I gave up Ambassador status I’ve spent a total of 3 nights at InterContinental properties so I’m not entirely disappointed with my decision not to renew my status last year…but now I’m having a rethink.

In the coming weeks I’ll be spending 7 nights at InterContinental properties (across 2 stays) and I may need to book another 2-night stay for the end of April so, despite the fact that most of these nights will be reward bookings, I’m starting to think that the $200/year InterContinental Ambassador status may be worth having.

It’s all down to the math.

If, over the next 12 months, the only stays I have at InterContinental properties turn out to be the 2 stays that I currently have booked, the $20 F&B credit that I’ll receive on each stay will essentially lower the cost of Ambassador status to $160 and that $160 will essentially be buying me a late check-out on both my stays.

Considering both my stays are ending with late evening departures out of the local airport I consider $80 a reasonable amount to pay to extend each stay to 4pm (it’s not cheap but its acceptable).

If I end up booking the 3rd stay that I have in mind (there’s a 50/50 chance of that happening) the F&B credit will bring down the cost of buying Ambassador status to $140 and, as I’ll need a late check-out once again, the cost of the late check-outs will come down to $47 each.

I can live with that.

a building with many windows and flags
InterContinental Le Grand Paris – Image courtesy of IHG

Bottom Line

If I decide to buy InterContinental Ambassador status it’s highly unlikely that I won’t book any more InterContinental stays over the next 12 months (I’ll need to make sure I make the most of the ‘free’ weekend night certificate at some point) but, as I have no concrete plans to book any more stays right now, the prudent thing to do is to assume the worst and work out the math based on that.

The way I’m looking at things is that, in a worst case scenario, I’m essentially going to pay $160 for two late check-outs (which will make both stays more enjoyable and give me more time to explore the cities I’m in) and, with a bit of luck, I may get a few other perks as well (a room upgrade isn’t out of the question) – that’s not a great deal but it’s a deal I’m happy to take so I’ll probably buy back Ambassador status this week.

Have any of you guys received outsize value from InterContinental Ambassador status recently or in the past?

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  1. interesting.I bought it one year and it was the most stupid money I spent in the game of points/miles/hotels benefits- not even breakfast ! But if you value late check out I guess…yes

    • This is definitely one of those things where you really have to work out the value of the benefits – I’ve wasted money on Ambassador in the past because I really didn’t work out just what benefits I would actually need

  2. Nope – not for me.
    Yes IC are usually nice but food is most times overpriced and paying for Amb with $20 food comps of overpriced food seems a mental game to justify the spend. My tax adviser equates this with a small business owner potentially buying themselves a job.
    Yes everyone assigns a different value to their travel experience, mine and IC are continuing to separate in value vs experience.
    Early check out can be a value but I don’t mind hanging out at the airport lounge working or people watching for a few hours – unless of course it is Amex. 🙁 and then they may expel you after 3 hours or so lol.
    Bottom line for me is there are better top level programs that at lease pretend to give me benefits as an elite without me having to outright buy them.

    • I won’t be eating in the ICs but a drink or two in the hotel bar at the end of a long day doesn’t seem to be a terrible way to spend the f&b credit…especially as I probably would have spent that amount in the bar anyway.

    • Takeaways at Cafe du Parc at the Willard were priced very fairly and their croissants were fantastic!

  3. We became Ambassadors 5 years ago after we stayed at the InterContinental in Chicago. Stayed 2 nights for $100/night through PriceLine. Ended up upgrading to a huge corner suite for $50/night. Ended up Ambassadors for $200 so our upgraded room & late check out were free! The following year we paid $150 then used points the following years.

    NYE party in Rosemont, IL (now a Lowes). Too bad it wasn’t over a weekend but were upgraded to a room with one of the biggest bathrooms I have ever been in. Thank goodness for late check out as were hungover from the all-inclusive party.

    Romantic stay at The Palazzo Las Vegas using the free weekend night certificate. Not a huge upgraded room as the lowest level is a suite, but truly enjoyed the concierge breakfast, hors d’oeuvres & evening drinks. Spent $250 total for 2 nights.

    Austin for my brother’s wedding. Used the free weekend night certificate. Booked a $300 room. Ended up in the monstrous Governor’s Suite worth over $1000/night. Sitting room, 1.5 bathrooms, dining room, wet bar, library room & doorbell. Spent $350 total for 2 nights. Felt like royalty.

    Christmas at NYC Barclays with free weekend night certificate. Upgraded to almost the top floor in a huge concierge level suite with separate living room & heated marble bathroom floors. Gourmet breakfast each day worth $100 for both of us & 4 drink tickets at their bar. Spent $650 total for 2 nights.

    Christmas at The Willard in D.C. Upgraded to a huge high level corner suite with 2 full bathrooms, separate living room & bedroom. Gorgeous hotel with carolers & families enjoying the season. Should’ve had high tea & Christmas brunch there. Spent $450 total for 2 nights.

    Used a free night received from the IHG credit card in Chicago for the beau’s birthday. Upgraded us to concierge level for $75 with a separate living room & bedroom. Perfect as were hosting game night with friends. They sent up a platter of fruit & a 23 layer Michael Jordan chocolate cake for the birthday boy. Friends were really impressed.

    The just ok stay was in Boston. Used a free weekend night certificate along with a free IHG night for Christmas. The upgrade was to a “water view”. Yeah only saw the river if I stood on the chair at the far corner of the room by the window. Then there were sliding pocket doors between the bathroom & bedroom that did not absorb any sounds coming from the toilet. Spent $250 total for 3 nights.

    We decided not to continue as Ambassadors this year as the IHG points to renew almost doubled from 25,000 to 40,000 points and Christmas won’t be over or near a weekend the next few years. Will just use the yearly free IHG night & points.

    • Ambassador is a no brainer…pay one weekend night at $150 per night, get 2nd free with certificate. Now your Membership just costs you $50. Add $40 in f&b credit for 2 nights and it costs you $10. Free water, free internet, extended checkout, difference in booked room vs upgraded room for 2 nights is well over $10. If you stay in a more expensive InterContinental $200 or more, you’ll get the $200 back just by using the free night certificate.

  4. Just got back from Tahiti. Stayed at IC Moorea and IC Thalasso. The Ambassador membership definitely helped. Fresh cut fruit at arrival. Free water every day, instead of $6+. We also utilized the resort gyms for free refills.

    Late check out in Bora Bora was perfect, as I picked an evening departure to maximize our stay. The hotel will let you use a Day Room, but our overwater bungalow came with a pool and we definitely used up all of our time until 4pm!

    At both hotels we were also given tickets for free drinks (2 beer, wine, soda, etc.) and that was definitely a nice perk.

    At the end of last year, I had purchased Ambassador when checking in to the IC Istanbul. I was immediately offered a room upgrade. I told the staff to give that to the MIL and ended up getting an upgrade for my own room, too.

    Overall, I am very happy with the perks and will try to book IC hotels for my remaining travels this year.

  5. It’s not worth it anymore.
    You still get points if you choose to stay there but to purchase the statues is a waste of money specially the way the went about devaluing the points! You used to be able to book a hotel for 5k-10k now it’s min 20k almost anywhere not to mention intercontinental nights are 60k-70k minimum. It’s a slap in the face and I’ve been with IHG for over 10 years ambassador status for 6 years.

  6. I find articles like this to be ludicrous and suspected they’re just about advertising affiliate links

    desperately trying to justify an expense by arbitrarily valuing different features that you may or may not use is just silliness

    It’s like, “I value staying internal 4 PM check out to be worth $4000, so I am actually saving $3800 by buying this”

    even with that silly arbitrary valuation article still promotes a $200 expense worth at best $120

    By all means price out what any benefit actually gets you… But beware of emotional arbitrary valuation – particularly when promoted as an affiliate link

    • Where’s the “arbitrary valuation”?

      I said the late check out were worth the cost to me and I very specifically avoided claiming I knew what they were worth to other people.

      If you’re going to criticise that’s fair enough but at least criticise what I wrote rather than making something up and then criticising that.

  7. Seems like many commenters aren’t assigning any value to the free 2nd night cert. Hard to see where that alone isn’t worth the price of admission. I bought it for the upgrade on a current five night stay in Vienna. Not the world’s most amazing suite, but nice to have a sofa and a walk-in closet.

    • Personally I’ll probably assign a value of $110 – $130 to the free night cert. as it forces me to pay a higher rate than I would have otherwise paid for the first night and, with most of my business going to Marriott, I can’t be sure that I won’t find myself booking a stay just to use the cert…..and that’s not a great money saving tactic 🙂

  8. Oh man, I’d be all over Ambassador and would go big on IHG stays if they only extended these benefits as an Ambassador to all IHG brands.

  9. Ambassador works for me. I usually stay using points. I have had lounge upgrades in Budapest and Vienna. On a recent stay to Cleveland I used my Chase free night and a BOGO certificate for 3 nights. I was upgraded to a Suite, given access to executive lounge, offered a couple of drink certificates and access to the restaurant if I didn’t want to take breakfast in the lounge. That was the best stay I have ever experienced from IHG.
    While I like the Boston IC location, I agree with E M’s post. The Boston property personnel make you feel like they are doing you a favor when they are handing you your room keys. Want lounge access? That will cost you $80.00, no comp upgrades at all. Whoever decided to locate that sliding window over the bed and separating the bathroom must have been an architectural school dropout. Don’t turn that bathroom light on at night unless you want to illuminate the whole room. Besides that, the firehouse is across the street if you get a city view room. Between that and the lights at night, I didn’t experience a good nights sleep. I never go into this property expecting more than the room I have reserved and they never seem to change my expectations.
    I usually receive some pretty good upgrades when staying at CP, HI and even HIE properties and I’m always thanked for my status and loyalty, which is a switch from just a few years ago.
    So, overall I am pretty happy with my Ambassodor status and am getting good value for my bucks.

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