Most hotel loyalty programs work similarly. You spend a certain number of nights with them (or a certain amount of money), you get upgraded to a higher elite status, and you get some perks.
If you already have elite status with some other brand, you can jump the queue with status match opportunities.
Then there are shortcuts like getting gold status with a credit card or, like in this case, purchasing a membership and getting instant elite status.
We are talking about the IHG Intercontinental Ambassador program.
What exactly is the IHG Ambassador program?
IHG Ambassador is a paid membership program by IHG Rewards with loyalty benefits meant primarily for InterContinental Hotels and Resorts.
However, there are benefits that are available across IHG Hotels.
You can buy the membership for USD200, or 40,000 IHG Reward Points.
The membership is valid for 12 months, and you have to renew it each year.
It makes sense to purchase the membership just a few days before booking your next stay to maximize the duration of the benefits.
The renewal cost is the same, but you get an additional 15,000 points if you renew by paying $200. 15,000 bonus points are not available for renewals done with points.
Benefits of the IHG Ambassador program.
IHG Ambassador program comes with several benefits.
1 Buy One, Get One certificate for a weekend night stay at any InterContinental hotel or resort. This certificate alone covers the cost of membership in most cases. Since the certificate can be used with a paid night only, it’s not entirely a free stay, but still worth a lot at some InterContinental properties.
IHG Platinum Elite Status IHG Platinum normally requires 40 nights at IHG properties. However, with IHG Ambassador, you get upgraded to IHG Platinum instantly.
With the revamped IHG One Rewards program, there are a lot more benefits available to IHG members. Including the new IHG Milestone Rewards.
Among other benefits of IHG Platinum Elite, 60% bonus points on every stay is probably the most valuable. It’s a guaranteed saving on every stay for a small fee.
Stay benefits. The following stay benefits are available at InterContinental Hotels and Resorts only.
- Guaranteed one category room upgrade
- Guaranteed extended 4 pm check-out
- Restaurants & bars credit of up to USD20 for every stay (not per night)
- Complimentary mineral water (replenished daily)
- 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.
If a property cannot provide a ‘Guaranteed one category room upgrade’, a compensation of Restaurant & Bar or Spa credit of USD50, or 10,000 IHG® Rewards points is provided. Compensation is provided only once per stay.
Same compensation is offered in case the property is not able to provide 4 pm late check-out.
Restaurant and bar credit may vary as per the location.
|The United States of America||USD20|
|Euro currency member states||EUR15|
|The United Kingdom||GBP15|
|Vietnam||VND280,000 (excluding Danang which is VND460,000)|
|Hong Kong||HKD135 (excluding Mainland China)|
|Rest of the world||USD 20 equivalent in local currency|
Is IHG Ambassador worth it?
Unfortunately, the answer is not as simple as ‘42’.
Whether IHG Ambassador is worth it or not, depends on your travel plans. However, we can help decide.
There are primarily 3 benefits that influence this decision the most.
- Buy One, Get One certificate - If you can squeeze a weekend stay at an InterContinental property in your travel plans, you have got your money worth. Most InterContinental properties are priced at more than $200 per night.
- Bonus points - IHG Platinum Status gives you 60% bonus points per stay. If you have enough stays at IHG properties (not just InterContinental), this could be worth a lot.
- Upgrades – Apart from guaranteed upgrades at InterContinental properties, you also get increased upgrade chances with IHG Platinum status at all IHG brands. Generally, a couple of upgrades in a year would suffice to cover the cost.
You can redeem the complimentary Weekend Night at participating Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants and Regent Hotels & Resorts until December 31, 2022. (Not applicable in Greater China).
The following black-out dates apply to the IHG Ambassador program when you will not get any benefits.
- New Year’s Eve, 31 December – Location: Global
- Chinese New Year, beginning on the 1st day of the lunar year for a 10-day period – Location: Greater China
- Ramadan, beginning on the 1st day of Ramadan for a 30-day period – Location: Makkah, Saudi Arabia
- Hajj, from the 20th of Dhu al-Qidah to the 20th of Dhu al-Hijjah (total of 30 days) – Location: Makkah, Saudi Arabia
- The Benefits Guarantee will not apply to InterContinental Sydney from 1 May 2021 – 30 June 2022 due to a major refurbishment.
An unexpected benefit
IHG Ambassador comes with IHG Platinum Elite status. But if you are already a Diamond Elite (formerly known as Spire Elite) with IHG, on purchasing IHG Ambassador, your Diamond status gets extended by a year as well.
That’s another year of Diamond benefits, including complimentary breakfast, for $200.
Can’t think of a better deal with any other loyalty program. Precisely the reason I think this benefit won’t last long. IHG anyway doesn’t advertise or offers this benefit in any communication or form. It has just been happening for some time now.
Why do I renew my IHG Ambassador membership every year?
I have been an IHG Ambassador member for 5 years and have never used the free night certificate. Not even once.
Yet, I renew my membership every year.
The reason primarily is the value I got from the membership every year.
I didn’t use the free night certificates because they somehow never fit in my travel plan. I have given up hopes on that anyway.
However, almost every year I get a few amazing upgrades because of my IHG elite status and that’s more than enough to cover the USD200 cost.
Though not guaranteed, good upgrades are pretty common in the Asia Pacific and not so in the USA.
Bonus points are, well, an added bonus.
Complimentary IHG Ambassador Membership Extensions
You can also get two types of free extensions for your IHG Ambassador membership. Although, both are limited to once per lifetime of the customer.
- a 2-month extension for individuals who have an active Ambassador membership and have not redeemed a 2-month extension in the past.
- a 6-month extension for individuals who have an active Ambassador membership that is in its second or greater consecutive membership year, and have not redeemed a 6-month extension in the past.
In both cases, you need to apply before your membership has expired.
These 2 different extension periods must be applied in 2 separate membership years. You can’t combine them in the same year and get 8 months extension.
Maximize your IHG Ambassador membership benefits.
IHG Rewards is as big as a loyalty program gets. That means there are several simultaneous deals, tie-ups, promotions, and other opportunities that can help maximize the value you get out of your stay.
Let’s go through some low-hanging ones.
- The way the IHG Ambassador program is structured, it is more rewarding for shorter stays at InterContinental properties. See how you can use that to plan your trip.
- There are numerous IHG Promotions that you can use and combine with benefits you get as IHG Platinum elite. e.g. with a 2x points promotion, you can earn even more points. Or a promotional 25% discount to book your stays. This is applicable across all IHG brands and not just InterContinental.
- Get up to 30% discount and earn IHG Rewards points on dining as an IHG Ambassador. That’s a good enough reason to give up in-room dining and walk down to a restaurant.
- Always ask for an upgrade and 4 pm checkout at InterContinental properties. In case it’s not available, remember to ask for a compensatory voucher or points.
IHG Ambassador benefits at non-InterContinental properties
IHG seems to be experimenting with Ambassador benefits at other premium brands. As of now, some limited benefits are available at the following brands as well.
Most of these benefits are confirmed for 2022.
IHG Ambassador benefits at InterContinental Alliance Resorts.
- Complimentary water, once on the day of arrival. Won’t be replenished daily.
- One category room upgrade, subject to availability.
- The benefits guarantee is not applicable at InterContinental Alliance Resorts.
IHG Ambassador benefits at Regent Hotels & Resorts.
- A local ‘Signature Amenity’ benefit.
- Extended Check-Out. Subject to availability.
- One complimentary full breakfast per day for the Ambassador member. Valid in Greater China only. Not applicable on in-room dining.
IHG Ambassador benefits at Mr & Mrs. Smith Hotels & Resorts.
- Smith Extra – additional gifts or services provided by the participating Mr & Mrs. Smith properties when booking through IHG direct channels. Once per stay, per room, unless otherwise specified. May not be available in conjunction with other offers.
- Complimentary room upgrade, subject to availability, at participating properties.
IHG Ambassador benefits at Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas.
- Complimentary Breakfast for two at the restaurant.
- Signature Amenity – Spa or local experience. Will vary by property.
- Complimentary one category room upgrade, subject to availability.
- Extended check-out of 4 pm, subject to availability.
- Wellness Platter on the day of arrival.
IHG Ambassador benefits at Kimpton Hotels.
- You can use your Buy One, Get One weekend night voucher for booking a Kimpton property.
IHG InterContinental Ambassador is a great program if it works for you. It’s not too pricey for the benefits it offers and makes traveling a bit more fun. For 200 bucks, what more can we ask for?