Full guide to IHG’s InterContinental Ambassador programme

Jul 19, 2020

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Elite status comes with lots of great perks, but earning them can take a long time. There is one big exception: the InterContinental Ambassador programme. In exchange for a reasonable annual fee, members get elite-like benefits. If you’re looking for perks at InterContinental hotels and resorts, it may be worthwhile. In this guide, we’ll consider the details of the programme. And, we’ll consider whether it’s worth it to become a member

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In This Post

What is the InterContinental Ambassador programme?

The InterContinental Ambassador programme provides benefits when staying at InterContinental Hotels & Resorts. But, the programme doesn’t provide Ambassador benefits when staying at other IHG Rewards Club brands. That being said, you will receive IHG Platinum status, which normally requires completing 40 qualifying nights or earning 40,000 base points. Alternatively, the IHG Rewards Club Premium Credit Card comes with automatic Platinum status.

Your IHG elite status will indicate that you are an InterContinental Ambassador. For example, if you are an IHG Rewards Club Spire Elite and an Ambassador, your status will be Spire Ambassador.

How do I become an InterContinental Ambassador?

To be an InterContinental Ambassador, you must pay an annual fee. This fee is currently $200 (about £160) or 40,000 IHG points. Based on TPG’s valuations, 40,000 IHG points are worth £160.

Once you pay, you’ll get access to Ambassador benefits for 12 months. So, it makes sense to enrol shortly before a stay.

You can join the programme online or at any InterContinental Hotel or Resort. You can also join by calling the service centre.

InterContinental Ambassador benefits

InterContinental Fiji pool
Ambassador status provides a room upgrade, which moved us from a pool view room to a beachfront view at the InterContinental Fiji. (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)

InterContinental Ambassadors get the following benefits when staying at InterContinental Hotels and Resorts:

  • Guaranteed one category room upgrade
    • This benefit is subject to availability. And, it is not guaranteed on free nights and award nights.
    • This benefit excludes lounge access as well as some suite types.
  • Guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkout
  • One complimentary weekend night that is valid on the second night of a paid weekend stay when booking the Ambassador Complimentary Weekend Night Rate
    • “Weekend” is defined as Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights in most parts of the world. However, hotels in the Middle East may define the weekend as Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.
  • Dedicated check-in area
  • IHG Rewards Club Platinum Elite status
  • A $20 credit per stay for use in select hotel restaurants, bars, and minibars
    • In markets that don’t use U.S. dollars, you’ll receive a set amount in that currency equal to about $20
    • In Mainland China, Gold, Platinum, and Spire Elite members will instead get a 15% discount at select hotel restaurants and bars. Spire Elite members will also get an RMB120 credit (worth about £14)
  • Daily mineral water
  • Premium internet in guest rooms, when available
  • No extra charge for a second guest
  • Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Five Star status

Benefits in Greater China

Ambassador members also get the following perks at InterContinental Hotels and Resorts in Greater China:

  • Full breakfast in the main restaurant daily for one guest (only in Mainland China)
  • 15% discount at restaurants and bars
  • RMB120 (about £14) credit for restaurants and bars for Spire Elite members
  • Welcome fruit platter

Benefits at InterContinental Alliance Resorts

At InterContinental Alliance Resorts, Ambassadors only get access to the following benefits:

  • Complimentary water provided upon arrival (not replenished daily)
  • One category room upgrade, subject to availability

When are you eligible for benefits?

Although you usually need to book directly with IHG to receive IHG Rewards Club elite benefits, this isn’t the case for Ambassador benefits Only select rates that aren’t usually booked by travellers, such as airline crew and employee discounts, are excluded.

However, there is one notable exception. Specifically, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts in French Polynesia that are booked through third-party websites or tour operators don’t qualify for guaranteed upgrades or late check-out.

Benefits guarantee

InterContinental Ambassadors have access to a “Benefits Guarantee” for select benefits. If a hotel is unable to fulfil these benefits, the member may be compensated as follows:

  • Room upgrade: A restaurant, bar, or spa credit of $50 (about £40) or 10,000 IHG points. No compensation is provided on reward nights
  • 4 p.m. late checkout: A restaurant, bar, or spa credit of $50 (about £40) or 10,000 IHG points.

The benefits guarantee is not offered during select periods though. These periods include:

  • New Year’s Eve
  • Chinese New Year in Greater China
  • Ramadan and Hajj in Makkah, Saudi Arabia
  • 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan

Membership extension

InterContinental Phu Quoc
InterContinental Phu Quoc in Vietnam (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

IHG recently extended the Ambassador membership period by six months due to coronavirus concerns. IHG also extended unredeemed complimentary weekend nights by six months. However, these extensions only apply to members who enrolled or renewed their membership on or before 15 March 2020.

The Ambassador programme also offers two other types of membership extensions. Members can use each of these extension types no more than once per lifetime. But, you can’t use both of these extensions during the same membership year.

You can ask for a 2-month extension if you:

  • Have an active membership
  • Haven’t used a two-month extension in the past

And, you can ask for a 6-month extension if you’ve:

  • Maintained an active membership for more than a year
  • Haven’t previously used a 6-month extension

Keep in mind that these extensions won’t apply to your weekend night certificates.

Is InterContinental Ambassador worth it?

So, should you enrol in the InterContinental Ambassador programme? Not surprisingly, the answer depends on your travel habits. But, for most travellers, it comes down to the weekend night benefit.

Ambassador weekend night benefit

If you’ll use the Ambassador weekend night benefit each year, then you should likely enrol. But, you do have to book using a specific rate. And, this rate usually isn’t the least expensive one.

(Image courtesy of IHG Rewards Club)
In this case, the Ambassador Complimentary Weekend Night is about $20 per night more than the best refundable rate before taxes and fees. (Image courtesy of IHG Rewards Club)

If you won’t utilise the weekend night benefit, then membership usually won’t make sense. One exception would be if you stay frequently and will use the other benefits.

Considering other benefits

If you’re still undecided, it’s worth considering how much value you’ll get from the other benefits. Depending on how often you travel, the benefits may provide a lot of value. Plus, you can rely on guaranteed benefits like 4 p.m. late checkout and a one category room upgrade. The $20 restaurants and bars credit also provides a set value for each stay.

Additionally, if you have the IHG Rewards Club Premium Credit Card, you already have IHG Rewards Club Platinum Elite status. But, if you’re unable to get the IHG Premier Card, getting Platinum elite status could be a deciding factor.

What is InterContinental Royal Ambassador?

InterContinental Bora Bora Resort Thalasso Spa (Photo by Brian Biros / The Points Guy)
InterContinental Bora Bora Resort Thalasso Spa in French Polynesia (Photo by Brian Biros/The Points Guy)

Royal Ambassador is an invite-only status offered to select Ambassador members. Members are selected based on their activity at InterContinental properties.

Royal Ambassador benefits

Royal Ambassadors get the following benefits when staying at InterContinental Hotels & Resorts:

  • Guaranteed two category room upgrade
    • If you book a suite, you will receive a one-category upgrade
    • On free nights and award nights, this benefit is not guaranteed and subject to availability
    • This benefit excludes some types of suites
  • Lounge access at hotels with a dedicated lounge
    • Access is provided for the member and a guest staying in the member’s room
    • If the hotel does not operate a dedicated lounge, the member and one guest will get full breakfast in the main restaurant daily
    • This benefit is not guaranteed at hotels that do not operate a dedicated lounge
  • One free night at any IHG hotel bookable for 70,000 IHG points or less
  • Guaranteed early check-in of 10 a.m.
  • Guaranteed late checkout of 4 p.m.
  • One complimentary weekend night valid on the second night of a paid weekend stay when using the Ambassador Complimentary Weekend Night Rate
  • Minibar food and beverage credit of $50 per night (RMB200 per night in Mainland China), up to a maximum of $200 per stay (RMB800 per stay in Mainland China)
  • In-room welcome amenity upon arrival
  • Daily mineral water
  • Premium internet in guest rooms, when available
  • Waived amenity or destination fees. However, resort fees and government, state, or city fees or taxes are not waived.
  • No extra charge for a second guest
  • Guaranteed room availability with 24-hour notice
  • Inner Circle member status at Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants

Bottom line

InterContinental Ambassador status is a must-have for some travellers. If you can get good value from the complimentary weekend night benefit, then it may be worth enrolling even if you don’t stay at InterContinental Hotels and Resorts frequently.

Featured image of the InterContinental Fiji by JT Genter/The Points Guy.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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