Is Intercontinental Ambassador Status Worth It?

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How does it sound to score a guaranteed room upgrade, guaranteed 4 PM late check-out, fresh water and fruit on arrival, a welcome gift, an annual second weekend night free when the first night is paid, and IHG elite status? All of this and more can be yours with Intercontinental Ambassador status. This status doesn’t require a certain number of nights spent with the hotel program, but rather it is available with ‘just’ a $200 payment.

 

Recently I received an email encouraging me to buy a year of Intercontinental Ambassador status for $200, though I’ve also read offers to purchase Intercontinental Ambassador status for 40,000 IHG points. For those not familiar, Intercontinental is a top hotel brand within the IHG family that also includes Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, and now even Kimpton. Intercontinental sort of recognizes IHG elite status levels, but they really have their own elite program comprised of Ambassadors (who pay for the status) and Royal Ambassadors (a subset of Ambassadors who frequently stay at Intercontinental properties and are invited to that level).

On first glance, Intercontinental Ambassador status is not worth $200, but on further review, it can be in some situations.

The fee for new members for 12 months of Ambassador membership is $200, but after 12 months, members can usually renew their Ambassador status for less (around $150) and get other perks thrown in such as bonus points, 10% of redeemed points back, and more. The annual BOGO weekend night certificate alone can make the $200 fee worth it if you going to spend at least that amount per night anyway staying at an Intercontinental property on the weekend.

The IHG elite status you receive by getting Ambassador status doesn’t hurt, but it sadly isn’t worth very much at all as there aren’t many guaranteed benefits. My offers says that I would get IHG Platinum status, but a reader pointed out that the usual offer is Gold status, so pay attention to the fine print. If IHG status did matter to you, you could get IHG Platinum just by having the $49 per year IHG credit card that also gives you an IHG award night to use anywhere each year.

Having some water, fruit, and a welcome gift on your Intercontinental stays certainly would be worth something, though likely no more than about $10 per visit for me personally. Guaranteed 4 PM late checkout can have some real value, especially if you have little kids who need early afternoon naps. However, if you are at all considering Intercontinental Ambassador status I think it comes down to whether or not you will make use of the BOGO weekend award night, and how frequently you stay at Intercontinental properties.

I’ve never had Intercontinental Ambassador status as I don’t think it is currently worth it for me since I don’t have a paid Intercontinental stay in my plans, but I would love to hear from some of you who have it currently or who have had it in the past. Did you feel like you got your money’s worth from the Ambassador status? Were there any ‘unadvertised’ perks of that status?

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Comments

  1. The free night alone makes up for the $200. I like ambassador status because the BOGO free night usually works on higher class rooms like suites. Two nights in a suite for the price of one is a nice deal.

  2. Definitely NOT worth it.
    Paid for my status, did not get the upgrade on my 1st stay (Intercontinental Warsaw, “sorry we’re booked out” – so much for the “guaranteed upgrade” part), never used it again – went back to Sheraton/Westin.

  3. Hi – You get GOLD STATUS and not Platinum Status . Platinum would definitely make it worthwhile as you get the extra bonus points and also it has gotten me a few upgrades in the past year as a platinum ambassador. Trust this helps .

  4. For me, the BOGO alone is worth it. I stay at the IC HKG each year, and the Ambassador along with my annual Chase IHG Free Night allows me to do 3 nights with a harbor view room (thanks to the one-category Ambassador upgrade at the property) for less than $500, all in.

    Also, it’s a status worth having if you go to ANY of the Tahiti IC properties — especially IC Bora Bora Thalasso or IC Le Moana. The one-category upgrade alone there is pretty solid – not to mention saving $600-1200 per night (depending on Thalasso or Le Moana).

    When I’ve stayed at “regular” IHG hotels — like a Holiday Inn — though they don’t officially recognize Ambassador status, I’ve been treated like royalty at those properties with upgrades, champagne, etc. (Yes, I was given a bottle of champagne, a suite upgrade and a bar credit at check-in at the HI AKL Airport — it was pretty unexpected).

    • I’ve also been treated well at Holiday Inn and Crown Plaza because of Ambassador status. No room upgrades and no champagne (yet) but I have gotten free water, free breakfast and an offer of 500 extra points if I didn’t want the fruit.

  5. How is water and fruit worth $10? Water comes out of the tap for free, and fruit (apples and oranges), even if you happen to want some at the moment, is generally about $0.25 – $0.50 a piece.

    • Fruit, water, and a welcome gift waiting in the hotel is worth about $10 to me as I don’t always have fruit on hand in transit, I like having some water bottles available, and add some sort of gift on top of that, and I’m happy at about $10. Your value may obviously be less, which is fine. If it was paid for at going rates at the hotels, I’m sure it would be more…probably to the tune of more than double.

  6. It’s only worthwhile if there are future Intercontinental stays. For Q4 2017 Accelerate, one of the goals was to sign up the Ambassador status for bonus points, so I considered it as a rebate. The instant gold status is nice, and at IC Mexico City I was upgraded to the top floor superior room with a balcony. The food amenity is wonky, since I requested a sweet treat and gotten the fruit and bottled water anyways. I did stay up late to watch the free movie.

  7. I live in Los Angeles so there are 7 Intercontinental hotels within a days drive for me. I’ve had Ambassador for two years now. Last year the weekend cert saved me $350 and this year it will save me $475. I’ve only not gotten the room upgrade once. As for the water and fruit, that works for me as we drink a lot of water and at $6.50 (The Venetian) a pop that adds up quickly. I also enjoy the dedicated check in for Ambassador club which means no standing in line.

  8. We decided to try it out and paid for Ambassador status last year, and stayed in several Intercontinental properties in Australia using points. The status doesn’t seem to matter if you are booked with points – should have noticed the fine print on that. The status didn’t seem to matter when booked at Holiday Inn properties either. The “free night” is technically a “buy one night get one free” for the standard rooms at Intercontinental hotels. We decided not to renew for 2018, but I could see how it might make some sense if you pay cash for most of your Intercontinental stays.

    • Why are some saying standard rooms only and others saying suites? Seems like there’s a lot of “under the table dealing” with this program. Benefits aren’t supposed to apply to reward stays, but sometimes they do. Benefits aren’t supposed to apply to other hotels, but sometimes they do. How does another hotel know you are Ambassador anyway, does your elite status mention it?

  9. Stayed at IC Century City, flew to French Polynesia and stayed at IC Moorea, Bora Bora, and Tahiti last year for honeymoon. All before I actually had Ambassador or the IHG card. When I found out what the program was, got it and had a room upgraded for each of the locations. (Room upgrade for Bora Bora was just view but one hell of a view upgrade.)
    At same time, not traveling much this year so not reapplying for Ambassador but keeping card for free room. Only worth it if you have plans or know you’re going to make plans for ICs.

  10. If you stay at good Intercontinental Hotels frequently (as I did 2014 – 2016 ten to fifteen times each year) I think it is. I stayed mostly at the IC San Francisco, and the staff there are pretty outstanding. They always upgraded me multiple categories to my favorite room (King Corner), and even delivered a bottle of champagne and a cake to my mom while she was on a quick birthday trip with her friends. I always received an email prior to arrival, and any request I made was alway fulfilled. I used points for it last year, but didn’t end up staying once at an Intercontinental (whoops), so won’t be doing it again this year.

  11. Totally worth it to me. We’ve gotten some nice upgrades and the fruit that is provided is nearly always better than you would find without spending a LOT of time searching. We’ve occasionally received wine and/or sweets as well. Combined with the Chase IHG card (which gives Platinum status) free night, it means you can get 3 nights for the price of one (2 of the nights have to be on the weekend). We usually buy a good enough room to get club access and they’ve always let us have the room for the free Chase anniversary night.

  12. At most IC hotels you get no ambassador benefits if booking with points. Want lounge access?? You must book a paid room in a high enough category to get it, or pay a fee of around $100 per day. Crowne Plazas and Holiday Inns treat you better as a Spire elite, and usually have no idea if you are an ambassador member as it only applies to Intercontinental. The BOGO certificate is worth it. I wouldn’t have renewed my Ambassador membership this year but they added a bunch of points in my Accelerate offer that made it a no brainer.

  13. Unfortunately Ic footprint is pretty weak in USA unless you have plans to visit a major city. But if you plan to go to Europe it is totally worth it – if played right with Chase card you can get 3 free with 1 paid as you can book Chase for 1 year past expiration date plus current Chase plus BOGO…
    However perks are much better on paid nights, so not as valuable if you are mostly booking with points

  14. Nobody is mentioning that the bogo cert requires you to pay for the first night at a higher rate than the cheapest available (at least when I tried). I signed up for ambassador before booking Intercontiental Hong Kong 18 months ago and then discovered that the rate I was required to book was $300+ more than the cheapest available, so using the bogo cert was actually going to cost me more money than just paying for two nights straightaway with cash. I called IHG and had them refund my ambassador purchase.

    • Ya. How is an Ambassador cert worth $200, when the night before has to be purchased at the “Best Flexible Rate”, a rate which is often well over $100 more than the “Member” rate? AND, you paid $200 for Ambassador! That means the second night wasn’t free; it cost you $300! Simple – do the math!

    • With all due respect, it pays to do research to see how you can get the most value for 2 for 1 certificate. We joined Ambassador just because of the Hong Kong property. The room rate for the certificate was just about $100 more than the BAR. But, Flyertalk advice was to book a deluxe harbor view room which would be upgraded to a harbor view Junior Suite. I then booked 2 nights deluxe harbor view at a prepaid rate. All in, we received 4 nights in harbor view Jr. Suite for $1200 US. It should have cost us $2400 US.

      Ambassador works best for paid rates not award stays. If you employer has a contract with IHG, then many times Intercontinentals will be less than Hyatts or SPG properties. In this instance, having Ambassador really works out.

      We have renewed every year. Our best use of the 2 for 1 was IC Danang. Using the cert, we reserved a King Terrace Suite. We then had 3 award nights in a base room. The cost we were originally quoted, to upgrade the room was $240++. But at check-in, we were told we could keep our suite the whole stay, at no charge. Again the Ambassador status saved us approx. $1,000 US. I like to think that we stayed in a suite, for 5 nights, for the original room rate of $500. The IC Danang is the crown jewel of Intercontinentals. Everything about the property is top shelf, deluxe. Way better than any other Intercontinentals!

      While we stay with IHG hotels about 25 nights a year, but only 5 or so in Intercontinentals. I think the Ambassador status does make a difference.

      • So your strategy sounds good. There are a number of unknowns, like are you a Royal Ambassador Spire? I’m only Platinum Ambassador. I have my eye on the IC Danang. I’m looking at four nights in a Club King Intercontinental Room. It appears the (Ambassador) upgrade from there would be the 1 Bedroom Heavenly Penthouse at around $1,100/night ($4,400 ++ for four nights). With Ambassador Best Flexible Rate for the first weekend night, the rate is $670, second night free. Two additional nights at the member rate would be about $567 a night each. That works out to $1,800++ for four nights but you’re saying I would be in the 1 Bedroom Heavenly Penthouse (if that’s the upgrade). That would be quite a deal if your strategy will work. Naturally, the second two nights rate is non-refundable. How do you protect yourself when booking almost 10 months out? Use Chase Sapphire Reserve with trip protection or what?

  15. I’m not renewing this year, especially since the renewal will be $200. Here’s why.
    1. I’m already Platinum, so I can generally score a room upgrade.
    2. A couple pieces of fruit and water are worth what? Really.
    3. I’m not a late check out person. I’m usually out of the hotel by 9 am on check out day.
    4. The free second night really isn’t free. You paid for it with your $200 membership!
    5. Worse, you need to pay “best flexible rate for the first night”, which can cost you $50 or more than the lowest rate offered to IHG members.

    No, I’m doing the math and will use the $200 to pay for breakfast over a few days.

  16. Iam a spire ambassador-but still DAR AL IMAN IC ,MADINA (SAUDI ARABIA)-REFUSED TO UPGRADE MY PAID ROOM, front desk man said sorry we are full house -but this was not my fault -as it must be GURANTEED ROOM UPGRADE-and my resevation was confirmed about 3 months earlier and non refundable ,duty manager ignored my request to communicate with me 3 times through guest relations desk,more worse IHG agents failled to do any thing.
    CONCLUSION-dont wast your money ,as after paiment they will not provide you with the preivileges they promised, and you have paid for it !(total dissapointment)

  17. No, it’ definitely not worth it due to the inconsistency of hotel experiences. I’ve been Spire Elite Ambassador for two years in a row, and so far I have had better rooms and services at Holiday Inn Express than at Intercontinental (Frankfurt, Bahrain, Okinawa). The room upgrades (if available) are nice but you can also just book a higher tier room in the cheaper hotel and come out ahead. I will try to ramp up Marriott status in the coming year, but Ambassador is definitely not worth the money or points.

  18. The free weekend night would be worth if:
    1. You could got the free weekend night by booking the first night at the lowest rate or best member rate possible and,
    2. Charging $50-$100 a year for membership if you actually ALWAYS got the upgrade or a complete refund of the membership fees if you were denied.
    Platinum status is really nothing. It’s automatic if you have the IHG card and by keeping it active. As long as you keep it active, you get the free annual night, albeit to a certain limit nowadays.

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