Snag bonus points when you join or renew IHG InterContinental Ambassador membership

Jan 20, 2022

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Elite status comes with many great perks, but earning mid- to high-tier hotel status usually requires a lot of nights in return. However, the InterContinental Ambassador program allows you to buy status in the IHG Rewards program without meeting any stay requirements.

Best of all, IHG is currently offering limited-time renewal and enrollment offers for its InterContinental Ambassador program. So, whether you’re looking to become a member or you’re already a member, you may be able to earn bonus points when you renew or join.

If you’re looking for perks at InterContinental and Regent-branded hotels and resorts, you may find value in the InterContinental Ambassador program. In this guide, I’ll describe the program and then help you decide whether you should become a member. I’ll also discuss the current renewal and enrollment offers in detail.

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In This Post

What is the InterContinental Ambassador program?

InterContinental Phu Quoc in Vietnam
Pool area at the InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach Resort in Vietnam. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

As the name suggests, the InterContinental Ambassador program provides perks when staying at InterContinental Hotels and Resorts. And, through Dec. 31, 2022, you’ll also get perks when staying at Regent Hotels and Resorts.

But, the program doesn’t provide Ambassador benefits when staying at other IHG Rewards brands. That being said, you’ll get IHG Platinum Elite status. But, if you’re purely interested in status, you may be better off with the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card. After all, the IHG Premier comes with automatic Platinum Elite status and other perks.

Interestingly, IHG appends your Ambassador status to your IHG elite status. For example, if you are an IHG Rewards Platinum Elite and an Ambassador, your status will be Platinum Ambassador.

Related: IHG Rewards will change its elite status tiers, including requirements and bonus earnings, this March

How do I become an InterContinental Ambassador?

IHG’s InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort
IHG’s InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

To be an InterContinental Ambassador, you must pay an annual fee of $200 or 40,000 IHG points. Based on TPG’s valuations, 40,000 IHG points are worth $200.

Once you pay, you’ll get access to Ambassador benefits for 12 months. So, it makes sense to enroll shortly before a stay. You can join the program online, at any InterContinental property or by calling the service center.

Limited-time offer for renewing

If your membership is expiring soon, there’s currently a decent offer to entice you to renew your membership. As long as you renew by your membership expiration date or by March 31, 2022 (whichever date comes first), there are two renewal options:

  1. Pay the $200 fee and earn 15,000 bonus points. Then, when you complete two nights, you’ll receive an additional 20,000 points.
  2. Redeem 40,000 points and earn 20,000 bonus points after you complete two nights.

With this offer, you are likely better off paying $200 for the membership versus using points. This is because you won’t receive any bonus offer for using points to renew your membership. And since 15,000 points are worth about $75 (based on TPG’s valuations), this effectively brings your cost down to $125. Redeeming 40,000 points, on the other hand, is worth about $200.

Then, regardless of how you renew your membership, once you complete two nights — either two individual stays of one night or a stay of two nights (or more) — you’ll earn 20,000 bonus points. You must complete your two nights at participating InterContinental, Kimpton or Regent properties between your renewal date and April 30, 2022. You must spend at least $30 per night and book a qualifying rate, which includes the Ambassador Complimentary Weekend Night rate.

Current InterContinental Ambassador members can renew their membership up to 92 days before the current membership’s expiration date.

Limited-time offer for new members

if you want to join the InterContinental Ambassador program, you can earn 20,000 bonus points during a limited-time enrollment offer. Specifically, when you enroll between Jan. 18, 2022, and March 31, 2022, and then complete two qualifying nights at participating InterContinental, Kimpton or Regent properties by April 30, 2022, you’ll get 20,000 bonus points.

As with the renewal offer, you must book each of the two nights under a qualifying rate with a total spend of more than $30 per night.

Related: Big let down: IHG moves elite status goal posts after showing reduced requirements for weeks

InterContinental Ambassador benefits

InterContinental Tahiti (Summer Hull/The Points Guy)
The InterContinental Tahiti in French Polynesia. (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

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

  • Guaranteed one category room upgrade
    • On free nights and award nights, this benefit isn’t guaranteed and is subject to availability.
    • 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 stay when booking the Ambassador Complimentary Weekend Night rate
    • This free night is usually only valid at InterContinental hotels and resorts. But, for stays through Dec. 31, 2022, it is also valid at participating Kimpton Hotels and Regent Hotels and Resorts outside Greater China.
    • Most hotels define “weekend” as Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. However, hotels in the Middle East may define the weekend as Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
    • You can use this perk any night of the week at Kimpton and Regent properties.
  • IHG Rewards 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
    • This benefit isn’t offered in mainland China, where the member gets full breakfast in the main restaurant daily
  • 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 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

Benefits at Regent and Kimpton

Regent Singapore exterior
Regent Singapore. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

For stays through Dec. 31, 2022, you’ll get InterContinental Ambassador benefits when you stay at Regent Hotels and Resorts outside Greater China. However, you won’t get the $20 restaurants and bars credit. And the benefits guarantee won’t apply. But, you’ll get a local “Signature Amenity” benefit during your stay.

You also won’t get any Ambassador perks when staying at Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants globally or Regent Hotels and Resorts in Greater China. In practice, this means you’ll only get Ambassador perks at InterContinential Hotels and Resorts as well as the following Regent properties:

Related: A boat, a bike and a hike: The secluded AvGeek spot totally worth the trek

When are you eligible for benefits?

Although you usually need to book directly with IHG to receive IHG Rewards elite benefits, this isn’t the case for Ambassador benefits. IHG only excludes select rates, such as airline crew and employee discounts.

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

Related: Ranking the best online travel agency rewards programs

How to maximize InterContinential Ambassador benefits

You can often get enough value from just the complimentary weekend night to justify paying the membership fee. But, if you’re looking to maximize your InterContinential Ambassador perks, here are some tips:

  • Book your room type based on the guaranteed one category room upgrade
    • Select a room type one category below what you want
    • Select the room type one category below a suite
  • Book when you want to ensure 4 p.m. late checkout
  • Don’t let your complimentary weekend night expire
    • Check back periodically for price drops
  • Maximize the $20 credit per stay by booking shorter stays
  • Enjoy Five Star status when you rent a car with Hertz
  • Enroll or renew during limited time offers

Related: Great location, outdated design: 4 things to know about the InterContinental Montreal

Benefits guarantee

InterContinental Ambassadors are guaranteed select benefits. Specifically, you may be compensated as follows if a hotel is unable to fulfill some perks:

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

IHG doesn’t offer the benefits guarantee during select periods, though. These periods include:

  • New Year’s Eve
  • Chinese New Year in Greater China
  • Ramadan and Hajj in Makkah, Saudi Arabia
  • InterContinental Sydney between May 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022, due to a major refurbishment

Membership extension

InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach Resort in Vietnam
A room at the InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach Resort in Vietnam. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

The InterContinental Ambassador program offers two types of membership extensions. Members can use each extension type 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 two-month extension if you:

  • Have an active membership
  • Have not used a two-month extension in the past

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

  • Maintained an active membership for more than a year
  • Have not previously used a six-month extension

Remember that these once-in-a-lifetime extensions won’t apply to your weekend night certificates.

Related: 14 airlines that allow travelers to put elite status on hold

Is InterContinental Ambassador worth it?

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

Ambassador weekend night benefit

If you think you’ll use the Ambassador weekend night benefit each year, then you should enroll. However, you do have to book using a specific rate, which usually isn’t the least expensive. You can check rates before becoming an Ambassador member here.

Complimentary Weekend Night
(Screenshot courtesy of ihg.com)

And, now you can use this perk any day of the week at select Kimpton and Regent properties for stays through Dec. 31, 2022. This temporary modification makes this perk much more valuable. After all, there are plenty of beachfront Kimptons for a relaxing getaway. But, note that you won’t get any Ambassador perks at Kimpton Hotels.

Complimentary Weekend Night
(Screenshot courtesy of ihg.com)

If you don’t utilize the weekend night benefit, membership usually won’t make sense. One exception is if you stay frequently and will use the other benefits.

Related: The best hotel credit cards that come with an annual free night

Considering other benefits

If you’re still undecided, it’s worth considering how much value the other benefits will provide. Depending on how often you travel, the benefits may provide significant value. Guaranteed perks like 4 p.m. late checkout and a one-category room upgrade can be helpful but are challenging to value. On the other hand, the $20 restaurants and bars credit provides a set value for each stay.

You’ll also get IHG Rewards Platinum Elite status. You already have this status if you have the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card. But, if you’re unable to get the IHG Premier Card, getting Platinum Elite status could be a deciding factor.

Related: Why I’m happy to pay the annual fee on the IHG Premier

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 that IHG offers to select Ambassador members. IHG selects members based on their qualifying activity at Kimpton, InterContinental, Regent and participating Six Senses properties, though the specific qualification criteria aren’t shared publicly.

Royal Ambassador benefits

Royal Ambassadors get the following benefits when staying at InterContinental Hotels and 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 is 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 don’t operate a dedicated lounge
  • One free night at any IHG hotel (excluding IHG Army Hotels) 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 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 (excluding resort fees)
  • No extra charge for a second guest
  • Guaranteed room availability with 24-hour notice
  • Inner Circle member status at Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants

Related: My fabulous stay at the tallest hotel in the West: The InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown

Bottom line

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

If possible, sign-up or renew during an enrollment or renewal offer. It’s often possible to snag a free night certificate or bonus points if you’re able to take advantage of a promotion. Currently, you can earn up to 35,000 bonus points when renewing and up to 20,000 bonus points when enrolling.

Featured image of IHG’s InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort by Katie 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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