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Why Intercontinental’s Ambassador program is worth it to my family
When I was little, my family would travel to Orlando every Christmas because my parents had purchased a timeshare at Orange Lake Resort. Orange Lake was founded by the same guy that started Holiday Inn and over the years Orange Lake was enveloped into the IHG rewards program. This provided great value for us because we’re given an option every year: stay in the timeshare or get points instead. Stacking this timeshare point accumulation with Intercontinental’s Ambassador program is worth it to my family as it provides a lot of benefits for the annual membership fee. In fact, both of my parents keep Ambassador memberships to take advantage of these benefits on stays redeemed from each of their accounts. What made this program even more valuable was an offer we received for Ambassador renewal: an extra 10% back on point redemptions. This meant, when teamed with an IHG card, we would earn 20% back on all IHG redemptions.
What is Intercontinental’s Ambassador program?
IHG rewards program doesn’t really affect your stays at their top of the line brand, Intercontinental. Intercontinental has it’s own loyalty program, one that you pay to join. Here are the details.
- $200 or 32k points to join
- Renewal is $150 or targeted offers. My dad received some great ones…
- Room upgrade guaranteed
- Late check-out 4pm
- Buy one get one weekend night.
- Must pay for first night
- Comped movie…
Below is the complete list
The weekend night certificate easily pays for the program.
The program will set you back $200. Intercontinental has phenom properties around the world and it won’t be hard to find one where you can redeem your free weekend night. Odds are that night will be worth at least what you paid initially. After the first year, the cash renewal is $150. Weekend nights are defined by IHG as follows:
Please note that the reservation will show full rate on both nights during the online booking process. This will be adjusted by the hotel on check-in to reflect as complimentary on the second night only when member presents the original Certificate. ‘Weekend’ is determined as follows: Friday, Saturday and Sunday, except in the Middle East where hotels may define the weekend as Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
The guaranteed room upgrade could be worth the value of the program as well.
IHG updates your reservation ahead of time. In fact, when I was planning our trip through Europe last year we were toying around getting an extra room in Dublin. We booked one speculatively with points. Within 24 hours the entry level room had been upgraded to a suite. In the end, we cancelled that room, but it was still a good indication of how well Ambassadors can be treated.
I did a POP on the Intercontinental Cleveland. This was booked with points and my folks received an upgraded Junior Suite before arrival. The cost differential in an entry level room and the suite was nearly the same cost as the program renewal. They also received access to the club. Pretty great deal.
Renewal offers are very attractive as well. Here was the one we got. It was worth more than what we paid to renew.
Options were as follows.
- $150 and get 10,000 bonus points
- $200 and get 15,000 bonus points plus 10% back on reward nights ( which if you have an IHG credit card you already get 10%, this would be an additional 10% or 20% off! H/T to reader Neil for mentioning this)
- Use 24k points but get 5000 bonus points
Ultimately we opted for the $200, get 15k bonus points and 10% on rewards nights.
We will redeem 400k + points this year alone. We will be staying in Intercontinentals quite a bit and for $200 we get the following
- 15k bonus points
- free weekend night
- room upgrade
- Over 40k points refunded from redemptions
- In room movies
That’s 55k points we will get back. Taking every other benefit out of the equation we’d end up effectively buying those points for $0.0036 per point. That’s an amazing deal. Add in room upgrades, often club access, and a free weekend night and we are way ahead.
So it’s clearly worth it to me and my family. At what point is it worth it to you?
It comes down to value, right? Everyone has a different sense for it. I was recently looking at the Intercontinental Chicago in early April. Rates were $243 a night over the weekend. You could use your free weekend night certificate here and get the second night free…
This example would get you $243 in value for the price of the $200 membership fee. You’d also get an upgrade, free movie, late check out etc…Of course you’d have to be looking at hotels in this price range, but this is just a quick example of how value can be had in one stay.
Everyone will have different ways of valuing, but if you’re planning a trip that includes an Intercontinental I’d recommend crunching the numbers.
Here’s a little video IHG has put together about their Ambassador program.
Are you Ambassador? Thinking of getting it? Royal Ambassador…would love to hear your experience and if it’s been worth it.
Affiliate link via Card Ratings
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great starter card that earns Premium Ultimate Rewards that can be transferred into over a dozen partners many of which are US based.
60k Points after $4k spend in 3 months
Transferrable Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you carry this card alongside Chase’s cashback cards like the Chase Freedom Flex℠and Chase Freedom Unlimited® or the business versions: Ink Business Cash , Ink Business Unlimited you can combine the points into Preferred account and transfer into hotel and airline partners
Annual fee is quite low at $95 a year + you get a 10% anniversary bonus on points + $50 hotel credit in Chase travel.
- 3x on dining
- including eligible delivery services for takeout
- 3x on select streaming services
- 3x on online grocery purchases
- (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs)
- 5x on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards – Chase Travel Portal
- $50 Annual Credit on hotel stays purchased via Ultimate Rewards/Chase Travel
- The begins immediately for new cardmembers and after your account anniversary for existing cardmembers
- 10% Anniversary Bonus
- Every year you keep the card, your total spend will yield a 10% points bonus. If you spend $10k in a year, you’ll get 1k bonus points
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® continues to redeem at 1.25c in the Chase Travel Portal and the slew of other benefits remain in tact including primary rental car insurance, purchase protections, etc.
- Points are transferrable to 13 Ultimate Rewards partners
- Redeem in the Chase Travel center for 1.25 cents per point
- No foreign transaction fees
- Suite of Travel and Purchase Coverage
- Primary rental car coverage is my favorite
We keep an up to date spreadsheet that lists the best ever offers: You can find that spreadsheet here.
Historically 80k is a very, very good offer and hit in both 2022 and 2023. In 2021, we saw the offer hit an all time high of 100k. Who knows if that will ever come back.
Cards that earn flexible points and should be used on the bulk of your purchases.
Cards that earn fixed points in the currency of the airline/hotel and can not be transferred at attractive rates. These cards yield benefits that make it worth keeping, but not necessarily worth putting a lot of your everyday spend on.