Hotels

Is Club Level worth it?

a stuffed animal standing on a ledge overlooking a city

We may receive a commission when you use our links. Monkey Miles is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as CreditCards.com and CardRatings. This relationship may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. Monkey Miles is also a Senior Advisor to Bilt Rewards. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.


We take 3 things into consideration when determining whether Club Level is worth it

I recently spent a couple of nights at the Intercontinental Sydney which features a top floor Club level offering 270 degree views of the Sydney, including the Harbor Bridge and Opera House.  It’s touted as AustralAsia’s leading executive club lounge ,and since we were staying free of charge, we spent the extra money to secure club access. Personally, I think IHG needs to figure something out whereby members can achieve complimentary club access through published status. I mean, Hyatt gives it to Globalists, Hilton to Diamond, Marriott to Golds+( newly minted Platinums ), but IHG only gives it to their shrouded in mystery Royal Ambassador status. Cahmon, IHG, step it up 🙂 If you don’t maintain status, is Club Level worth the added cost?

a stone building with a stone staircase

The Three Factors I take into consideration

1)  The included benefits

There is a big difference in what club access gives you. Some clubs provide amazing breakfast spreads, work spaces, concierge services, and the evening canapes/happy hour are truly meal replacements. If this is the case – you could be saving some big bucks. Typically you can get a good feel by searching TripAdvisor photos of whichever club lounge you’re going to be visiting. Also…if your trip is in Asia or the Middle East – the odds are your club level experience is going to be pretty awesome. In the States…most club levels require you pay for alcohol at night, and the breakfast options pale in comparison to Asia/M.E.

2) Your need of real estate

If your group is occupying more than one room, this may be a great option regardless of how many of the benefits you ultimately use. Club levels typically have great views, and provide space for people to hang out. Instead of paying extra for a suite, consider getting club access which will give you the extra space you need, with whatever benefits are included. Club levels are typically on high floors with great views, which is why we sought out club level in Sydney.

a room with a view of a city and water

3) Price

It all comes down to what you value the first two factors. Typically, I think if you can score a club upgrade for $50 a night it’s a no brainer. This is assuming there are two people in a room. That’s just $25 per person to have a great breakfast, nice space to go to mid-day, and a nice venue to crack open a beer or glass of wine at night. More than that, and other factors have to be in play than just the food aspect, but $50 is my go-to number.

My recent experience at the Intercontinental Sydney

Their lounge is located on the top floor. While it does provide a very good breakfast in the morning, an afternoon tea service, along with a canapes/happy hour at night – the most valuable part of the upgrade was the view and extra real estate. We were paying nothing out of pocket for the room: The first night was an IHG annual night cert, and the second was booked with points. Even with my Ambassador status we didn’t get an upgrade, and while the city view was nice, we wanted to see the Harbour.

At 200AUD it was a very pricey upgrade. However, we thought with a free room, being crazy jetlagged, having the club access would be very valuable. And ultimately it was. We had a great breakfast there each morning, but what was really worth it was the view and outdoor space. It’s pretty magical looking down on the city as the sun rises and sets. Being my first time in Sydney, standing outside on a balcony overlooking the city was pretty special, and we visited the club a few times each day we were there. I’d say that the food/drink we consumed made up for half the upgrade cost, and the other half was the view and place to sit and relax. As a means of comparison…the upgrade from a standard room to an opera house view is 160AUD…

a stuffed monkey sitting at a table with food and drinks

Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

a blue credit card with blue lines and white text

Learn More

Affiliate LInk

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card


4.8
4.8/5
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 including Hyatt, Southwest, United, IHG, and Marriott.

Welcome Offer

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. 

Annual Fee

$95

Points Earned

Transferrable Chase Ultimate Rewards

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
    • That’s $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠
  • 5x on all travel purchased through Chase Travel℠
  • 3x on dining, including eligible delivery services for takeout & dining out
  • 3x on select streaming services
  • 3x on online grocery purchases
    • (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs)
  • $50 Annual Chase Travel Hotel Credit via Chase Travel℠
    • The begins immediately for new cardmembers and after your account anniversary for existing cardmembers
  • 2x on all other travel
  • 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℠ and the slew of other benefits remain in tact including Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver ( primary ), purchase protections, etc.
  • Points are transferrable to 14 Ultimate Rewards partners
  • Redeem in Chase Travel℠ for 1.25 cents per point
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Suite of Travel and Purchase Coverage
    • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver is my favorite
  • Get complimentary access to DashPass which unlocks $0 delivery fees and lower service fees for a minimum of one year when you activate by December 31, 2024
  • $95 Annual Fee

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.

Main Cast: 

Cards that earn flexible points and should be used on the bulk of your purchases.

Supporting Cast:

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. 

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® is exceptional starter card and offers transferrable Ultimate Rewards, and pairs well with other Chase cards.

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.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

8 Comments

  • Tom April 22, 2018

    I’ve really enjoyed the Intercontinental Clubs. I haven’t done a lot of them (Mark Hopkins San Francisco, Intercontinental Barclay NY, Intercontinental Boston, Stephen F Austin Austin and Intercontinental Bordeaux). They all had full complementary bars and great breakfasts and heavy hor d’oeuvres in the evening. Not all of them had great views. Club access cost $40 per person in Austin and $60 in Boston per night.

  • KR April 22, 2018

    Monkey Miles,
    I love calling out IHG on their stinginess. I have been RA for last 3 years and may I remind again Club Lounge access is provided at discretion of property on award stays.

    IC Sydney does provide Club Lounge for RA and this lounge is truly nice. The view from IC Sydney lounge is mind blowing.
    Until recently, even on paid stays, Ana Tokyo did not provide club lounge or breakfast benefit for RA, but they changed this recently and have an awesome lounge whose signature Petit Dejeuner (Breakfast) menu created by 2 Michelin star chef Pierre Gagnaire is one of the pull factors!

    ICs @ Geneva, HK, Ana Tokyo, Bali, Koh Samui are some of the ICs that DONT provide any lounge or breakfast benefit on award stays

    This rather nonsensical attitude of IHG made me wind down from 100+ IC nights to 30-40 last year and pick them only when there is no SPG availability nowadays.

  • Allen April 22, 2018

    Ritz Carlton Club Level is worth every penny and if you have the branded credit card and get the upgrade for free, the potential savings one on stay at club level can justify the price of the card

  • Christian April 21, 2018

    Six or eight shots of tequila each and you’ve paid for the upgrade. Of course, eating breakfast the next day might be rough…
    Seriously though, did you pay for the upgrade, or did the hotel just bump you up? You mention not getting an upgrade, so did you fork out the extra on free nights out of pocket? Sorry, but at least to me this was unclear.

    • Miles April 21, 2018

      Christian – we didn’t get any upgrade for the room in Sydney, and paid out of pocket for club access. Had we been given a harbour view, I’m not sure we would have gone for it.

  • DaninMCI April 21, 2018

    You can buy IHG Ambassador status with points. I’ve never paid for anything at an IHG club in the US. Maybe I don’t go to the right ones?

    • Miles April 21, 2018

      DaninMCI – ah sorry for the confusion, I meant paying in Club Levels across all brands, not specifically IHG. I’ve definitely had free booze at Crowne Plazas, but Hyatt is notorious for charging in theirs, as is Hilton.

      • Observer April 21, 2018

        Only in America. Hyatts elsewhere don’t charge for booze.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.