Difference Between IHG Rewards Club Platinum And Ambassador Status

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Yesterday I made a post about how to redeem the anniversary free night certificate which comes with the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card.

In the comments section, reader Kev wrote the following:

Would be cool if you did a post about the actual benefits of IHG Platinum status, and how that differs from the older Ambassador status they used (and still do?) have.

IHG Rewards Club Platinum benefits

Other than the anniversary free night certificate, one of the other awesome perks of having the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card is that you receive Platinum status for as long as you have the card.

This is the highest tier elite status available in the IHG Rewards Club program. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of perks for Club, Gold, and Platinum status:

IHG-Platinum

As you can see, this isn’t the most rewarding program in the world, but then again, do you really expect it to be when they give you top tier status just for holding onto a card with a $49 annual fee?

In practice, the main perks of Platinum status are as follows:

  • Complimentary room upgrades
  • A 50% bonus on base points
  • Priority check-in

Room upgrades are at the hotel’s discretion, and keep in mind that some IHG properties (like many Holiday Inn Express properties) don’t have premium rooms you can be upgraded to.

That being said, as as a Platinum member I’ve had pretty good luck getting lounge access and/or suite upgrades at Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, and Hotel Indigo properties. Don’t expect suite upgrades every time, but you’ll certainly get them sometimes.

As a general rule of thumb, recognition seems to be better in Asia than Europe/the US (which is true with virtually all loyalty programs, in my experience).

A few months back I stayed at the Crowne Plaza Doha, and proactively received a suite upgrade without asking.

Crowne-Plaza-Doha-10

InterContinental Ambassador benefits

While InterContinental Hotels are part of IHG (it’s what the “I” stands for, after all), they actually have a separate loyalty program, called the Ambassador program. I find it incredibly puzzling that they have this system, but it has been the case for years.

Even more puzzling is that Ambassador status doesn’t require any loyalty. Instead you can buy Ambassador status for $200 per year.

This status comes with quite a few benefits, including the following:

  • Guaranteed room upgrade
  • Fresh fruit upon arrival
  • In-room water
  • In-room gift
  • Single-room rate for double occupancy
  • Extended checkout—up to 4pm
  • Dedicated Ambassador check-in area
  • Complimentary pay-TV film per stay
  • Complimentary newspaper, delivered daily
  • Complimentary weekend night certificate
  • Elite status in IHG® Rewards Club
  • 5,000 bonus IHG® Rewards Club points

InterContinental-Ambassador

It’s worth noting that these benefits only apply when staying at InterContinental properties, and not when staying at other IHG family properties (Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, etc.).

Is Ambassador status worth it?

If you stay at an InterContinental property at least a couple of times per year I’d say it’s almost certainly worth it.

That being said, don’t expect your experience at non-InterContinental hotels to improve as a result of buying Ambassador status.

Along similar lines, don’t expect to receive many IHG Platinum benefits at InterContinental properties. While some InterContinental properties will extend benefits to Platinum members as a courtesy, technically they don’t have to.

Bottom line

It’s important to understand that InterContinental Ambassador benefits apply at InterContinental hotels, while IHG Rewards Club Platinum benefits apply at all other IHG properties.

For $200 per night Ambassador status can be a great deal, just as Platinum status, a free annual night certificate, and other benefits more than justify the $49 annual fee on the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card.

Are you enrolled in InterContinental’s Ambassador program?

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Comments

  1. While technically Ambassador/Royal Ambassador status doesn’t have any importance at HI/CP/Indigo, I’ve had CP agents totally freakout that I’m PlatRA and give us huge suites as a result. “We’ve never had one of you before!”

  2. Ambassador is definitely worth it as long as you stay at least one weekend in IC. Almost all IC will be more expensive than 200USD, simply by using the weekend certificate (buy one night get one night free), your 200 annual fee has already been saved!

  3. I’m curious if anybody knows how long the Ambassador status lasts from the time you buy it. Is it calendar year or a year from the time you pony up $200? I’m gonna stay at the IC Le Moana Bora Bora for 6 nights in September and was debating on whether buy up from Platinum to Ambassador.

  4. I have the credit card and ambassador, which makes me a platinum ambassador. While, as you mention, I don’t have to show the brands any loyalty to achieve these, most properties provide pretty good recognition–at least that’s been my experience. I think the number of guests who have both the credit card and PAY for ambassador status is pretty low (relative to how many people they see everyday). It does work in their favor though–Hyatt, SPG and IHG are my 3 go-to programs. IHG wouldn’t really be included in that list were it not for how easy it is to get this stuff.

  5. @Buddy M. It lasts one year from the time you buy not calendar year. I just renewed on 3/1 and got my card stating expiration on 1 March 2016.

  6. The AMB BOGO used to be good on any rate, including deep discounts, government rates, etc. No longer – you must by the “AMB-WEEKEND” rate, that can often negate most of the value of the coupon.

    The Asian InterCon property that would routinely give me lounge access and a suite upgrade as a PLAT-AMB, now says they can’t do that anymore, just a one-category upgrade and no lounge benefits without an upcharge. Meh.

    I only renew my AMB membership with points now, rather than cash. I find the overall value marginal.

  7. Hi,

    Staying at Le Grand Paris for three nights in June on award nights. Will they honor my Ambassador status or decline because it is not a paid stay?

  8. Hehe enjoyed the comment about poor elite recognition in the US compared to elsewhere – although cultural differences may play a role, I suspect the number of credit cards offering status with different hotel chains and thus the number of guests holding status plays a big part 😉

  9. As a mid-level elite (Hyatt & Starwood), what sort of loyalty can one expect at hotels in NW Africa – in particular, Morocco?

  10. As a Plat ambassador 90% of non-IC stays, I will get the room I booked. As for ICs, having stayed at just a few of them, I might have gotten a non-noticeable single level upgrade. Ambassador status might be useful if you stay at ICs and book a level below what you’d really like, but unlike some programmes, booking a base level room will have you disappointed.

  11. Is that a free weekend night certificate at any Intercontinental or any IHG hotel? Also any blackout dates on that certificate?

  12. @R —– I stayed at the Le Grand Paris last August on an award stay. They extended certain benefits based on my partner’s Ambassador Status, including free water and a welcome gift (cookies). We were told that we received a room upgrade, but our room was quite small even by European standards and did not have a view. We had no need for a late check-out, so I can’t comment on that. Whether or not you get a great room upgrade, the hotel is lovely! Enjoy your visit.

  13. There seems to be some confusion in the comments here about Ambassador v. Royal Ambassador.

    You buy Ambassador status and qualify for Royal Ambassador. The Royal qualification requirement is 60 qualifying IHG nights (essentially paid nights) in your Ambassador membership year, with 20 of those nights at ICs and a requirement that you stay at 3 distinct IC properties).

  14. Just back from the Singapore IC using the 2 free nights from Into the Nights promotion. As an apology for not having an upgrade available, we received for free the amazing breakfast buffet both mornings plus 50% off the dinner buffet. A wonderful stay for our first time in Singapore.

  15. @ Derek P — Any IHG property, which includes InterContinental. If there’s points availability you should also be able to redeem a free night certificate there.

  16. @ tar_000 — Don’t have much firsthand experience with hotels in the region, so maybe someone else can chime in.

  17. @ R — Technically only the welcome amenity has to be honored on reward nights, in my experience. Though I find that hotel to generally be good with elite recognition, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they honor more.

  18. @ Alex — If you can get Royal Ambassador status then I’d say it’s worth it for almost anywhere.

  19. @ Buddy M. — It’s a membership year, so it lasts roughly 12 months from when you buy it.

  20. Had a stay at the Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi recently – basic room for 5k points (Points Break rate). I’m only Gold Ambassador. We got an upgrade to a huge corner suite though, and free drinks vouchers. I was totally happy 🙂

  21. Ben, in your opinion :

    Currently Platinum (IHG Credit Card holder), offers for Ambassador renewal :

    Renew for $150 USD and receive 10,000* bonus IHG® Rewards Club points
    Renew for $200 USD and receive 15,000* bonus IHG® Rewards Club points plus a 10%** rebate on Reward Nights
    Or, if you wish to renew your Ambassador status using IHG® Rewards Club points
    Renew using 24,000 of your IHG® Rewards Club points and receive 5,000* bonus points

    Which would you chose?

  22. @ baccarat_guy — Hah, you’re challenging the math side of my brain in the Maldives here. I’d probably buy IHG Rewards Club points at 0.6 cents each, meaning:
    Option 1: $150 – $60 = $90
    Option 2: $200 – $90 = $110
    Option 3: $114

    So I guess I’d go with option one.

  23. @lucky : Thanks, that is what I (pretty much) thought; but wanted to make sure I was not missing anything.
    Now, you can return to cocktail hour. 🙂

  24. I’m thinking about renewing my Ambassador membership as well, but I think I’ll go with option 2 ($200) because I read that the 10% rebate on points redemptions will stack with the 10% I get for having the IHG Chase card. So a 100K redemption will get a 10K return, which isn’t bad at all and easily makes up for the cost difference.

  25. I go with option 3 Enjoyed a few years now. still off sign up bonus since I don’t use points for stays. And what stays: Times Square, Honk Kong, Tokyo ANA & The Strings, London Park Lane (The London Suite upgrd), LA Centry City, Syndey. I’ve had wonderful stays with great amenities as AMB

  26. I like having platinum ambassador status. Platinum gets me a guaranteed room if booked more than 3 days in advance, even if hotels are otherwise fully booked. The ambassador gets me a buy one get one free once a year at otherwise very expensive hotels that I wouldn’t usually even try to book. I find one of the values with IHG is that they have so many hotels around the world that it’s easy to find a deal. I’m also a big fan of their fun programs like into the nights and set your sites. Easy ways to stack points on top of stays you already were planning anyways. Plus who doesn’t like their pointsbreak deals for only $35 worth of points/night

  27. I have a lot of stays (100+ nights) at Holiday Inn properties and am a Platinum Elite. As I understand, only stays at Intercon properties will make me eligible for a Royal Ambassador upgrade. Is there any way of leveraging my HI stays to get this benefit? If so, I might consider buring $200 or 32,000 points for Ambassador. I don’t think I can manage 50+ stays at Intercon.

  28. @ AB — Stays at all IHG properties count towards earning Royal Ambassador status, though you only get Ambassador/RA benefits at InterContinental properties.

  29. Fwiw, Recently stayed at the ICC Moorea. Purchased Ambassador prior to booking a standard garden view room a week in advance. Was upgraded 2 levels to a garden bungalow with a private plunge pool for the first 5 nights then down to an ocean view standard view for the remaining 5 nights, well worth the $200 for ambassador. Also received 2 large bottles of water daily and fresh fruit upon arrival.

    Definitely noticed a higher level of service during our stay.

    I’ve been a long time marriott and hilton rewards member and the service at IC far surpassed what I’ve experienced at the others.

    The upgrades in FP more than paid for itself.

    DS

  30. While it is confusing with two programs, each have good if not great benefits. I have been I guess what you would call a Platinum Elite Royal Ambassador for a few years now. Meaning I have Platinum Elite and Royal Ambassador status. In the past Royal Ambassador status was by invitation only to Ambassador status members. Now you can earn it, if you have Ambassador status. With Royal Ambassador you get a double upgrade, free mini bar beverages, and basically your ass kissed at every Intercontinental worldwide. You are also guaranteed a room simply by calling or emailing the hotel. Also if you are Royal Ambassador and meet the requirements for renewal you don’t even have to buy Ambassador! So, if you are a true Road Warrior like I am, you get it all for free. You just have to spend a lot of money each year with IHG, preferably someone else’s money!

  31. @ Nai — Technically most of them only apply on paid stays (exception being a welcome amenity and a couple of other things).

  32. In responding to @AB, you said “Stays at all IHG properties count towards earning Royal Ambassador status, though you only get Ambassador/RA benefits at InterContinental properties.”

    Does this apply to meeting planner points? I have 257,000 IHG points (156,000 so far this year), most of which are meeting planner points, which give me Platinum Elite status. So if I pay the $200 for Ambassador status, will my IHG points bump me up to Royal Ambassador?

  33. I have a trip an upcoming trip to HK and Shanghai where I have 2 nights booked at an IC in HK, 2 nights at a Indigo in Shanghai, and 4 nights at an IC back in HK. I have Platinum status, which I hope will come with some decent perks, but is it worth it to pay $200 for Ambassador status as well?

    I do want to ensure a harbor view room for the 4 night stay at the IC HK and was just going to pay the premium to book one (and maybe get upgraded to an even nicer room) or should I roll dice by paying for a standard room and buying Ambassador to get upgraded to a harbor view room? The difference in the room rate is ~$75/night.

  34. Hi Lucky Ben, I am going to stay at Intercontinental in Wuxi China for 2 months for work… I am currently a Spire member and I’m not sure if the $200 Ambassador status is worth while for my stay (it’s china afterall) I do plan on using my points to get free IHG rooms but looks like the Ambassador status won’t do much for the free deals… Thanks for your thoughts

  35. Hey Buddy M – did you end up getting the Ambassador membership for your stay in Bora Bora? Did they give you the upgrade? I’m looking to book Bora Bora for my honeymoon and am hoping to do the same strategy you mentioned.

  36. @ AJ Hackett. YMWV. I have purchased Ambassador status years ago and applied it at the IC Thalasso. That property is pretty much all OWB with three levels. I purchased the mid-level as part of a Costco package and was upgraded to the high-level (more secluded and facing out toward Mount Otamanu). It was totally worth it plus the BOGO free night cert which we used a few months later.

    However, there is a stipulation in the Ambassador T&Cs that upgrades in French Polynesia not be guaranteed unless you purchased directly from IHG, which sucks since you are likely buying some sort of package deal.

    http://www.ihg.com/intercontinental/hotels/gb/en/ambassador/terms-conditions

    At InterContinental Hotels & Resorts in French Polynesia (InterContinental Le Moana Bora Bora, InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa, InterContinental Resort & Spa Moorea, and InterContinental Resort Tahiti) upgrades to the next room category and 4 pm late check-out are not guaranteed for Royal Ambassador and Ambassador members who book through a third-party website or Tour Operator.

  37. Hi Lucky, I am thinking about booking the CrownePlaza Doha and am a Platinum.
    Which catagory of room had you booked when you were upgraded to a suite ?

    Literally the room catagory below a suite or something different ?

    I arrive in Doha at 05:15 and leave at 01:15, just 20 hours later. Do you have any suggestions for getting a late checkout ? Or where else to stay ?

    Cheers,
    J.

  38. The perks of a “Royal Ambassador” are as follows. Guaranteed room as long as you book it 24 hours in advance. 10am check in, and 4pm checkout (with the option to extend to 5pm). FREE mini bar with unlimited refills (alcohol & non-alcohol beverages).

  39. I am holding Intercontinental Ambassador Gold No. 646 682 563. I would like to know the status of this card. Appreciate your early reply.

  40. Does an IHG Spire Elite receive any benefits (such as room upgrade, late checkout) when staying at an Intercontinental Hotel without Ambassador status?

  41. Just had the most terrible experience with IHG. It just reminded me again why I decided to let the ambassador membership expire after 2 years. A member may get a dedicated check in at the IC, but if you call the customer service, it’s routed to Philippines and they have no sense of customer service. I’m a PE member at IHG and the service at both is a call center in Philippines. “can’t” ” you don’t understand” and just basic ignorance in benefits IHG and Ambassador offers while cutting off a customer in mid-speech. With so many other similar hotels to choose from such as Westin, Sheraton, Hilton, Hyatt, not surprised that IC is losing loyal customer base. Not worth renewing, but with intention of exhausting the IHG points, I renewed. Use points for free nights and leave them in the rear view mirror, and to never return.
    -David

  42. I have ambassadot status. Will I
    Get a room upgrade at ICH if I book thru
    Citi Prestige concierge,

  43. You will get a room upgrade even thou you book thru Citi Prestige concierge.
    Was upgraded to a suite, paid for an Executive Room was upgraded to a Suite
    in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Got the fourth night free using my Citi Prestige card.

  44. As ambassador gold, I always got upgraded with IC.
    If I book multiple rooms, say like 2, will I get guaranteed upgrade for both rooms as well?

  45. I’m a Spire Elite Ambassador. Just stayed at The Willard in Washington DC…right next to the White House. Paid $170.00 for the first night in their lowest level room. Used an Accelerate Free night cert for the second night.

    Even before I arrived, they had upgraded me to a suite “with a view” and 4pm checkout. It had a living room and dining area and 2 bathrooms. Amazing! This room is a $600.00 a night room with a view of the Washington Monument & the White House.

    I’m not sure which part of my status, the Spire or Ambassador that got me the upgrade…but I loved it!

    As any FYI…I had transferred 75,000 points from Chase UR for a future stay, and they counted as Elite Qualifying points…which is how I obtained Spire. Not too bad!

  46. As an IHG Platinum, I used points and got upgraded to a big two-room suite at the Holiday Inn Cairns Harbourside. Which is typical.

    I think my huge points balance helps impress the front-desk agents and managers and makes them feel I’m very loyal to IHG. They always print out your point balance on a welcome letter or write it on the room key folio.

  47. I made a reservation for a Ambassador Weekend at the Intercontinental Bangkok for a King Club room. During my review process of my reservations just making sure everything was in order, I noticed the auto upgrade to to a corner suite. It’s June now, my reservation isn’t until September.

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