In wake of the Free Night Offer with joining or renewing InterContinental Ambassador program that offers additional free reward night that's worth up to 40,000 points, I want to take a closer look at whether paying for the program with cash $200 or 40,000 IHG points makes the most sense. 

Please note that this free night offer is in addition to InterContinental Ambassador's complimentary weekend night benefit. Whether the program is worth it or not, really depends on how you value the benefits that the program offers. 

Should You Pay For InterContinental Ambassador Program With $200 or 40,000 IHG Points?
InterContinental the Clement Monterey

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    InterContinental Ambassador Program Benefits

    • Complimentary Weekend Night on the second night of a paid weekend stay. 
    • Complimentary one-category room upgrades at check-in at InterContinental hotels and resorts. 
    • Automatic IHG Platinum Elite status in IHG Rewards Club program.
      • This benefit is the same benefit you receive by having the IHG credit card. See this post
    • Guaranteed 4 P.M late checkout. 
    • Up to $20 credit towards restaurants and bars for every stay. 
    • Complimentary mineral water.
    • Complimentary high-speed Internet. 

    The following benefits apply if you stay in China:

    • Complimentary daily breakfast for one guest. 
    • 15% discount at restaurants and bars. 
    • 120 Renminbi (~$18) credit for restaurants and bars for Spire Elite members.
    • Welcome fruit platter for Platinum & Spire Elite members

    InterContinental Ambassador Program Cost

    InterContinental Ambassador is a loyalty program that offers the above-mentioned benefits designed exclusively for guests staying at worldwide InterContinental Hotels & Resorts. You can receive all these benefits by simply joining the program. You can either pay $200 to become a member or you can use 40,000 IHG Rewards Club Points to redeem for the membership in lieu of the $200 cash. The membership fee is not a one-time thing, you must renew each year in order to keep your Ambassador membership and its ongoing benefits. 

    Should You Pay For InterContinental Ambassador Program With $200 or 40,000 IHG Points?

    Cash to me is always the king. The points currency is great if you are going to spend them in a short-term period. I personally value IHG points at 0.5 cents apiece, this valuation aligns with IHG frequent points sale that offers a 100% bonus when you purchase IHG points. So if you use 40,000 IHG points to pay for the InterContinential Ambassador program, that's equivalent to $200 even. 

    I love points, don't get me wrong. But you are at the mercy of the loyalty program. Your IHG points can be devalued at any time by IHG Rewards Club. IHG has already started implementing a dynamic award pricing model, to me that is a devaluation. Because of the COVID-19 situation, you can find nice IHG hotels that offer great points redemption now, but I am 90% sure that when the pandemic is over and we all can travel again, we are going to see the negative sides of variable award pricing with IHG program. Just take a look at the Hilton Honors program for example. 

    The gist of it is, cash remains the king for the long run. However, if you can maximize 40,000 IHG points in the short term for a great stay then they can be worth more than $200. In that case, you keep the points and pay $200 for the InterContinental Ambassador program. However, if you are going to hoard the points and hoping for a great redemption at a later time, you are putting your points at risk of losing their values with the IHG program's devaluation. 

    Is InterContinental Ambassador Worth It?

    One of the best benefits of InterContinental Ambassador is the annual one free weekend night benefit. It really comes down to your traveling style:
    • Do you stay at InterContinental, Kimpton, and Regent hotels and resorts each year? 
    • Do you generally book for your stay with cash or with IHG Rewards Club points?
    • Do you have a future short-term use of that free weekend night at a particular InterContinental destination?
    If you are staying at InterContinental at least one time per year and book the standard rate, then you will benefit from the free weekend night benefit that the Ambassador program offers. Additionally, if you have an InterContinental property in mind that you want to stay at and can use the free weekend night and upgrade benefits to save you some out-of-pocket money, then the Ambassador program is worth it. Use this link to check for the Ambassador's rate with a complimentary weekend night

    Personally, I feel that the other Ambassador's benefits are just icing on the cake and not to mention you can receive IHG Platinum Elite status by simply having the Chase IHG Premier Credit Card which also offers one Anniversary Free Reward Night each year for any IHG-brand properties as well. 

    Therefore, if you do not utilize the Ambassador program's weekend night benefit each year, then this $200 program is not for you. It also does not make sense to purchase the membership speculatively without any stay plans in the future.