No-Notice Changes to the IHG Rewards Club Terms and Conditions: Here’s What They Mean

Last week I wrote about Intercontinental’s Royal Ambassador status – arguably the most generous hotel elite status – having updated its terms and conditions to finally offer a clear criteria for qualifying.

It turns out that, without notice, the program has changed other elements of the status spelled out in its terms and conditions. But since I have a ‘change detection’ set on most program terms, it didn’t go unnoticed.

Five years ago the hotel chain made its friends and family rate bookable by anyone. I used this prepaid rate many times, while leveraging Royal Ambassador status for great upgrades (always checking by email with the hotel first whether any rate booked on the IHG website would qualify for the upgrades I wanted. Then boom, I booked this one.

No more, now the terms and conditions exclude all benefits on friends and family stays.

InterContinental Ambassador benefits are not available when staying on the IHG Employee or Friends & Family rates.

On the positive side, now water is a benefit each day of your stay.

Ambassadors receive fresh fruit and water in their room on arrival, with mineral water replenished daily.

Venetian and Palazzo in Las Vegas are specifically allowed not to replenish the water.

Meanwhile, upgrades aren’t guaranteed in French Polynesia on third party bookings.

Exceptions: 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 4pm late check-out are not guaranteed for Royal Ambassador and Ambassador members who book through a third party Tour Operator.

Some hotels have explicit permission to ‘cap’ the level of upgrades they provide. I infer from this that hotels not so listed have no such exemption, so should be interesting

The following Suites are not included in the upgrade policy for Ambassadors & Royal Ambassadors: InterContinental Hong Kong: Signature Suites (Terrace Suite, CEO Suite, Presidential Suite). InterContinental Park Lane: Signature Suites. InterContinental Sydney: Australia Suite, State Suite and Governor Suites. InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort: Penthouse, Beach Villa, Rock Villa, 2 bed Rock Villa and Royal Residence. InterContinental San Francisco: Bay Suite, Terrace Suite, Presidential Suite. InterContinental Athenaeum Athens: Presidential Suite. InterContinental Adelaide: King Diplomatic Suite and King Presidential Suite. InterContinental Moscow Tverskaya: Nizhinsky – Diplomatic Suite, Duncan – Diplomatic Suite, Ulanova – Presidential Suite. InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam: Presidential Suite (includes Executive Presidential Suite, Executive Presidential Twin room & Executive Presidential Junior Suite), Dom Perignon Suite (includes Executive Dom Perignon Suite & Executive Dom Perignon Junior Suite). InterContinental Berlin: All Club Suites & Presidential Suite.

The terms and conditions still explicitly recognize the existence of referral certificates to Royal Ambassador status, say they are available for 6 months, and that members who are themselves referred cannot also refer others to the status.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. As a paranoid person (ahem, lawyer) who is always prints T&C’s for frequent flyer, loyalty programs and promos, I am impressed and would love to know how you set a change detection on program terms.

    Hope you enjoyed some BBQ in Austin.

  2. a change on the website alerts you, i have it set for PointBreaks, i don’t worry about all their T&C, we just had 8 nights in Costa Rica in the Presidential Suite, and an adjoining suite on PointBreaks, ie 10K a night, a great stay, it’s all flexible, i would never get too concerned about the fine print.

  3. To the gremlin at 20.000 feet. How’s the view from the wing. A great Twilight Zone episode with Shatner. I’m just getting the presumed reference.

  4. At check in at the IC Almaty, I was offered to buy Ambassador status for around $500 USD. Is this common?

  5. @Ken- it’s quite common to be offered to buy Ambassador status at check in at an IC, because there is an incentive for the desk staff. But it should be $200, not $500.

  6. Gary I’ve been trying to e-mail you however I’m not computer savvy and don’t know how to do so. It tells me to choose an application and then I’m lost from there. Would you please send me an e-mail so I can then reply? Thanks very much

  7. seem odd to me they have said extended stays more than 90 days don’t qualify for RA, why in the world would you do that? seems counter to rewarding those long term stayers that provide those cashflows and returns to IHG’s bottom line, makes one wonder who develops that type of policy?

  8. Was the e-mail sent to my address listed above? I haven’t received anything. Am I looking in the right place? Thanks very much.

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