InterContinental Ambassador Renewal - To Pay by Cash or by IHG Rewards Club Points?

As 2016 comes to an end, I am once again faced with an interesting problem - the InterContinental Ambassador renewal. While I have not come close to maximising the benefits this year, I have gotten the published benefits (upgrade and late check-out at the InterContinental Singapore) on all my paid stays. The only question now is this: should I renew my InterContinental Ambassador membership with points or by cash?

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InterContinental Ambassador Renewal

InterContinental Ambassador Renewal

I have three options to renew my InterContinental Ambassador membership for the next year:

  1. Renew for $150 USD and receive 10,000* bonus IHG® Rewards Club points
  2. Renew for $200 USD and receive 15,000* bonus IHG® Rewards Club points plus a 10%** rebate on Reward Nights
  3. Renew using 24000.0 of your IHG® Rewards Club points and receive 5,000* bonus points
Premier Suite at the InterContinental Singapore

Premier Suite at the InterContinental Singapore

Let's now translate those three options into basic table:

Renewal Options Pay Receive
1 US$150 10,000 Points
2 US$200 15,000 Points + 10% Rebate on Reward Nights
3 24,000 Points 5,000 Points

My personal opinion is that Renewal Option 1 is completely out of the picture - paying US$150 (approx S$215) for 10,000 IHG Rewards Club Points and the membership is just way too much to pay when you have got Option 3 in there. If you put both Options 1 and 3 together, you are essentially paying US$150 (S$215) for 29,000 IHG Rewards Club Points (with the assumption that you will and have to renew the membership). If you are not following the math, leave a comment and I will get back to you. 

InterContinental Ambassador Renewal | Photo Credit: InterContinental Hotels & Resorts

InterContinental Ambassador Renewal | Photo Credit: InterContinental Hotels & Resorts

You can usually buy IHG Rewards Club points at US$13.50 per 1,000 - there is also the unofficial Points + Cash way where you can buy them at US$90 for 15,000 (which puts them at US$6 for 1,000). Using this valuation method, you can essentially 'purchase' 29,000 IHG Rewards Club Points at US$174 which is more expensive than Option 1 above but you are really not saving much at all. This leaves us with Options 2 and 3. 

Suite | Photo Credit: InterContinental New York

Suite | Photo Credit: InterContinental New York

Option 2 is an interesting one - following the same logic above, you are essentially paying US$200 for 34,000 IHG Rewards Club Points and a 10% rebate on Reward Nights. Since you can technically purchase 34,000 points with US$204 (using the somewhat dubious method above), getting it at US$200 instead wouldn't technically be classified as a steal. However, if you intend to burn a lot of points on Reward Nights, this option might actually be quite decent. I have plans to spend approximately, 200,000 to 300,000 IHG Rewards Club Points in 2017 and if I opt for Option 2, it would be getting 20,000 to 30,000 points back in rebate - this makes the option so much more attractive (even more so if you intend to burn more).

Premier Suite at the InterContinental Singapore

Premier Suite at the InterContinental Singapore

With that being said, if you have no intention to redeem for any Reward Nights at all, Option 2 should not even be considered. Additionally Reward Nights do not count towards Accelerate promotions (assuming that they are still going to be effective in the coming year) so if you do intend to take advantage of it (like I do), then Option 3 could very well be the best option. My personal decision after weighing the pros and cons? Option 3.