Updated April 21 2015
A few years ago I was introduced to The Founders Card. Self-described as “exclusive benefits and networking for entrepreneurial minds,” the card offers a variety of benefits and discounts to members – including paid and free events around the world. I joined for the airline benefits and for the first year, found a good amount of value in the membership. As time has gone on, I’ve found less and less benefit and will have to see a lot more value in 2015 to continue my membership beyond this upcoming year.
The card can come with a hefty price, however, there are many discount offers available throughout the year. I also found that if they want you to join the group – maybe you have a company they want to work with, or you’re an influencer, you can negotiate discounts. One thing that is not clearly noted on the website or in the terms – until you read the very fine print – is that the member automatically renews each year. Your credit card will automatically be charged annually. Many special offers “lock in” the annual renewal rate so you can avoid paying rising fees year after year.
The current annual rate is $795 plus initiation fee. The current discount is $395 annual rate and if you’d like an invitation you can leave me a comment on this post.
Overall, the card offers some valuable discounts for small business owners and frequent travelers. Whether the annual cost of the card is worth the benefits, that’s open to individual evaluation. If you use a few of the benefits each year, you can easily recover the cost of the membership. However, if you think you want the card for the free elite travel benefits, I would look elsewhere. The free benefits, which I list below, are not worth the $795 annual fee but maybe worth the $295 fee. Many of them are one-time offers and the majority offer low level status benefits that are available through other clubs, groups, credit cards, etc…
There are several categories of benefits. Let’s explore them:
One-time complimentary Flying Club Silver Elite status with fast-track to Gold Elite. 20% off of flights originating in the US and Vancouver – restrictions and limitations apply. I have used this benefit, but found a better Flying Club Elite offer elsewhere. I have never successfully used the discounted rate although I’ve tried many times.
Complimentary Marco Polo Club Silver Status and between 5-25% off of flights and preferred Business Class pricing. I priced out a flight in Business Class in early 2014. The lowest publicly advertised fare was $300 more than the discounted fare I was offered. It was a bit of a savings but nowhere near the 5-25% advertised.
The current offer is to receive AAdvantage Platinum status from May 14 – August 14, 2015 and keep it through February 29, 2016 by earning 10,000 0,000 elite-qualifying points by traveling on American Airlines, US Airways or other select airlines* during the challenge period. You must enroll in the challenge by May 3, 2015.
There is also a 5% discount on “most” flights, however I’ve tried to use it on many occasions and have never found a discounted fare.
A 5% discounted is offered on fares excluding multi-city trips. I have used this discount on a few occasions. The code is unique and associated to the member, so you can not share the rate. There is currently an offer for Mosaic Status. To qualify you must take two round-trip flights and they must be completed within your 3-month enrollment qualification window commencing on the date you enroll in Blue Inc. (a JetBlue program and portal where bookings must be completed.)
There is currently a discount offer of up to 15% on travel between the US, Australia and New Zealand. I also priced several tickets to Australia from the US in Q1 2014 and found they were offering about 1% discount on most fares except those that were already highly discounted.
15% off most flights between the US, Canada and UK. I have never tried to use this benefit, however, now that I’m a Delta flyer I may just give it a shot! I’ll update the post if I do.
FoundersCard Members receive 5-12% off most fares, I haven’t tried to use this deal so I’m not sure how well it works. Virgin America Elevate® Elite Status Match from select US domestic airlines is available to Founders Card members.
Founders Card members 5-10% off fares for US originating flights. I have searched for these discounted fares and you can find them available.
Limo & Car Travel:
Complimentary #1 Gold Club membership and discounted rates up to 15% off. I have redeemed the #1 Gold Club free membership but I have never found the rate to be better than any other published or discounted rate out there. Not a benefit I use.
Free Avis First membership and discounts up to 25% off. I have redeemed the Avis First benefit and have used the discount code. The Founders Card rate is often better than the published rate but frequently more than the Costco rate. I use this benefit occasionally.
Annual Fee discounted and application fee waived. I have never made use of this benefit and don’t see myself doing so.
Silver Car offers a 15% discount on all rentals (blackout dates apply) and also offers members waived fuel refill fee and complimentary gas top-off. I have also not used this benefit as I have not yet been in a city where Silver Car is offered. I would love to try it if I’m ever near one!
Six months of free membership and discounted annual fee thereafter. The savings is about $40 a year. I have not used this since I have Global Entry from US Customs and Border Protection service.
One year of free service and discounted annual rate thereafter. I get TripIt free from another card, so I do not use this benefit on Founders Card.
$50 Credit toward first booking and extra rebate credits on future bookings. This is not a benefit I find useful. I have not yet used Hotel Tonight even though I do have the app on my phone. I prefer to earn points/miles and therefore usually don’t book through these sources.
There are some very attractive offers and they change frequently the following are examples of what was currently being offered in April 2015:
Preferred Business Pricing – this discount does not apply in retail stores and does not include all merchandise (some excluded items: iPhone, iMac, mini iPad) and discount varies by item. Up to 20% off included items. This is a benefit that works.
Business Discount of 15% on standard rate plans of $30 or more excluding unlimited voice and data plans and the iPad plans. This benefit can cover the cost of membership depending on the plan you’re on!
Discounts up to 32% on all business shipping. I have used this discount and have found it’s usually around 2-4% off retail.
20% off all individual orders or 15% off all business orders. I have used this benefit and will use it again I’m sure.
Preferred pricing for Founders Card members. There are no other details provided about this offer and I have not further investigated it.
NameCheap provides a 20% discount off of most services including hosting plans. I have used this benefit – and actually am currently using it – and it is 20% off as indicated.
A 15% off discount on online marketing tools. This is a benefit I have used and while I’m not sure I’ll continue to use it, it did provide a good benefit at the time.
This benefit is no longer currently available – however there was a discounted ticket available to members and members only. The savings was about $400. This is a good perk for those going to SXSW if they get in on the deal before it’s gone.
Preferred pricing for members of up to 46% off included products. I haven’t tried to use this yet.
Free 9 month membership and discounted pricing for on-going services. This is a great offer and one that I use all the time! I love Uber Conference.
There are too many lifestyle benefits to document, so I’ve taken a screen capture of the current benefits (below.) I have used a few of these and some are better than others. The ones I’ve used include:
Bliss Spa 20% discount at select locations- this is an almost impossible benefit to use. I’ve tried literally dozens of times. I’m either told it’s not good on the weekend or it’s not good for XYZ service. I’ve commented to FoundersCard team several times and they say “let us know who said that so we can clarify the program with them.” Sadly, Bliss never seems to honor the benefit
Caesars Total Rewards complimentary Diamond membership
Birch box discounted annual membership
Shoprunner complimentary 1 year membership – this is a benefit you can also receive from Amex if you have an Amex card that qualifies.
Complementary Hilton Honors Gold membership. Specific hotels offer discounts (see city list below). This is a one-time only benefit – you don’t get gold status multiple years like you do with some other benefits.
There are 6 Kimpton Hotels with negotiated rates for Founders Card members. Some hotels offer specific discounted rates and others offer percentage discounts. For example, the Kimpton Monaco Denver offers a fixed rate but has many blackout dates (2015 Blackout dates: March 7-9, 22-24, May 3-5, 16-19, Sept 24- Oct 2, Oct 18-20, Dec 31)
There are 9 Four Seasons Hotels that offer a variety of discounts. Some hotels include free wifi, some do not.
Mandarin Oriental Hotels:
There are 5 Mandarin Oriental Hotels offering discounted rates and additional benefits, which vary by hotel.
Park Hyatt Hotels:
There are 8 Park Hyatt Hotels offering discounts. The Park Hyatt Saigon is the only hotel that offers additional benefits – beyond the negotiated rate – which include breakfast and free wifi.
The Standard Hotels:
There are 5 Standard Hotels offering discounted rates and perks like complimentary room upgrades and late checkout.
Morgans Hotel Group Hotels:
There are 9 Morgan Hotel including the Delano Miami Beach, The Mondrain New York and others. There are a variety of discount types including flat rates and percent off rates. All rates include free wifi except at Mondrain London. Some hotels also offer upgrades, free drink at checkin and more.
Independent Hotels and other hotels (including chains with only specific properties negotiated):
In New York:
Gansevoort Park Avenue
Crosby Street Hotel
W Austin (and yes, SXSW is a blackout period)
Mansion on Turtle Creek (Dallas)
St Regis (Houston)
Hotel Zaza (Houston)
The Rosewood Beijing
The Opposite House Beijing
W Hotel Boston
In South Carolina:
The Charleston Place Hotel
The W Lakeshore
Ritz Carlton Chicago
The Virgin Hotel Chicago
Town House Tel Aviv
In Hong Kong:
Nobu at Caesars
The SLS Beverly Hills
Mr. C Beverly Hills
L’Ermitage Rodeo Drive
The Conrad Hotel
The SLS Miami
The Waldorf Astoria Orlando
The W Hotel Scottsdale
The Phoenician Hotel Scottsdale
The Saguaro Scottsdale
The W Downtown
The Ritz Carlton Georgetown
There are other hotels and this is not all inclusive world-wide (it does not include the major chains listed above.) and is as of December 2014. The hotels available change frequently as do the benefit and rates offered.
The list of hotels changes on a regular basis. I’ve noted some of the most popular and long-standing offers above. Here are some lists of other hotels by region.