FoundersCard’s Travel Benefits Worth The $295 Fee?

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Quite a few of my friends (myself as well) have received email invitations (last time from Trip It) to join the FoundersCard at $200 discount. The fee for joining would be $295 instead of the $495 that they have on the website.

founderscard

I tried to use Google to find some objective pieces written about this product but couldn’t find any. There were some, but they were mostly from FoundersCard members soliciting new members to sign up using their links.

So, I decided to ask from my Facebook friends what they thought about the FoundersCard and one of them was a satisfied member. Quite a few others had received invitations and were trying to decide if this was worth the fee.

There was something iffy about the American Airlines and Starwood benefits that came with the card in 2011 and 2012. American Airlines claimed that they didn’t have any affiliation with this product and Starwood had some negotiated rates that were only supposed to be used by FoundersCard’s employees. AA is no longer partner but some Starwood hotels are.

What I don’t like about the FoundersCard is that there is hardly any information about the airline and hotel discounts on their public website.

Here’s look at hotel benefits

founderscard-hotel-program

FoundersCard lists Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental, Park Hyatt, Joie de Vivre, Ritz-Carlton, Morgans Hotel Group, Kimpton & The Standard as their premier partners.

founderscard-hotel-partners

I went through their hotel partners city by city and you can find the list at the end of this post with preferred pricing info.

The program offers complimentary Hilton HHonors Gold status that is valid until March, 2014. The discounts that this program offers for Conrad hotels that is 10% off of the BAR (Best Available Rate) is nothing special. You are likely to get better pricing using other public discount codes.

Rates that the program offers are not prepaid and usually cancelable until day of arrival, although there are some exceptions. Most of the time you can just click through from FoundersCard’s website to the hotel’s booking engine and the discount code is embedded on the page. Some hotels have blackout dates for the discounted rate.

Park Hyatt Buenos Aires

founderscard-park-hyatt-buenos-aires

FoundersCard had a negotiated rate of $335 and the Hyatt Daily Rate for the same period was $540.

W Chicago Lakeshore

founderscard-w-lakeshore

FoundersCard’s rate was $30 more expensive than the discounted rate for the date and the AAA rate.

Airline benefits

FoundersCard offers discounts with Qantas, Lufthansa, Virgin Atlantic and JetBlue. These discounts usually only apply for base fare before the fuel surcharges and actual taxes are added. Also, these discounts are unlikely to apply for discounted fares. You also need to call or email to get a fare quote. In the case of JetBlue, you need to request a coupon code to be emailed to you.

Qantas

founderscard-qantas

FoundersCard Members receive up to 20% off travel between US, Australia, and New Zealand and travel originating in the UK to Australia. Discounts are available on most classes of service.

You have to contact Qantas by email or phone to get a quote. Based on the feedback that users had given, it seems that the discount doesn’t apply to sale fares.

Virgin Atlantic

founderscard-virgin-atlantic

  • Complimentary Flying Club Silver Elite Status.

  • 10-15% off fares on Virgin Atlantic destinations between US and UK.

The discount only applies to the base fare without fuel surcharges and actual taxes. It is not available for all fares so you should always check the online pricing as well. You need to book this over the phone or get a quote by email.

You will receive complimentary Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Silver Status for the first year.

Lufthansa

founderscard-lufthansa

  • Complimentary Frequent Traveller Status (Star Alliance Silver) with purchase and completion of a qualified round-trip trans-Atlantic flight. Flight must be purchased via the FoundersCard booking platform to qualify for Frequent Traveller Status. Bookings and the corresponding flights must be made and flown by you, the Founders Card member. Trips flown by persons other than the Founders Card member will not qualify for the upgraded FTL status.

  • 10% off select flights.

Lufthansa Frequent Traveller Status

-Access to the Lufthansa Business Lounges, SWISS Business Class Lounges and Austrian Business Lounges.
-25% Executive Bonus.
-Preferential check-in at Business Class check-in counters of selected Miles & More® airline partners, irrespective of class of service booked.
-Additional free baggage allowance on select airlines.
-Third highest waitlist priority.
-Exclusive Service Team.
-No mileage expiration on unused miles.

The Miles and More FTL status kicks in after one completed trans-Atlantic trip.

Lufthansa is the only airline that has online booking tool for the discount. I tried to get it applied for LAX-ATH return trips in both economy and business class. No discount was applied.

Cathay Pacific

founderscard-cathay-pacific

  • Complimentary Marco Polo Club Silver Tier Status.

  • 5-22% off flights.

Marco Polo Silver status benefits

-Access to Business Class Cathay Pacific airport lounges.
-Priority Check-in.
-Advanced Seat Reservations.
-Extra Baggage Allowance.
-Recognition throughout your journey.
-Special invitations to Club events.

Need to call to get the fare quote.

JetBlue

founderscard-jet-blue

FoundersCard Members save 5% on all fares (excluding multi-city trips).

You need to request the promo code by email.

Is FoundersCard Worth the $295 fee?

Inconclusive. You may be able to save quite a bit on the hotels IF you don’t have access to other discounted rates and it happens to be a high season. You can check the list of the hotels that they have city by city and make your own mind.

You can probably save on flights IF you buy business class and other non-discounted fares. It is bit of a drag that you have to either call or email to get a fare quote. The only airline that supposedly offers the discount is Lufthansa. I couldn’t however, get it to apply on economy or business class return trip I tried.

Conclusion

FoundersCard offers some additional benefits beyond the travel like discount on some business services and networking events.

The travel benefits may yield enough savings to cover the yearly membership fee. Personally, I don’t see how I could recoup the fee using the rates that they have provided.

If you would like to join at the discounted rate, you can drop me an email. I can forward it to a friend ,who is a member, that can send you an invite.

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