Assessing the Benefits of FoundersCard

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Update: You can lock in a FoundersCard membership for $295 a year through May 13th, 2016 when you sign-up with my link. This is $100 less than the usual rate!

So you guys know I’m been working toward FIRE (financial independence, retire early) lately. And part of that means ruthlessly cutting out extraneous spend.

So far, I’ve gotten rid of my gym membership, canceled credit cards that no longer serve me, and have cut back on my eating out (more trips to Costco!).

FoundersCard Benefits

You can stay

FoundersCard is $395 a year, which is a little “ouch.” I’m nearly due to the pay the annual membership dues again to keep the card for another year and I looked at it with an eye to cut it.

But, I’m going to keep it for another year.

Here’s why.

The AT&T Benefit

This benefit alone makes up exactly 1/3 of the annual fee for me.

15% off my cell phone bill

15% off my cell phone bill

I save ~$11 per month automatically.

~$11 right off the top

~$11 right off the top

$11 per month is $132 per year, which already brings the annual fee down to $263.

By far the most practical benefit. Set it and forget it. It gets applied automatically each month.  Great if you have AT&T as a cell provider.

Free TripIt Pro for a year

If you have the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, you already get this for free.

FoundersCard has a lot of the same ancillary benefits as a lot of premium credit cards. Like 10% British Airways flights, free Hilton HHonors Gold status, and free Avis First membership – benefits of the Chase British Airways Visa, Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve, and American Express Platinum Card, respectively.

TripIt Pro is $49 a year

TripIt Pro is $49 a year

I’m thinking about dumping the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, but I really do like TripIt Pro. So I can keep it for free.

This’ll save me $49 the first year and give me a 20% discount afterward.

Re: the Barclay card… I dunno, I’m really assessing it. Wondering if it’s worth it. More thoughts in a future post.

Anyway, following the math from above, this brings my annual fee down to $214.

Free Hilton Gold Status

I don’t stay in Hilton hotels often, but I might more now that I’ve dumped Club Carlson and recently picked up the Chase IHG MasterCard.

The last time I stayed at Hilton was at the Hilton London Tower Bridge when I went to see the Tori Amos musical “The Light Princess.” (I really should review that… the hotel, not the musical. The musical was fabulous.)

Free breakfast and internet!

Free breakfast and internet!

I was upgraded to a junior suite and given free breakfast and internet. And lounge access! Yup.

Needless to say, I drank my ass off at the club lounge, and started each day with a hearty breakfast (why does free food taste so much better?).

I want to value this at $200 a year if you stay at Hilton hotels often. But I’ll go with $150.

That brings my annual fee down to $64. (I don’t have any Hilton credit cards. I only have status through FoundersCard.)

Other perks

K, so $64 isn’t that much when you consider the events (though I’ve never attended – the timing has always been terrible) and other perks that will definitely add up to more than that.

Like:

10% off British Airways flights

No AARP discount or Chase British Airways Visa needed!

No AARP discount or Chase British Airways Visa needed!

Free Cathay Pacific Silver status

And a fare discount

And a fare discount!

That can get you lounge access to Cathay Pacific business class lounges but only until the end of 2015 (HT: reader David!).

Free Virgin Atlantic Silver status and 20% off flights

AND a fast-track to Gold

AND a fast-track to Gold

Doesn’t that get you extra miles when you fly on Delta?

Free AA Platinum Challenge

They always have good AA perks!

They always have good AA perks!

This’ll save you $240. I did the challenge in 2013 on my flights to Easter Island in LAN business class.  Be sure to read the Wiki before you sign up!

Waived Zipcar application fee and 50% off yearly membership

I love love love this. I use it all the time, so maybe I should’ve added it above. But whatever. You get free application fee (usually $25) and yearly membership for $35 a year instead of $70 a year.

Love this perk too

Love this perk too

And they’ll start you off with $15 in driving credit and give you 20% off weekday rentals. It all adds up!

I use this for my monthly Costco runs

I use this for my monthly Costco runs

You’ll also get:

  • $18 worth of free razors from Dollar Shave Club
  • A free subscription to Entrepreneur magazine (I read it on the train)
  • Preferred pricing on Apple products
  • UPS discounts
  • Free Hertz #1 Club Gold membership and 15% off rentals
  • Lots of other stuff

ALL the rest

Here’s everything. If you want to know more about a specific perk, ask me in the comments below. Because when you use my link to sign up for $395 a year, you can’t see the website. You can only see a sign-up page.

FoundersCard travel benefits

FoundersCard travel benefits

FoundersCard lifestyle benefits

FoundersCard lifestyle benefits

FoundersCard business benefits

FoundersCard business benefits

Bottom line

FoundersCard is geared toward travelers and entrepreneurs.

I was looking for a reason to dump them because I’m aggressively cutting expenses right now to pay down my student loans. But in the end, I decided to keep it because I get more value from the discounts and travel perks than what the membership costs.

If you wanna sign up, you’ll be locked in at $395 per year for life, which is good to know that it’ll never go up.

They have lots of interesting startups that are part of their offerings. And I’ve managed to find ways to maximize the membership beyond the annual fee. Perks are always being added.

In particular, I like that the AA benefit changes quarterly (in the past they’ve offered 5% off fares).

Oh and I forgot to mention: you get free Caesars Total Rewards Diamond status. Good if you are into Caesars hotels or take advantage of their partnership with SPG. (This shouldn’t be in the bottom line but I’m leaving it here anyway.)

Pretty cool if you're into it

Pretty cool if you’re into it

Feel free to ask questions!

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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About Harlan

Just a dude living in Dallas.

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  1. I find it interesting AT&T Wireless is listed under “business” yet this FoundersCard discount cannot be used with business accounts. Only personal accounts. Especially since FoundersCard is for business executives.

    • How does Cathay pacific silver status give you oneworld lounge access? It only gives you ruby status, not emerald or sapphire, no? I’m a bit confused.

  2. I thought that Cathay Silver was just OneWorld Ruby…meaning no OneWorld lounge access. Or did I miss something stupid?

  3. It’s clear that your degree is not in accounting or mathematics. If you’re serious about cutting your expenses, start with your cell plan. You could save at least $30/month by switching to T-Mobile or an MVNO.

    • LOL, nope, my degree is in painting.

      Re: T-Mobile. I’d love to switch but am on a family plan and they do NOT cover large parts of upstate New York, where it would be needed. So coverage is a factor here, too.

      But you know, I’ll look into it anyway. Maybe I could get a better deal as an individual on T-Mobile. I’d wanna check out their international coverage, too. You might be on to something. Thank you!

    • The Apple discount is UP TO 15% off, depending on what you want to buy (computers, monitors, software, etc.)

      The Equinox discount varies between Sport Clubs and Corporate All Access Clubs in certain locations. For example, for a San Francisco resident, FC benefits only apply to Northern California membership rates and All Access membership rates. It does NOT apply to membership rates if you’re dedicating to only 1 location though you may get their non-FC promo rates. I hope that’s clear.

      And initiation fees are usually waived, depending on which gym you want to join.

    • Here’s what they say:

      – 20% off all spa therapies (excluding acupuncture).

      – Complimentary week of Transformation for new Exhale guests; includes 1 week of unlimited classes, $25 towards a spa therapy, and 10% off boutique purchases. Members may bring a Guest for the Complimentary week of Transformation.

  4. Harlan,

    This is a very informative post. I’m not a huge fan of products or services that force you to sign up before you can see what you are getting. They seem to be running the $395 / year lock-in through January 31, 2016 again, I’m wondering if anything substantial has changed in their benefits (I’m sure they change all the time). I’ve been a big SPG card user in the past but now with the Marriott merger I’m doubting whether it will be worth continuing. Hilton Gold and free AA challenge seem worthwhile, though you can get Hilton Gold for free with Amex and $20k spend. Are both of those still around for 2016 benefit year? Also, what is the JetBlue benefit?

    • Hey Matthew!

      Erm, they change the AA benefit quarterly. This quarter it’s for a lounge membership via Business Extra. Other quarters, they’ve had a 5% discount on fares, or a status challenge. But they’re good about switching it up.

      Hilton Gold is still around.

      And in fact, they’ve added more benefits than they’ve taken away. Everything here is still available, and I confirmed they will have Caesar’s Diamond status in 2016.

      The $395/year lock-in has been going on for a while, but they keep extending it. So I guess it could end at any time.

      The JetBlue benny is 5% off fares and 6x points per $1 spent on flights – they give you access to a special FC portal.

      Re: Hilton – $20K spend is a lot, and other credit cards give it to you with payment of the annual fee. But this is a nice status to have if you don’t want to bother with tracking the spend or opening up another card.

      I’ve really enjoyed having the card, and will renew again this year. Hope that helps!

  5. The first comment ws never responded to regarding AT&T Business accounts. Can you please verify if you can use this cards discounts with an AT&T Business account or only personal accounts?

    • Sorry, it’s only for personal accounts per the T&Cs:

      “New and existing customers are eligible for discount as long as currently under a personal or post-paid family plan (business/corporate plans are not eligible for preferred pricing).”

    • Here are the details:

      -At participating United States dealers, you will be able to purchase or lease select MY15/16/17 Audi models at Dealer Invoice price plus $300 (excluding RS 5, RS 5 Cabrio, RS 7, TT RS, A8 W12, Q5 hybrid, and R* models. Other exclusions may apply.).
      -Examples of Dealer Invoice pricing may be found online via websites like Edmunds.com or others, but we make no guarantee of accuracy on those prices listed.
      -FoundersCard Members can purchase one (1) Audi vehicle per year with this program.
      -For eligibility in this program, FoundersCard Membership must be current and in good standing for a minimum of six (6) months prior to purchase or lease.

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