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Quick overview of current bennies
They partner with American Airlines to offer a unique benefit each quarter. In the past, they’ve had discounts of 5% or 10% off most fares on AA metal, which can be quite a nice break with you fly American a lot.
Here are the current airline benefits:
- Virgin Atlantic: Complimentary Flying Club Silver Elite Status & Fast Track to Gold Elite Status
- Virgin Atlantic: Up to 20% off US & Vancouver originating Flights to the UK
- Cathay Pacific: Complimentary Marco Polo Club Silver Tier Status
- Cathay Pacific: 5-25% off flights
- JetBlue: FoundersCard Members save 5% on fares (excluding multi-city trips)
- Qantas: FoundersCard Members receive up to 25% off travel between US, Australia, and New Zealand. Discounts are available on most classes of service
- Emirates: 5-15% off fares for US originating flights
- British Airways: 10% off most roundtrip US, UK & Canada originating airfares
They are also offering Hilton Gold status through March 2016, free TripIt Pro, Avis First membership, Hertz Gold Five Star membership, six free months of CLEAR airport clearance, waived Zipcar application fee, $50 to use on HotelTonight, and 15% off all Silvercar reservations. Whew, what a list!
Not all of these discounts will be useful, but I think if you travel even a little bit that you can easily maximize these programs. Free TripIt Pro, Hilton breakfasts, car upgrades from Avis, and all the flight discounts could easily recoup the cost of the card. However, my favorite benefit (and the one that covers the annual fee for me) is the 15% off my monthly AT&T bill.
Gold with American
Anyway, back to American and the Gold Status Challenge because it is time-sensitive. Normally, AA charges $120 for a Gold Status Challenge. To make Gold, you must accrue 5,000 EQPs (Elite Qualifying Points – not Miles) to meet the requirements of the challenge, and you have 90 days in which to do it. If you fly one business class fare JFK-LAX round-trip, boom, you’ve earned 7,426 EQPs and you’re “Golden” through February 29, 2016 – 21 full months, which is pretty nice. At that point, you’ll start to earn the 500-mile upgrade stickers, get free bags checked and priority boarding, and earn a 25% bonus on all miles flown. See the rest of the benefits here.
This is interesting because the merger with US Airways will most likely be done by 2015, and Gold status might be a little more meaningful on the new combined airline. I’m hoping they get rid of the upgrade stickers and use an algorithm like some of the other airlines.
How to get it
If you’re interested, you have to have two things: a FoundersCard and a Business Extra account. They were able to open my card within a business day, so you’d definitely have time to do this after the Memorial Day weekend.
I have a referral code for anyone who wants to use it between now (and is valid until June 1st). Click through to the FoundersCard website and enter my VIP Promo Code FCHARLAN818 for an annual rate of $495 (over 35% off the standard rate of $795).
Then, sign up for Business Extra with your AAdvantage number.
Finally, click the link to sign up for the challenge on the FoundersCard website. Also sign up for all the other discounts and explore the other benefits while you’re at it. If you make Gold with AA, it effectively brings the membership down to $375 right off the bat ($495 minus $120). TripIt Pro is usually $99, which brings it down to ~$275. Then all the discounts you’ll have to use after that…
Read my initial review of FoundersCard if you’d like, and know that they do offer some pretty cool local networking events in a lot of major cities as well.
It’s not for everybody, but I thought this was an interesting quarterly benefit from FoundersCard and American.
If your situation aligns with the need for a status challenge with AA, or if you’ve been on the fence about getting a FoundersCard, this might be the thing that makes it worth it. Since I’m already Platinum on AA, I’m waiting until next quarter to see what the benefit with AA with be.
As always, think of your own cost-benefit analysis. I just wanted to share this in case anyone could use it. Please leave any questions in the comments below – I’ll do my best to answer quickly.
Happy travels over this holiday weekend!
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.