Editorial Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.
Update 2/1/19: Check out my updated review for 2019 here!
I wrote my first post about FoundersCard 4 years ago (!). And have been a member ever since.
I renew my membership every year to get discounts and many of the same ancillary benefits offered on co-branded credit cards. So it’s high time for an update about what FoundersCard gets you in 2018.
If anything, it’s gotten better. Though benefits have shifted, it’s still worthwhile if you can make the most of a few good deals.
In This Post
What’s FoundersCard about?
- Link: Apply for FoundersCard
At its core, FoundersCard is built for small business owners and entrepreneurs. The benefits reflect that.
But some, particularly travel and lifestyle benefits, would be of use to most peeps. Especially if you’re a frequent traveler.
FoundersCard breaks down their perks into:
Over the years, I’ve gotten huge savings from discounts with AT&T, elite status and offers for travel, 2 cheap trips to the Bahamas, and fun perks like free magazine subscriptions, free TripIt Pro for a year, access to a free private jet flight, and a fun event in Dallas with drinks and gifts.
Basically, if you can find 2 or 3 perks that make sense, you can do well with a FoundersCard membership.
Let’s take a look at popular benefits in each category.
- Alaska – 5% off fares within the US, Hawaii, and Canada
- American – Rotating quarterly benefit. Past quarters included free Platinum elite status challenges, a percentage off fares, and Business Extra points
- British Airways – Up to 10% off most fares between the US/Canada and the UK (this is a perk of the Chase British Airways card)
- Cathay Pacific – Silver elite status and 5 to 25% off flights
- Emirates – 5% to 10% off fares from the US
- JetBlue – Up to 5% off fares
- Qantas – 8% to 25% off fares between the US and Australia/NZ, depending on flight direction
- Singapore – Up to 5% off select flights from the US
- Virgin America – 5% off fares in the US, Hawaii, and Canada
I’ve made excellent use of the American Airlines benefits. And saved money on paid flights, earned elite status from free challenges, and bonus Business Extra points (which I redeem for lounge access).
You can also save 5% with Alaska/Virgin America, JetBlue, and Singapore. And 10% off with British Airways. Not huge discounts, but certainly a nice offer. Especially if you get travel reimbursed or fly those airlines a lot.
- Caesars – Free Diamond elite status through January 2019, waived resort fees, VIP lines, $100 Celebration dinner, 20% off select room rates
- Hilton – Free Gold elite status through March 2020 (free breakfast, upgrades when available, late check-out, extra points on paid rates)
- Marriott/Starwood – 3 months of Gold elite status, with a challenge to keep it through February 2019 with 6 paid stays in 3 months
These are all excellent perks – without having to open a credit card. I love Hilton Gold elite status for the free breakfast. If you stay at these hotels often, you can get:
- Bonus points
- Free breakfast
- Late checkout
- Room upgrades
- Possible lounge access, if you score a Club floor room
I get Hilton and Marriott/Starwood through Amex cards. But this is an excellent perk you usually have to earn or get through certain cards.
- Avis – Free Avis Preferred Plus Membership and rental discounts
- Hertz – Free Gold Plus Rewards or FIVE STAR membership and rental discounts
- Silvercar – 20% off rentals (this discounts also comes with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card)
- Sixt – Free Platinum Sixt Card Membership and rental discounts
Again, these are all perks of certain cards. I usually rent through Priceline/Costco/Chase Ultimate Rewards. But it’s worth checking every time for the best deal (and I always do – I sometimes find cheaper rates with Hertz status than I find anywhere else).
Other travel savings
Here’s where it gets fun.
- CLEAR – 6 months free of CLEAR membership and $140 a year rate thereafter (usually $179 a year, but you can do better booking through Delta for $99 or less a year anyway)
- JetSmarter – Free 3-Month JetSmarter Membership
- ZipCar – Waived setup fees for small business owners
- TripIt Pro – Free year, then $39 annual rate for 3 years
I had a Zipcar membership when I lived in New York and loved saving on the initiation fees.
I’ve also gotten hooked on TripIt Pro since it was a benefit on the old Barclay Arrival Plus. I’ve kept it since – it’s becomes part of my travel organization and flow.
Every now and again, a new benefit will pop up, like a free private jet flight through JetSmarter. It’s little things like this that keep me year after year.
Shipping, phones, and data backup:
- UPS – Big discounts on shipping (up to 47% off)
- AT&T – 15% off most voice and data plans $30+, not including unlimited voice and iPad plans
- Backblaze – 20% off 1- or 2-year subscriptions (something like this is a MUST for small businesses, or anyone with a computer)
Promotion and documentation:
- MOO – 20% off business printing
- Constant Contact – 15% off marketing tools and emails
- Shopify – 20% off for a year after a 14-day trial, to have your own e-shop
- LegalZoom – 20% off (I’ve used this a few times)
- BizFilings – 25% off services
I’ve personally used these combined discounts several times. It really does add up. I’ve incorporated LLCs, written a will, and gotten business cards for the blog with the participating companies.
These are all geared toward building your small business. In that sense, saving some cash definitely helps the bottom line.
There are a lot of great discounts in this category:
- Trunk Club – $100 credit toward your first shipment
- Mr Porter – $200 off your first $500+ order
- Entrepreneur magazine – Free 1-year subscription
- Inc. magazine – Free 1-year subscription
- Dollar Shave Club – $18 in credits toward a razor subscription
- Adidas.com – 30% off most items
- Rent the Runway – 20% off
- Spafinder Wellness 365 – 15% off gift certificates
- ShopRunner – Free membership (although this comes with many credit cards, including all Amex personal cards and some Citi cards)
Most of them are for online shopping at upscale clothing stores. But there’s also gyms, spas, flower shops, coffee, and lots more (69 lifestyle benefits currently).
I’ve used them here and there (like Dollar Shave Club and a gym membership). And the free magazines were handy to toss in a bag to read during a flight or layover.
Everything here is a “nice to have” – not crucial, but a fun extra. And again, it adds up if you shop often at a few of the merchants.
FoundersCard has relationships with several hotel chains and independent/boutique hotels around the world. You can get:
- Exclusive members-only rates
- Upgrades and extra perks
- More flexible cancellation policies
- No travel agent/booking fees
For example, at certain Starwood hotels, perks include:
- Complimentary welcome drinks
- More flexible cancellation privileges
- Spa discounts
- Free breakfast
- Discounts off the standard room rate
You get similar treatment at Marriott and Park Hyatt hotels – although the specific perks are unique to each hotel.
Even better, you can book directly. So you’ll still earn credit toward elite status and enjoy your elite status benefits. The caveat is that only:
- 21 Starwood hotels participate (mostly W hotels, a few St. Regis, and a couple others)
- 14 Marriott hotels participate (Some Ritz-Carltons, and a few others)
- 7 Park Hyatts participate
While this is a cool benefit, it’s certainly not all-encompassing. But if you have paid cash stays in a FoundersCard hotel city, you can get a few extras at places that don’t partner with Amex or Chase and their respective upscale hotel programs (Fine Hotels & Resorts and Luxury Hotel Collection– Frequent Miler has a nice comparison).
I ran a search in Dallas and turned up 2 hotels in the FoundersCard program. New York has 11. Hong Kong has 1.
I don’t consider this a huge money-saver as it’s so limited, but nice to have in your back pocket. And worth checking the prices for any paid stays at upscale hotels.
What’s it all worth?
As of writing, FoundersCard is $395 a year with waived initiation fees for Out and Out readers.
If you can make good use of 2 or 3 benefits, it can easily save you that much – and often more.
For example, my AT&T phone bill is ~$110 per month for 2 lines. I save $15 per month with the FoundersCard discount (applied before taxes). That’s $180 saved per year on something I need anyway – and brings the net cost of membership down to $215.
I have easily saved that much with the:
- TripIt Pro discount (free for a year, then $10 cheaper for 3 years)
- American Airlines lounge membership from FoundersCard promotions for Business Extra points (I go in all the time for snacks and drinks)
- LegalZoom 20% discount ($50+ in savings)
- Total Rewards Diamond elite status with $100 Celebration dinner and trip to the Bahamas (huge, huge discounts with this perk alone)
- Dollar Shave Club credits ($18 to start)
Also, if you value hotel elite status, you can get Gold elite status with Hilton, and can earn it via a challenge for Marriott/Starwood (and get it free for 3 months).
The airfare discounts are also handy to save here and there.
Using the deals = savings, not using them = not saving
It’s easy to completely cover the cost of the annual membership. But the real worth is if you can use the benefits or not. If you do, you come out way ahead – $1000s ahead, in some cases.
And if you don’t find the discounts useful, then you shouldn’t waste your time and money. The goal of FoundersCard is to give small business owners access to discounts typically enjoyed by huge corporations. In that way, it gets you more access, savings, and perks than you’d ordinarily have.
I love my FoundersCard membership. And will definitely keep it with the current value proposition.
Preview the membership here. If you like it, use promotion code “FCHARLAN2018” to lock in the special $395 a year rate for life.
- Link: Apply for FoundersCard
I hope this is a balanced review of FoundersCard. The upshot is: if you use the benefits, you can do well to recoup the entire annual membership fee – and much more. If there’s nothing that appeals to you, move on.
I get enough return on my membership with the AT&T discount, which saves me $180 a year (this is irrelevant if you don’t have AT&T, but I do). And all the other savings are easy and fun – which is the feeling I get from FoundersCard membership. I love checking the new perks and using the various discounts.
Many of the built-in benefits are ancillary with many credit cards. But here, you can access them without signing up for lots of cards.
As long as the value remains, I’ll keep FoundersCard. I’ve been a member for 4 years. The savings are easy, discounts pop up often, and they’re engaged in the end product and user experience. It’s amazing for small business owners looking to access many of the same travel, hotel, lifestyle, and business benefits usually only given to large corporations.
Interested? Preview the membership here. And if you want to apply, use promotion code “FCHARLAN2018” to lock in the reduced membership rate.
If you have FoundersCard, what do you think of it? Have you gotten outsized value from membership?
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