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FoundersCard: Should It Be in Your Wallet?

Some years back, I was told about the FoundersCard by a friend. I was encouraged over and over again to sign up for the card, but since the person pushing it wasn’t someone who had a firm grasp on value, I just simply ignored it at the time.

In an effort to educate myself on all of my options to save on travel and make travel more comfortable, though, I decided to take a bit of a deeper look to determine if the FoundersCard is actually worth it.

What Is FoundersCard?

Imagine you have an American Express Platinum Card with all the benefits, but you can’t actually charge anything to the card. That’s basically the core concept behind the FoundersCard: it is not a credit card, but rather, it’s a lifestyle card.

For an annual fee and an initiation fee, you are granted both travel benefits and business-oriented discounts. 

I will say that the card design is actually quite appealing: I have never seen a card with a screen door before. 😉

How Much Does FoundersCard Cost?

Before we delve into the benefits, I think it’s fair to lay out the cost of the membership. I’ll be providing my opinion on the card, but ultimately, it’s you that needs to decide whether or not the card makes sense.

There are two tiers of membership for FoundersCard: Standard and Elite. 

A Standard Membership costs US$595 per year, plus a one-time US$95 initiation fee. 

A Standard Membership purchased with the referral code viptrialrun6 costs US$395 per year, with a waived initiation fee. This referral code was included when I signed up to receive information about FoundersCard, and it also comes with a free six-month trial. 

But don’t get too excited, as all the major benefits, including status, are not included in the trial offer. For these, you must pay full price for the Standard Membership.

Meanwhile, an Elite Membership costs US$995 per year, plus a one-time US$95 initiation fee.

As you can see, the fees are quite steep, especially considering the fact that premium credit cards, such as the Business Platinum Card by American Express, come with similar benefits and signup bonuses at a lower cost.

While I haven’t done much scouring, FoundersCard has been known to reduce the cost of membership through social media and advertising channels. If you’re interested, a bit of ground work might afford you with a cheaper membership rate.

What Benefits Does FoundersCard Offer?

Covering every single benefit would make for a very lengthy post. According to the Benefits page, there are at least 324 “benefits” that come with the card.

Most of these “benefits” include negligible perks, such as 25% off Jenni Kayne clothing. These kinds of discounts make up the vast majority of the 324 mentioned benefits.

By the way, the link to the Benefits page that I posted above is only available after you sign up for more information. So, you’re welcome: I just saved you from a daily email reminding you to sign up.

Aside from questionable perks, though, let’s take a look to see what kind of real benefits this card offers.

For Miles & Points enthusiasts, the travel benefits are likely the most appealing, so we’ll spend most of our time reviewing these perks to determine whether the costs can be justified. The key travel benefits we’ll examine are:

  • Airline status and benefits
  • Hotel status and benefits
  • Rental car status and benefits
  • Business benefits

Airline Benefits

If you’re looking for status with an airline through the FoundersCard, you’d best look elsewhere. All you’ll receive is entry-level status from two airlines with relatively small footprints in Canada.

With Cathay Pacific, FoundersCard grants you Marco Polo Silver Status and up to 15% off of base fares. 

With Virgin Atlantic, it grants you Flying Club Silver Status, with the ability to fast track to Gold Status after earning 500 Tier Points within six months.

The statuses conveyed are the entry-level tiers in their respective loyalty schemes, so don’t expect the red carpet to be rolled out if you end up flying with Cathay Pacific or Virgin Atlantic. 

Every other airline benefit is a nominal savings on airfares:

  • British Airways: Save 10% on fares
  • United Airlines: Save up to 12% on fares
  • Qantas: Save up to 25% on fares
  • Emirates: Save up to 5% on fares
  • Singapore Airlines: Save up to 15% on fares

There are a few private jet companies (Wheels Up, xo, and Surf Air) that also provide benefits or discounts. If that interests you, take a further look here.

Hotel Benefits

Hotel benefits are one of the more attractive benefits of the FoundersCard program, but they aren’t without shortcomings.

Let’s start with the conveyed status and then dive a little deeper into the Caesars Rewards benefits, as there’s a little more than meets the eye.

With FoundersCard, you would receive the following hotel statuses: 

  • Hiltons Honors Gold Status
  • Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite Challenge, where you earn Platinum status after 15 paid nights within three months of enrollment, and then enjoy Platinum Elite status for up to one year.
  • Omni Select Guest Platinum
  • IHG Rewards Gold Elite 
  • Caesars Rewards Diamond Status

If you are a frequent visitor to Las Vegas, the Caesars Reward Diamond Status affords many benefits that may interest you, such as waived resort fees, priority lines at check-in, and room discounts.

While the Las Vegas benefits are valuable not all that impressive, what is special are the two complementary stay benefits that are included at the Caesars Diamond Status level.

Caesars Diamond members can enjoy a free four-night stay at Atlantis in the Bahamas. This can offer you significant savings if you were planning a trip the Bahamas.

One thing to keep in mind is that this benefit could be pulled at any time. Indeed, Caesars also offers a free two-night stay at the Ceasars Palace Dubai for Diamond members, but only for those who have earned status rather than getting it as a FoundersCard benefit or matching to it from other programs.

For now, the Atlantis Paradise Island Bahamas benefit doesn’t specify that Diamond status must be earned, but take note that this can always change in the future. 

Car Rental Benefits

Rental car status tends to be fairly easy to obtain through status matches, so having these benefits conveyed through the FoundersCard isn’t a game changer by any means. However, it’s certainly a nice to have rental car status benefits at your fingertips.

Here are the benefits for car rentals from FoundersCard:

  • Hertz: Save up to 20% and receive Gold Plus Rewards status
  • Avis: Receive a complimentary upgrade and up to 25% off of rates
  • Sixt: Platinum Status and 15% off of rentals
  • Silvercar by Audi: Save up to 20%
  • Zipcar for Business: Save up to 20%

While the discounts are decent, there is nothing here that really sticks out to me as a really meaningful benefit. If you are looking for discounts on car rentals, you are probably a lot better off using a service like Autoslash.

Business Benefits

So far, none of the benefits of the FoundersCard have really resonated with me. One area that might provide some value to many of our readers, though, is under the category of business benefits.

At first blush, there seems to be a few distinctive benefits for businesses that might justify the cost of the membership. Amongst these, the most interesting is free Stripe processing.

Stripe is a payment processing portal that allows retailers and merchants to accept credit card payments. With FoundersCard, members are given $20,000 or $50,000 in fee-free processing with the Standard or Elite Memberships.

While this is a nice benefit, keep in mind that based on the calculated savings, you would be paying 2.92% on every transaction through Stripe that is beyond the included fee-free processing, which is a bit steep indeed.

There are additional benefits geared towards business owners, but many of them tend to be intended for niche audiences. For example, Elite members can receive $5,000 in Amazon Web Services (AWS) and a year of AWS Business Support.  That’s useful if you’re using Amazon’s cloud services, but otherwise, it’s negligible.

I would recommend that you take a look at all the business benefits the card offers to determine for yourself if these perks make sense for your particular situation. 

Is the FoundersCard Worth It?

In my honest opinion, the value that can be derived from the FoundersCard is incredibly limited, especially if you already hold status with hotels or airlines.

For me, the biggest selling point of the FoundersCard is the Caesars Diamond status and the complimentary four-night Atlantis Bahamas stay that comes with it. Since there are potentially less costly ways to access the same perk, however, I personally wouldn’t use the value of this stay to justify the annual fee. 

So why are there so many people recommending FoundersCard? I have to imagine it’s because of the referral system they have in place, as it tends to help existing cardholders gloss over the pitfalls of the program when recommending it to others. 

Conclusion

The FoundersCard was created to provide business owners with a way to buy into a membership that would grant valuable benefits. For some, this holds true.

Can you get the value out of the membership fee? In certain situations, the answer is a resounding yes, but for most, the perks miss the mark.

If status is what you are after, you are better off signing up for something like the American Express Platinum Card and securing Gold status with Hilton, Marriott and Radisson. Mix in some free lounge access with Priority Pass, and you’re miles ahead of the FoundersCard benefits if travel perks are your main driver. 

In sum, this is a card that has no place in my wallet.

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