FoundersCard is a membership organization for entrepreneurs that offers industry discounts and benefits.
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An annual fee of $595 per year (plus $95 initiation fee) or discounted $495 membership via a member referral.
Instant access to a multitude of discounts and benefits along with member-only networking events.
Discounts & freebies in a multitude of industries including business, travel, lifestyle, and hotel.
- Great travel discounts & expedited hotel elite status
- Discounts or credit to several popular business services
- New perks are added regularly
- Several big-name retail partners
- Costly yearly fee
- Perks can disappear quickly without warning
- Some perks have fine-print
From my experience documented throughout this review, FoundersCard has proven to be a worthwhile purchase for me as I have easily made my money back on the annual fee through benefit redemptions.
However, the assortment of associated perks might not cater to your needs (apply here to see them before signing up) especially if you don't already spend a great deal of money on business or travel-related expenses each year.
A Good Purchase For Some
The Ideal Buyer
The FoundersCard membership is geared towards entrepreneurs and business people. If you are in any way affiliated with entrepreneurship, running a business or do a lot of traveling for work or pleasure then this would be a great service to invest in.
If you don't fall within these categories or you may, but don't see any benefits from the preview page that could save you money or time, then it's probably not worth your investment!
As an entrepreneur, I'm always looking for ways to save money on business expenses as well as network with other like-minded individuals to help grow my business. I am also a frequent user of credit card perks and rewards to save a buck on expenses that I am already going to be making.
In the past, I have seen a unique private membership club called the FoundersCard and decided to find out more about it for myself. Shortly after discovering this loyalty program geared for entrepreneurs, I applied to the invite-only membership and got to experience its perks for myself and I have remained a member for the last four years.
In the following review, I will touch on many of the questions surrounding the FoundersCard and describe both the pros and cons of my experience within the platform. While I will not be able to touch on all of the perks, I will do my best to cover enough information to help aid any potential new members and give you the nuggets of value that I've been able to experience as a member.
Keep in mind, despite being a FoundersCard member, I did not receive compensation from FoundersCard to write up this review or share my experience. Full disclosure, if you decide to sign up with my referral code it will save you money on our future memberships, but that is the extent of our relationship.
All of the thoughts and opinions stated in the remainder of this article are based on my own experience. As you read along, you'll see I also cover the negatives to the membership and how I think it is not the right investment for everyone.
What Is FoundersCard?
Many people have misconceptions as to what the card is and isn't. First off, the FoundersCard is NOT a credit card. There is absolutely no way to put charges on it and it does not serve as an alternative to cash or credit. The company behind FoundersCard is not a credit card issuer and has no relations to one.
Instead, it is more like a traditional AAA membership where it grants the cardholder perks in the form of discounts and networking access for a flat membership fee per year. Most of the value gained from FoundersCard comes from the wide array of discounts and perks offered to entrepreneurs to earn savings on travel, business, and lifestyle expenses.
If you live in or close to a major city, FoundersCard does host numerous networking events throughout the year (these were affected by the pandemic although it should return back to normal in 2022), so there is a good chance they will host one in your area at some point in the future.
My physical FoundersCard (cool although unnecessary for nearly every redemption).
The discounts and the networking are the two primary ways to benefit from the FoundersCard in exchange for the annual subscription. Depending on your business needs, it can easily justify the membership cost and save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars annually.
Each membership includes a physical version of your FoundersCard. This is used for gaining access to networking events and is sometimes required for in-person redemptions (such as hotel stays). For browsing and redeeming online discounts and access, you will be granted access to their member-only web portal along with their mobile app and chrome extension (notifies you when you access a retailer's website that offers a FoundersCard benefit).
How Much Does The FoundersCard Cost?
Becoming a FoundersCard member is not an overly complicated process, but it does require filling out an application which then has to be approved by their team. In order to make this FoundersCard review, we had to go through the same application process and approval.
The application requires providing basic information about yourself like your name, business name, role at the company, email, and referral code (a referral code will save you money so you really should use one). There is no financial or sensitive information requested as again, the FoundersCard is NOT a form of credit or debit.
Now for someone applying without a referral code, the current annual rate is $595 a year in addition to a one-time initiation fee of $95, and this pricing could increase in the coming years. If you use a referral code from an existing member such as myself (our referral code is THETECHREVIEWER), then this rate is dropped to $495 a year with a waived initiation fee.
Whatever price you pay with the referral code is locked in for renewal fees for the life of your account, so there is a significant benefit to using a referral code if you want to save money on the membership.
What About FoundersCard Elite Membership?
FoundersCard Elite membership is an upgraded version of the standard FoundersCard offering. This isn't designed for most people at an annual rate of $995, but it offers a few added benefits that help provide a VIP treatment:
- FoundersCard concierge who can help assist with travel booking and recommendations on restaurants, airlines, hotels, etc.
- A choice for a complimentary Spouse Membership (worth $395 annually) or Team Membership (valued at $295 per year)
- Special access and privileges for events and hotel reservations (where applicable)
- Limited Edition Stainless Steel Black Membership card
- Personalized leather luggage tag from Owen & Fred (an FC Partner)
While this FoundersCard review is mainly going to be covering the standard membership, I was granted access to FoundersCard Elite through referral incentives for a portion of a year. Frankly, it didn't feel like it offered really any considerable advantages that I would find appealing to warrant the elite status besides a cool-looking black stainless membership card which is really just a gimmick, at best.
There are some Elite-only perks that have entered into the membership in recent years like $5K in AWS credits,
As a standard member, I don't see any reason I'd upgrade unless I plan to purchase another membership for a colleague or family member in the future. The perks are a bit too vague for my liking, and I'm not sure there is a clear enough explanation of the increased value in return for the higher annual fee except when needing to add a spouse or team membership.
What Are The FoundersCard Benefits?
The name ‘FoundersCard' implies that it is only available to a company's founder, but the criteria for approval is wider than that, and it can be applied to anyone with a primary role in a business or entrepreneurs of all types.
Between all of the different categories and subsections within them, there are far too many benefits available to name one by one, so I'll be covering the most notable below. Those interested in browsing all the benefits that FoundersCard offers, you can do so after applying via this link.
Since this is the target demographic, the benefit of FoundersCard is honed down to providing value to business owners in one of five different categories:
Hotel Discounts & Loyalty Programs
Since many members are frequently traveling for business purposes, the FoundersCard provides a hotel & resorts program that offers a discounted rate, flexible cancellation privileges, and even further hotel benefits like complimentary upgrades and amenities.
Both domestic and international locations are available spanning nearly all the major cities you could want (most hotel benefits can be easily applied online using promo codes).
Beyond deals with specific hotels, FoundersCard benefits include negotiated partnerships with notable hotel and resort chains such as:
- Caesar's Rewards – Complimentary Caesars Diamond Status (no resort fees)
- Four Seasons
- Hilton – Complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status match
- The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group
- Park Hyatt
- The Peninsula Hotels
- Marriot Bonvoy – Platinum Elite Status Challenge
- W Hotels
- The Ritz Carlton
- Omni Resort & Hotels – Complimentary Omni Select Guest Platinum Status
- InterContinental Hotels & Resorts
From a business traveler's point of view, I think this is the real gold mine in the FoundersCard investment as you can quickly recoup your $500 in just a single stay (or a few depending on your travel situation). Getting some of these elite statuses with hotel chains can lead to other benefits that you'd have to pay for when staying at a hotel or resort property including free breakfast, free parking, room upgrades, waived resort fees, and more lucrative potential.
For a quick example, let's take into consideration that I wanted to travel and stay at the Park Hyatt New York from September 1-4th of 2021. Looking up this hotel, the cheapest room that they offer at a standard rate is $995/night with more expensive options also available.
With FoundersCard, I can stay in the same hotel and book the same exact room, but I will only pay $775/night thus offering me $220 in savings each day. There are even more savings to be had once we get to the more luxurious rooms with city views or a suite as the King Bed with City View room rents for $1,095/night to the everyday person and only $825/night for FoundersCard members ($270/night in savings).
With Las Vegas being a hotbed for business conventions and industry tradeshows, those frequenting Sin City can benefit greatly from the FoundersCard. Since I travel to the Consumer Electronics Show every year, the Las Vegas perks were incredibly enticing for me and one of the primary reasons that drove me to sign up for FoundersCard.
Teaming up with Caesars Entertainment and their Total Rewards Program, FoundersCard members are given a complimentary Diamond status (it used to be the 2nd highest in the tier structure, but it is now the middle of the road). Also, members receive 20% off the best available rate at Caesars Palace and associated properties including the Flamingo, the Cromwell, Nobu Hotel, Rio, Planet Hollywood, Paris, and the Linq.
The Diamond Total Rewards status offers tremendous value overall especially if you already frequent Caesar's properties during your Las Vegas trips. Since I'm not a big gambler, my favorite perks are the room discounts, preferred restaurant pricing, lounge access, a $100 celebration dinner gift credit, priority check-in, and the waived resort fees which can easily save you hundreds per stay.
Lifestyle & Retail Discounts
The lifestyle benefits section deals more with day-to-day luxuries and can be broken down into multiple sections: experience & access, health & fitness, food & wine, and premium retail.
Some of my favorite lifestyle benefits in this particular category include the following:
- Exclusive pricing on BMW and MINI vehicles (terms apply)
- 6% off MSRP of Audi vehicles (terms apply)
- 10% off Land Drover vehicles (terms apply)
- 10% off MSRP of Jaguar vehicles (terms apply)
- 15% off Steelcase furniture
- 15% off Herman Miller furniture
- Free year subscription to Entrepreneur Magazine
- Complimentary ShopRunner membership (free 2-day shipping from thousands of retailers)
- Preferred pricing at gyms like Equinox and Crunch Fitness
- 30% off Adidas.com
- 30% off Reebok.com
- 25% off Cole Haan
- 25% off Bang & Olufsen
- 20% off Tommy John
- 15% off Sonos
- 20% off first order of Wine Access then 10% off ongoing orders
- 25% off MIRROR (smart home gym)
- 20% from 1-800-Flowers.com
- 20% off massages, facials and body treatments at Bliss Spa
Beyond the hotel discounts, there are other travel-related benefits that FoundersCard members can utilize to save time and money.
These include airline benefits like discounts on flights, lounge access and even loyalty status from many major airlines including:
- American Airlines – AAdvantage Platinum Gold Status Challenge
- Virgin Atlantic – Flying Club Silver Status + Fast Track to Gold
- Cathay Pacific Airways – Complimentary Marco Polo Silver Status + 15% off fares
- British Airways – 10% off fares
- Qantas – 25% off fares
- United Airlines – 8% off fares
- Singapore Airlines – 15% off fares
These airline loyalty programs offer lots of lucrative perks like better rates on business class fares, access to business class lounges, seat upgrades, free in-flight amenities, priority boarding, waived luggage fees and more.
For those who do a lot of ground travel, FoundersCard does offer some travel incentives for you including several lucrative agreements with rental car companies:
- Hertz – 20% off rentals and automatic Hertz Gold Plus Elite Status
- Avis – complimentary upgrade and 25% off rentals
- Sixt Rent A Car – complimentary Platinum status and 15% off rentals
- Silvercar by Audi – 20% off rentals
- Zipcar for Business – save up to 20% on rentals
With a membership geared towards company owners and professionals, discounts and freebies are a huge segment of the FoundersCard membership where a lot of business savings can be gained.
Most of the exclusive benefits are great and useful to business owners of all types, but also where you'll see the largest amount of fine print when it comes to redeeming these small business benefits (I'll get more into this later).
The ‘business' section of FoundersCard is broken down into four sections: business essentials, FC coworking program, web services, marketing, valuable credits, web & design, and work from home.
Here are some of the most notable business discounts and rewards available for FoundersCard members:
- Up to $20K in fee-free payments through Stripe (jumps up to $50K in fee-free payments for ELITE members)
- $5K in AWS Activate Credits & 1 year of AWS Business Support (ELITE Members only)
- Up to 47% off UPS shipping pricing
- Up to 55% off at Office Depot
- Save up to 15% off AT&T Wireless plans
- Up to 60% off Lenovo.com (some of the lowest pricing that I've ever seen for their products, but discount varies on model*)
- Up to 40% off Dell products
- Save 20% on Shopify e-commerce plans
- Save 30% on Hubspot email marketing plans
- Save 20% off 1Password Team pricing
- Save 20% off Zoom Services, 10% off Zoom phone & a free Zoom Rooms license
- 1-Year complementary service to Phone.com
- $2,000 in credits towards AirTable
- 6-months of complimentary access to ZenDesk
- 30% off Slack plans
- Up to 20% off Eero.com (home networking equipment)
- 15% off your first year of Docusign
- 20% off Google Workspace Business Standard or Business Plus plans
- 20% off business cards and stationery products through Moo Inc.
Networking Events For Members
There is a famous saying “your net worth is determined by your network, ” and this is often shown true in business. Each year FoundersCard holds networking events at popular hotels or resorts in major cities for nearby or visiting members to meet and greet.
I stopped by the FoundersCard signature event at CES back in 2018. The venue was at the Mandarin Oriental which is a gorgeous hotel, but the event was held in a small room in the back of a crowded bar.
Due to complications in my schedule, I could only stay for about 30 minutes although I did meet a few other interesting members. There was only one FoundersCard staff in attendance who was working the door (I believe it was the CEO) and a small bar/light appetizers.
In terms of networking opportunities, most of the people there were from a very scattered background so I didn't meet any contacts that I thought were overly valuable although it was a decent experience overall.
Would I go again? Yes.
Would I travel a significant distance to attend this type of event in the future based on this experience? Probably not.
Is FoundersCard worth it just for the networking benefits? Unlikely.
Unfortunately, the pandemic has affected these events as it has for most other things in the world and all of the networking events have been pure on hold for the indefinite future until it is safe to hold them again.
The Notable Cons Of The FoundersCard Membership
If you do research online, you'll find a few common trouble points or complaints when using FoundersCard, and they are usually described as the following:
Most benefits have fine print and can be removed/changed overnight
This is true, but I do think some of the critics over-exaggerate the extent of both of these aspects. While I've experienced both cases, neither has really given me a bad taste in my mouth as I've always been able to redeem as instructed via the fine print.
The fine print is most relevant for the business perks as things like Apple loyalty pricing and the UPS discount have spending tiers to get the maximum value. This means the more you spend per year with Apple or per month with UPS, reflects the overall discount you are given on their products and services.
As for perks disappearing, I originally saw a lot of value in their MailChimp perk which offered a whopping $2,500 in MonkeyRewards (pre-paid credit) for FoundersCard members. I was able to redeem it without a hitch, but the perk and since been removed without warning.
I had concerns about my Caesars Diamond status membership which is only good on a yearly basis. The Total Rewards system automatically downgrades its members' status every January 1st unless the standard 15,000 Tier Credits are reached.
Email notification about my Diamond status upgrade.
In the case of the FoundersCard, I wasn't sure what would happen to my account and if it didn't get automatically renewed back to Diamond, I would be disappointed. I reached out to FoundersCard support and spoke with Shannon who assured me of the following:
Welcome to FoundersCard!
We have enjoyed the partnership with Total Rewards for a few years now. The contract is up for renewal each year in January, and if it is renewed, they will extend the “valid through” date of your Diamond upgrade through FoundersCard. While we aren't allowed to guarantee this contract will be renewed next year, we don't anticipate any changes to the program.
Please let me know if you have any further questions. Have a great day.
While I felt a bit uneasy that there was a chance the contract would not be renewed, that wasn't the case so my account was upgraded back to Diamond within days and I was able to redeem the perks at both CES 2017 and CES 2018.
Every year that I have been a member of FoundersCard, I have been able to redeem my Diamond Status with Caesars, but the benefits themselves have been cut slightly for those who fast track to Diamond Status versus those who play in the casino heavily as they can continue to gamble to achieve higher tiers of Diamond which then unlock further rewards.
Support is not helpful or lacking
In the past, people have complained about the lack of support from FoundersCard staff, but so far my experience has been good overall. I've consulted the customer service on more than one occasion to receive clarification, ask questions or give feedback and always received a polite response back in a timely manner.
After signing up, I had several representatives reach out to discuss the membership and be available if I needed any additional information including trying to schedule an introductory conversation via phone (which I declined due to my hectic schedule).
I have also ready some unhappy customers who have said FoundersCard rebills them after they have canceled the membership before its renewal. This was clearly a concern of mine in the event that I didn't receive the agreed-upon value from my first year of membership and wanted to leave the service.
After showing support staff Jennifer some online complaints stating this problem, she responded with the following:
If you want to cancel your membership or not be on auto-renewal you simply have to call or email us your request.
Please let me know if you'd like to set up a time to talk!
While I have to take her word for it, the customer support does seem solid at this time and I would be very surprised to see them not honor a prior cancellation before a re-bill based on my support experience thus far.
Yearly costs are too high
A reasonable perspective and one that I can't argue for most people. However, this card isn't created for most and it is geared for business professionals and entrepreneurs who are already spending a considerable amount of money on lifestyle and business expenses or travel costs.
Depending on your needs and budget, FoundersCard's target demographic should be able to make back their initial yearly fee in savings and start banking cash after taking advantage of just 1 or 2 of the long list of perks. If you don't see perks that you'd utilize from the membership preview page (available for viewing after applying here) then I would simply not recommend signing up.
How Much Value Have I Received From My Membership?
Now that I've run through the potential of the FoundersCard membership and its benefits, I'll talk more about how I have been able to save time and money using it over the past year which happens to be my first year as a cardholder.
Keep in mind, everyone's needs are different and the perks that I utilize could be much more valuable to me than they would be to you and vice-versa. Looking back, I have personally been able to get my money's worth on my FoundersCard membership pretty easily each year.
Here are some of the most notable FoundersCard redemptions that I've taken in the last few years (some are no longer offered):
- Caesar's Diamond Rewards – (Worth $370/year in perks for me)
- MailChimp – $2,500 in MonkeyRewards credits
- Phone.com – Free $120 Annual Package
- AT&T – 15% off my monthly bill equating to $143.55/year
- Yotel NYC – Saved $119.50 on a two-night stay in NYC
- Hilton – Fast track to Hilton Gold elite status (worth $980 estimated according to The Points Guy)
- AirTable – $2,000 in free credits
- Shoprunner – $79/yr in savings to receive free two-day shipping, free return shipping, and member-only deals (I use it for Newegg & several clothing retailers like American Eagle)
Every year that I've been a member of FoundersCard which is going on 5 years now, I've been able to make back my initial investment and then some through the redemption of membership benefits. A few years have resulted in more of an ROI than others, but this tended to coincide with the amount of travel that I was doing in these given years as I would save more if this were the case.
Review Summary – Is the FoundersCard Worth It?
To conclude this FoundersCard review, if you were to ask me whether a FoundersCard membership is worth it for everyone then the simple answer is no. Their target demographic is NOT everyone. If you are an entrepreneur, business owner, or high-level executive then you are the FoundersCard target demographic and thus you'll find the most use out of their benefits.
As someone who owns a tech business and travels a small portion of the year, I was able to find more than enough savings to make the yearly annual fee worth my investment and as I continue to travel more as the company grows, I see my yearly return rising.
Some of you may be better off just using rewards credit cards such as one from Bank of America, the Chase Sapphire Preferred or American Express Gold Cards). This way you can redeem travel rewards through business purchases which won't be as beneficial in savings for big spenders, but cheaper in yearly membership costs.
However, if take a look at the preview membership perks page (available after applying) and don't have any major benefits jump out to you as something you'd take advantage of to save yourself time or money then I don't think you should apply for FoundersCard.
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