Airline Discounts and Elite Status Perks With FoundersCard

by on August 30, 2011 · 39 comments

in American, FoundersCard, Qantas, Virgin Atlantic

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The FoundersCard is a paid membership that gives entrepreneurs discounts and networking opportunities. I joined earlier this summer on the recommendation of a friend, primarily for the networking opportunities (though not surprisingly I’ve been traveling for any of the key NYC events so far, oops). There have been a bunch of travel benefits added recently that I thought TPG readers might find useful. FoundersCard used to be exclusive, but I’m pretty sure they are on a big membership spree. Membership is normally $495 per year, but it is only $249 per year if you use promo code FCINSIDER21, valid through September 5, 2011.

Disclaimer: I do not have  a business relationship with FoundersCard. There was some confusion with their affiliation with American Airlines last year, but it seems to be resolved.

Per their website:
FoundersCard is a first of its kind members-only community for leading entrepreneurs and innovators. Among our members are the leaders of many of today’s most successful companies and tomorrow’s most promising ventures. Headquartered in Manhattan, FoundersCard has members in virtually every major city.

Our members receive access to exclusive benefits, upgrades, and amenities from the hottest travel, lifestyle, and business brands, carefully selected to meet the needs of the entrepreneurial lifestyle. Members also have the opportunity to network at invitation-only events held on a regular basis.

American Airlines Benefits:
Update: There is an American Airlines elite perk, but it is for members only and FoundersCard has asked me politely to remove the information. Feel free to  contact FoundersCard directly for more information.


10% discount codes for travel through September 30, 2011 may be redeemed by clicking the button below.  Unique codes are valid for 24 hours once they are issued and may be applied to itineraries on which you are listed as the Lead Traveler. We expect to have codes available for travel October through December by the middle of September.

One discount code per month may be retrieved via the automated request system.  If you would like an additional code, please contact (email redacted) who will fulfill your request, based on availability.

Qantas Benefits:
FoundersCard Members receive 10-20% off travel between US, Australia, and New Zealand. Discounts are available on all classes of service.

Virgin Atlantic Benefits:
FoundersCard members receive discounts up to 13% on travel to all Virgin Atlantic destinations in all classes of service.

As a FoundersCard member, you also receive an immediate complimentary upgrade to Flying Club Silver Status with a fast-track to Gold Status. Benefits include:

  • An extra 25% of miles flown on qualifying Virgin Atlantic flights.
  • Access to Premium Economy check in on every flight regardless of class of travel.
  • Priority standby on all eligible flights.
  • Receive four complimentary First Class upgrades, two each for Heathrow Express and Gatwick Express trains.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • aspiring traveler

    What would make the $250 worth the money? Would AA status be for life? I use Continental much more often since I live right neat Newark, but I don’t fly nearly enough to obtain elite status

  • nothing91

    Yeah, same question about Gold — is it for life or just for a year?

  • Sommers Jeffrey

    Im interested in the Qantas 10-20% off voucher. Is this really legit? I will be booking a $3k trip soon and the membership would pay for itself if I was guaranteed to get the discount. Any experience with this?

  • Walid Neaz

    Echoing the same question – if you get the lifetime membership with FC, does the AA Gold Elite apply for every year so long as you fly 2 RT on AA or you fly 2 RT and you get Gold for lifetime?

  • Chris Hutchins

    I not only have a FoundersCard and know the company well, but was responsible for the whole American fiasco on flyertalk last year. Anyways, the original promotion was for free AA Gold status for all “Charter Members” with no spending requirements with AA. However, this time around I’m pretty sure it’s just a fast track to qualify for next year, not something you’d get for life.

    If anyone wants an invite to FoundersCard, feel free to email me also (chris at chrishutchins dot com). Disclaimer: points are rewarded to members for all referrals who become members.

  • Anonymous

    It is definitely not lifetime status. It’s just a limited time offer to get Gold after 2 flights. Once you have Gold, you will have to maintain it. Whether they run the promo again next year (and whether you’d be eligible again) is unknown, but I doubt it.

  • Anonymous

    The discounts and the fact that this membership is an easy business write off. Elite status definitely isn’t for life- its just a fast track to Gold

  • Anonymous

    Not for life- its just a fast track. You have to maintain it once you get it

  • Chris Hutchins

    To clarify the Virgin Atlantic deal (since I tried to use it yesterday), its not valid for flights for trips that have a code share flight.

    I was trying to book SFO-LHR-DUB but I could only get 13% off SFO-LHR and would have to buy LHR-DUB separately. Unfortunately, even with the 13% off it was more expensive that the full undiscounted route.

  • Chris Hutchins

    Also there are probably 100 or so other benefits that aren’t airline related… Hotels, Rental Cars, etc. However most hotels are boutique/smaller chains (eg Morgans), and not starwoods or hiltons.

  • aspiring traveler

    What about Virgin Atlantic- this that status for life?
    I want to try to find a way to obtain Star Alliance status- I know Virgin Atlantic is partners with Continental- I don’t think they are members of the *A (as of yet). Please correct me if I am wrong

  • Anonymous

    None of the elite offers are status for life.. its all fast tracks or comps and then you need to requalify. The point of the program is to drive business to these vendors- not a lifetime elite status program

  • Federico

    I have Gold status on AA until Feb 12 and I will not qualify for the next year, do I still qualify for this promotion? I’m not sure about this

    “Please note that this benefit applies to FoundersCard Members who have not already received an Elite Status upgrade on American Airlines.”

    I did receive an Elite status trough AA but not as a FoundersCard Member, I’m sure that this is for Gold Status from now (after you make 2 RT flights) to Feb 13.

  • Anonymous

    You would not be eligible

  • Chris Hutchins


    I don’t think you can just sign up with the promo code without an invite. I’ve got ~27 available, so I’m happy to help fulfill any requests for invites. If you want one, you can email me (email in a comment below) or request an invite here:

    Also, I’ve added a screenshot of their benefit directory.

  • Chris Hutchins

    Happy to help a fellow TPG reader. If you want to let me know dates + city-pairs, I can try to get you a quote and see if the discount is eligible.

  • Anoop Kulkarni

    Since the status is only till next feb, chris in your experience is the membership worth it?

  • Chris Hutchins

    I get my value mostly from the hotel discounts. While I’m a crazy points guy when it comes to flights, I only stay in hotels a few times a year. So getting good rates at nice hotels is pretty valuable. Also, the AT&T Wireless discount helps :)

  • Shids

    Hi Chris, what is the att wireless discount?

  • Chris Hutchins

    “10% off standard rates on all voice plans and on data plans $30 or more in value, excluding unlimited voice and iPad data plans”

  • Federico

    I think that this is a good value if you want to make the AA Challenge which usually cost you $150 for Gold Status and 5.000 EQP. In order to get 5k EQP you have to fly like 10k EQM (most of the cheap flight earn 50% EQP).

    The extra $100 (FoundersCard vs Challenge) you will get it back after you use few 10% AA codes.

  • Federico


  • PanAm

    Is the QF discount applicable for Australia-New Zealand (trans-Tasman) flights or only USA to either country?

  • ArizonaGuy

    There are too many negative reviews of FoundersCard on the web. In the past, Starwood Lurker has confirmed that there is no direct marketing agreement between the companies despite Founders implying otherwise. There have also been seriously contentious AA issues both for charter and non charter members.

    I’d steer clear.

  • I_Want_AA_Gold

    So is the Gold status with 2 RT flights no longer on the table? That was my main interest and now it appears you’ve removed that part of the report. Can you no longer comment?

  • I_Want_AA_Gold

    So is the Gold status with 2 RT flights no longer on the table? That was my main interest and now it appears you’ve removed that part of the report. Can you no longer comment?

  • Anonymous

    It’s still available, you just need to be a member to see details that’s why I recommended you call if you want clarification before signing up

  • Chris Hutchins

    I know there are a lot of different opinions on FoundersCard and I don’t want to start that argument… but here’s a screenshot of my AAdvantage page… It might not work for everyone, but I can assure you it works for me…

  • Chris Hutchins

    The direct copy from the site says: “FoundersCard Members receive 10-20% off travel between US, Australia, and New Zealand. Discounts are available on all classes of service”

  • Christopher Ellis

    My sentiments exactly.

  • PanAm

    Thanks but that doesn’t really help as 8their wording is a little unclear. Although often misused in everyday conversation, “between” indicates a relationship with only two objects, so using the word in a listing of 3 objects muddles the intent (“among” would be the proper wording for listing a relationship with >2 objects). It’s unclear if they really mean “between the US and Australia AND between the US and New Zealand” or “among the US, Australia, and NZ”.

    I ask only because the discount could really help with some planned Trans-Tasman flights on QF next spring. Coupled with the AA status offer (depending on what it entails) I might be tempted to bite.

    Hate to have to parse sentences but after the FT incident that ArizonaGuy mentioned (which I almost spent $200 for the non-existent Gold offer), I’m a little cautious about FC offers.

  • Chris

    Chris: In your experience, how generous have the hotel discounts been? Any insight re: whether booking through Founders would be cheaper than using sites like Expedia?

  • Chris Hutchins

    I just called Qantas for you to get more detail, but the woman who manages the FoundersCard relationship (Mary) is on her break, so I can’t get you an answer right now…

    As for the issue in the past, you can see from my image below that I certainly got my account upgraded to Gold w/o flying AA. For those that actually applied and couldn’t get the status, I know they were all refunded. So maybe not the outcome everyone wanted, but people either 1) got Gold status or 2) got any money spent refunded.

  • Chris Hutchins

    It’s hard to generalize, but I usually get a better rate than I could get anywhere else. However, it’s mostly on boutique hotel chains like kimpton, standard, morgans…

  • ArizonaGuy

    I’m glad it works for you, honestly. I’m simply of the opinion that because of prior issues, a longer-term positive image is necessary before it’s worth the risk of a wasted fee for potential new members.

  • Guest

    can you please post what are their discounted rates for Equinox?

  • Anoop Kulkarni

    I probably read the post wrong, but I found out that the founderscard is $249 per year not a one time fee of $249. I’m out.

  • Enxx

    You state $249 for life using the code but when I contacted them they responded $249/year.
    You should change the wording unless I was given wrong info by FC:

    We are accepting applications at the preferred annual rate of $249 by using the promo code FCINSIDER21, valid through September 7, 2011.

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