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The FoundersCard comes with a steep membership fee, but it can unlock some great perks, such as sizable travel discounts. Below, TPG Senior Points & Miles Correspondent Nick Ewen demonstrates how the card comes in handy when booking flights on three different airlines.
Traveling can be an expensive and stressful proposition. Airlines are reporting record profits yet continue to charge exorbitant change fees and high ticket prices. Fortunately, there are many ways that you can enjoy discounts when you hit the road, and today I want to highlight some of those offered on a potentially lucrative product: FoundersCard.
TPG Contributor (and COO) Leigh Rowan has written about the card before, which usually costs $795 per year plus a one-time $95 initiation fee. However, when you use the code TPGVIP to sign up for FoundersCard, you’ll lock in a yearly membership fee of $395 and have the $95 initiation fee waived. That’s still a large chunk of change, and the card clearly isn’t for everyone. But if you know the benefits and can take advantage of them, you could get a ton of value out of the card.
One of the newest benefits added to the card is a discount on American Airlines flights. Now through November 1, 2015, you can get 5% off domestic round-trip flights or 10% off round-trip transatlantic flights from the US to Europe. The nice thing about these offers is that the discount comes in the form of a coupon code that you use on AA.com (rather than having to call a travel agent only to find that its ticket prices are much higher).
Let’s say you wanted to fly from New York to Los Angeles for a weekend in late October. Here’s a round-trip flight without the discount:
Here’s that same flight with the discount code applied:
Even though the discount is only applied to the base fare, it drops the taxes you’ll pay a bit as well.
There are a few additional aspects of these discounts that are especially appealing:
- You’ll earn full miles on the flight (since you’re booking directly with American)
- You can use the code multiple times
- You can use the code for multiple travelers
As a result, the savings (and mileage accrual) can really add up, especially when you account for the carrier’s bonus mile promotion on premium fares that runs through the end of the year.
Another FoundersCard partner is British Airways, offering members 10% off most round-trip flights originating from the US, UK or Canada. Unlike the American discount, you don’t even need a code to take advantage of it; you simply click through the link in your FoundersCard account to access a special page and search for applicable flights. Unfortunately, the discount is only applied to the base fare of the ticket. Since British Airways is notorious for its enormous fees and surcharges, the effective discount may not be anywhere near 10%.
Let’s say you want to fly from Miami to London for the Thanksgiving holiday. Here’s the standard price for a ticket:
Here’s the same pair of flights with the FoundersCard discount:
As you can see, the vast majority of both tickets ($695.05, almost 70%!) consists of taxes, fees and surcharges. You’d be able to save $36 on the flight, but since the additional charges are identical, your actual discount winds up being just ~3.4%. Still, if you book flights with BA on a regular basis, this does have the potential to save you some significant money.
Here are the additional terms for the discount:
- It can be used on any class of service
- It’s only valid for outbound travel through April 30, 2016
- Flights must be marketed by British Airways but can be operated by American or Iberia
- You can earn Avios on these discounted flights
If you’d rather travel on one of British Airways’ chief rivals, Virgin Atlantic, FoundersCard also has you covered, with discounts on flights to the UK from the US and Vancouver. The published benefit is “up to 20% off” the base fare of these flights, though it again has no impact on the significant taxes and fees added by the carrier. In addition, you must either call or submit a request via email to take advantage of the discount, so it’s not nearly as seamless as the American and British Airways discounts.
Still, if you regularly travel on Virgin Atlantic from the US to the UK, this perk can save you some decent money, especially on Upper Class tickets. I was able to find round-trip flights from Los Angeles to London over the holidays for just over $3,300, which isn’t terrible for transatlantic business class from the West Coast to the UK:
With a base fare of $2,064, you’d be looking at over $400 off, bringing your total out-of-pocket expense to less than $3,000.
In addition to the discount, FoundersCard members also enjoy complimentary Flying Club Silver Elite status after completing one flight, which includes a 50% mileage bonus on paid flights as well as access to Premium Economy check-in. Cardholders also can utilize a fast track to Gold offer by earning 20 tier points within the first seven months of joining (half of the usual requirement). You earn tier points on qualifying Virgin Atlantic and partner flights, with premium economy and business class offering higher earning rates. In fact, the above Upper Class flight from Los Angeles to London would get you halfway toward completing the fast track to Gold!
Once you’ve earned Gold status in the Flying Club program, you’ll enjoy several additional benefits, including 100% bonus miles, no change fees when you modify the dates of an award booking, access to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses for you and a guest and additional benefits on partner airlines (like Delta and Singapore).
While these three stand out to me as appealing to the widest swath of TPG readers, the card comes with numerous other discounts and travel perks across a wide spectrum of providers. Some of these include:
- Avis: Complimentary Avis Preferred® Plus Membership plus up to 25% off rentals
- Cathay Pacific: Complimentary Marco Polo Club Silver Tier status plus 5-25% off flights and preferred pricing for businesses
- Emirates: 5-10% off fares
- Hertz: Complimentary Hertz #1 Club Gold or #1 Club Gold FIVE STAR® membership plus up to 15% off rentals in the US and 20% off rentals in Europe
- Qantas: 15% off travel between the US, Australia and New Zealand
- Silvercar: 15% off all car reservations plus waived fuel refill fee and complimentary gas tank top off
- Sixt: Complimentary Platinum Sixt Card Membership plus up to 15% off rental bookings
- Virgin America: 5-12% off most fares
FoundersCard does require a significant yearly investment, but depending on your travel patterns, it could be a solid value proposition. The card also carries additional perks like discounts on business purchases and lifestyle benefits. Remember that using the code TPGVIP when you sign up will get you more than 50% off the yearly price and waive the $95 initiation fee, so if you’ve been eyeing this card, now’s a great time to pull the trigger.
What are your thoughts on these discounts offered with the FoundersCard?
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