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How Do FoundersCard Hotel Benefits Compare to Amex FH&R?

May 06, 2015
7 min read
How Do FoundersCard Hotel Benefits Compare to Amex FH&R?
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Today, TPG Senior Points & Miles Correspondent Nick Ewen explains how to find the best rates and get more for your money by using FoundersCard hotel benefits.

As the saying goes, "You get what you pay for." I've found that this is especially applicable to most premium travel and credit card products. Even though cards like Citi Prestige and The Platinum Card from American Express carry high annual fees, they're loaded with benefits that justify the cost.

However, what about other membership-only products? Earlier this year, TPG Contributor Leigh Rowan wrote about FoundersCard and explained the value he has gotten from its benefits. Last week, FoundersCard launched a limited-time offer for TPG readers of $400 off membership plus no initiation fee; however, FoundersCard is a little secretive about its benefits, so to help you evaluate whether the card is worth getting, today I want to examine one benefit in particular: the Private Hotel Collection.

Do the hotel benefits make a FoundersCard membership worthwhile?

Similar to the American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts program (and the Small Luxury Hotels program offered by rival Regal Card), FoundersCard provides members with a variety of benefits when booking stays at partner hotels through its site. The Private Hotel Collection is a carefully selected list of properties in both large cities and resort destinations, allowing you to choose from a wide variety of well-known brands and smaller, boutique locations. Last year, members booked over 15,000 nights in the 500+ properties across the portfolio.

The first (and arguably most valuable) benefit is access to discounted room rates. FoundersCard rates are privately negotiated and were previously reserved for corporate executives; on average, you'll save between $100 and $300 per night booking through the card's Private Hotel Collection (when compared to booking directly on a hotel's website). Depending on the property, you may find that your savings are even greater, so the discounted annual fee can easily be covered with just a couple of nights in partner properties.

The Grand Wailea in Maui is one Waldorf Astoria property where you get discounted rates as a FoundersCard member.

Unlike FHR, however, FoundersCard actually gives you access to chain-wide preferred rates at some of the top brands around the world. Other programs offer individual properties within these brands, but FoundersCard gives you automatic discounts across these chains:

  • Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts
  • Sofitel Hotels
  • Conrad Hotels & Resorts
  • Kempinski Hotels
  • Omni Hotels & Resorts
  • Taj Hotels

In addition to these discounted rates, you can also enjoy a variety of benefits at the actual hotel. These will vary by property, but you can expect room upgrades, early check-in/late checkout and welcome amenities when available.

You can enjoy a variety of on-property benefits at boutique hotels like the Delano in Miami Beach.

Here's a sample of benefits at some top partner properties that you'd have access to as a FoundersCard member:

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  • Ace Hotel, New York — preferred rates, complimentary welcome amenity, complimentary space-available upgrade;
  • The Delano, Miami Beach — preferred rates, complimentary space-available upgrade, early check-in/late check-out, $20 daily food & beverage credit per room;
  • W Chicago Lakeshore Hotel — preferred rates, complimentary wireless internet, 20% off Bliss Spa treatments.

For a full list, you can check out the FoundersCard Hotels website.

You can still earn loyalty points for stays at properties like the Andaz Tokyo.

Given that many of the FoundersCard properties are affiliated with a loyalty program (like the Andaz Tokyo and Conrad Maldives), you're probably wondering how this works with earning points and elite credit. Fortunately, like TPG experienced in Bali with Amex FHR, hotel stays booked through FoundersCard are still eligible to earn full loyalty points and elite stay/night credits. This is a powerful way to double-dip by leveraging the benefits and discounted rate through FoundersCard while still taking advantage of on-property recognition for your existing elite status.

If you're a Hilton fan and a FoundersCard member, you may not have to worry about pursuing elite status, since FoundersCard offers you automatic Gold status in the Hilton HHonors program. This gives you room upgrades, bonus points and complimentary breakfast. My recent valuation of Hilton HHonors elite status pegged HHonors Gold at $751, though at many Conrad and Waldorf Astoria properties, you'll likely get even more value than I estimated.

Your Total Rewards Diamond status gets you priority access to various dining spots, like the Eiffel Tower restaurant at Paris in Las Vegas.

Hilton isn't the only automatic status granted to FoundersCard members; you'll also receive complimentary Diamond status in the Total Rewards program. Depending on your typical travel patterns (i.e., how frequently you travel to Las Vegas), this can be an incredibly valuable benefit. For starters, just having the FoundersCard immediately gives you 20% off most rooms and suites at many Caesars Entertainment properties, including Caesars Palace, NOBU Hotel at Caesars and Harrah's properties in New Orleans, Lake Tahoe and Atlantic City.

Beyond that, Total Rewards Diamond status also gives you a variety of additional benefits at all Caesars Entertainment properties:

  • 20% discount at casino gift shops
  • Priority lines at check-in and restaurants
  • Access to Diamond Lounges
  • No resort fees
  • 15% discount at Total Rewards golf courses in Las Vegas, Southern Indiana, and the Gulf Coast

One of my biggest pet peeves about large resorts in Las Vegas is the ubiquitous resort fee, and this new benefit of Diamond status can be a big money saver. Resort fees at Caesars Entertainment properties range from $25 (at the Flamingo, Bally's and others) to $29 (at Caesars, NOBU and Paris, to name a few). On a mid-week stay, resort fees can easily add 50% to the total cost of your room, so being able to wipe them out is a nice perk.

You can also take advantage of the partnership between Caesars and Starwood Preferred Guest to earn Starpoints for stays at Caesars properties. This actually winds up being a quadruple dip for FoundersCard members: get discounted rates, use your Total Rewards Diamond status for on-property benefits, earn Reward Credits through the Total Rewards program, and bank Starpoints and elite status credits. Just be sure to register your SPG account.

FoundersCard gives you discounts on bookings made with HotelTonight.

One final hotel-related benefit is available with the HotelTonight app (the company's CEO, Sam Shank, has been a FoundersCard member since 2011). Anyone can use HotelTonight to make a last-minute reservation, and the app recently added the ability to search up to 7 days in advance. However, as a FoundersCard member you receive a $50 credit toward your first booking, and on all reservations you receive a 15% rebate toward your next reservation. Depending on your destination, this can be a solid discount.

Bottom line

FoundersCard certainly isn't for everyone, but if you typically travel to destinations with partner properties and can utilize the Hilton HHonors, Total Rewards and HotelTonight benefits, you could wind up saving some significant money! Remember that for a limited time, you can get FoundersCard for just $395 per year with no initiation fee using the promotional code FCPOINTSVIP.

What do you think of the hotel benefits on FoundersCard?

Featured image by You can use your Hilton certificates at top-tier properties like the Conrad Koh Samui.

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