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Update: Tropicana is no longer accepting status matches from those holding Ceasars cards.
Shortly before starting my internship at TPG, I came across Peter Rothbart’s post on maximizing the benefits of FoundersCard in Las Vegas. Like Peter, poker plays a large part in my life as I run a poker coaching business and have a strategy podcast and blog. Knowing that I would be returning to World Series of Poker in Las Vegas this coming summer and likely staying at Caesars properties, saving a ton of money on resort fees alone convinced me to apply for the card.
FoundersCard‘s current public offer is $795 per year for membership, plus a one-time $95 initiation fee. (Update: For a limited time only, FoundersCard is offering TPG readers a preferred annual fee of $495 with a waived initiation fee when you apply using this link.)
Now you might be thinking how could we at TPG recommend a card with no sign-up bonus that costs around the same as the best premium travel credit cards. Well, first of all, it’s important to note that FoundersCard isn’t a credit card; you can’t charge purchases to it — instead, as a member you’re eligible to a wide variety of discounts, including many specific to Las Vegas.
There are many ways to recoup the annual fee and then some: In my first year of membership, I’m on track to get over $4,000 in value. Below, I’ll walk through some of the main benefits that make FoundersCard so lucrative for me.
Total Rewards Diamond Status ($1,100)
One major benefit of FoundersCard membership is Diamond status in the Total Rewards program used by Caesars properties in Las Vegas and beyond — and among the perks included in this status are waived resort fees. Given the average $30 price tag of resort fees at Caesars hotels in Vegas, I’d only have to stay 14 nights over the next year to recover the $395 annual fee, which I certainly plan to do.
I’ll likely stay about 25 nights at Caesars properties in 2017, so I’ll save about $750 from having FoundersCard. In addition to waived resort fees, Total Rewards Diamond status includes an annual dinner of up to $100 comped, plus access to Diamond Lounges with hot food in Las Vegas. See the full list of perks here. I’ll value each visit to the Diamond lounge buffets at about $10, and estimate I’ll eat at these lounges for at least 25 meals in 2017.
Elite Status at Other Casino Resorts ($500)
Now what if you don’t typically stay or play at Caesars properties? Well with a status match, it doesn’t matter. If you present your Diamond card at the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City or Las Vegas or at the Palms, Plaza or Silver Sevens in Vegas, you will receive their highest or second-highest level of elite status, complete with a wide array of benefits. For example, if you go to Tropicana with your Diamond card and receive Gold status in Tropicana’s program, you’re entitled to a free Carnival cruise every calendar year.
Plus, the Borgata in Atlantic City will soon be changing its rewards program to MGM M Life. If you currently have FoundersCard, or just are a Diamond status members at Caesars from your own play, if you go to the Borgata over the next few weeks and present your Diamond card, you’ll get a My Borgata Black Label card. When the Borgata transitions to the M Life program, you’ll receive the M Life equivalent of Diamond status, likely M Life Platinum. So if you happen to spend a lot of time at MGM properties rather than at Caesars hotels, you can have your cake and eat it too (for at least the next few weeks).
It’s hard for me to know exactly how much value I’ll derive from these various elite programs as I’ve never frequented any resort-casinos besides Caesars properties, but I think $500 is a fairly conservative estimate for the free hotel stays, meals, parking, and even potentially a cruise that I’ll get in 2017.
Incredible MailChimp Benefit ($2,500)
Even if I wasn’t able to get Caesars Diamond status or any other program’s elite status, I still would not have regretted my decision to apply for FoundersCard thanks to the MailChimp benefit included in the membership. For anyone who runs a business or blog, having an email newsletter is essential. I was already using MailChimp for email marketing, so when I found out that FoundersCard offers a one-time $2,500 account credit to every member, I was surprised at how easily I’d be able to take advantage of my new membership.
Equinox Gym Membership Discount ($385)
Since moving to NYC a few weeks ago, I joined the Equinox gym. After signing up for FoundersCard, I was delighted to see that it offers a preferred monthly Equinox rate of $190 for FoundersCard members. Equinox’s membership tier that offers access most of its locations was quoted to me for $225 a month, so I’m now going to get $35 off for my subsequent months’ dues.
Entrepreneur and Inc. Magazine Subscriptions ($105)
As an entrepreneur, I find yearly subscriptions to two of the most influential business magazines to be a huge plus. My subscription for Entrepreneur Magazine just ran out a couple months ago, and while I’ve never read Inc., I now can look forward to reading both without any additional out-of-pocket costs. This card is geared for those who are running their own ventures, so on top of the magazines, FoundersCard also throws in several networking events every year for its members. I haven’t been to one yet, but imagine I’ll have the opportunity to meet some influential and inspirational people there.
Looking now on Entrepreneur and Inc.’s sites, subscriptions are $100 and $63 annually, although they both frequently run promotions where you can get 75%+ off so I’ll split the difference and say the benefit is worth about $65 and $40 respectively.
For those who run their own businesses and like to travel in style, I can see the benefits really adding up quick. Especially for those who pay cash for business-class tickets, here are a few examples of benefits that could easily be worth the $395 price tag:
- American Airlines
- Earn 3,000 Business Extra bonus points for $5,000 in eligible spend (Equivalent to an annual Admirals Club membership)
- New enrollees to Business Extra also receive 650 bonus points after completion of a qualifying flight (can be redeemed for a one way domestic upgrade)
- Cathay Pacific
- Complimentary Marco Polo Club Silver status
- 5-25% off all flights
- Marriott Rewards
- FoundersCard Members receive three months of complimentary Marriott Rewards Gold Elite status, which we valued at $1,845 last year.
- Make six paid stays within three months of registering to keep your Gold Elite status through February 2019.
- FoundersCard members receive up to 15% off travel on US-originating flights to Australia and New Zealand as well as Australia- and New Zealand-originating flights to the US.
- Singapore Airlines
- Receive up to 14% off of most US-originating flights booked via the FoundersCard portal.
- Virgin Atlantic
- Complimentary Flying Club Silver elite status after completing one flight
- Up to 20% off US- and Vancouver-originating flights to the UK
- Solid Discounts at Hundreds of Boutique Hotels in Major Cities
- Gansevoort Park Ave: 20% off the best available rate, 15% off Ristorante Asellina and 20% off spa services at Exhale
- Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles: 15% off the best available rate
- Sanderson Hotel, London: 20% off the best flexible rate, complimentary wireless internet and on stays through April 30, FC Members receive complimentary English Breakfast and a complimentary welcome cocktail
- The Standard East Village: 25% off (or more) the best available rate, upgrade based on availability when FoundersCard is presented at check-in and a welcome amenity when FoundersCard is presented at check-in
- Yotel New York City: 25% off the best available rate, flexible cancellation privileges
Adding up all those benefits (the main ones I’ll leverage), I’m looking at $4,590 in value from FoundersCard. In just a couple of weeks, my FoundersCard membership has already paid for itself and then some. I definitely recommend checking out the list of benefits yourself to see if FoundersCard is right for you.
Which FoundersCard benefits do you find to be the most valuable?
Featured image courtesy of f11photo via Getty Images.
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