Skip to content

A new luxury membership card promises elite perks. Is it worth the fee?

May 25, 2023
12 min read
Waiter Serving Customer Starter Dish In Restaurant
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Editor’s note: Select Card provided a limited-time, complimentary membership to TPG's Ryan Smith to evaluate the benefits for this article. The opinions expressed below are entirely his and weren’t subject to review by Select Card or its affiliates. We were also given a link for TPG readers to skip the waitlist and access a welcome bonus, though we receive no compensation of any kind for it.

We regularly discuss the rising costs of credit card annual fees. Often overlooked, though, is the growing market for luxury membership clubs.

What are those? For an annual membership fee, you get access to benefits not available to the public. Yes, you're paying for access to perks.

Before rejecting that idea, consider how much money you spend chasing airline or hotel elite status each year. Does that automatically mean the Select Card — a new contender in the luxury membership space — is worth its $450 annual membership fee? Conversely, is it automatically not worth it?

I recently tested the Select Card's benefits to see whether it's worth the fee. Here's what I found and how you can decide if it's right for you.

TPG readers can click here to skip the waitlist for the Select Card.

Select Card member benefits


To decide whether the Select Card is worth its annual fee, let's first analyze its benefits. They include:

  • Discounts at participating hotels: These can vary. An analysis of sample rates is below.
  • Benefits at participating restaurants: Restaurants choose what benefit they will offer, which can be a free drink, a chef's choice item, a free dessert of your choosing or a discount on your bill. An analysis of sample restaurant benefits is below.
  • VIP ticket packages: For example, tickets are available to the 2023 Miami Grand Prix that include VIP hospitality spaces and gourmet food at a rate that's $150 above the price of three-day tickets alone.
  • Exclusive events for cardholders: These include members-only social hours and parties at events like Miami Tech Week and L.A. Fashion Week. Most events include one complimentary guest and two complimentary drinks per person, and you must RSVP in advance.
  • Retail discounts: These include 10% off scheduled Blade flights, 5% off Hawaiian Airlines bookings, up to $65 off Disneyland Resort tickets and a wide range of discounts (typically 20%-40%) on tickets to Major League Baseball (MLB), Major League Soccer (MLS), movie theaters and ski resorts. Other discounts include 15% off GoPro purchases, up to $3,000 off select BMW models and dealer invoice pricing when purchasing a new Mini.

While shopping discounts may be available worldwide, other benefits aren't. For example, participating restaurants are only available in these locations presently: Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Connecticut, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Orange County, New York City area (including Long Island, the Hamptons and parts of New Jersey), Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Tulum (Mexico) and Washington, D.C. Bear these location restrictions in mind.

These benefits may remind you of those offered with FoundersCard, so I'll include a discussion of the similarities and differences below. First, let's look at the benefits available for Select Card members and their quantifiable values.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Valuing hotel discounts

Select Card members can get discounts on participating hotels. Here's how those rates compare to booking directly.

Hotel nameSample datesSelect Card priceHotel priceSelect price difference
The Standard — London.Sept. 1-3, 2023.$494.61.$743.16.$248.55 savings.
St. Regis — Washington, D.C.May 9-11, 2023.$1,844.98.*$1,813.46.$31.52 more.
The Knickerbocker —New York City.Aug. 18-21, 2023.$1,152.25.*$1,280.28.$128.03 savings.
Four Seasons — Seattle.July 28-30, 2023.$2,367.60.$2,379.86.$12.26 savings.

*Final price after receiving 10% cash back as a check in the mail.

Not every stay is cheaper in the Select Card portal. Additionally, some hotel benefits are advertised as cash back — arriving via a check in the mail and not as a discount when booking. In the sample bookings above, the Select Card portal provides savings on three stays. The average benefit across the four sample reservations is $89.33.

If you're wondering about "best price" hotel guarantees, those likely won't apply. These guarantees require a rate to be publicly available, which isn't the case here.

It's also worth considering what you might sacrifice when booking a hotel through Select. If you have (or are chasing) elite status with a hotel program, booking a member hotel through a portal may not be the best option since those stays typically won't count toward status qualification. It's also unlikely that you'd enjoy your status benefits and earn points on those bookings.

Related: 9 things to consider when choosing to book via a portal vs. booking directly

Of course, if you're eyeing a hotel that doesn't participate in a rewards program, this won't matter. Book the cheapest rate possible.

Note that some hotels in the Select Card portal indicate they have preferred pricing only available when calling the Select Concierge. If you're hunting deals, check other websites and the hotel's own reservation system to compare pricing.

Valuing restaurant benefits

You'll also receive benefits at participating restaurants in the locations mentioned above. The restaurants choose the perks they offer, which can vary. Typically, however, they'll include one of the following:

  • Complimentary drinks (selected from limited options).
  • Complimentary house drink (selected by the restaurant).
  • Complimentary dessert (selected from limited options).
  • A discount on your final bill (typically 10%-20%).
  • A choice of a free drink or free dessert (from limited options).

It's worth noting that some restaurants require a reservation through the Select Concierge to enjoy your benefits.

Drink and dessert options at Sushi Roku in Newport Beach, California. RYAN SMITH/THE POINTS GUY

For example, Sushi Roku has an extensive drinks menu, but members can choose from just four options for their complimentary drink.

Here's a sample of participating restaurants and the benefits they offer, as well as an estimated value:

Restaurant nameLocationBenefit offeredValue of benefit
Katsuya.Hollywood, California.Complimentary house sparkling wine plus 15% off the final bill with entree purchase.$15 per person and varying amount from the discount.
Sushi Roku.Newport Beach, California.Complimentary round of house sake, sparking wine or Japanese beer or dessert platter for the table with entree purchase.$10-$15 per person.
Chotto Matte.Miami Beach, Florida.Complimentary round of signature welcome cocktails with entree purchase.$18-$22 per person.
STK Midtown.New York, New York.Complimentary round of house Champagne plus 10% off the final bill with entree purchase.$18 per person and varying amount from the discount.
Ajala.Tulum, Mexico.Complimentary round of house cocktails with entree purchase.$14 per person.

Valuing nightlife benefits

Nightlife is another key benefit category. Here, you can enjoy benefits like waived entry fees, preferred pricing or complimentary drinks at participating venues.

Options include bowling, bars, pubs and clubs, among others. Depending on the benefit offered, you'll receive $15-$20 in value, per person, on average.

Valuing early access and exclusive events

Select Card members get exclusive access to VIP ticket packages or early ticket sales for popular events. You'll find less regularity here, as big events don't happen daily.

A current example is the offering for the Miami Grand Prix in May 2023. Comparable tickets cost $1,350 for a three-day pass. Select Card members can buy these tickets for $1,500, but they come with access to a VIP space serving food and drinks.

Moreover, there are semi-regular social events for Select Card members. The value you place on these networking opportunities and cocktail hours will vary greatly from person to person.

Testing the benefits at 2 restaurants

Whenever I hear about a new product like the Select Card, I have one simple question: "Do the benefits work as advertised?" I was admittedly unfamiliar with the Select Card when I started researching it for this article. Thus, I wondered whether local restaurants would know what benefits to provide.

I made a reservation at Sushi Roku in Newport Beach, California, on a not-busy Tuesday night for dinner with my wife. We booked through the Select Concierge's online chat service, though a reservation wasn't required.

On arrival at the restaurant, employees at the host stand printed a small note, which our waitress read out loud to detail our benefits. She provided drink and dessert menus to help us choose.

When it was time to pay, the waitress asked about the Select Card. She said the restaurant participates in many programs, but she hadn't heard of this one previously. Despite that, the restaurant provided the expected benefits — and did so without us needing to ask.

The next day, the Select Concierge emailed me to ask how our dining experience was, ensuring we were happy with our first use of the card's restaurant benefits.

A week later, my wife and I visited Katsuya Hollywood on a busy Saturday evening. Again, we made a reservation through the Select Concierge's chat feature.

We saw the restaurant provide a paper to our server, likely advising him of our benefits. Without a word, he disappeared, reappearing a moment later with our complimentary drinks. He also didn't mention our discount, which concerned us. However, our 15% discount ($10 in our case) was reflected on the final bill.

From these limited experiences, it appears that Select communicates members' benefits clearly to the restaurants. However, I made reservations on both outings. If you show up at the restaurant without one, you may need to show your membership card and may need to explain your benefits.

Comparing with FoundersCard

To recap, Select Card provides the benefits above for a $450 annual fee.

Membership with FoundersCard — another pay-for-perks membership — costs $595 annually, though it's possible to get a better rate through numerous partners. For example, using TPG's FoundersCard application link can yield a discounted annual membership fee of $495.

With FoundersCard, you'll get many similar benefits, plus elite status with two airlines (Virgin Atlantic and Cathay Pacific), flight discounts with several airlines, and hotel status with two programs (Hilton Honors and Caesars Rewards).

However, FoundersCard membership won't provide access to the same discounts, early access ticket sales, VIP offerings or members-only events as you'll get with Select.

FoundersCard is marketed toward travel perks and business professionals wanting discounts on their expenses. Select Card, conversely, markets itself as a lifestyle product. Ensure you know which better aligns with your wants and needs.

Is the Select Card worth $450 a year?

After looking at the benefits and their values, an average person could receive $15-$20 in value for each night out. Double that number for couples.

For hotel reservations, we saw an average discount of $89.33 across four sample bookings.

How often would you need to use these benefits to recoup the $450 annual fee?

It translates to five hotel reservations with the average discount above. Conversely, you could recoup your $450 through 15 date nights as a couple.

So, is the Select Card worth its annual fee?

When it's worth it

The Select Card is worth $450 annually if you value the VIP packages and networking opportunities provided at members-only events. It's also worth it if you live in the areas highlighted above (or regularly travel to them), frequently dining out as a couple, with friends or business associates. You could recoup your investment through free drinks, free desserts and discounts alone.

The Select Card also is worth it if you visit the participating restaurants regularly, like trying new restaurants (via recommendations on the Select website) and like the idea of drinks and desserts being chosen for you — thus a way to try new items.

When it's not worth it

The Select Card won't be worth it if you don't live near (or frequently travel to) an area with participating merchants and other benefits. Most large metropolitan areas have a solid footprint, but many U.S. states are outside the coverage areas.

Additionally, you won't find value if you don't dine at the participating restaurants regularly. Even if you do, the card may not work if you don't drink alcohol, don't like others choosing items on your behalf or have dietary restrictions (such as allergies or religious/moral preferences).

Moreover, you won't find value from the hotel benefits if you care about elite status or regularly use points for award stays.


Bottom line

Review the benefits above and determine the value that they provide for you. If you regularly visit these locations with friends or your significant other, you could find value in the free drinks and desserts. You also could recoup your annual fee through discounts and ancillary perks. However, you may not.

Understand exactly what you're getting for your money and the value these benefits add to your lifestyle. For me, the benefits don't align with my lifestyle or my travel goals. For others, being a Select member could be valuable — just be sure that's you before paying for benefits you won't fully enjoy.

If you want to apply for the Select Card, visit this link to skip the waitlist. TPG does not receive a commission from these applications.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.