An Affordable Disney Vacation Is Still Possible, If You Know How to Do It Right

Disney World

Disney World, here you come! | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

If you have small children, it’s likely they’ve been begging you to take them to Disney World. Just about every kid dreams of going to this magical place and meeting his or her favorite Disney characters. The only thing is these trips can get quite expensive. Unless you have a ton of money to spend, it can be a financial strain to finance a Disney World vacation with all the extras. After you’ve spent money on your airfare, hotel stay, food, and Disney souvenirs, there’s not much left.

If you still want to treat your family to Disney, there are some tips and tricks that can help make it possible. Here are Disney secrets savvy credit card holders use to save money.

1. Use Chase ultimate rewards

Chase cards that have the Ultimate Rewards feature let you earn points on all your purchases. You can redeem points for pretty much any purchase, such as travel, cash back, or gift cards. The best part is your points don’t expire. So if you don’t have one already, think about signing up for Ultimate Rewards, and use the points to help defray the cost of your next Disney trip. The Chase Freedom Unlimited card will even give you $150 cash back after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months.

Next: Speak to the right travel agent.

2. Utilize the Chase travel center

woman using phone

Agents in the travel center will help you book your package. |

You can book your entire Disney package through Chase using ultimate rewards. All you have to do is contact Chase’s travel center at 855-234-2542. Once you tell the Chase travel agent you want to book a Disney vacation package, he or she will transfer you to the cruise and tour department. You can book everything, including your park tickets, rental car, hotel, and dining.

Next: Get rewarded for travel.

3. Use travel rewards cards

Traveler pulling suitcase

Get perks for travel. |

This is the simplest way to cut down on costs. If you travel a lot, a travel rewards credit card will definitely come in handy by helping save you hundreds of dollars. One rewards card worth checking out is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. If you spend $4,000 within the first three months of opening your account, you will earn 50,000 bonus points (it used to be 40,000). Chase says this is the equivalent to $625 in travel rewards after redemption through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Next: Go undercover.

4. Utilize Undercover Tourist to buy park tickets

lady texting and using laptop

Use Undercover tourist to earn more travel rewards points. |

Purchasing park tickets with your travel rewards card can earn you even more travel rewards depending on how you go about the purchase. Brad, a blogger at Richmond Savers, discovered credit card issuers generally count Disney park tickets as a travel purchase when you buy your tickets through Undercover Tourist. This website is an official Disney theme park ticket reseller. If you purchase the tickets directly from Disney, the purchase will count as an amusement park purchase and not a travel expense that’s redeemable for travel rewards.

Next: Teamwork makes the dream work.

5. Team up to Earn Double Miles and Rewards


Earn double rewards. |

Brad also wrote about how he and his wife applied for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus to buy their tickets. When they combined ticket purchases with their everyday spending, they were able to qualify for the sign-up bonus and travel rewards. Combined, he and his wife earned more than $1,120 to put toward their Disney vacation. So the couple was able to completely cover the cost of their tickets through the power of credit card rewards and bonuses.

Next: Let Disney help you save.

6. Set up a Disney Vacation Account

Couple Looking at Laptop, travel

A vacation account can help you save. |

The Disney Vacation Account is a special account you can set up online to help you save for your Disney vacation. One way you can fund this special account is with travel rewards. One benefit of this program is you don’t have to wait until you’ve racked up a ton of rewards before you can utilize this account. If you’re using cash back rewards, you can open your Disney Vacation Account with as little as $10. There are also no account maintenance fees.

Next: Perks galore

7. Research hidden perks

Business woman writing on a computer in the office

Look for hidden perks. |

One perk of using a Disney Vacation Account to pay for your trip is you’ll be eligible for a $20 Disney gift card for every $1,000 you spend on qualified vacation purchases, up to $500. Be aware your account must be active for a minimum of 120 days in order to get the $20 bonus. Make sure to sign up for the account well in advance of your vacation. The vacation account website suggests applying at least four to six weeks beforehand.

Next: Give yourself a gift.   

8. Buy a Disney gift card

Hands holding credit card

Gift cards can lower your costs. |

Disney gift cards are another way to reduce the cost of your trip. If you have money left over in your Disney Vacation Account, you can use this cash to purchase the gift cards. However, you won’t be able to buy Disney gift cards right after opening your account. As a new account holder, you’ll be required to wait at least 60 days before you can take advantage of this feature. You can also purchase discounted Disney gift cards from retailers, such as Target, Best Buy, and Costco.

Next: Be a preferred guest.

9. Use Starwood Preferred Guest points

Couple with tray of wine

Become a preferred guest. |

Yet another tool that can lower your overall cost is the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card. If you decide to stay at Disney’s Swan and Dolphin resorts, the points can make a big difference. Cindy Gossett, a contributor to The Points Guy blog, said card users can earn Starpoints and elite credit for their stays or redeem Starpoints for free nights at either the Swan or Dolphin resort. You’ll also be able to access most Disney benefits, such as transportation to the theme parks.

Next: Shop smart.

10. A final word

middle class couple

Put key financial goals first. |

Although it’s nice to be able to take a family vacation, don’t forget your overall financial plan. If you have other financial obligations that haven’t been met, such as beefing up your savings or paying down high-interest debt, it’s in your best interest to put that vacation on hold.

These credit card tricks can significantly reduce the cost of your trip, but depending on your situation, delaying this treat could put you in a better position. Make sure you take care of the big financial fish first. This way, you won’t have to worry about money while you should be enjoying time with your family.

Follow Sheiresa on Twitter @SheiresaNgo.

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