Earn the Most Miles & Points and Save Money on Your Disney Vacation

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Earn the Most Miles & Points and Save Money on Your Disney Vacation

Million Mile SecretsEarn the Most Miles & Points and Save Money on Your Disney VacationMillion Mile Secrets Team

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Ken and his wife Emily write about using points and miles (and saving money) on Disney trips at Mousehacking.com.  So I’ve asked them to share their tips on earning the most miles and points on Disney vacations!

Ken and Emily:   While there are several ways to get free or cheap stays at Disney destinations, you might wind up having to pay for much or all of your stay out of pocket.

Even if you book your Disney hotel with points, you’ll still have things like meals and incidentals to pay for.  We have a list of 53 Ways to Save at Walt Disney World.  But it’s just as important to know how to earn the most cash or points back on the money you do spend.

Save Money At Disney
Do You Know the Best Way to Earn Points When You Pay for Lunch at the Parks?

I’ll show you the best ways to earn points and cash back for out-of-pocket expenses on Disney trips!

Make the Most of Your Disney Spending With These Tricks!

With a bit of planning and the right credit cards, you can earn lots of extra miles, points, or cash back on your Disney vacation.

1.   Charge Everything to Your Room to Earn More Points

Link:   Chase Sapphire Preferred

There are plenty of good credit cards that earn bonus points for travel expenses.  For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred earns 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent on travel, including hotels.

And Disney makes it easy for you to get all your park expenses to code as travel to earn bonus points!  Walt Disney World and Disneyland resorts allow you to charge almost everything on Disney property, like meals, souvenirs, and stroller rentals, to your room.

Restaurants and stores at Walt Disney World’s Disney Springs and Disneyland’s Downtown Disney are the exception to this, as many of them are not equipped to charge to rooms.

At Disneyland you’ll use your “Key to the Magic” room key like you would any card when you pay, but you should be prepared to show ID.

At Walt Disney World, you’ll touch your MagicBand to a scanner and enter your PIN.  You can even include tips!

Save Money At Disney
Use Your MagicBands to Charge Things to Your Room and Your Whole Trip Will Earn Bonus Points!

When it’s time to check-out, you’ll pay your bill with a card that earns the most flexible points on travel, and everything you put on the room shows up as a single hotel charge!

2.   Pay With Disney Gift Cards for Even More Bonus Points

You can use Disney gift cards to pay for your room bill (if staying at a Disney resort).  Or to pay for incidentals (including meals and souvenirs) at Disney parks and restaurants.

But to earn the most points using Disney gift cards, you’ll want to buy your gift cards with the right credit cards at the right stores to get the most cash or points back.

Grocery Stores and Drug Stores

Many grocery stores and drug stores carry Disney gift cards.  And there are a number of credit cards that have grocery stores or drug stores as a year-round or rotating quarterly bonus category.

For example, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express earns 6% cash back at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 in purchases per year (1% after that).  It can be tougher to find Disney gift cards at supermarkets than drugstores.

Save Money At Disney
Check Your Local Supermarket to See If They Carry Disney Gift Cards!

It’s more common to find Disney gift cards at major drugstore chains, like CVS and Walgreens.  You could use a card like the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card which earns 3X Hilton points per $1 at drugstores.

Office Supply Stores

Office supply stores might seem like a strange place to earn Disney savings, but Office Max has been known to carry Disney gift cards.

And certain cards, like the SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express, earn bonus miles, points, or cash back at office supply stores.

Save Money At Disney
Office Max Can Be a Great Place to Pick up Disney Gift Cards and Earn Cash or Points Back

Keep in mind, most cards that earn a bonus at office supply stores are small business cards.  But I know lots of folks who combine work and play on their Disney trips!

Wholesale Clubs

Wholesale clubs, like Sam’s Club and BJ’s, are also worth checking for Disney gift cards (Costco unfortunately rarely, if ever, has them).  You’ll want to be on the lookout for member deals, like this one from Sam’s Club back in March that offered $150 in Disney gift cards for ~$143.

BJ’s is a particularly good option here because they sell discounted Disney gift cards to non-members online!  You can buy a $100 gift card for ~$95.

If you combine these discounts with a card that gives bonus points back at wholesale clubs, you’ll save even more!  The Discover It, for example, offers 5% cash back at wholesale clubs through the end of June 2017!

3.   Use Your Disney Visa for Great Dining Discounts

Link:   Chase Disney Cards

Chase’s Disney Visa and Disney Premier Visa cards have many great perks, but our favorite is the 10% off you’ll get at many restaurants at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.  While not every restaurant is included, there are great options that are, like Sanaa, Narcoossee’s, and Biergarten!

Save Money At Disney
Earn 10% Back at Biergarten, One of Our Favorite restaurants at Walt Disney World!

To earn the discount, you’ll have to use your Disney Visa card.  And you’ll also earn 1% back (or 2%, if you use the Disney Premier Visa) in the form of Disney rewards dollars, for a total of 11% or 12% back!

4.   Combine Gift Cards With a Disney Vacation Account for Major Savings

Disney Vacation Account is a partnership between Disney and Chase designed to help people save for Disney vacations.

Save Money At Disney
A Disney Vacation Account Can Help Motivate You to Save for Your Disney Vacation

Essentially, you’re creating a mini-savings account that can only be used for a Disney vacation (the funds can always be refunded).  And you can fund your Disney Vacation Account using credit cards, debit cards, or Disney gift cards.

The $10 we put into our Disney Vacation Account as a test coded as “Travel” on our Chase Sapphire Reserve, so we received 3X points for the deposit.  The Chase Sapphire Reserve also comes with a $300 annual travel credit, so we were reimbursed the $10 we deposited.

Save Money At Disney
Disney Vacation Account Deposits Code as Travel on the Chase Sapphire Reserve!

The true value of Disney Vacation Account comes in one of the smaller details.  For every $1,000 of your Disney Vacation Account that you use toward a Disney vacation, you’ll get a $20 Disney gift card.  This allows you to get up to 2% back using the Disney Vacation Account.

Because you can fund your Disney Vacation Account using Disney gift cards, you could potentially earn 8% back on your Disney vacation if you funded it with gift cards brought from a supermarket with your AMEX Blue Cash Preferred!

Save Money At Disney
Save Big When You Use Disney Gift Cards to Fund Your Disney Vacation Account

We’ve written more about Disney Vacation Account over on Mouse Hacking.  One caveat to using Disney Vacation Account is that your account must be open for 120 days before you’re eligible for the Disney gift card reimbursement.

Bottom Line

Even with award flights and hotels, most folks will still pay a substantial amount out-of-pocket for a Disney vacation.  But by using the right credit cards and tricks, you can earn bonus miles, points, or cash back for your Disney expenses!

By charging everything to your room at Disney resorts, you can earn bonus miles and points on expenses like meals and souvenirs, which don’t normally code as travel.  Or consider buying Disney gift cards at a discount or at stores with category bonuses!

Let us know if you have other tips for saving on Disney vacations!

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  • Earn 5% cash back on the first $50,000 spent at wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. office supply stores.
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  • Terms apply
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Terms Apply | Rates & Fees

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A small tip. If you’re buying a hot dog and you don’t want the accompanying chips or apples you can refuse them for a lower price.

We also get Disney gift cards at target using red card for 5% discount then also use our pass for additional 15% discounts.

Shirley Garcowski

If you have Disney gift cards, call and provide numbers in order to use them towards your bill.

At my workplace, you can get points for going above and beyond. One of the ways you can use those points is for Disney giftcards. I used to work in a department that was very generous with points. I was able to put $3800 towards my Aulani stay. And because of that, we were able to upgrade from a standard room to a 1 bedroom villa with tons of room. Don’t bring those cards with you though–too much of a chance of getting lost. Call and get the card numbers assigned to your reservation. And don’t throw out the cards at home until after your trip and after you’ve used them all.

Shirley Garcowski

If both you and your significant other have the Chase Reserve cards, have Disney split your on-site hotel bill (and be sure to put everything on there–meals, tickets, etc.). You’ll both be able to get the $300 travel refund.

Shirley Garcowski

Favorite Disney hotels: Yacht and Beach Club–both are gorgeous. Wilderness Lodge–we’ve stayed there 6-7 times. Recently redone so less guest rooms available, but if you can get in, do it. It’s calmer than the others. For some reason, kids seem to behave there better. Great theming. But for walking access to Epcot and Boardwalk, you can’t beat the Yacht or Beach Club Resorts.

Shirley Garcowski

Some of my favorite restaurants: Flying Fish at Boardwalk, Rose & Crown at Epcot, Be Our Guest (sit in West Wing) at Magic Kingdom, Liberty Tree Tavern at Magic Kingdom, any of restaurants in Italy in Epcot, Yachtsman Steakhouse at Yacht Club, Casey’s Corner for great hot dogs at Magic Kingdom, Flame Tree Barbecue at Animal Kingdom, Raglan Road at Disney Springs. And definitely get a dole whip at either MK or the Polynesian. YUM

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