Disney vacations can be expensive. Even if you go in the off-season and stay at a value resort, the costs can still add up! Cha-ching!
One method to shave a small percentage off the cost of your Disney vacation is to use discounted Disney gift cards. The ways to get discounted Disney gift cards are constantly changing, but here are some of the best current methods.
Costo, Sam’s Club and BJs wholesale/warehouse clubs often carry discounted Disney gift cards. Typically, the discount is 4%-5% in the form of a $100 gift card for $96 or $150 in gift cards for $142.98.
You can stack discounts if you use a credit card with decent rewards at wholesale clubs. A few credit cards offer 5% cash back at wholesale clubs during a rotating quarter. In the past, Chase Freedom has offered this benefit (in the last half of 2016).
From January through March 2017, Discover and Discover It cards have 5% cashback at wholesale clubs for up to $1500 in purchases. If you are a new Discover It customer, your cash back will double at the end of 12 months, effectively giving you 10% cash back on top of the discounted Disney gift cards. If you are looking to sign up for a Discover It card, here is my personal referral link. You will get $50 initial sign-up bonus, which is the best current offer (as far as I know).
In addition, the Costco Anywhere Visa by Citi card gives 2% cash back at Costco. Another option is the BankAmericard Cash Rewards, which offers 2% cash back at all wholesale clubs and grocery stores.
Target Red Card/Target Gift Cards
In the past, using a Target Red Card (debit or credit) was a boon for Disney gift cards. You could buy discounted Target gift cards (from places like Raise.com), then buy Disney gift cards online with your Target gift cards and your Red Card number for an additional 5% off. Even before that, you could combine a 5% pharmacy reward on top of the normal 5% Red Card discount.
Recent data points confirm that those methods are no longer possible. However, you can still use your Target Red Card (debit or credit) in a Target store for 5% off Disney gift cards. You can also still buy discounted Target gift cards and use them to buy Disney gift cards in a Target store. However, you can’t combine the two to buy gift cards online anymore.
Target usually has a sale on Target gift cards in December. Last December, Target had a special one-day sale of 10% off Target gift cards up to $300. You could turn around and use those the next day in a Target store for Disney gift cards.
Office Supply Stores
Office supply stores, like Staples and Office Depot, sell Disney gift cards. The Staples near my house sells them in $50 denominations, while Office Depot near me sells variable amount cards up to $500.
Use credit cards with higher rewards at office supply stores to effectively get a discount on your Disney gift cards. For example, Chase Ink Business Cash and Amex SimplyCash Plus Business cards offer 5% cash back at US office supply stores. Chase United MileagePlus Explorer card offers 2X miles for office supply purchases. The Chase Ink Plus (which is no longer available to new applicants) offers 5X points.
If you have an American Express card, check your Amex offers periodically. When you sign into your account, scroll down to the bottom to see your offers. You can load them onto your Amex card(s) for discounts at certain retailers. These offers are updated all the time, and many of them can be applied to buy Disney gift cards. If you have more than one Amex card, see this post for instructions on how to load offers to multiple cards.
Grocery Store Fuel Rewards
Grocery stores like Kroger and Tom Thumb periodically have promotions for 4X fuel points on gift cards. If you buy during this time frame, you won’t get a discount on the gift cards, but you will get a discount on gas. Apply what you would have spent on gas to your Disney fund.
This deal is even more lucrative if you use a card that gets higher cash back at grocery stores. Amex Blue Cash Preferred card gives 6% cash back at all US supermarkets for the first $6000 in purchases per year, while the Amex Blue Cash Everyday gives 3% cash back.
Some rewards and survey sites allow you to redeem awards for free gift cards. With Swagbucks, you earn points by watching videos online and taking surveys. You can redeem points for gift cards, including Target and Walmart, which you can turn into Disney gifts cards in stores (including Sam’s Club for an extra discount!).
Walmart Savings Catcher
If you do your grocery shopping at Walmart and use the Walmart Savings Catcher, you can turn your cash back into Disney gift cards. Walmart compares the prices you paid to local competitors’ sales and refunds you the difference.
Just download the app (or create an account on your PC), submit your receipts, and watch your cash back accumulate. See this post for more details. I’ve accumulated over $200 in Disney gift cards in a little over a year.
If you shop a lot on eBay, you can use your eBay bucks to buy gift cards. See this eBay FAQ for more information. Note that you can no longer earn eBay bucks on gift card purchases.
Tips, Tricks and Caution
- You can combine smaller Disney gift card denominations into a larger denomination at disneygiftcard.com under “Manage Cards”. I do this all the time before I send a gift card number to my travel agent.
Create a Disney Vacation Account, and you will get an extra $20 in Disney gift cards for every $1000 you deposit. Your account must be open for 120 days to earn the extra gift cards. That’s an extra 2% off your trip!These accounts are no longer available.
- Use your gift cards directly with Disney by calling Disney to add the gift card to your hotel/package reservation, or by using the cards as a form of payment in person. If you used a travel agent to book your Disney vacation, simply give your gift card numbers to him or her to reduce your vacation balance.
- If you’re buying a Disney gift card from a 3rd party seller online, make sure it’s good at all Disney locations. Some online discounters sell cards that are only good inside a Disney Store, and you can’t use those for park tickets, hotels or gift cards.
- Use caution when purchasing gift cards from 3rd party sellers on eBay and other discount gift card sites. Choose a seller with good reviews, and read the site’s protection policy before you purchase.
- Don’t throw away your gift cards until after your trip! Keep them in a safe place in case you need to cancel your vacation. Your balance will be refunded to your cards.
- Before purchasing your entire trip fund in gift cards, consider the likelihood that you will need to postpone or cancel your trip. Are you ok with being stuck with that money in gift cards until you reschedule your trip?
Discounted Disney Gift Cards or New Travel Rewards Credit Card?
Using discounted Disney gift cards can certainly take a percentage off the price of your Disney trip. But what about travel rewards credit cards?
Update: Credit card bonus offers are constantly changing. See our Hot Deals page for the latest info.
The truth is, you can still get more bang for your buck from opening a new travel credit card. The bonus from the Barclaycard Arrival Plus is good for $400 in travel reimbursement. The bonus plus adding an authorized user on the Chase Sapphire Preferred nets you $590,
and the Merrill + card is also good for a $500 bonus. All of those cards don’t have an annual fee the first year. (Disclaimers: we do receive a commission if you apply for certain cards through our site. See this post for more details).
I recommend doing both travel rewards credit cards and discounted Disney gift cards. If your credit score is high and you pay off your balances every month, apply for a new credit card. But, you can still use the methods above to buy discounted Disney gift cards on top of those bonuses. The way to play the game is to stack, double dip and triple dip on savings!
Are you planning a Disney Cruise or a trip to one of the Disney parks? Will you be using any of these tricks to buy discounted Disney gift cards, or is it too much hassle? If you know of another method for saving on Disney gift cards, please share in the comments!
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Nancy is a contributing writer for Miles For Family. She enjoys traveling to the beach and is a big fan of Disney. Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids.