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Using Discounted Disney Gift Cards for a Disney Vacation

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.

Using Discounted Disney Gift Cards for a Disney Vacation www.milesforfamily.com

Wholesale Clubs

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.

 

Magic Kingdom

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.

Amex Offers

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.

Last fall, there was a $25 off $250 Best Buy Amex offer, a $20 off $100 at Staples offer and a Sam’s Club offer available. All of these stores sell Disney gift 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.

Deal Sites

Look out for random deals and sales on gift cards. Sites like Doctor of Credit and Dan’s Deals regularly post gift card deals, like this 20% off Disney gift cards at HEB last year.

Swagbucks/Survey Sites

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!).

Crystal Palace, Magic Kingdom

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.

eBay Bucks

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?

    Disney Fantasy

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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Author: Nancy

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.

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22 thoughts on “Using Discounted Disney Gift Cards for a Disney Vacation

  1. Thanks for the info Nancy. Question for you or anyone else, I’m trying to rack up my SPG points to use for Olando. Would you recommend Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin or the Sheraton Vistana Villas, Lake Buena Vista? My husband wants to stay at a Disney resort because he loved the convenience of the buses and not dealing with parking. But 2 kids later (who are 10+ yrs old), I need to save our cash for WDW tickets and possibly a Disney Cruise. Thanks for the write ups – I love them.

    • I’ll let Nancy comment on this one, but wanted to chime in with a few thoughts. IMHO SPG properties you’ve mentioned are quite expensive on points. Even with 5th night free, it’s a very steep price. They may be worth it during holidays, otherwise, you may want to check elsewhere. Keep in mind, both Swan and Dolphin have resort and parking fees, and those can add up. If I remember correctly, Dolphin has two full-size beds in rooms ( it’s a category 4) and Swan has two queen beds (but is a category 5). For me, sharing a full-size bed with my husband is a deal breaker.

      As far as Vistana property goes, it could be a decent deal during high season, but check out this listing on Sky Auction http://www.skyauction.com/action/offer/2747029 You would have to have flexibility and check high season surcharges, but this will be by far your best deal if you win the auction. You don’t even have to stay 7 nights. My reader Erik mentioned that it’s an older property, but for this price, it’s a good deal. Also, you may want to check out other resort listings. All will have a separate bedroom area and a kitchen. I hope to stay in Wyndham Bonnet Creek resort one of these days because it’s packed with amenities.
      Of course, what you choose to do is up to you. Orlando is full of resorts and competition is steep. Driving off the property is not that big of a deal. I would save my SPG points, to be honest. Good luck!

    • Hi Stephanie! I totally understand the need to spend points for the hotel and conserve cash for park tickets and the cruise. I haven’t personally stayed at any of those SPG properties, but my brother’s family stayed at Sheraton Vistana Villas and liked the resort. I’m partial to Hyatt Place hotels, and a new one opened recently near Disney Springs. It has a free shuttle to the parks and gets great reviews! https://orlandolakebuenavista.place.hyatt.com/en/hotel/home.html If you have UR points or you can use the UR portal through the CSR, this could be a great offsite option. I’ve also stayed at Wyndham Bonnet Creek in a 4-bedroom condo with family. It’s not very “Disney”, but it has some great pools/slides/lazy rivers. The condos are often available to rent for a great price (I’m not sure if this resort is on skyauction or not), but the downside is you would still have to use some cash unless you have Wyndham points.

    • I will be at the Swan in 10 days so I can let you know how what I think of it when I get back. I’ve heard lots of great things….I booked over a year ago so was able to get it at 10,000 pts a night. A friend who is a DVD owner says the Swan is his wife’s favorite resort there. He loves the pool and east access to Epcot and HS.

      • So I’m back and I liked the Swan. Like others have said there is absolutely no Disney theming there but it is a beautiful hotel. The location was great – it took ten-fifteen minutes by bus to get to Magic Kingdom, and was like 5-10 minutes to take the friendship boat to Hollywood Studios. The buses ran every 20 minutes to every park – I found it easy to get back to the hotel for a break. It was a five minute walk to the Boardwalk. There are hammocks by the “beach” and pool/playground area. Tons of restaurants, a coffee bar and ice cream place.

  2. Thanks so much for the input. I’ll run everything by hubby and see what we can come up with. All great info – thanks again.

  3. We go annually to Walt Disney world in August. We stay at deluxe resorts on a convention rate. Grand Floridian is less than $300 a night. I utilize all of these strategies to save even more. This was a great post.

  4. I’ve stayed at the Swan twice since it was remodeled. The rooms are a bit more spacious compared to a comparable Disney room. The location is great for HS and Epcot. You’ll have to rent a car and then pay their parking fee and the resort fee. You’ll end up paying an extra $40-50 a day. It’s not a Disney resort and doesn’t have any “magic”. If you have lots of SPG points or if your traveling at peak time like Easter or Christmas, it could be worth it. It’s not a hotel at the top of my list.

    We stayed at the Sheraton Villages last year in one of the newer buildings. Very spacious rooms and close to a Publix and a relatively short drive to Disney.

    We stayed at the new Hyatt Place in November of 2016. This is a fantastic hotel for the $. They offer a very good breakfast and the drive is very close to Disney. There’s no Disney “magic”, but I would most definitely consider this property if staying offsite.

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  7. Anyone know… if I book a cruise (deposit only) on Expedia or Travelocity to get cashback through ebates, does the balance get paid directly through DCL, or do you pay off through the OTA that was use? I’d like to book on OTA to get ebates cashback, then pay balance with discounted Disney gift cards loaded to a Disney vacation account. Thanks!

    • @kenny I haven’t booked that way but I think that all of your subsequent payments would go through your OTA. You should be able to call the OTA to pay with gift cards. I recommend you call Expedia or Travelocity first to verify before you book.

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