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Maximizing the Disney Rewards Visa Card

Friday, April 27, 2012

The question on many upcoming visitors’ minds to Walt Disney World is how can I save some money on my upcoming vacation.  Well, you shouldn’t give up hope because there are ways to trim some of the expense off of your trip.  One rather simple way is to become a Disney Rewards Visa cardholder.  Getting your hands on a Disney Visa card is as easy as remembering your Birthday.  You can join online, at a local Disney Store, or at most Disney resort shopping outlets. 

Most credit cards have perks attached to them.  It’s not uncommon to earn points which can be redeemed for dollars, airline tickets, or any other gifts under the sun.  With the Chase Disney Rewards Visa you’ll earn points which can be redeemed for dollars that can be used towards Disney vacations, Walt Disney World food, souvenirs, tours, or at your local Disney Store for merchandise.  If you are a frequent traveler to Walt Disney World you’ll probably want to take advantage of the Disney Reward dollars you can earn and the perks that come with it.  Let’s take a deeper look at some of the key perks and a few perks you may not know about.

Disney Visa Reward Dollars

This is definitely the best perk of the Disney Visa Card.  For every $100 you spend with the card you’ll earn 1 Disney Reward Dollar.  It may seem like spending $100 to earn 1 Disney Reward dollar is difficult, but if you’re like me and use your Visa card for everything then you’ll rack-up a lot of Disney Reward dollars in no time.  Our family usually uses our reward dollars once per year.  We typically collect our reward dollars throughout the year and use them during a family trip in June.  By then we’ve collected enough Disney Reward dollars to really give our vacation a financial boost.  I’ve heard from friends that frequent Disney World who said they’ve accumulated over $600 throughout the year.  One of the most important aspects of this strategy is to remember to pay your credit card bill online every week or two or else you’ll be faced with paying a hefty sum of money towards interest.  Accumulating interest will easily outweigh the benefits of gaining Disney reward dollars. 

If you are not a Disney Rewards Visa cardholder and you plan on signing-up keep your eyes out for promotions.  At times you'll see offers of $50, $100 or even $200 Disney reward dollars just for signing-up for the card.  You’ll receive the incentive when you make your first purchase with the card.  It’s not a bad way to earn some quick money for an upcoming trip. 

At times you may receive a post card in the mail saying you are eligible to earn 2X, 3X, or even 5X the normal Disney Reward dollars.  You should know that once you receive this postcard you have to sign-up to be eligible.  You also need to know it only includes purchases in specific categories, like groceries, gas, and dining.  Additionally, each postcard has a dollar amount you need to exceed before you can start earning these additional point totals.  It’s a good incentive, but it only works if you spend a lot of money in the specified categories each month and use your Disney Visa for everything; otherwise it’s rather worthless. 

Disney Premier Visa Card

Chase recently released a Disney Premier Visa card option to people who want to earn Disney Reward dollars faster.  This card allows you to earn 2 points for every $100 you spend.  It also allows you to use your reward dollars for airfare.  Another perk is additional credit card character designs than the basic Disney Visa card (the design is on the front and back of the premier card).  Keep in mind upgrading or obtaining a Disney Premier Visa Card comes with a $49 annual fee.  You’ll have to decide if paying $49 per year is worth the additional perks and benefits. 

How to Cash in and Use your Reward Dollars

Now that you’ve earned your reward dollars it’s time to use them.  So, where do you start?  Well, you can redeem them online, but what I’d suggest to a person redeeming points for the first time is to call Chase and have them mail you a Rewards card loaded with just $10 on it.  Once you receive the rewards card you can transfer more onto it by going online to the Disney Visa Chase website.  The online transfer is instantaneous and the reward dollars can be used immediately.  The rewards card is different and separate from your Disney Visa credit card.  A very important point to note is at the bottom of your Rewards card is an expiration date (month/year).  Be sure to use your reward dollars before the expiration date or else you will lose them.  I’ve heard stories where Chase has moved the reward dollars from an expired card to an active card, but why take the chance.  Use them while you can.  Also, once you transfer your points to your Rewards card you can’t transfer them back to your account.  Once you have reward dollars on your Rewards card take it with you to Disney World and use it like a debit card.  You can purchase pretty much anything with it provided you have enough reward dollars left on it.  Just make sure to use all of your reward dollars before the card expires. 

The Disney Visa credit card and the Disney Rewards card - Make purchases on your Disney Visa and then transfer the reward points to your Disney Rewards card.  Make sure you don't let your Disney Rewards card expire with reward points/dollars left on it. 

Early Access to Discounted Vacation Packages

Like many of you I’m always looking for a good bargain.  At times Walt Disney World releases some pretty deep and exciting discounts for vacations.  One of the most popular is the free dining promotion which usually runs in the late summer to early fall.  You can also score deeply discounted room packages during off-peak times of the year.  Unfortunately, these discounted packages are limited and go to the guests who book them early.  If you have a Disney Visa you’ll be among the first to be able to book these discounted packages.  Disney will release the booking availability first to Disney Visa cardholders.  You’ll be notified via email when the packages are available for booking.  If you use a travel agent they should be able to book it for you and save you some money without your involvement.  Since you’ll have early access to book these discounted packages before they are released to the general public you’ll have no problem getting them.  You’ll also have a better selection of resorts to choose from since most resorts have discounted room blocks available. 

Merchandise and Tour Discounts

Currently, Disney is offering Disney Reward Visa cardholders a 10% merchandise discount at Disneystore.com, Disney Store outlets, and several merchandise locations at Walt Disney World.  In order to qualify for the discount your purchase needs to total at least $50. 

Also included in the discount program is 20% off of select guided tours at Walt Disney World.  Just make sure to mention you are a cardholder at the time you book your tour.  The discount can be applied up to 10 members of your party.  You must be on the same tour in order for everyone to receive the discount.  As you may or may not know Disney has some great guided tours through its theme parks.  Saving an extra 20% is simply icing on the cake. 

Other Perks You Can Enjoy

0% Vacation and DVC Financing

Disney offers it’s cardholders 0% APR financing for 6 months when you book a theme park vacation, Disney Cruise Line vacations, Adventures by Disney trips, and Aulani (Hawaii) vacations.  This offer also includes down payments towards Disney Vacation Club (DVC) points (Disney’s version of a time share program) and add-ons worth $10,000 or more.  It’s important to note you must pay off your vacation or DVC down payment within the 6 month period or the entire interest accumulated will be added to your credit card bill at once. 

Private Character Meet & Greet

Disney Visa cardholders have access to a private meet and greet with Disney characters.  At Walt Disney World’s EPCOT theme park you’ll find this private meet & greet located in Innoventions West from 1:30 to 4:30PM daily.  Also included in the private meet & greet is a free 5 X 7 photo with the characters.  Character appearances are random and you’ll never know who will show up during your visit. 

$50 Onboard Ship Credit

Disney Visa cardholders who book a Disney Cruise Line vacation and pay for it in full with a Disney Visa will receive a $50 onboard ship credit to use for cruise expenses.  This credit is in addition to any other ship board credits you may receive from Disney Cruise Line or your travel agent. 

Other Surprise Perks

Throughout the year you’ll receive a Disney Rewards Visa cardholder newsletter full of information about what’s happening at the Walt Disney World resort.  At times you may be offered a surprise perk.  I’ve seen additional merchandise discounts, a free gift at Disney World, and special access to new or refurbished theme park attraction previews. 


Finding ways to save on your Disney World vacation can be tough, but there a couple of “no brainer” decisions you can make to ease the financial shock.  Applying for and using a Disney Visa credit card is a terrific no-cost way of saving a nice sum of money on an upcoming Disney World trip.  Besides the Disney reward dollars you’ll earn there are other perks and money saving opportunities you can use along the way.  Using your Disney Visa for all of your purchases throughout the year is a fantastic way to earn a nice chunk of money for a yearly Disney World vacation. 

People often ask me how our family can afford to take 2 or 3 trips a year to Walt Disney World.  I often tell them there are tips and tricks to saving money that help reduce the cost of a Disney World vacation.  A Disney Visa is one of those tricks (Becoming a DVC member helped too).  Are you a Disney Visa cardholder?  How do you use your Disney Visa?  Do you accumulate as many reward dollars as possible?  We’d love to hear your tips, tricks, and ideas.  Leave them in the comments section below or on the official studioscentral.com Facebook page

Disney doesn’t have a loyalty program for its frequent theme park vacationing guests (I so wish they did), but there are ways to save.  If you are a loyal Disney Visa credit card user you can pump up your vacation budget by accumulating reward dollars and using the perks during your theme park vacation.  Just remember, the Disney Visa Rewards program is only good if you take full advantage of it.  And why not, it’s a free no cost way of putting some money back in your pocket while enjoying the number 1 theme park destination in the world. 

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About this column

Aaron DelPrince looks at the various activities you and your family can experience at Walt Disney World


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