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It has been a full weekend of
hell Disney here at One Mile at a Time, and while I’m certainly enjoying spending time with friends, I think I’ve had enough of the Mouse to last me another fifteen or so years.
The parks feel both exactly the same and very different compared to when I was a kid, and there are a few things I’ve found fascinating:
- The dynamics between adults and children – these obviously look different when you’re not the child 😉
- The height of the drop on Splash Mountain has been reduced by approximately 14 stories
- The logistics involved in running an operation like this are staggering and actually impressive — I’m not an engineer type, but I found myself saying “wow, they put a lot of thought into that” about every three seconds
- The costumed characters are still creepy as hell
- The Luxury Collection has apparently added a hotel to the center of Hollywood Studios 😉
More than anything though, I have never felt so marketed to in my life.
On a given day I feel like we’ve spent approximately six hours standing in line for 10 cumulative minutes of rides, many of which seemed like they only exist to justify a themed gift shop.
That being said, I do recognize that some people love it here, and that this is a great vacation option for many people. The members of our group have collectively been to Disney World or Disneyland well over a hundred times, so clearly there’s a compelling reason for that.
Obviously people planning a trip to Disney World want to find the most economical way to do so, and one of the options is through leveraging credit card spending. We’ve had quite a few conversations about the value of the Disney credit cards, and they’re pretty interesting compared to the cards I typically review, so I thought it might be helpful to give a breakdown in case other frequent travelers are trying to decide if the Disney Visa cards are worth it. The cards aren’t part of my affiliate network and I wasn’t too familiar with them prior to this weekend, but hopefully this is interesting nonetheless.
Disney Visa Card Overview
Disney has two co-branded Visa cards — the Disney Rewards Visa Card and the Disney Premier Visa Card — both of which are offered by Chase.
- Annual fee: $0
- Sign-up bonus: Get a $50 Disney Gift Card after first purchase
- Earnings rates: Earn 1% in reward dollars on card purchases
- Annual fee: $49
- Sign-up bonus: Earn a $100 Disney Gift Card after spending $500 in the first 3 months from account opening
- Earnings rates: Earn 1% in reward dollars on card purchases, plus earn an additional 1% in reward dollars on card purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants and most Disney locations for a total of 2% in these categories
Both are effectively cash back cards, offering a rebate in the form of “Disney Reward Dollars.” These Reward Dollars can be redeemed towards either Disney merchandise, or toward Disney vacations:
- Most everything Disney, including Disney movie tickets, DVDs, toys, costumes and more
- Toward Disney Theme Park tickets, Resort stays, dining at Disney restaurants and more
Visa Card Benefits At Disney Parks
These are actually the major point of difference for these cards, in my opinion, and if you often travel to Disney World I can see how you could get good value out of the Disney Visa cards:
- Character meet & greet at private cardmember location
- Receive 10% off select merchandise purchases of $50 or more at select locations at Walt Disney World Resort, the Disneyland Resort, Disney’s Beach Resort Destinations and Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, Ko Olina, Hawaiʻi
- 10% off select dining locations at Walt Disney World Resort and the Disneyland Resort
- 15% off the non-discounted price of select guided tours and recreation experiences at Walt Disney World Resort and select guided tours at the Disneyland Resort
- Special vacation financing on select Disney vacation packages
- Cardmembers save 10% on select merchandise purchases of $50 or more at Disney Store and DisneyStore.com
Saving 10% on dining and merchandise at Disney World or Disneyland is potentially a huge benefit, as those costs add up quite quickly.
One of the most interesting perks is the “special vacation financing,” which in practice is six months of 0% financing on Disney Vacations:
As an ongoing Cardmember perk, you get a promotional APR of 0% for 6 months anytime you use your Disney Visa Card to book select Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts vacation packages, all Disney Cruise Line packages and Adventures by Disney packages, and Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, Ko Olina, Hawaiʻi vacation packages. You can take advantage of this anytime you travel when you or your travel agent book through the Walt Disney Travel Company.
I’m certainly never going to advocate financing a vacation, but this seems like an interesting option in terms of being able to reasonably spread out costs over a period of time, and I do appreciate that some people like that option.
More interestingly, is the fine print on the offer (emphasis mine):
Get special vacation financing on select Disney Resort packages, all Adventures by Disney packages, all Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, Ko Olina, Hawai’i vacation packages, all Disney Cruise Line packages (collectively, Disney Vacation Packages), and all purchases of a real estate interest in a Disney Vacation Club Resort.
I’ve had enough blog readers tell me they find real value in their Disney Vacation Club ownership to take their word for it, and if you can get an extra six months with no interest on a sizable down payment that seems like it could be particularly lucrative.
Earnings Rates Compared To Other Cards
While I think both the Disney Rewards Visa Card and the Disney Premier Visa Card offer good benefits for people who want to save money at Disney World, I don’t think either card is worth putting spend on otherwise.
With the Disney Rewards Visa Card, you’re effectively getting 1% back on all your purchases. You can do better than this with so many other credit cards:
- The Fidelity Investment Rewards American Express Card offers a flat 2% back on all purchases, without an annual fee, so you’d not only be doubling your rewards, you wouldn’t be committed to redeeming for Disney products.
- The Chase Freedom offers up to 5% back in annual rotating categories, and while you can potentially combine those points with those from a card that accrues “premium” Ultimate Rewards points (like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, or Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card), you’re still coming out ahead even if you only occasionally take advantage of the bonus categories.
The Disney Premier Visa Card offers 2x points on gas, groceries, restaurants, and select Disney purchases. Again, unless you’re spending a lot on merchandise (and judging by the number of small princesses I’ve seen walking around some families certainly do), I think you can do better with other cards.
- For grocery purchases, you’re almost certainly going to be better off with an American Express card. The American Express® Gold Card, both Amex EveryDay Cards, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express and Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express all offer bonus points on groceries, so even if you spend more than $6000 a year on groceries there are several options for spreading that spend across multiple cards.
- Beyond that, the Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard® offers 2x points on gas and groceries as well, if you want something other than an Amex.
- For dining, the Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard®, Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card, and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card all offer double points on dining, and provide more flexibility than you’d get with Disney Reward Dollars
And those are just the personal cash back cards — if you start looking at business cards and cards that accrue program-specific points there are even more options.
Overall Thoughts On The Disney Visa Cards
Obviously the sign-up bonuses aren’t spectacular, and compared to other options the earning rates aren’t especially compelling either.
However, if you do spend a lot of time at Disney parks I can certainly see the benefits of having one of these cards, and would probably recommend the Disney Rewards Visa Card given it doesn’t have an annual fee. If you find yourself spending quite a bit (more than $4,900 annually) on the categories which accrue bonuses, then the Disney Premier Visa Card might make sense, but I wouldn’t really put much spend on either card otherwise though.
As a side note, those of y’all who feel like I promote credit cards too much should check out the Liberty Eagle Counting House.