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Pretty much every kid wants to visit the “Happiest Place on Earth” and many parents want to see the magic in their kid’s eyes as they experience Disneyland for the first time. But do you know what’s not so magical about the “Happiest Place on Earth”? How expensive it is!! Luckily, there are ways to reduce those costs by using points to visit Disneyland on a budget.
In this post, I will be sharing how you can get your flights, hotel, and park tickets all using credit card points. This will cover a lot and not every family is going to want to use points for everything. Use the table of contents to navigate to the places you are most interested in learning about saving. For example, if you plan to drive to Disneyland then flights won’t be of interest to you. My example will be for a family of five, but it should give you a good idea of how to plan a Disneyland vacation on a budget for families of all sizes.
As you read, don’t forget about two-player mode that I mentioned in the beginner’s guide. Just because you may already have one of these cards doesn’t mean your spouse can’t get their own! It’s easier to rack up those points to visit Disneyland if you both are getting credit cards.
Using points for your flights is one way to visit Disneyland on a budget. All of the major airlines fly to LAX or the surrounding airports. I will be focusing on Southwest, JetBlue, and Delta as they cost the least amount of points from Salt Lake City. These prices show random dates that I plugged in and may not be the current prices or the prices for the days you wish to go. Make sure you go online and check award prices for your specific dates. If you can be flexible with your travel dates you will most likely be able to get more bang for your buck, or in this case, points.
Southwest is a great budget option for Disneyland flights. I love being able to check my bags for free and I love how reasonable their award prices are.
You can typically find tickets from SLC-LAX for around 7,000-10,000 points per person roundtrip. For a family of 5 that puts you around 35,000-50,000 points and $56 in taxes/fees. Check out the low price calendar on the Southwest to get an idea of the cost for your dates and departing airport.
Below is an example of what you could find. Both are direct flights. You’ll see the departing flight is fewer points. By staying an extra day I could get that returning flight for the same price. It took me just three minutes max to pull this up. You don’t even need a Southwest account to do this.
To get the points you will need to open a Southwest Card. There are three personal Southwest credit cards you can choose from. The cards switch up the signup bonuses every so often. Most commonly the bonuses on these cards are 40,000-50,000 points after spending $1,000-$2,000 in 3 months. Once a year or so they jump up to 60,000+ points. For the last two years, this happened around May or June and then again right around the beginning of the year.
Sidenote: You can only have one personal Southwest card at a time and won’t be eligible for the bonus if you have received a bonus on any Southwest personal card in the last 24 months.
Southwest also offers two businesses card, the Southwest Premier Business Card and Performance Business Card. The bonus on the Premier is 60,000 points after spending $3,000 in 3 months and the bonus on the Performance is 70,000 after spending $5,000 in 3 months.
One thing to consider is the Southwest Companion Pass. If you earn 125,000 points in a calendar year you can fly someone free with you for a year (or more depending on when you qualify for it).
You can also acquire Southwest points by opening any Ultimate Rewards earning card and transferring those points into your Southwest account. Those cards include the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred. Click here to learn more about Ultimate Rewards, including how to earn them and why they are my favorite points currency.
In a quick search, I found direct flights from Salt Lake City to Long Beach. The total was 49,500 points and $56. The JetBlue Plus card has a signup bonus of 40,000 points. JetBlue is a Chase transfer partner. If you have an Ultimate Rewards card, you can transfer 9,500 UR over to your JetBlue account to make up the difference for your flights.
Delta doesn’t publish an award chart so it makes it a little tricky to know how many points it will cost to get your family to Disneyland. In a recent search, I found tickets from SLC-LAX for 14,500 miles per person. Going off that number you would need 72,500 miles to fly your family. Taxes/fees would be $56. That is so much more expensive than the other two options. I would only do this if the other two options were unavailable to me. As expensive as it is, it is a lot less than what I pulled up when searching United Airlines. They wanted 100,000 points! I mean, free is free, but I still like to use the least amount of points possible!
Delta has four personal credit cards. I would recommend the Delta Gold Card. The standard sign-up bonus is 30,000 miles after spending $1,000 in 3 months. That is a terrible offer, don’t sign up for that!! Delta will periodically increase the offer to 70,000 points. Keep your eyes out for that. If you and your spouse already have the Gold Card you can look into the Delta Platinum card. There are also three Delta business cards.
Delta is also a transfer partner of the American Express Membership Rewards program. American Express Membership Rewards is similar to the Chase Ultimate Rewards program.
There are a lot of variables that will factor into the cost of your airline tickets such as: how flexible you can be with dates, how many people are in your family, where you are flying from, what cards you already have, etc. Hopefully, some of you can get your family of five there using one signup bonus. In which case a Southwest card, Chase Ultimate Reward earning card like the Sapphire Preferred, or a 70,000 point Delta offer are your best bets. Otherwise, you should, at the minimum, be able to get a large chunk of airline costs deferred by opening up one card.
Another way to visit Disneyland on a budget is by using points for your hotel stay. There is definitely not a shortage of hotel options when it comes to finding a place to stay near Disneyland! You could stay on a property at a Disneyland hotel, stay at a chain hotel, or book just about any hotel (besides Disney) on the Chase Travel Portal. Staying at a Disneyland hotel is going to be the priciest option but you can defer those costs through credit card signup bonuses. If you’d like to stay off property then you should be able to get 4-5 nights free from one credit card signup bonus.
If you aren’t as concerned with doing Disneyland on a budget and are looking to splurge then look no further than an on-property Disneyland hotel! The three on-property hotels are Disney’s Grand California Hotel & Spa, The Disneyland Hotel, and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. While they are much more expensive, they have perks like Extra Magic Hour and convenient locations next to the parks.
Below is an example of what you could potentially pay for four nights at the Disneyland Hotel. The dates I used for this search were March 10-14, 2019. which is a Sunday to Thursday. Oftentimes the rooms are less expensive on those days of the week. The price includes 3-day park hopper passes. I used Get Away Today to find this deal. You can save $10 on Get Away Today vacation packages by using the code THM10. I found the same room and dates going for $40 more ($50 when you add in the coupon code) and with only a 2-day park hopper pass directly from Disneyland Resort.
Ok, $3,000 for park tickets and hotel is a lot! I don’t know about you but I’m not about to pay that much money, even if I did get free flights! So let’s talk about how to get that price down. There aren’t any hotel points that you can use towards a Disneyland hotel. There is a Chase Disney credit card but it comes with a measly $250 sign-up bonus and an annual fee of $49 ????????. We can do better than that!
With the Capital One Venture Card, you can earn 50,000 points after spending $3,000 in 3 months. Those 50,000 points are worth a $500 statement credit that essentially “erase” a travel purchase. To do this log into your account and open your statement. Next to your travel purchases, you should see an option to redeem points. From there decide how many points you would like to redeem and voila! You will then receive a statement credit.
Update: 5/3/21 the Venture has also had a limited-time increased offer of 100,000 points if you spend $20,000 in 12 months.
The key here is to book your hotel through a travel agency, like Get Away Today, so that it will code as a travel purchase. If you purchase directly from Disney this won’t work. Don’t forget to use code THM10 for an additional $10 off! If you and your spouse both wanted to open a card to save $1,000 then I would talk to the travel agency and see if they can split the cost between two cards.
After you make a travel purchase you have 90 days to go into your account and use your points to get your statement credit. This is great because you can book your Disneyland hotel stay on the card before you have the points and still have time to redeem them for a statement credit.
There are a variety of hotel chains close to Disneyland that are budget-friendly. If you have a particular hotel you love staying at when you go to Disney check to see if they offer a co-branded credit card that comes with a great sign-up bonus to get you some free nights.
My favorite chain hotel is Hyatt, in large part because of their very reasonable award chart and the fact that they are a transfer partner with Chase Ultimate Rewards. I also love that they don’t have any taxes/fees when you pay with points. It is literally FREE! I particularly like to stay at Hyatt Place or Hyatt House when we travel as a family. Both offer free breakfast and have a generous occupancy rate. These are the two Hyatt hotels I would recommend when staying near Disneyland:
The Hyatt Place Anaheim Resort/Convention Center charges 12,000 points per night. This room includes two queen beds and a pull-out sofa bed. Free breakfast and a pool are also nice perks! It is less than a mile from the park.
The Hyatt House also charges 12,000 points per night. Availability is a little harder to come by for a family of five. A family of four is able to find good availability for a room with a king bed and a sofa bed. The location is a little better than Hyatt Place. It also includes free breakfast and has a pool. Any hotel that includes free breakfast keeps us on budget when visiting Disneyland.
You can get points by opening the World of Hyatt Credit Card. You’ll also receive one free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort every year after your cardmember anniversary.
You can also acquire Hyatt points by opening any Ultimate Rewards earning card and transferring those points into your Hyatt account. Those cards include the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred.
The Chase Travel Portal is a great option for booking hotels near Disneyland. Your points are worth 1.25 cents (1.5 if you have the Sapphire Reserve). You can find a lot of hotels near Disneyland that are budget-friendly, offer free breakfast, a pool, and a separate sleeping area for the kids. Prices start around 8,000 points at the low end and go up from there. This screenshot from the portal shows just a few of the hotel options and prices.
Here is a closer look at three family-friendly hotels you can book on the portal.
The Desert Palms Inn & Suites has various room options, including the option of a King bed and a separate room with bunk beds. Free breakfast is included.
If you are looking to have your own kitchen then the Staybridge Suites is a great option. It also includes free breakfasts.
The Best Western Plus Raffles Inn & Suites is one of the cheaper hotels available. It includes breakfast and as you can see from the picture, offers plenty of room.
There are many many more options in the portal. One thing I love about the portal is you have the option to pay with points and cash. If you don’t have enough points or don’t want to use them all then no biggie! Just use what you want!
To book in the portal you will need Chase Ultimate Rewards. You can earn Ultimate Rewards by opening the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Business Preferred, or any other Ultimate Rewards earning cards. Check out this post to learn more about how to earn them and why they are so great.
Is it just me or does it seem like Disneyland increases the cost of park tickets every year?! I took my oldest a few years ago with my sisters and his cousins. We had points for our flight and hotel but I couldn’t believe how expensive the tickets were! And that was just for the two of us!! Luckily, you can stay on budget when you visit Disneyland by using points for your ticket.
If you read about how to save on your Disneyland hotel and park tickets package then this will sound familiar as it is the same card I mentioned there.
To save $500 on your Disneyland park tickets you will want to open the Capital One Venture Card. After you spend $3,000 on the card you will earn 50,000 venture miles which are worth $500 towards travel in the form of a statement credit on travel purchases. The key to all of this is buying your tickets from a travel agency like Get Away Today. If you buy your tickets from Disneyland directly they won’t code as travel on your statement and therefore you won’t be able to get a credit on the purchase. Also, Get Away Today’s tickets are a little bit cheaper so you should book with them even if you don’t get a credit card!
Below you will find the prices for five park hopper tickets from Get Away Today. Knowing Disneyland, these prices won’t stay accurate for long so don’t rely on these numbers!
You can see that for a family of 5, 3-Day Park Hopper tickets will cost you $1,275. If you open a Capital One Venture Card you will save $500, making the total $775! Keep in mind that if your spouse opens up the card as well then you will want to split your purchase between them.
I hope this has helped you see how doable a Disneyland vacation using points is and that you can visit Disneyland on a budget. There are so many options for cutting the cost. You could open up one card for flights, one card for your hotel stay, and one card for park tickets and have the majority of your vacation paid for. If you’d rather drive then you can get a card for your hotel stay and park tickets. And if you just want to save an easy $500 on tickets then that is a super easy option! Tag us on Instagram @travelhackingmom if you use points for a Disneyland vacation! We would love to see your travels!
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