There are a lot of Disney World fans among our readers. At least a few times a week, in our Travel Hacking Mom Facebook Group, we get questions like “How to go to Disney World on the cheap?”, “Best way to use points for Disney World”, and “Best hacks for Disney theme park tickets?”. Walt Disney World is notoriously difficult to travel hack. In spite of that, there are a few ways to save some money or at least earn more points towards your next vacation. Here are all our tips and tricks to answer your questions in one ultimate guide to visiting Disney World with points and miles.
Additionally, if you’re looking for information on how to use your points and miles for Disneyland or a Disney Cruise, we have more content about that on the Travel Hacking Mom blog. We even have a Disneyland podcast episode to check out as well!
Disney World isn’t cheap. One day tickets at the Disney World theme parks in Orlando, Florida are $450+ for a family of 4! A full week (6 park days) would be about $2200+. Add in a hotel stay, food, souvenirs, and getting to/from the Orlando Airport (MCO) to Walt Disney World Resort, and you’re looking at a multiple thousand dollar trip for your family. Luckily, with the help of points and miles, plus a few credit card perks, you can majorly cut down on your out-of-pocket expenses for that trip to Disney. Here are our best tips on how to get discounted or nearly free Disney World theme park tickets.
Capital One has a great feature called Purchase Eraser. With this, you can “erase” any purchase on your credit card statement with your points. We already have a great post on how to erase your purchases with the Cap One Purchase Eraser here. In a nutshell, if you get the Capital One Venture or Venture X for the 75k offer, you can erase about $750 in purchases on your credit card. The trick here, though, is that your purchase must be coded as travel.
Room-only reservations through Disney will code as travel, and so will packages. However, tickets purchased, without a room, through WDW will not. (confusing, huh?). Any ticket-only purchased through Disney or a Disney travel agent will be coded as entertainment. The best way to ensure your WDW ticket-only purchase codes as travel is to purchase a package through WDW or get your tickets through Get Away Today.
In summary, here are two ways to have Disney purchases code as travel for the Capital One Purchase Eraser:
Cap One Purchase Eraser is one of the easiest way to save some money when booking a trip to Disney World with points and miles.
If you or an immediate family member is serving on Active Duty, in the Reserves, 100% disabled from the military, or a retired Veteran, you can purchase the Disney Armed Forces Salute Tickets. These tickets are almost 50% off the regular ticket prices.
With this in mind, there are a number of restrictions on who can purchase them, how many you can get, and how to use them. Additionally, the military member must be traveling with you as well.
Disney Military Tips website is a great resource for all the information you need and how to get your tickets.
The Chase Travel Portal occasionally has the option to buy Walt Disney World tickets. With that said, the price they charge you is quite a bit more than buying them directly from Disney. Therefore, it probably won’t make sense to do it this way for most people.
To use the Chase Travel Portal to purchase your Disney World tickets, search “Activities” for the dates you need and make your purchase.
Disney hosts a lot of different groups, conferences, and conventions. For these events, they offer discounted tickets for attendees. At the present time, these conference links are public, and anyone can buy them. To find these tickets, type into Google “MyDisneyGroup.com, the month you want.” There is not a conference every month, but sometimes you can get lucky to find tickets for your dates. Full-day tickets are only discounted a few dollars, but if you only have an afternoon to spend at the park, they have extra discounted tickets to enter after 1 pm.
This can be a particularly easy way to save a little on a short visit to Disney World. (Note: Don’t use the conference site to book a hotel. That’s a “no-no” in Disney’s book.)
There are a number of cheaper hotels near Disney World that include a free shuttle to the park and sometimes even free breakfast! Here are some of our favorites.
The Disney Swan and Dolphin hotels are considered “on property Deluxe” hotels for WDW. That said, they are different from other deluxe hotels like the Polynesian or Grand Floridian. Marriott owns the Swan and Dolphin, and you can use your Marriott points and free night certificates there. Marriott also gives you your 5th night free when using points.
From time to time (about once a year), there is a Marriott offer that gives you five 50k free night certificates that come out and these hotels are a great use of those free nights! You can top up these Marriott free night certificates with up to 15k Marriott points. This can make them worth as much as 65k points.
Many nights throughout the year at both the Swan and Dolphin, fall into that 50-65k points per night range. In the screenshots below, these are all random dates in September.
There are a number of nights for about 44k points per night, so this would also work with the Marriott free night certificates!
If you have an IHG credit card, you can get your 4th night free on award bookings. So you can book 3 nights and get the 4th night free.
If both P1 and P2 open an IHG card, you could get 8 nights on points/free at an IHG hotel near Disney World!
Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress is a favorite Orlando hotel among our readers. It is a category 4 hotel, and nights start at 12k points per night.
You could use a Hyatt Free Night Category 1-4 Certificate here.
One 60k sign-up bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred will get you 5 free nights at this hotel!
Hyatt Place Orlando/Lake Buena Vista is a category 2 hotel, and nights start at 6,500 points per night.
That same 60k SUB on the Sapphire Preferred could get you 9 nights here!
Some hotels in the Walt Disney World area are considered Good Neighbor Hotels. Other hotel brands own these hotels but still get some perks like early entrance to the Disney theme parks. There are a number of things you can book on hotel points. Browse their website to see all the options.
One final way to get some free nights at a Disney World hotel is to use the annual free night certificates that come with your credit card each year, such as the IHG, Hyatt, or Marriott. If you have a few of these cards, you could have a number of free nights to use.
Note: You sometimes have to book each free night certificate as its own night. After booking, you can call or email the hotel to ask them to link your reservations into one. That way, you hopefully won’t have to move rooms each night.
If you want to save big on staying at a Deluxe resort on the Walt Disney World property, this is a great way to do it. We’ve stayed at the Riviera Resort by renting DVC points and met a minimum spend on a new card paying for it.
Renting a DVC room through a service like David’s Vacation Rentals will also code as travel if you want to use the Capital One Purchase Eraser on this as well.
You know that THM loves Southwest for domestic flights. Even from my small airport in Upstate, NY, we have direct flights into MCO on Southwest. This would be the perfect use of the Southwest Companion Pass!
If you had one companion pass, you could fly at least one family member for $5.60 in taxes/fees each way, and if you had two companion passes, you could fly two family members for $11.20 in taxes/fees each way. That would essentially make your airfare to Disney World buy one, get one free! Not to mention, being able to use the points you accumulated to get the companion pass, you could use those to cover the other two flights to only pay $22.40 each way.
Sometimes, booking directly with American Airlines, Delta, or United can give you good options from your home airport to Orlando. We always like to run an award search on something like roame.travel to see what the best option might be.
Another trick to getting cheap flights to Disney World would be to book American Airlines flights via British Airways. All of the major banks transfer to British Airways, making it an easy way to rack up points to use for free flights. Similarly, you could book your Delta flights via Virgin Atlantic or Flying Blue (Air France/KLM).
If you don’t know all the airline partners, you can find all the details on our Airline Alliance Cheat Sheet.
Living within driving distance of Florida could make for a cheaper way to start your Disney vacation by road-tripping. By paying for your gas on any of these credit cards, you could earn more points for a future trip.
Disney gift cards can be used for almost everything on the WDW property, from hotel rooms to food to Genie+ to souvenirs, etc. The most common way people earn points by buying Disney gift cards is by using their Chase Ink Cash to purchase the fee-free Disney gift cards at office supply stores.
The Chase Ink Cash card earns you 5x points on all purchases at an office supply store like Staples, Office Depot, and Office Max. This travel hack even works on Staples online, though they only have the $100 Disney gift cards on their website, AND they come with a $1.99/fee when purchased online.
Occasionally, the Chase Freedom Flex has a quarterly earning category through PayPal. Jess shared a great trick to earning 7x points on her Disney gift card purchase at a CVS. That one purchase earned her enough points to book a Category 1 Hyatt hotel for 3,500 points.
Entertainment is a bonus spending category at least once a year as well. Ticket-only purchases code as entertainment, so you could max out that $1500 category on a couple of cards buying your Disney tickets.
There is also sometimes a Chase bonus earning category for wholesale stores. Places like Sam’s Club, BJ’s, and Costco often sell discounted gift cards for Disney and Southwest. The gift cards are often available online, too! You could reach a minimum spend on a new card or max out the bonus category on a current card.
Also, check your Chase offers on each of your cards. I recently had two great offers for Lowes and Best Buy, where Chase gave me 10% back up to $25. So, I purchased $250 gift cards from each store and saved 10% ($25 on each!).
Disneygiftcard.com allows you to sign in with your Disney login to combine your gift cards into up to $1000 gift cards. This is a great feature to combine all your gift card purchases together into a few large gift cards.
I ran around making different gift card purchases to redeem my offers, then combined that website and sent the final $1k Disney gift cards to my Disney travel agent to pay for our rooms.
In this guide to Disney World on points and miles, we’ve gone over some of the best ways to redeem your credit card points to make your family’s Disney trip cheaper. To summarize all the cards mentioned in this guide, here’s a list of the best credit cards for your Disney World vacation.
Sometimes the best card to use is the one you are working towards the sign up bonus for, however, we’ve laid out a lot of different ways on how to pay for your trip to Disney World with credit card points and, as you can see, there are many options!
We get lots of questions about the Disney World credit card and if it is worth it taking one of your 5/24 spots. While the THM motto is “you do you” with points and miles, this card is a tough sell on whether or not it deserves a spot on your list.
There are a few Disney credit card perks at Disney World, for example:
Given that, if you or your family takes Disney vacations often, you’ll have to decide if those perks are worth a 5/24 spot when you could be earning valuable transferable points paying for your trip.
While many of the top Disney blogs and travel agencies will tell you that there is no best time to visit Disney World and that it is busy all the time, there are certain times of the year that are the cheapest time to visit Disney World. The best way to figure this out is to take a look at the pricing of the tickets.
Disney uses dynamic pricing, so tickets cost more during their more popular times and cost less during their slower times. Just by looking at the price per day, you can get a good idea of when it is the best time to visit Disney World.
When you log into the Disney website to book your tickets, you’ll notice that it says “from $109/day” as the lowest ticket cost. You can scroll through the calendar to find those elusive $109 days. I found most of them in August and September.
If you want to read about how some of our readers successfully traveled to Disney World with points and miles, check out these three posts:
A Disney World vacation isn’t cheap. Luckily, there are lots of ways we’ve shared in this Ultimate Guide to Using Points at Disney World on how to use your credit card points to make your Disney trip a little less expensive.
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