Other Disney Travel Discounts & Savings

LAST UPDATE: 11/24/14

Need more ways to save money on your Disney trip? Here are some other travel discounts, deals and savings that can add up to big savings when you are planning a Disney vacation!

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Disney’s Visa Cards

Chase issues two Disney-themed Visa cards: the Disney Rewards® Visa® Card and the Disney’s Premier Visa® Card. Some other credit cards have better overall rewards and better travel benefits. However, if you are a regular visitor to Walt Disney World, you may find it worthwhile to get one of Disney’s Visa cards as a way of saving toward your vacation, getting access to various theme park and shopping benefits, early access to discounted vacation packages, and/or the 6 months no-interest offer when charging your vacation to the card.

Disney Rewards® Visa® Card

With the Disney Rewards Visa Card, you can earn Disney Dream Reward Dollars equal to 1% on purchases charged to your card. Disney Dream Reward Dollars may be redeemed for most Disney merchandise, park tickets, hotel nights, food, etc. at Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Stores and DisneyStore.com.

Disney Rewards Visa cardholders receive various benefits at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, such as discounts on backstage tours and a FREE character meet and greet with a FREE photo at Disney World and Disneyland. Cardholders also sometimes receive special onboard credits on Disney Cruise Line.

Cardholders sometimes get a 3- to 7-day jump start on the general public when discounted vacation packages are offered for Walt Disney World. On a few occasions in the past, cardholders have had exclusive access to special Disney World vacation package offers that were never made available to the general public, but this is pretty rare.

As a cardholder you may receive special deals on other Disney products and services, such as Disney’s Broadway and Disney on Ice shows, DisneyStore.com merchandise and other exclusive merchandise.

With Disney Rewards Visa, you pay no interest for 6 months on Disney cruise packages or ticket-inclusive Disney vacation packages when you or your travel agent book through Disney Cruise Line or the Walt Disney Travel Company and charge the package to your Disney Rewards Visa Card prior to arrival.

There is no annual fee on the Disney Rewards Visa card. There is no limit on the maximum number of “Disney Dream Reward Dollars” you can earn with this card.

Click here for more information about the Disney Rewards Visa Card.

Disney’s Premier Visa® Card

There is now a Disney’s Premier Visa Card (also issued by Chase Bank) that has a $49 per year fee but gives you the potential to earn more points and provides an additional redemption option.

With the Disney’s Premier Visa Card, you earn Disney Dream Reward Dollars equal to 2% on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants and most Disney locations and 1% on everything else.

This version of the card allows you to redeem your Disney Dream Reward Dollars for statement credits toward airline tickets on any airline to any destination, anytime, as well as the usual Disney rewards (Disney merchandise, park tickets, hotel nights, food, etc. at Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Stores and DisneyStore.com.)

Cardholders receive various benefits at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, such as discounts on backstage tours and a FREE character meet and greet with a FREE photo at Disney World and Disneyland. Cardholders also sometimes receive special onboard credits on Disney Cruise Line.

Cardholders sometimes get a 3- to 7-day jump start on the general public when discounted vacation packages are offered for Walt Disney World. On a few occasions in the past, cardholders have had exclusive access to special Disney World vacation package offers that were never made available to the general public, but this is pretty rare.

You pay no interest for 6 months on Disney cruise packages or ticket-inclusive Disney vacation packages when you or your travel agent book through Disney Cruise Line or the Walt Disney Travel Company and charge the package to your Disney’s Premier Visa® Card prior to arrival.

Disney’s Premier Visa Card is intended for people who charge a lot to the card, since you have to spend more than $4900 per year on gas, groceries, restaurants and Disney vacations just to come out ahead vs. holding the no-fee version (*see math below if you don’t understand this). If you take a lot of Disney vacations and/or you are willing to charge your day-to-day expenses to the card in order to reap the rewards, this is a good card for you.

*You already get 1% back with the regular, no fee version of the card. By getting the Premier card and paying the $49 annual fee instead of getting the no-fee card, you only gain 1% in additional rewards. So to make the Premier card pay for itself compared with the no-fee card, you need to spend at least $4900 a year.

Click here for more information about the Disney’s Premier Visa Card.

Disney’s Visa® Debit Card

Disney’s Visa Debit Card has very limited benefits. It does NOT offer Disney Dream Reward Dollars and does NOT provide the protections and benefits of a credit card. We don’t recommend it (or any other debit card) for making purchases online, since debit cards allow direct access to your checking account and an electronic processing error or online fraud could clear out your account.

However, Disney’s Visa Debit Card does allow you to take advantage of some Disney’s Visa benefits, such as discounts on merchandise, dining, and tours. Cardholders sometimes get a 3- to 7-day jump start on the general public when discounted vacation packages are offered for Walt Disney World. It also allows you to take advantage of the FREE character meet and greet with a FREE photo at Disney World and Disneyland offered to Disney’s Visa cardholders.

Click here for more information about the Disney Visa Debit Card.

Frequent Stay Programs

Virtually every large hotel chain has a frequent stay program. It is very worthwhile to sign up for these free programs. Some hotel chains will give you room upgrades, when available, because you belong to the program. Others offer special amenities (i.e. free Internet access) and/or give you a special in-room treat or gift, just for being a member. And some programs allow you to accumulate points that you can exchange for all kinds of things.

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Starwood Preferred Guest

Starwood operates Sheraton and Westin hotels, including the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotels located on Disney property. You can join the Starwood Preferred Guest program for FREE. This allows you to accumulate Starpoints for free nights at over 1,000 participating Starwood hotels and resorts in nearly 100 countries, including Sheraton, Westin, Le Meridien, W and other brands, with no blackout dates. Starpoints can also be exchanged for free flights on most airlines.

Elite level Starwood Preferred Guest members may receive benefits such as free upgrades at check-in, free Internet access, late check-out and bonus points with every stay.

Hilton HHonors

If you stay at Hilton hotels (including ConradDoubleTree, Embassy Suites, Hampton, Hilton Garden InnHomewood Suites or Waldorf Astoria) on a regular basis, you should definitely join Hilton HHonors. Membership is FREE and the Hilton HHonors points you earn can be exchanged for free tickets for SeaWorld and Universal, Hilton family hotel stays or frequent flyer miles in certain airline programs.

Elite level HHonors members may receive benefits such as free room upgrades at check-in, free Internet access, complimentary breakfast or other amenities and bonus points with every stay.

Marriott Rewards

If you stay at Marriott hotels (including Renaissance, Courtyard, Residence Inn, Fairfield Inn, TownePlace Suites, SpringHill Suites or Marriott Vacation Club properties) on a regular basis, you should enroll in Marriott Rewards. Membership is FREE and you can choose to accumulate Marriott Rewards points (redeemable for hotel stays) or frequent flyer miles.

Elite level Marriott Rewards members may receive benefits such as free room upgrades at check-in, free Internet access, lounge access, complimentary continental breakfast, and bonus points with every stay.

Points.com

If you have frequent stay points in more than one program and you’d like to consolidate them so you can use them, consider signing up for Points.com. This is a FREE program that allows you to trade various points and miles between programs, including American Airlines AAdvantage® miles, Delta SkyMiles®, Priority Club® Rewards and more. You’ll be able to get the most from airline, accommodation, frequent shopper and savings reward programs to which you already belong!

Trip Insurance

It is especially important to buy trip insurance for a cruise or vacation package, because you have to pay the entire cost in advance and you won’t get a refund if you have to cancel right before your scheduled departure. With hundreds or even thousands of dollars at stake, it’s worth it to protect the investment.

It is absolutely critical to buy insurance if you will be taking a Caribbean cruise during hurricane season (between June 1 and November 30). While cruise ships can easily outrun and sail around hurricanes, ports and airports often close, which can affect your travel plans in a big way. If you don’t have insurance, you will be out of pocket for related expenses, such as renting a car to get to a new port or to get home from a port where you hadn’t expected to disembark. And if you can’t make it to the ship, the cruise line has the right to say “tough luck” and keep your money!

It’s super-important to buy insurance if you will be visiting Walt Disney World on a package vacation during peak hurricane season (roughly the months of August and September). Don’t underestimate the potential of hurricanes to create major problems even in an inland location like Orlando. Walt Disney World was directly affected by two hurricanes in 2004 (Frances and Jeanne) and one in 2005 (Wilma). Two hotels located on Disney property (but not operated by Disney) were virtually destroyed by the 2004 storms; one didn’t reopen until 2010!

While Disney’s own resorts weathered the hurricanes very well, guests were stuck in their rooms for up to 36 hours and many had major travel problems because airports were closed. Disney did waive “no-show” fees for a few dates, but those whose trips began before the specified dates (but whose travel plans overlapped with the hurricane) or just afterward were out of luck. Many people had similar problems with their airfares. The airlines allowed highly restrictive changes for certain dates without extra fees, but many of those who had to reschedule could not work within the airlines’ narrow rules and just had to suck up the extra cost.

Perhaps the most important coverage included in a trip insurance policy is trip cancellation and interruption insurance, which can protect your investment if you have to cancel your vacation at the last minute (or come home early) due to illness or injury. Depending on the policy, you may be covered if you cancel for other reasons, such as jury duty, terrorism at your destination, or even unemployment.

Emergency medical coverage and medical evacuation insurance are very important if you become ill or injured during the trip. A lot of medical insurance policies do not cover you outside of your home country. Plus, evacuation insurance will help to pay for an emergency flight, which would be hugely expensive if you had to pay for it yourself. This can be very worthwhile, especially if you will be visiting developing countries, which is common on cruises. Personally we would not be comfortable with the care provided in most Caribbean hospitals, for instance, and would much prefer to be flown to the US for treatment.

Delayed baggage insurance will help you pay for replacement clothing if the airline sends your suitcase to Timbuktu and you need something to wear in the meantime. Supplemental baggage insurance will pay a predetermined amount if an airline or cruise line loses your luggage completely. When you consider the high cost of the formal wear you may be taking on a cruise, and how little airlines and cruise lines tend to pay for lost luggage, supplemental baggage insurance becomes a wise move. (Some higher-end credit cards provide extra baggage insurance, so check with your card issuer before paying extra for this coverage.)

Disney sells trip insurance, but it’s expensive and it has major exclusions: it doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions or delays (even weather delays) on air travel you arrange yourself. (Air travel arranged through Disney is covered.) You can almost always get better insurance than Disney provides, and at better rates, by buying it elsewhere.

Be aware that in most cases, trip insurance will provide slightly less coverage (usually by adding exclusions on pre-existing conditions) unless you buy it within about 14 days of paying your DEPOSIT on the vacation package or cruise. So be sure to purchase it right away, once you’ve committed to the trip.

Where to Buy Trip Insurance

If you have kids under 18, consider using Allianz (formerly Access America) for your trip insurance. Kids are included FREE in the Classic Plan, which is a rare and valuable benefit. If you buy that policy within 14 days of making your first payment/deposit on the package, it will also cover pre-existing conditions, unlike Disney’s coverage.

If the Allianz policy isn’t a good fit for you, a great place to comparison-shop for trip insurance is InsureMyTrip.com, where you can see side-by-side policy information and rates for major, reputable insurance companies. We have used InsureMyTrip.com ourselves to buy trip insurance for several trips. We saved a substantial amount and got much more comprehensive coverage than Disney’s policy would have provided.