Is The Disney Credit Card Worth It?

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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 😉

Hollywood-Tower-Hotel

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.

Disney Rewards Visa

Disney Rewards Visa Card

  • 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

Disney Premier Visa Card

  • 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 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.

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.

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Comments

  1. I’ve had the Disney Rewards card for several years and I don’t use it very often except for actual Disney-related purchases. We travel to one of the two parks on average of once per year, so the biggest perk for me is getting early access to the discounted packages (discounted rooms, free dining, etc.) in advance of the general public. The really primo locations tend to go quick once they hit the open market and we’ve snagged exactly what we wanted a couple of times already. Plus, the 10% off of retail merchandise at the Disney stores/outlets is usually enough to offset most (if not all) of the annual fee.

  2. We have the Disney Visa as well, we put our Disney cruises on it, plus our recent VA airfare for said cruise. The points we get back will go straight to our onboard credit effectively giving us free cash on board (which we will spend)…
    May I recommend going to Jellyrolls if you are still at WDW? It’s an awesome break from all things Disney and a short walk from the Swolphin

  3. Another option for Disney related stuff is the Disney Debit card from Chase.

    https://disneydebit.com/

    Shopping:
    Save 10% on select merchandise purchases of $50 or more at DisneyStore.com and Disney Store locations with your Disney Visa® Debit Card

    ThemeParks:
    Character Meet ‘N’ Greet at our Private Cardmember Location

    10% Off Select Merchandise

    10% Off at Select Dining Locations

    20% Off Select Guided Tours

    And a few other options.

    We have this card and it’s been useful, I suppose, for a couple of things. We’ve probably found better value in purchasing a package from Costco and getting the free meal offered (advertised as a character meal but can use as a set amount at any park dining)

  4. Nice write up lucky. That discount does make these cards worth considering. I had never even heard off them before. But go figure, they’re Chase cards.

  5. It’s worth noting that a) if you have an Annual Pass, you already get the discounts mentioned as Disney CC benefits, and often at greater percentages; and b) every Disney eatery I’ve patronized has coded as a restaurant for purposes of the Sapphire bonus, so with an AP + SP, you get 10-15% off your meal in addition to 2 (or 3) URs per dollar spent.

  6. I’m trying to envision you as a kid. I keep coming up with a vision of a sophisticated, well-dressed little kid who asks for Krug with his macaroni and cheese. 😛

  7. I suppose the downside of the debit card is that you have to use it to get the discounts on purchases, you’re missing other earning opportunities. But if Disney is an infrequent event then just eat that lost earning and use it at the parks. But as a way to get the discounts there’s no annual fee on it, it sits in my drawer outside of our Disney trips.

  8. Best card for disney is the arrival venture. We used a combo of the two to get an annual pass. We go about 3-4 times a year from Cincinnati, Oh. We drive once and use airline points to get there, use arrival or venture poibts for the tickets, and use hotel points or rent a timeshare condo. Disney on points is super easy, though eating affirdably can be what trips people up.

    Also, we were there while you were there, lucky.

  9. You’ve never felt so marketed to in your entire life??

    Apperently you don’t reading boardingarea then…

  10. Best reason to get the card is with the gift card bonus (I got $100 with zero membership fee awhile ago) you don’t feel quite as ripped off by Disney. Combined with SPG points for hotel and I actually felt like I was enough ahead, that the ticket and food.costs didn’t seem so horrible. Sadly with kids you end up here sooner or later.

  11. My friends are planning a Disney trip (their 1st) and the wife had to get the Disney card for discounts and has been spending on her card to earn those Disney Dollars. I know that the benefits won’t really benefit them as they have a package that includes dining. But in her eyes, she had to have the card no matter that I pointed out other options for ROI – so I guess the Mouse wins that one. I convinced the husband to get the British Airways Chase card so he could use the 50k bonus to get 3 USAirways tickets to Orlando (45k Avios) for their trip – he saved about $750.

  12. 28 here, and I went back to Disney World last summer after 22 years. Have to agree about Splash Mountain 😉

    I also found myself admiring the meticulousness of it all. The consistency of employee training was also remarkable.

    Oddly enough (and despite the crowds) I had fun, though some of that may have been remembrance.

  13. If you sign up or the free Disney vacation planning DVD, you will usually get an offer in the mail soon after for a $200 gift card sign up bonus, rather than the standard $100.

  14. Is there a way to use the rewards on the Disney Movie Club?
    $200 – $49 Annual fee would buy a lot of movies…

  15. Great info. I’m getting a Disney card (as we’re planning a family trip now). It’s good to know that this card probably isn’t worth using outside of using it for a Disney vacation.

  16. We might be doing a Disney cruise this summer, so I was considering signing up for a Disney card — but since we can get 3x Thank You Points via the Citi Thank You Premier Card (since a cruise falls within their Travel bonus category), seems like I should pay for the cruise with that card instead. Anyone disagree? Thanks

  17. Calling it “Disney Hell” will discredit you to millions of Disney Fans. There are a lot of people that think that Walt was a genius and Disney is the master of imagination. The only place you can experience the Disney experience is at Disney. Mickey Mouse has been around since 1928 and still popular with kids. Name any other product/brand that can say that. Do you think yours or any Website will be stronger then ever in 90 years? You should be so Lucky. The only problem I see is the relationship with Chase which I think has the worst customer service and is the most corrupt Bank in History. They should not be teamed up with the Disney reputation. A 58 year old CEO and Happy Disney Fan/Investor

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