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With June quickly approaching many families are starting to prepare for a summer vacation. In less than a month, many kids will be finishing up the school year and parents will be exercising some well earned vacation days.
At CreditShout, this means helping our readers maximize their travel points to make that trip a little more affordable.
One of the most popular destinations for families redeeming their card rewards (or least the one we get the most questions about) is Disney. Every week around this time we get a few emails that look something like this:
My wife and I are starting to save for a Disney vacation. We aren’t “huge” spenders so probably won’t be relying solely on credit card points to pay for this but they will help! Which cards would you recommend using to help us start saving for the trip?
The good news is that here are plenty of cards with travel rewards programs to choose from. However because there are so many different programs, choosing the right one can be confusing especially when you aren’t a high spender – every point you earn matters!
In this situation, your first thought is to probably sign up for the official “Disney” branded credit card. However with credit cards, a little research usually goes a long way and the most apparent option isn’t always the best option. To demonstrate this, today we are going to compare the Disney Premier Visa with another popular option for those earning credit card rewards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.
Option #1: Disney’s Premier Visa Card
Disney’s Premier Visa card is tailored to – get this – Disney fans! This card, which is offered by Chase is essentially a cash back rewards program, however the cash back earned is in the form of “Disney” currency.
Initial Sign Up Bonus
After your first purchase, you’ll receive a $100 statement credit. With a 1-day ticket currently at $85, that’ll get one person in your group or family into the park for a day with enough left to partially cover your first days lunch.
Purchase Rewards & Redemption
Purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants and most Disney locations qualify for 2 percent cash back in the form of rewards dollars. All other purchases qualify for 1 percent back. Note that rewards dollars are not the same as US dollars, as they are Disney’s own currency. With the US dollar going down the tubes, though, you may want to hold on to these!
Rewards dollars can be redeemed for airline tickets. To do so, you must purchase airline tickets (to any destination) with your Disney Premier Visa card and then redeem rewards dollars for a statement credit. Rewards dollars can also be redeemed for Disney theme park tickets, Disney resort stays, Disney dining and just about anything else that Disney offers.
With this card, you’ll receive the following discounts:
- 10% off select merchandise at DisneyStore.com and Disney Store locations (must spend $50 or more)
- 10% off select merchandise at select locations at Disney World and Disneyland (must spend $50 or more)
- 20% off the non-discounted price of select guided tours at Disney World and Disneyland.
Added Bonus: Get a Picture With a Character
On your trip to Disney World, you and up to 5 of your guests can meet and greet a Disney character and get a complimentary photo. I’m not aware of any successful experiments by Disney to create a real Mickey Mouse, but any kids that you bring along might not care if it’s just a guy in a costume!
Option #2: Chase Sapphire Preferred
The Chase Sapphire Preferred card comes up a lot on the “Best of” lists. It offers strong travel rewards that can be used for your Disney World vacation. Let’s take a look at what it offers. We chose to use this card in this comparison because it currently has the one of the most valuable sign up bonuses on the market. This makes it easy to rake up a lot of points in a short time, with relatively low spend.
Initial Sign Up Bonus
If you spend at least $4,000 within the first 3 months, you’ll earn 50,000 bonus points with this card. That’s worth at least $400 and will be worth $625 if you purchase travel through the Ultimate Rewards Mall.
Purchase Rewards & Redemption
Purchases of travel and dining earn 2 points per dollar spent. All others earn 1 point per dollar spent.
Points can be redeemed for cash back, travel, gift cards, merchandise and in other fashions. The cash back and travel options make this a strong card for your Disney World vacation.
Transfer to Frequent Flyer Programs
Points can be transferred at a 1-to-1 ratio to frequent flyer programs. These include United MileagePlus, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards, British Airways Executive Club, Korean Air SKYPASS, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards, Marriott Rewards, Hyatt Gold Passport, Priority Club Rewards and Amtrak Guest Rewards. If you participate in a frequently flyer program, then this feature could be beneficial for your trip.
Battle of The Travel Rewards
Now that we understand how the rewards program associated with each card works, lets take a look at some hard numbers and how much you could really save. For this comparison, let’s suppose that you spend $25,000 on your card between now and the time that you pay for your trip.
The purchases can be broken down into the following amounts:
- Groceries – $5,000
- Gas – $3,500
- Travel – $500
- Dining – $1,500
- Other – $14,500
Here is how each card would work for you, when you break down the upfront bonus, purchase rewards and additional discounts earned with the amount of spending noted above:
|Card||Upfront Bonus||Purchase Rewards||Additional Discounts||Total Rewards|
|Disney Premier Visa||$100||$350||$70||$520|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred||$400||$315||$178.75||$893.75|
As we can see, you’d save over $373 extra when using the Chase Sapphire Preferred card over Disney’s Premier Visa. Also, note that there is no annual fee with the Sapphire Preferred card during the first year, meaning that you won’t pay a dime in annual fees if you just use this card to help fund a trip within the next year. With the Disney offer, you’ll have to pay a $49 annual fee, which will widen the savings gap to over $400 in this example.
To calculate the “Additional Discounts” we used the following spending amounts, estimated based on a vacation for a family of four:
- Airfare – $1,400
- Hotel – $984
- Tickets – $1,049
- Dining – $700
- Experiences – $600
- Merchandise – $150
- Other – $500
So, in conclusion, we recommend going with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card to help fund a Disney World vacation. It offers stronger travel rewards and more flexibility than Disney’s Premier Visa card, making it an easy pick as a go-to card for Disney World vacationers. Still, give Disney’s Premier Visa card consideration if the Sapphire Preferred card doesn’t work for you for any reason.