My family typically takes several Disney vacations every year. From Walt Disney World and Disneyland to cruises on Disney Cruise Line and even Disney’s resort in Hawaii, Aulani, we love it all.
It’s no secret that Disney destinations are expensive, but I’ve amassed an arsenal of tricks to help us trim thousands off our vacation spending annually.
Some of my strategies involve a substantial investment at one point — like becoming a Disney Vacation Club member and purchasing annual passes to the theme parks — to nab the savings, given how frequently we visit. And, of course, those approaches aren’t right for the occasional Disney vacationer.
But there’s one low- or no-cost tool savvy Disney travelers should have in their wallet that can save you not just cold, hard cash but even hours of precious vacation time: a Disney Visa.
Get a Disney Visa for the perks, not the rewards
Before we break down the card types, perks and rewards for the Disney Visa options, let’s get one thing straight: It’s unlikely that you’ll come out ahead by making a Disney Visa your primary credit card. There are plenty of other cards with more compelling rewards for everyday spending.
As a Chicago-based frequent flyer on United Airlines, I put most of my spending on the United Club Infinite Card, which helps me maximize my earnings toward elite status with United and gets me United Club access for my entire family when we fly together.
But for regular Disney travelers, even if you don’t use the card for most of your everyday spending, there’s a good chance it makes sense to add a Disney Visa to your wallet. Here’s what you’ll get if you have it — and how to choose which Disney Visa is best for you.
Disney Visa credit cards: Sign-up bonuses and reward-earning potential
Disney Visa Card
The basic Disney Visa Card has no annual fee and currently earns a $150 statement credit after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months.
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Disney Visa Card purchases earn 1% in Disney Rewards Dollars, which are equal to $1 each and can be used a bit like a Disney gift card. Disney Rewards Dollars can be redeemed at U.S. Disney parks and resorts, on Disney Cruise Line, at shopdisney.com, and on movies at AMC Theatres.
Disney Premier Visa Card
The Disney Premier Visa Card has a $49 annual fee and currently earns a $300 statement credit after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months.
Disney Premier Visa Card purchases earn 5% in Disney Rewards Dollars at disneyplus.com, hulu.com and espnplus.com; 2% back on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants and most Disney locations; and 1% back on all other purchases.
In addition to all the ways to use the rewards if you have the Disney Visa, Disney Premier Visa cardholders can also redeem Disney Rewards Dollars for a statement credit for air travel purchased with the Disney Premier Visa.
Lastly, Disney Bundle Trio subscribers can earn up to a $13.99 statement credit for up to three months on qualifying subscription purchases, and add-ons totaling $12.99 or more at disneyplus.com, hulu.com or plus.espn.com.
How to redeem Disney Rewards Dollars
To redeem Disney Rewards Dollars, you’ll need a Disney Rewards Redemption Card. Once you’ve signed in to your Disney account online and linked it to your Chase Disney Visa card account, you can log on to manage your Disney Rewards Dollars online. You can request a Disney Rewards Redemption Card once you’ve earned $20 in Disney Rewards Dollars and continue to load Disney Rewards Dollars onto your card each time you accrue at least $10, monitor your Rewards Dollars balance and, for Premier cardholders, redeem Disney Rewards Dollars on air travel.
Perks and discounts for Disney Visa cardholders
If you’re a regular Disney traveler like I am, even if the ongoing rewards don’t make this card worth your while, the perks probably do. Disney Visa perks come with both credit card types; some are great even if you don’t spend much on the card.
0% annual percentage rate (APR) for 6 months on Disney vacations
Cardholders get a 0% annual percentage rate for six months on select Disney Resort packages; all Adventures by Disney packages; vacation packages at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa; and all Disney Cruise Line packages.
This offer is particularly compelling when booking a Disney cruise or Adventures by Disney vacation, which can be pretty expensive.
While Walt Disney World, Disneyland Resort and Aulani will all typically run promotions throughout the year, the majority of Disney Cruise Line and Adventures by Disney package prices tend to be cheapest at the time of release, so if you still need some time to save for your vacation, your Disney Visa can buy you an extra six months to pay without added fees after snagging the lowest booking rate.
Save 10% on select merchandise and dining at Disney theme parks and resorts
Cardholders can save 10% on select merchandise and at select dining locations at Walt Disney World and Disneyland theme parks, hotels and at Disney Springs at Walt Disney World and at Disneyland’s Downtown Disney District.
If you tend to go big on souvenirs and meals on Disney property during your vacations, these savings can definitely add up. Just be aware of the fine print — your merchandise purchase needs to be at least $50 to nab the discount, and there are quite a few popular items and locations excluded, including Savi’s Workshop – Handbuilt Lightsabers, Droid Depot, and Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.
The 10% dining discount is offered at select dining locations, with notable exclusions, including alcohol and select new food and beverage offerings. The discount is also not valid on certain popular dates and holidays.
Save 15% on select guided tours at Walt Disney World and Disneyland
Cardholders can save 15% on select guided tours at Walt Disney World and Disneyland. These include “Celebrating Disney100 at the Disneyland Resort Guided Tour,” “Walt’s Main Street Story Tour,” and “Holiday Time at the Disneyland Resort Guided Tour” at Disneyland; and “Disney’s Keys to the Kingdom Tour,” “Wild Africa Trek,” “Behind the Seeds” and many more at Walt Disney World.
Save 10% on select recreation experiences at Walt Disney World
Cardholders get 10% off the non-discounted price of recreation experiences like carriage rides at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, and horseback riding at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground.
Onboard Disney Cruise Line discounts
Several discounts are offered to Disney Visa cardholders on board Disney Cruise Line sailings when you pay with your Disney Visa:
- 10% off non-discounted digital photos packages.
- 10% off Castaway Cay Getaway Packages — save on snorkeling, bicycle, float and inner tube rentals.
- 10% off select merchandise purchases of $50 or more. (Pro tip: If you’re buying souvenirs from multiple shops on board, you can pay for everything at a single location if you need help hitting the $50 minimum.)
- 20% off non-discounted massages and facials in the onboard spa on port days only.
Related: How to save money on a Disney Cruise
Save 10% at shopdisney.com
Disney Visa cardmembers can also save 10% on select merchandise purchases at shopdisney.com, but note that there are numerous exclusions, and the offer cannot be combined with any promo codes other than free shipping. To apply the discount, use promo code DRVCMEMBER and pay with your Disney Visa.
Cardmember photo opportunities at Walt Disney World and Disneyland
For many Disney parkgoers, character meet-and-greets and photo ops are a high priority — which can translate to long wait times.
But a Disney Visa will fast-track you to some exclusive character experiences at Walt Disney World and Disneyland — with little to no wait. Plus, a Disney PhotoPass photographer will be on hand to take photos, and you’ll get complimentary digital downloads of your photos. Make sure you have your Disney Visa with you to show upon entry.
Here’s where to find the Disney Visa Photo Spots in the theme parks. Be sure to double-check their times on the date of your visit — they are typically open for a shorter window each day than other character experiences.
Disney World’s Epcot — World Celebration area, near the Imagination pavilion
At this “Disney Character Experience,” you’ll typically meet two popular Disney characters against an Epcot backdrop. We’ve seen Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Pluto here. Note that there’s no guarantee which characters you’ll meet, and because they do change from time to time, it’s worth checking back on another date or time during your trip to see more characters.
Disney World’s Hollywood Studios — Star Wars Launch Bay
At this “Star Wars Character Experience” in Star Wars Launch Bay, Disney Visa cardholders can meet Darth Vader. This is also the spot where all guests can meet Darth Vader, BB-8 and Chewbacca via traditional standby queues, with Vader’s queue regularly posting wait times of 30-45 minutes. Darth Vader is my family’s favorite character and we try to meet him every trip, so even though we take advantage of a number of other Disney Visa perks, the cumulative time savings on this experience alone would make the card worth it to us.
In addition to saving yourself some of that precious vacation time, you’ll also end up with better (and free!) pictures than if you meet Vader in his standby queue. In the standby queue, Disney PhotoPass photos are taken via an automated camera, while in the Visa experience, you’ll have a live photographer.
Disney California Adventure Park — Hollywood Land (near Super Store featuring Avengers Campus)
At this “Disney Character Experience,” you’ll meet popular characters that in the past have included Minnie Mouse, Daisy and Stitch. As at Epcot, there’s no guarantee who you’ll meet, but sometimes it’s an exclusive character you won’t get a chance to meet anywhere else at Disneyland.
Disneyland Park — Star Wars Launch Bay
The interior of Star Wars Launch Bay is currently closed at Disneyland, but Disney Visa cardholders can still get their taste of a galaxy far, far away at the Star Wars Photo Opportunity, which is an outdoor meet-and-greet with Darth Vader.
Cardholder discounts at Disney resorts beyond the theme parks
Disney Visa cardholders also get special discounts at Disney’s three other resorts nationwide — Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa; Disney’s Vero Beach Resort; and Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort.
- Save 10% off select merchandise totaling $50 or more at all three resorts
- Save 10% off select dining locations at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort
- Save 10% off each of the following at Aulani: Rainbow Reef snorkeling, a create-your-own kapa-inspired T-shirt, and ukulele purchase after completing a ukulele class
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SUMMER HULL/THE POINTS GUY
Related: Review of Disney’s Aulani resort
How the Disney Visa can save you money on Disney Vacations
For a family like mine that takes frequent Disney vacations, all of the perks we’ve covered so far are enough to make the no-fee Disney Visa worthwhile.
But there’s one potential perk that can make a Disney Visa worth it even for a once-in-a-lifetime vacation. Recently, Disney has been offering substantial discounts to Disney Visa cardholders on Disney vacations at a variety of destinations.
Currently, Disney Visa cardholders can save up to 30% on stays of five consecutive nights or more at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa on most dates in this fall.
At Walt Disney World, Disney Visa cardholders can save up to 35% on stays at select hotels this summer.
As Disney Vacation Club members, we rarely book hotels with cash, instead using our points to stay at Disney resorts. Still, we recently took advantage of a massive 30% discount offered to Disney Visa cardholders for an upcoming Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser voyage. The groundbreaking experience is, unfortunately, being shuttered permanently at the end of September, but when the offer was released, we were able to cancel an existing voyage and rebook with the Disney Visa discount, slashing the price by about $2,300.
This discount alone would have been well worth getting a Disney Visa for years on end.
It’s worth noting that paying for an expensive vacation package with your Disney Visa can mean losing out on more compelling rewards and benefits offered by other credit cards, including built-in travel insurance. For Galactic Starcruiser, we were able to pay our 20% deposit with a Disney Visa and the balance with our United Club Infinite Card, but for most Disney Visa hotel offers, if you don’t pay with a valid Disney Visa Card or Disney Rewards Redemption Card, you’ll be charged the non-discounted room price for your stay.
The bulk of my family’s spending doesn’t go on the Disney Visa, and there are plenty of card perks we don’t use because we are also Disney Vacation Club and annual passholders, which unlock discounts and benefits of their own.
But even with all that, we still keep the Disney Visa in our wallet because it offers unique perks such as character access and periodic resort or other discounts that can save a ton of money when offered at the right time for your needs. The 0% APR for six months can also be a useful, money-saving perk on those larger Disney vacation charges.
If you take semiregular Disney vacations, don’t have access to any of these member or passholder discounts, and don’t mind adding another card to your wallet, the perks and savings that come with a Disney Visa can make it worth your while, especially if you’re able to take advantage of one of the heftier discounts periodically offered on hotel stays.
And if you are already a Disney Vacation Club member or annual passholder and visit the theme parks as frequently as we do, even the seemingly small perks like exclusive character meet-and-greets add up enough to make the card worth it.
To learn more about the cards, read our reviews of the Disney Premier Visa and Disney Visa.
Application link: Disney Premier Visa to unlock Disney perks and earn a $300 statement credit after $1,000 in spending in the first three months for a $49 annual fee
Application link: Disney Visa to unlock Disney perks and earn a $150 statement credit after $500 in spending in the first three months for no annual fee