Let's face it, Disney vacations are not getting any cheaper. Ticket prices go up every year, dining plans get more expensive, and airfare can be unpredictable. Don't despair! Here are a few tricks I've collected to help save money on trips.
CHASE Disney Visa - Rewards
I've mentioned the perks of booking a trip using this card before. It's only 1% back in rewards, which can only be used towards Disney, so it's not the best rewards credit card out there by any means. However, it can be a great way to spread out No Interest payments towards a vacation and you save up the rewards points for souvenirs or meals when you get to the park. Some other perks include an exclusive Character Meet & Greet in Epcot with a free 5x7 printed photo (a $14.95 value). Other perks include a 10% discount on Disney purchases of $50 or more, including gift shops while you're in the World, Disney Stores and Outlets, DisneyStore.com and select restaurants. There are also various discounts on theme park tours, which are a great value.
Target RED Card
When you apply for a RED card, you can either get a credit card or get a RED card that debits from your checking account. We chose the debit card route and are routinely enjoying 5% savings on all purchases at Target. One step to save for Disney is to put the amount you saved each trip in a savings account and watch it grow. Another way to save on Disney trips is to purchase Disney gift cards at Target and get a 5% discount on the gift cards.
Yet another way to save is to use the Target pharmacy with your RED card. For every 5 prescriptions, they give you a 5% off one-time coupon. You can stack the pharmacy discount with your RED card for a whopping 10% savings! Furthermore, I've learned that you don't actually have to pay with the RED card to enjoy the discount. You just need to swipe the card to watch the discount apply to your total, then simply select on the credit card terminal that you wish to pay with a different form of payment. You will need to hand the cashier your other form of paymen (read: a credit card with rewards, such as the Disney VISA) and starting earning money back.
Here is an example of savings for a family purchasing $1,000 in Disney Gift Cards using the tips above:
$1,000 * 5%(RED card) * 5% (pharmacy discount) = $900
Use Disney VISA to pay for 1% rewards back = $9 in Disney Reward Dollars
TOTAL SAVINGS: $109*
With ever-fluctuating gas prices, airfare pricing can be hit or miss. My advice is to research fares early and sign up for email alerts from individual airlines to stay on top of specials. I've had the best luck purchase 3-6 months prior to travel. My new favorite website to track flight price changes is Yapta.com. Simply enter the flight number and either the price you already purchased at, or the price you would like to be notified of when it drops.
The site emails you weekly updates (in my case, I had already bought my flights so my updates show me how much the price has gone up), or alerts if the price drops. The website also tells you which airlines offer credits if you've already purchased a flight and the price drops later. Some airlines, like AirTran or JetBlue, offer refunds for ANY price drop. Some airlines, like Delta or American Airlines, offer redunds or vouchers if the price drops more than $150.
Another way to save on a Disney trip is to research when Disney has historically offered discounts for resorts, dining, packages, etc. Mousesavers.com tracks previous years offers to help you forecast a trip during a time where an offer might be made. This site also has great tips on saving money when you're in the World, which is a post for another time.
With the right research and creativity, there is no reason to pay full price for a trip to Disney. Save those pennies, invest a little time, and enjoy your memories!!
*Only use your Disney VISA if you are prepared to pay off the balance each month. Savings disappear when you accrue interest.