Reader Question: How Do I Get My Family To Disney On Credit Card Points?

Reader Question: How Do I Get My Family To Disney On Credit Card Points?

DisneyworldI’ve been getting some AWESOME reader emails lately. I posted on last week about what to do with some extra cash after being AMAZING at saving. We had super awesome reader feedback in the comments as well, and Laura even came back in the comments to address all the suggestions. Really cool!

Last week, I received another reader email asking about credit card churning and get bonus rewards. I’m sure you’ve seen all my posts about this stuff, but Jessica sent an email that I bet a lot of you would be interested in. She wanted to take her family to Disney ON THE CHEAP. So I responded and showed her one of the many ways you can get to Disneyworld on credit card rewards. Let me know what you think.

Get Me To Disney On Credit Card Points!

I just read your post on credit card churning and am very interested in doing something similar for a Disney vacation–any advice?



Here’s How To Make It Happen

Hey Jessica,

Glad you enjoyed it. I’ve been at it for about 8 months, but have rocked a few short vacations already (you can read about them here and here).

For Disney, is really depends on how many are going, which Disney (Florida or California), and how long you want to go? For a typical family of four to Florida, let’s say, you would need 4 round-trip airline tickets, a hotel for 6 nights, and money for the parks. Here’s what I might suggest:

2 Starwood AMEX credit cards (30,000 points each [if you sign up before Sept. 2nd, otherwise it’s 25,000 points, which is still enough], $5,000 minimum spend in 6 months on each card to get the bonus points) = 60,000 points + 10,000 more points for spending $10,000 on them = 70,000 points.

2 Chase Sapphire Preferred credit cards (40,000 bonus points each, $3,000 minimum spend in 3 months on each card to get the bonus points) = 80,000 bonus points + 6,000 more points for spending $6,000 on them = 86,000 points.

2 Citi AAdvantage American Airlines Visa cards (Limited Time 40,000 bonus points each, $3,000 minimum spend in 3 months on each card to get bonus points) = 80,000 bonus miles + 6,000 more miles for spending $6,000 on them = 86,000 miles. Find it here (non-affiliate link)

Here’s a short breakdown:

Disney Swan (or Dolphin) hotel (near Epcot Center) = 10,000 points a night. You’d have 70,000 points, enough for 8 nights. Because when you book 4 nights on points, the 5th night is free!

$860 Cash = 86,000 Chase Ultimate Reward Points using the Chase Sapphire cards. This should help buy tickets for a week, though Disney is CRAZY expensive, but at least this will pay for most of them.

2 free flights (or more) = Using the American Airlines cards, you should get at least 2 free flights (40,000 miles per flight). If you’re closer to Florida, might even be able to get more, or if you find a cheap flight. Either way, 2 free flights it better than none.

Phew! I know that’s a lot of info, but it should save you a few grand or more on your vacation. The hardest thing would be hitting the minimum spending on these cards (Which would be $22,000 in 6 months if you got the cards all at once!). I would space it out. I usually get myself 2 cards every 3 months to help with this, and put EVERYTHING on the cards (bills, utilities, all spending, etc.). Then I get my wife 2 cards, wash, rinse, repeat. If you space them out over a year, you should be good to go!

So basically you get one of each card, your husband (or boyfriend, or friend) gets one of each card, and you should have enough to cover everything I listed above.

Hope that helps, definitely let me know if you have any further questions J

Happy to help!



After I sent this mail, though I found another sweet deal that might even be a better option here. Check it out:

Starwood Nights and Flights

I was perusing a travel blog and saw this deal here. You can trade 70,000 Starwood points (coincidentally, exactly how much they would earn above) for 5 nights in a Category 4 hotel (again, the hotels I listed above are Category 4 hotels) AND 50,000 airline miles with a Starwood partner. Alaska airlines would be the perfect partner to transfer these miles to! So they could get one (maybe two, depending on how close they are) flights PLUS 5 free nights with just the two Starwood AMEX credit cards. HOLY CRAP! Then the Citi cards would pay for the other flights and BAM! Free flights and hotel for 5 nights. Nothing out of pocket!

For those who want to enjoy free travel as well, you can read up more on it HERE.

Comments: I know there is more than one way to skin a cat (Seriously?! Who skins cats?!), so I’d like your take on my plan here. How would you do Disney for a family of four? Pay cash? Find awesome deals without points? Or do you have a points strategy that would work even better? Let me know!

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  1. Disney is the King of extracting every single dollar from your wallet when you’re there so I love these frugal travel hacks.

    My kids are far too young to get anything out of it so I’m years away from visiting but I’ve always been a cash rewards credit card kind of guy.

    I just don’t like the black box calculation of what my purchases and points will end up being worth and figuring out when I can actually use them.

    Too lazy, I need to step up to the plate because you’ve clearly laid out how valuable they can be.
    No Waste recently posted..Waste Of The WeekMy Profile

    • Cash is good, but doing a little paper napkin math on the points can be lucrative. I’ll probably hit $4,000 – $5,000 in rewards this year 🙂 Let me know if you need any advice on this front 🙂

  2. I would probably sub out the AA cards and do the British Airway cards (depending on where they are located) since you can get super great deals using avios and their distance based award chart. BA also allows you to have family accounts so you could pool your points into one account which makes booking the tickets a little easier.

    The other option might be getting a couple Southwest CC’s when they get back to their 50K level. Again, they can be a really great deal because their point value is a little more fixed and if you are really hardcore you can time it right and get the companion pass which is one of the greatest travel perks for domestic travel.

    You would then be able to save your ulitmate rewards points and turn them in as a statement credit to pay for some of your disney tickets (while not the best way to maximize the points it still isn’t terrible).

    • Brian, funny you mention the British card. In a later email, she stated her husband may not qualify for the premium cards, so I told her BA card, and linked her to the distance based award chart.

      Great minds…

      Good call on the SW. I’m going to look into that next year, as I need a little more bang for the buck on airlines miles once we’ve got 2 kiddos…

      And yes, I know UR statement credits are not the best, but can’t buy Disney tickets with other programs, and that’s what they really need the money for.

  3. I agree with Brian you should not use your AA cards for Disney. 40,000 miles gets you to Europe which would be a better use than Disney. Use your Ultimate Reward points and transfer them to southwest and buy wanna get away fares.

    You could also use the UR to get cash and then take out the BarclayCard Arrival Mastercard to get a $440 travel credit which should nearly pay for Southwest Wanna Get Away Fares.

    There are quite a few options, I just hate using AA for domestic travel when others are so much better most of the time.
    Sean @ Card Journalist recently posted..Done With Economy? How To Start Flying Business Class to EuropeMy Profile

    • Ahhh, good call. Depending on where they are, I still think British Airways through Avios partner redemptions would get the most tickets. If the tickets were $200 RT, then the Barclaycard would be a good choice. I like to use UR for cash because you can’t get cash with most airline mile cards. Yes, might not get the best CPM, but it’s the fact that you can convert it to cash (statement credit), then I preserve those for cash purchases vs. travel (hotel and airline miles).

      I need to look into wanna get away fares a bit more, as the SW card with companion pass is all the rage with travel hackers these days 🙂

  4. I love reading all the comments and getting new ideas. It gets a bit confusing when you think of all the options, but I don’t think I could go back to full priced vacations.
    Kim@Eyesonthedollar recently posted..Fighting the Urge to Spend MoneyMy Profile

  5. With a 4yo, 2yo and another coming quite soon, I have NO desire to take them to Disney yet. I want the baby to be at least 4-5 so she’ll be able to really enjoy it and not be too worn out.

    So, I guess I have plenty of time to do some sort of reward card combo to gradually save up!

    Right now, I use a cash back card that gives 1.75% back.
    Kacie recently posted..The kitchen is finally done!My Profile

  6. I am a big fan of frequent flier miles and hotel points for travel. I use it exclusively for overseas travel. I think you get more for your miles and points.
    krantcents recently posted..College Confessions: How College Students SaveMy Profile

  7. That is a lot of spend to get those rewards. I think the rewards are worth it but it would be difficult for me to spend that much. Of course, there are way to manufacture the spend but I’d rather get the cards at a slower rate. It may not be that much spend for many people though.
    Andy Hough recently posted..Does Healthy Food Cost More?My Profile

  8. I really want to take my kids on a Disney cruise in a few years! Great ideas for the churn, Jacob!
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted..5 Ways to NOT Sell Your HomeMy Profile

    • My parents are considering taking my sister, her husband and their kids along with with me, my wife and son on a Disney cruise next year. If it happens I will be sure to let you know how it turns out!

  9. I just got back from Disney yesterday, and 7 day tickets with water parks, w/ hopper options are just shy of $420 per person.

    Barclay also has a solid bonus rewards card that you can use for air travel: Barclay Arrival World Mastercard
    Bryan@Fatwallet recently posted..Ultimate Guide for Back to School ShoppingMy Profile

  10. That is amazing! You’ve got this all figured out, Jacob. I think I’ll have to get the scoop from you when we plan our CA trip next year. All we need is free airline tickets for 5. 🙂
    Laurie @thefrugalfarmer recently posted..How to Save Money: Buying Used Instead of NewMy Profile

  11. I would used the URs to get cash to spend in Disney (that can EASILY add up) and instead do Southwest points. Southwest has cheaper tickets to FL and CA, so the points will go further AND it lets them take 2 check-in, that can add up for a family of 4 as well. This way they can order souvenirs and stuff online (without telling the kids) and give them while in Disney to avoid buying their overpriced crap.
    Suba recently posted..Is making cloth diapers a viable business that can be started with little or no money?My Profile


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