Disney Visa Card

Walt Disney World Trip Planning Part 3

Welcome back to part 3 of my series on Walt DIsney World trip planning. In this final installment we’ll dive into gory details about how I paid for the trip including signing up for a Disney Visa card to take advantage of a deep discount.

If you missed either of the first too installments in this series you can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here. This post can stand alone so read on if you’re just here to learn about the money piece of the puzzle.

Ok, now on with the show. As I was planning out this trip I started to see Disney dropping discounts for periods that would historically never have discounts, specifically during the historically very busy holiday period from fall through the end of the year. Since I was looking to travel during the historically slower period of January/Februrary I was gaining confidence that there would be compelling discounts if I was patient (which is NOT something I’m known for.)

A few discounts were announced that I very nearly jumped on; some nice dining rebate deals and package discounts. Seeing those kinds of deals told me that Disney was testing the waters to find that sweet spot. I monitored deal availability for my dates on Disney’s website a few times a week and noticed that the deals were hanging around a little longer than I expected. This meant bookings were likely still pretty soft and Disney was going to have to push even harder to get the outcome they wanted. So I waited for what felt like an eternity (but was really only a few weeks) and then it happened. A 35% room only discount for select Deluxe Resorts for Sunday through Thursday nights, and the Boardwalk Inn was one of them! But there was catch….it was only for Disney Visa card holder and I didn’t have one.

Cinderella Castle at NIght from Main Street
Cinderella Castle

I’ll preface the next part by saying the Disney Visa card is objectively a sub par rewards card. There are much better cards out there for maximizing your savings rates through rewards. However, this card does have a few things going for it; extra savings on merchandise and select restaurants around property, and most importantly access to exclusive discounts like this one. After giving it a little thought, a very little thought, I applied for the card and was immediately approved online. The physical card was going to take a 5-7 businss days to get here though and I needed to book this special deal.

I set about trying to find a way to get the card into a digital wallet, like GPay or Apple Pay, to then use to book on Disney’s website. Ultimately, I failed but I can share some details so you can learn from my frustration. FIrst, Disney’s website doesn’t allow for purchases direclty from a digital wallet, it requires you to enter your card details manually. Second, Googles own web browser payment system is seperate from GPay and you again need to have the physical card to store it in the web browser. I thought once I got the card into GPay that I was good to go and would have my room booked before bed. Instead I fought with these systems for another day to no avail. Learn from my mistakes, you’re going to need the physical card to book your trip for now. Hopefully, Disney gets with the times and starts supporting direct digital wallet integration soon.

What came next was a terrible game of “Is the Discount Still There?” that consisted of me anxiously checking availability several times a day. If you’ve ever used Disney’s website you know that my anxiety was only increased by the user experience that Disney technology is known for. There were several times that it looked like the deal was gone, or the Boardwalk specifically had no availability left and my heart skipped a beat. Thankfully, each instance proved to just be a glitch in the matrix and the deal was there when I got my card.

In the end I was able to get the 35% discount on a Resort View room at the Boardwalk Inn for a Sunday through Friday stay. I paid around $417 a night including all taxes and fees. The rack rate for the same room at this time was around $550 and that doesn’t include taxes and fees. I saved almost $200 a night through this deal, or $1000 for the trip. In addition, the Disney Visa card came with a sign-up bonus of $300 if you hit a modest $1000 minimum spend requirement in the first 90 days. That was going to be no problem at all. So if you include that sign up bonus I was able to save $1,300 on my Disney World trip before I even left the house! Quite literally, sign me up!

I’ll end with a bit of a disclaimer about this approach. While I decided that signing up for a Disney Visa card was the right plan for me, signing up for a credit card is not a decision that should be taken lightly. These reward cards are only worth it if you pay off the entire balance each month. The interest rates on these cards are almost always exorbitant, sometimes up to 20% or more. You will quickly lose any savings you initially captured and end up paying more in the end if you let these cards carry a balance. If you’re not in a position to ensure you can pay off the balance each month you are better off saving a little less up front and taking advantage of other Disney discounts.

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