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The points hunter’s strategy for Disney

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Here is the points hunter's strategy to save money for a trip to one of the Disney parks by using the right loyalty programs!

The points hunter's strategy for Disney

Disney’s theme parks in Florida and California attract many families. In order to have a “magical journey”, it is not uncommon to plan it more than two years in advance.

Audrey and I have 2 young children. After a first one-day experience at Disneyland Paris in 2018, we spent 3 days at Disneyland California visiting friends in the area at Halloween time.

Disney California Family
Disneyland California Family

We loved the experience in California, but we didn’t really prepare for it: we bought the tickets by taking advantage of the promotion reserved for Canadians – through the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® (to save 2.5% on conversion fees), and we stayed in a Marriott Bonvoy hotel nearby with our points.

Marriott Suites Anaheim
Marriott Suites Anaheim

But we did not benefit from the famous Disney gift card trick, accessible with AIR MILES Reward Miles.

As of now, we are targeting a stay at Walt Disney World in Orlando in the next 2 years. And this time, we want to be ready, especially since our children will be older and will be able to enjoy more attractions.

disney gift card website

Points programs for Disney

For Disney, I see 3 types of loyalty programs:

I have already discussed in other articles the different strategies related to these programs. You can therefore refer to it:

Disneyland Halloween
Disneyland à Halloween

Earn AIR MILES Reward Miles

First of all, AIR MILES. There are two ways to use your AIR MILES miles:

  • DREAM: useful for airline tickets, the purchase of entrance tickets for parks, possibly hotels or car rentals.
  • CASH: useful for the Disney gift cards purchased at Jean Coutu

Until the end of 2019, Audrey and I have been earning AIR MILES miles in our DREAM account (we share the same AIR MILES account) in order to save on airline tickets and buy our Disney tickets.

And we earned a lot: 24,564 miles to be exact, as AIR MILES reminded us at the end of the year!

Milles Air Miles Jmv
Miles earned in 2019

In early 2019, I shared my earning strategy and why I was doing this. However, like any strategy, it has to be changed in mid-2019.

We decided to travel 5 months around the world, so we postponed our Disney plans. We have used many DREAM miles for other purposes, including flights within North America. Thus, we are protected in case of devaluation (the famous “Earn and Use” or “Earn & Burn” rule).

For 2020 and 2021, we have decided to earn CASH rewards.

Like many members of the Facebook group, we want to save on our park expenses with gift cards!

And for that, only the CASH MILES are useful to get Disney gift cards at Jean Coutu drugstores (during promotional offers).

cartes cadeaux disney chantal
L'échange de milles ARGENT pour des cartes-cadeaux Disney

Here is a strategy and related costs to get lots of AIR MILES miles. You can apply this strategy individually or as a couple. Just remember the following:

The best AIR MILES credit cards

The AIR MILES card strategy

Applying for AIR MILES credit cards will depend, among other things, on how much you can spend on these cards over the next 3 to 6 months.

For a family, it is usually possible to spend more than $1,500 per month on a credit card with groceries and recurring payments.

So I would recommend to apply first to:

Here are the current offers:

These 2 credit cards will require more than $4,500 in purchases over the next 3 months.

If this is not possible within your budget, you could replace the BMO® AIR MILES® World Elite®* Mastercard®* with the BMO® AIR MILES® Mastercard®* which requires $1,000 in purchases in 3 months.

If you are a couple, your spouse could also subscribe to these same cards when you judge the appropriate time according to your expenses.

Afterwards, you can progressively apply for other AIR MILES credit cards offered by BMO, such as:

All these cards have no annual fee and require only $1,000 in purchases in 3 months. They are therefore ideal for completing a round of applications when you subscribe to other cards in this strategy.

Result

Over the course of a year, a single person is therefore able to collect more than 10,000 AIR MILES miles quite easily through credit card applications and various AIR MILES events. Just have a look at all the experiences lived by milesopedia members in 2019!

By redeeming 75 miles for $10 at Jean Coutu – during the promotional period – 10,000 AIR MILES Bonus Miles are worth $1,333.

A couple can reach 20,000 miles by being strategic, which is an estimated $2,500 value.

Earn points for hotels

In order to stay for free in Marriott Bonvoy or Best Western hotels – nearby or in the parks – it takes points!

Marriott Bonvoy will be the points currency of choice, but Best Western Rewards points can be useful for stopover hotels (for example if you have to catch your flight in Plattsburgh)!

The best hotel credit cards

Click on the card images for more information or to apply.

Card Bonus Expenses Cost Infos
american express bonvoy 60,000 points $3,000 in 3 months $120 Infos
american express bonvoy business 1 60,000 points $5,000 in 3 months $150 Infos
mbna best western rewards card 20,000 points First purchase $0 Infos
140,000 points $8,000 $270

I would recommend that you first apply for:

After that, you can apply for the Marriott Bonvoy™ Business American Express® Card and also earn 60,000 points after $5,000 in Card purchases.

Here are the current offers:

If you’re a couple, your spouse may also sign up for these same cards when you feel it’s time to spend.

Result

Over the course of a year, a single person is, therefore, able to earn more than 120,000 Marriott Bonvoy points and 20,000 Best Western Rewards points quite easily through credit cards application.

Enough to stay more than 5 nights near the parks.

A couple can reach 240,000 Marriott Bonvoy points and 40,000 Best Western Rewards points. The credit card points will entirely cover the accommodation at Disney World for less than $600!

walt disney world dolphin
Walt Disney World Dolphin

Earn travel points

Finally, here are other credit cards to cover other expenses such as:

These cards can be applied on based on your spending capacity and program flexibility preferences.

IMG 8587

The best credit cards with travel points

Click on the card images for more information or to apply.

Card Bonus Expenses Cost Infos
HSBC World Elite 70,000 points (+ $100 travel credit per year) $149 Infos
american express mr cobalt Up to 45,000 points $500 per month
for 12 months
$10
per month
Infos
bmo world elite mastercard fr 1 1 Up to 30,000 points $3,000 in 3 months $0
(first year)
Infos
scotia passport visainfinite fre 1 Up to 40,000 points $1,000 in 3 months $139 Infos
Td Visa Infinite Aeroplan New 20,000 points + buddy pass $0
(first year)
Infos

I would recommend that you first apply for:

Here are the current offers:

If you’re a couple, your spouse may also sign up for these same cards when you feel it’s time to spend.

Result

Over the course of a year, a single person is therefore able to earn more than $1,000 in travel points.

This will substantially lower the cost of a trip to Disney!

A couple can reach $2,000! Take your different needs into consideration when choosing cards such as:

IMG 6220
Classe economie

Earn points with Disney Gift Cards

Here’s a new technique made possible by the introduction in Canada of Disney gift cards worth up to $500. These cards have started to be seen at Metro and Super C in particular.

Disney Metro Gift Card

Therefore, it is recommended that you apply for the American Express Cobalt™ Card and purchase these new Disney gift cards at Metro or Super C to earn 5 points per dollar.

Consider a family of 4 whose Disney expenses (hotels, park tickets, food, etc.) would cost $6,000.

For one year, by purchasing a $500 Disney gift card every month, here’s what you could get:

Month $500 purchase Monthly bonus Cumulative total
1 2,500 points 2,500 points 5,000 points
2 2,500 points 2,500 points 10,000 points
3 2,500 points 2,500 points 15,000 points
4 2,500 points 2,500 points 20,000 points
5 2,500 points 2,500 points 25,000 points
6 2,500 points 2,500 points 30,000 points
7 2,500 points 2,500 points 35,000 points
8 2,500 points 2,500 points 40,000 points
9 2,500 points 2,500 points 45,000 points
10 2,500 points 2,500 points 50,000 points
11 2,500 points 2,500 points 55,000 points
12 2,500 points 2,500 points 60,000 points

Result

Over one year, this represents a value of $600! You get a 10% return on the $6,000 worth of Disney gift cards you buy!

And if you need more Disney gift cards, keep buying them at Metro and Super C with the American Express Cobalt™ Card for 5 Membership Rewards Points per dollar.

Conclusion

No matter what happens, a stay at Disney will be expensive. But with the right strategy, it is possible to substantially lower the cost of travel. The main thing is to go at your own pace and with your means!

Don’t hesitate to come and share YOUR accumulation strategy in the Facebook group!

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