In the past, the strategy of obtaining gift cards for Disney World with AIR MILES Cash Miles was very popular and straightforward. In the world of rewards and loyalty programs, the only thing that is constant is change.
Disney World: review of existing strategies to save money
Beginning in March 2022, Marriott Bonvoy pricing will become dynamic, but this should not affect the number of points required for a stay at Disney World too much. The changes at Marriott Bonvoy will have more of an impact on high luxury destinations like the Maldives or Al-Maha.
Small reminder, when you stay 5 consecutive nights using points, the 5th night is free! In addition, free night certificates can be added to the reservation to get a full week of accommodations at Disney World.
The best way to earn Marriott Bonvoy points for free stays at more than 7,000 hotels worldwide is with the Marriott Bonvoy® American Express®* Card (and/or the Marriott Bonvoy™ Business American Express® Card).
In addition to the great welcome bonus on both cards, you’ll earn 2 points per dollar on all purchases and 5 points per dollar at Marriott locations.
Alternatively, you can earn Marriott Bonvoy points withAmerican Express Membership Rewards creditcard . You can transfer Membership Rewards points to Marriott Bonvoy points at a rate of 5:6 (50,000 Membership Rewards points = 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points).
For example, with the American Express Cobalt® Card, you earn 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for every dollar you spend at grocery stores, restaurants, bars, convenience stores and home delivery. It is one of the best credit card in Canada for travelers. Find out why here.
Check out this page for all the welcome offers on cards that earn Marriott Bonvoy points.
Like Marriott Bonvoy, you could also earn Hilton Honors points withAmerican Express Membership Rewards creditcard . On this side, you can transfer Membership Rewards points to Hilton Honors points at a 1:1 rate (1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 Hilton Honors points).
Again, with the American Express Cobalt® Card you can earn 5 Hilton Honors points per dollar of purchase in the 5X points categories. This is a great way to earn Hilton Honors points in Canada.
- No annual fee
- 20,000 Best Western Rewards points as welcome bonus (after first purchase)
So a couple could take this card several times toearn 140,000 Best Western Rewards points (or seven nights) for free!
In fact, you need to allow time between applications for credit cards. Remember, travel hacking is a marathon, not a sprint.
Independent hotels and Airbnb
For example, each person in a couple could take an HSBC World Elite and earn the equivalent of $1,300 in rewards points applicable to Disney Worldhotel reservations!
Hotels on the Disney World site
By choosing to stay in a hotel on the Disney World site, the experience of the magic of Disney will be everywhere and all the time! Indeed, you will be in a complete immersion of the magic of Disney from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed.
There are several advantages of the accommodations on the site:
- Access to the parks before the official opening time
- Late access after Magic Kingdom and Epcot close
- Free transportation on the Disney Worldsite
- Easy and quick access to your room to rest during the day
- Possibility of making restaurant reservations for the entire stay versus one day at a time
- Selections for Lightning Lane can be made as early as 7 a.m.
Just like independent hotels, you will have to turn to travel points that can be applied to travel expenses to pay for your stay at a hotel on the Disney World site.
Aeroplan and Air Canada
How hard is it to collect so many Aeroplan points? No! See here for strategies where you can earn over 100,000 Aeroplan points easily and quickly.
Companion pass to Disney World
Not interested in taking out multiple credit cards? A solution for air tickets to Disney World is possible with a credit card .
Many Aeroplan credit cards offer a companion pass as a welcome bonus. The companion pass allows you to have a second ticket by paying only the taxes.
Here’s a strategy for booking airfare to Disney World with just one credit card per adult, the TDMD AeroplanMD Visa Infinite Card.
Each adult will pay for their own ticket and get the companion ticket (in this case, their child) for free (only taxes to be paid). Here is an example of a round trip for an adult and a child between Montreal and Orlando:
For 2 adults and 2 children, the cost would have been $2,006.76.
Using the companion pass, here is the cost:
|Child 1||$0 (Buddy Pass)||$154.71||$154.71|
|Child 2||$0 (Buddy pass)||$154.71||$154.71|
So for a family of 2 adults and 2 children, the savings are substantial(nearly $700), especially since they paid no annual fee the first year with the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card!
Another advantage of the Aeroplan creditcard is that the cardholder can check in one free piece of luggage as well as for the accompanying persons (up to 8 persons). This is very convenient for a family traveling to Disney World with several suitcases!
To take advantage of this benefit, simply link the credit card to the Aeroplan account. Reservations can be made in any way (cash, points, travel points, etc.).
travel points to get to Disney World
There are many ways to pay for airfare to Disney World with credit card travel points.
Here are two examples with National Bank Rewards Points and HSBC Rewards Points.
À la carte Rewards Plan
With the National Bank’s À la carte Rewards program, travel points can be used in two ways.
You can book a flight with your travel points through Voyage À la Carte: 10,000 points per $100 and top up with cash if you don’t have enough points. This is the best way to use National Bank Rewards points. Plus, your purchase will also earn you extra points!
However, if you have found a cheaper ticket to Disney World on another platform, it is also possible to use your points as a credit to the account.
To use HSBC Rewards Points to go to Disney World, simply purchase the airline tickets you want and apply the points as a credit to your account afterwards.
With current welcome bonuses, a couple could easily collect enough points to pay for four airline tickets to Disney World!
Finally, since it is a card , it is accepted everywhere, even at Costco!
Saving money at Disney World: alternatives to the AIR MILES strategy
As you could see in the Milesopedia Facebook community, this strategy was all the rage and it was very impressive to see the Disney giftcard collections of our members.
However, it’s important to keep things in perspective and remember the basis of the strategy: redeeming Silver AIR MILES for Disney gift card of money to spend on a future trip to Disney World.
So, since the Silver AIR MILES strategy for Disney World gift cards is defunct, we must turn to :
- AIR MILES Dream Miles
- points can be applied to any purchase
- points that can be applied to travel expenses
- cash back
AIR MILES Dream Miles for Disney World
AIR MILES Dream miles can be redeemed at AIR MILES travel agency partner, Red Tag.
To do this, log in to your AIR MILES account and go to this page.
Most types of tickets are available:
- Hopper +
Here are examples of rates for 2 adults and 2 children:
In 2 years of planning, you can earn over 20,000 AIR MILES bonus miles through AIR MILES creditcard application bonuses and by participating in AIR MILES promotional events.
travel points for spending at Disney World
There are several ways to use credit card travel points to offset the cost of spending at Disney World.
Here are two examples with TD Rewards points and other travel points in general.
Expedia for TD
Currently, the TD First Class Travel® Visa Infinite* Card has an application bonus of 80,000 TD Rewards points that require no minimum spending! This is the equivalent of $400 on tickets to Disney World!
For those who wish to visit Universal Studios, tickets can also be purchased with TD Rewards points.
The website Undercover Tourist sells tickets for Disney World.
There are also discounts offered from time to time. The advantage of going through this process compared to the official Disney World website is that the payment will be categorized as “travel” on most credit cards.
To use HSBC Rewards Points, for example, at an optimal rate of 25,000 points against $125 account credit, the purchase must be recorded as “travel”. By purchasing the tickets directly from Disney World, the expense will be classified as “entertainment”.
This is valid for all programs offering account credits for travel points:
- HSBC Rewards
- NBC Rewards
- RBC Rewards
And HSBC does recognize Undercover Tourist as a travel expense earning 6 points per dollar as seen on this statement:
Cash back and AIR MILES
Whenever you use AIR MILES to save money at the grocery store, consider depositing the amount saved into a Disney World savings account. AIR MILES Cash are still cash back.
Often, there are offers to redeem 380 AIR MILES for $40 with a 95 AIR MILES discount at IGA. By doing the math, the exchange rate is 71.25 AIR MILES per $10.
This is at a better redemption rate than redeeming for Disney gift cards at Jean Coutu at 75 AM for $10.
As far as cash back goes, it’s easy toearn $150, $200, $250 here and there with the welcome bonuses on many card .
Plus, when you go for 2-5% cash back on everyday purchases like groceries, it adds up quickly.
All of these amounts obtained from purchases and credit card application should be deposited into the Disney World savings account.
The American Express Cobalt® Card is one of the best credit card in Canada for earn lots of points quickly. Indeed, the main attraction of this card is that it offers 5X points on everything categorized as restaurants, food deliveries and groceries. These privilege points are cash back equivalent to 5% at the grocery store.
It’s not mentioned, but grocery stores are indeed businesses that give 5X the points. Think of the giftcard display in grocery stores!
When used as cash back, Membership Rewards points appear as an account credit on the credit card relevé . The credit is applied in the same manner as a payment from you to the account balance.
Rewards points can be used to cover expenses at Disney World or to replenish the Disney savings account when used daily!
Finally, just like conventional cash back, simplyearn these savings in a savings account for Disney World if you use them on everyday purchases.
Did you just save $101.97 on weekly groceries with points? And hop! 101.97 to be deposited into the Disney Savings Account.
Bonus points for the trip to Disney World
The savings account strategy for Disney World has two important advantages that the Disney gift card strategy at Jean Coutu did not have.
- money saved for Disney World can be invested while waiting for the trip
- points can be earned on Disney World vacations
Throughout the savings marathon before the trip to Disney World, money can grow depending on your risk tolerance. There are often promotional bank account offers at Tangerine where you can earn 2% interest in the savings account!
These rates are not permanent, but in my experience it is not fair to new customers. From what I have observed, they come back at least once a year.
Second, while Disney gift cards have the advantage of not charging a conversion fee, it is not possible toearn points. When used, Disney gift cards are comparable to paying with U.S. cash.
However, when using a credit card with no conversion fee, you can earn rewards points to further reduce the cost of your trip to Disney World. In fact, in most cases, points can be redeemed up to 60 days after purchase.
So, we can use the savings, obtained for free or almost free, from the Disney World savings account to pay off our balance AND collect points after the trip.
You want the maximum return? Here it comes!
Disney's gift card strategy
Are you desperate to pick up some Disney gift cards? There’s nothing stopping you from using the funds in the Disney World Savings Account to purchase Disney gift cards and stock your drawer the same way you did before!
Also, buying Disney gift cards helps avoid any temptation to use money from the Disney World savings account for another reason.
This is a great way to collect groceries when you want to make sure that the money is used for Disney World only.
Also, don’t forget to use the right credit card at the right place to get your Disney gift cards! The American Express Cobalt® Cardcard, for example, will give you 5X points for Disney gift card purchases at Metro or Super C.
By doing so, you also save on conversion fees and earn points on gift card purchases!
Save on other expenses at Disney World
After the big expenses of a trip to Disney World, why stop there? We can push even further to save money!
Parking fees, airplane seat selection and luggage
If you’re going to Disney World for a week, you may need parking at the airport.
Some hotels near the terminal offer 7 to 14 days of parking with an overnight stay.
We have a complete guide to parking at the airport: all the information is here.
Secondly, many credit cards offer credits for incidental expenses related to a trip to Disney World. For example, the National Bank World Elite Mastercard offers:
- $100 credit for parking
- 100 credit for baggage fees
- 50 credit for seat selection
Foreign Currency Conversion Fees
This component is not important when using Disney gift cards, but it is something to consider when optimizing the Disney savings account strategy.
The HSBC World Elite Mastercard is the ultimate credit card for saving on conversion fees. This represents a 2.5% value on your Disney World purchases. This card is great for getting to Disney World with the points, but it’s also very useful during the trip!
Sure, this card has a $49 annual fee (after the $100 travel credit), but the fee is justified if you carry more than $1,550 USD (or $1,960). For a Disney World vacation, this amount will easily be exceeded!
Car rental fees
In this example, a vehicle can be rented for a one-week stay at Disney World for 2,960 Dream Miles or $863.38 when paid in cash. In this situation, the valuation of a Dream Mile is 23¢, which is excellent!
New credit card strategies for going to Disney World
You’ll have to be patient to go to Disney World for free (or almost).
Step One: The Disney Savings Account
It is suggested that you start by building up your Disney savings account since you need time to collect enough cash back and travel points.
The total amount to aim for will depend on each family: determine your goal and your needs for Disney World.
A trip to Disney World can be very expensive. A family of four can easily spend $3,000 for 7 days in the parks.
Then, to eat on site, the budget for food is often around $250 to $300 per day for two adults and two children. That being said, this is only an estimate, as the bill will depend on several factors.
- the quantity
- the place
Indeed, there are a multitude of dining experiences at Disney World: fast food, table service, character restaurants, etc. With so many varieties, it’s easy to eat for less or for much more.
One way to save money on meals is to bring your own food. Disney allows coolers (24″ x 18″ x 15″ or smaller) to be brought to their site.
Finally, don’t forget the costs for extras, options (Genie Plus, Lightning Lane, Magic Band, etc.), magical experiences and souvenirs on site, etc.
Step 2: Go to Disney World
Next, you need to strategize on how to get there. As illustrated in the first part of this article, there are several ways to do this on the plane such as with Aeroplan points, the companion pass and travel points.
Aeroplan points have no expiration date. However, points can be lost if the account is inactive after 18 months. With an Aeroplan creditcard , there is no need to worry about keeping the account active.
The companion pass has an expiration date, so be sure to time it right and don’t receive it too soon before your trip to Disney World.
Interested in making the road trip to Florida? You’ll need to top up the Disney savings account a bit more to cover these extra expenses with cash back and rewards points.
Third step: Accommodation
On the hotel points side, they can be picked up easily and quickly with a few credit cards, especially if it’s the Marriott Bonvoy program that is being targeted.
The Marriott Bonvoy Free Night Certificate is paid approximately 8 weeks after the card is renewed. Therefore, it is recommended that you apply for the Carte Marriott BonvoyMC American ExpressMD and the Carte Marriott BonvoyMC Entreprise American ExpressMD Card at least 1 year and 2 months prior to travel to Disney World.
If you choose Best Western properties as your accommodations, you’ll need to plan ahead toearn enough points.
Finally, if one turns to independent hotels or AirBnBs, one will have to replenish the Disney savings account a little more with cash back or travel points.
Start by determining your goals for Disney World (plane or car, hotels or Airbnb, how many days in the parks, etc.). Then, we establish a credit card strategy!
Credit cards and travel points allow us to travel for free (or almost)!