Harry Potter is a major cultural element of the 20th century; whether you’re a fan yourself or the parent of one, chasing experiences related to Harry Potter can tally up quite a bill.
Credit card rewards and points can greatly help us offset those expenses.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios
The Universal Studios theme parks are the best way to immerse yourself in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
As a super fan, the moment you step in Hogsmeade and hear the movie’s instrumentals playing in the background is magical and you’re instantly transported to snowy Scotland.
In Orlando, Universal Studios is a resort with different parks that are connected with none other than the Hogwarts Express. Yes, you can ride on THE train! How cool is that?
The Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride in the Castle was a good and memorable one; I felt like I was flying around the grounds! This ride is popular but the setups you go through while you wait is amazing. You pass across Hogwarts’ castle before reaching the ride.
Also, you get to buy your own wand (as long as it chooses you) and flick it around specific spots to do some magic!
In case you’re hungry or thirsty, you can grab a bite at the Three Broomsticks or have some Butterbeer.
Universal Studios can be quite expensive with those $8US Butterbeers, but there are a few tricks you can pull off to make your Harry Potter holiday more affordable.
If you don’t know what to do with your AIR MILES Dream Miles, you can get some good value by redeeming them for Universal Studios Park tickets.
Furthermore, you can go through websites such as UnderCover Tourist for discounted tickets and to be able to use travel rewards points for a statement credit.
For more details on how to save at Universal Studios, here’s our ultimate guide:
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Back in 2016, the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play was written based on an original story. The tale focuses on Harry Potter’s life and family after the end of the book series.
The two-part play was initially only performed in London before moving on to Broadway in New York.
Tickets were very expensive back then; if I remember correctly, it was nearly half a grand to see both parts of the show. In 2021, there have been new productions in several locations such as in Toronto and San Francisco that are more affordable.
This Harry Potter play is currently still running as we speak in Toronto and is a must for any fans.
Last summer, Amex gave a sweet $50 credit for purchases above $250 at the Ed Mirvish Theatre which is the venue for the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play.
That translates to a 20% discount and you can redeem your Membership Rewards for a statement credit to cover the cost of your tickets.
While that offer has ended, we may see it again as the show is still ongoing until March 2023 at the least. So it would be wise to sign-up for an American Express credit card and savour amazing bonuses and perks besides potential offers and credits like that one.
Toronto is also simple to get to from other major hubs in Canada with reward points. For a mere 6,000 Aeroplan points from Montreal, you can spend a weekend there and enjoy the play along with the city.
Harry Potter in the United Kingdom
There is no shortage of things that can bring out the wizard in you throughout England and Scotland.
The author, J. K. Rowling, is from the UK and wrote the first chapters of Harry Potter in a coffee shop in Edinburgh, Scotland. You can still visit it nowadays.
Edinburgh itself can transport you to the world of Harry Potter even if their castle isn’t exactly Hogwarts.
Also in Scotland, you can hop on the Jacobite Steam Train, which is the train that is used as the Hogwarts Express in the movies! The iconic photo of this train can be taken from the Glenfinnan Railway Viaduc.
Harry Potter Filming Locations
The main spots are in Oxford and in London even if you can find sites around the country.
In Oxford, you can locate a lot of historic buildings and backgrounds that were used in the Harry Potter films.
Christ Church College
- Bodley Tower Staircase: where the trio met McGonagall for the first time
- Cloisters: Hogwarts hallways
- Dining hall: inspiration for The Great Hall
- The giant Oak tree: where Malfoy gets turned into a ferret
- Cloisters: hallways
- Courtyard: where Harry warns Cedric about the dragons
- Divinity School: hospital wing
- Duke Humphrey’s Library: restricted section of the school’s library
You can reach Oxford in about an hour from Paddington Station and do this little Harry Potter tour by yourself.
In London, you can also wander around many filming locations:
- King’s Cross: Platform 9 3/4
- St Pancras Station: King’s Cross in the film
- Australian High Commission: Gringott’s Bank
- Leadenhall Market: Leakey Cauldron
- Millennium Bridge: Brockdale Bridge
- Piccadilly Circus: where the trio ends up after fleeing from Bill and Fleur’s wedding
London Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour
For any Harry Potter fan, this Studio Tour is breathtaking as you can walk through the sets of the Great Hall, the Forbidden Forest, Diagon Alley, Privet Drive and much more.
There are also many authentic props and costumes on display.
You need to purchase your tickets in advance and they can sell out quickly. As of October 2022, prices are as follows:
|Child (5 to 15 years)||£39.95|
|Family (2 adults and 2 children)||£159.00|
You can also add an Afternoon Tea experience to you tour in the Food Hall for £60.00 for two.
As you can see, it’s expensive and even more if you take the exchange rate into account. The best way around this is to settle with a credit card that doesn’t charge any foreign exchange fees such as the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®.
By doing so, you’ll pay the best rate of the day. However, you won’t be able to use the points for a statement credit since this will pass as “entertainment” instead of ”travel”. That isn’t in vain though since you can save those points to cover your stay or airfare to London!
If you’re short on time, you can book a Harry Potter Studio Tour and Oxford Day Trip on Viator.
If you intend to do so, deploy your HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® again not only to avoid the foreign exchange fees but also to be able to redeem your HSBC Rewards on the purchase.
Travelling to the United Kingdom with points and miles
Getting to London with Aeroplan can be a bit difficult; while you can still find reasonable award flights for your Harry Potter-themed holiday, the valuation isn’t always great when you factor in the high taxes and fees imposed by the United Kingdom.
For example, this 63,800 points return fare to London is a standard rate to cross the Atlantic.
But since the cash price is at $833 for the same flight, the point valuation is way below our 2 ¢ target.
($833 – $282) ÷ 63,800 points x 100 = 0.86 ¢
Also, that valuation is achieved by comparing apples to apples. Other flights are available on those dates at a cheaper price (there is an extra stopover, but you do save over $200 per person which can be significant, especially for a family).
So when looking at those rates, I’d definitely book with cash and redeem points for statement credit.
Signup bonuses from cards such as the National Bank World Elite Mastercard can drastically reduce your airfare costs on this Harry Potter vacation. Besides, that card offers amazing travel insurance for you and your whole party.
For a Harry Potter holiday (especially if you’re travelling with children), I would opt for AirBnB. Accommodation in London is expensive and while there are many Marriott establishments in the city where you can find good value for your points and Free Night Award Certificate, it could still be more reasonable to go with AirBnB.
Public transportation is efficient in London so it doesn’t matter if you’re a bit out of town during your stay.
The best points and miles strategy with AirBnB would be to purchase their gift cards at grocery stores using a credit card with a strong accelerator in that category such as the American Express Cobalt Card.
With that strategy, that card will give you 5X Membership Rewards points on your AirBnB expenses in addition to all your regular organic day to day spend.
Afterwards, you can redeem your points for a statement credit. So it’s a great way to save on accommodation on your Harry Potter holiday as points on the American Express Cobalt Card racks up pretty quickly.
On the other side, you could take advantage of this trip (airfare, accommodation, Harry Potter tours and tickets) to meet the minimum required spending for a new credit card. By doing so, you would get the best return in terms of points.
Whether it’s Disney, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, the industry knows how to milk it out of fans. While there are plenty of free sites you can visit in terms of filming location, to get the full Harry Potter experience can be expensive.
Thankfully, credit card rewards can work their magic in many ways so we can explore Harry’s world without jeopardizing our savings!
Pick your cards right.