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Saving money is always a good thing, and this is especially true for taking a trip to Disney World. Everyone knows that a trip to Disney is ridiculously expensive. This post takes a look at how you can use discounted Disney gift cards to bring down the cost of your Disney vacation.
Honestly, there are ways to get discounted Disney gift cards which get pretty convoluted. I want to highlight a few of the more straightforward options before pairing them with some higher level savings techniques.
Other money saving posts you might be interested in:
Table of Contents
Disney Gift Cards vs. Discounted Disney Gift Cards
Let’s start off with the basics: taking a look at what a Disney gift card entails compared to a discounted Disney gift card.
What is a Disney Gift Card?
Disney gift cards are pretty much exactly what you think they are, little plastic cards that hold money to be spent on Disney products. Once Disney gift cards are purchased and activated there are no fees and they never expire.
Disney gift cards can be used to pay for just about anything owned by Disney. Here’s a list of places to use your Disney gift cards:
- Disney World Resort
- Disneyland Resort
- All International Disney Parks
- Disney Cruise Line
- Adventures by Disney
Within any of the Disney owned and operated entities you can use those gift cards on the following things:
- Room Balance
- Vacation Packages
- Park Tickets and Annual Passes
- Disney Dining Plan
- Restaurants and Snacks
- Tables In Wonderland Dining Discount Card
- Disney Vacation Club Dues
I think you can begin to see just how useful having Disney gift cards can be.
What is a Discounted Disney Gift Card?
The actual definition of a discounted Disney gift card is pretty easy. It is simply a Disney gift card that is purchased in such a way that the cost of the card is less than the face value of the card. For example, a $100 Disney gift card which actually cost $95.
Unfortunately, actually buying discounted Disney gift cards is a bit of an art form and can take some effort. The amount of effort you are willing to put in is really up to you. There are some very straightforward ways to easily save 5% off each gift card you buy.
While 5% isn’t the greatest discount in the world, when you take it off of a few thousand dollars it adds up. For example, let’s say you buy $3000 worth of Disney gift cards at a 5% discount. With little to no effort you just saved $150.
But what if you can make that discount even greater? That’s what this post is about.
Discounted Disney Gift Card Standards
There are a few basic standards to consider when embarking on your discounted Disney gift card journey. Because not all “savings” are created equal.
Anything Less Than 5% Savings is NOT a Good Deal
Like I mentioned above, getting a 5% minimum discount is actually pretty darn easy. It takes no extra thinking, planning, or jumping through hoops. If you are bending over backwards for a 3% discount, it’s really just not worth the effort.
Ideally, we want the discount to be even greater, but this is the minimum threshold.
Stacking Deals Gives the Greatest Results
This is the beginning of where everything starts to get way more complicated but the savings become even greater.
There are a few different techniques which involve combining deals with credit card cash back rewards or other shopping rewards. This doesn’t take the money off the up front purchase price. Instead, you get the discount on the back end in the form of statement credits, direct deposits, or gift cards.
More on that below!
Best Uses of Discounted Disney Gift Cards
As I mentioned above, you can use Disney gift cards to pay for any aspect of your Disney vacation. However, there are some pieces of the vacation you *might* be able to find cheaper in other ways than using discounted Disney gift cards. Two examples are park tickets and resort.
Some of this simply depends on how much of a savings you are able to manage on your discounted gift cards. If you average 5-6%, odds are you can find a greater discount at places like Undercover Tourist. However, if your savings is closer to 10%, the game might change.
Always do the math first to see which avenue gives you the greatest deal.
But there are some great uses of discounted Disney gift cards regardless of how much of a discount you bought them at. Any purchases made during your trip when you are a captive audience fall under that heading.
- Any dining
- Dining plan
- Tables in Wonderland card
- Disney Cruise Lines
- Adventures by Disney
- Disney Vacation Club dues
Stacking Deals for Better Discounted Disney Gift Cards
One more very important thing before we get down to business. I mentioned this briefly a moment ago, but stacking deals is a very in depth and often complicated part of buying discounted Disney gift cards.
I do want to remind you: if this is more than you are willing to do, you can still buy your Disney gift cards at a discount. If this part isn’t for you, skip it and start reading the next section.
If you are interested in how to increase your savings, read on!
Credit Card Cash Back Rewards
I think we are all familiar by now with the idea that you can use credit cards to earn rewards. This might be through travel points, cash back, gift cards, etc.
Clearly, if you use a credit card that earns rewards of any sort to buy your Disney gift cards, you get extra savings. Most cards will earn rewards in the range of 1-2%. Which is fine, really. But I’m going to highlight instances where you can get 5% in cash back rewards.
Discover Card Cash Back
Discover Card offers 1% cash back on all purchases but offers 5% cash back on a rotating quarterly basis. This picture shows an example of the reward categories for 2019.
If any of the categories listed sell Disney gift cards, you can now get an additional 5% off your purchase. This opens up options for you at Walmart.com for an easy 5% discount.
Depending on the reward categories for the year, your opportunity for savings can become even greater. In 2018 there were 2 different quarters that gave you a 5% cash back reward on purchase made at Wholesale Clubs like BJs and Sam’s Club.
This was HUGE for discounted Disney gift cards. And yes, it showed up again in 2020 (and 2021). In fact, if you’re reading this April-June 2021, Discover card has wholesale clubs as the 5% cash back bonus category. You better believe I’m stocking up.
As an added bonus, Discover will match all of your 5% cash back earnings in the first 12 months of spending. That means if you use your Discover It card to buy your Disney gift cards during that 12 month period you actually save 10% on those cards. Score!
If you sign up for Discover Card using my referral link then we both can earn a $50 statement credit!
The Chase Freedom card is another very popular cash back card. Just like Discover, Chase Freedom offers a rotating quarterly schedule of offers that allows you to get 5% cash back on your purchases.
In 2019, the bonus quarters for Chase Freedom cardholders are gas stations, grocery stores, home improvement stores, and PayPal. These options open up grocery stores and home improvement stores as discounted gift card options.
Chase Freedom has also been known to offer their quarterly discount at wholesale stores as well.
Cash Back Portals
Most cash back portals, like Rakuten, automatically disqualify gift card purchases from any cash back bonuses. However, there is one that does not: Dosh.
Dosh is a cash back app on your phone (or desktop) that allows you to get cash back on day to day purchases. You simply link your credit cards to the app and presto you get the discount at qualifying stores when you use that credit card.
If you sign up through my Dosh referral link we will both get an extra $5 (for a limited time, they are actually giving a $20 bonus for signing up!). Score! P.S. If you don’t use the link you can simply enter NICOLEG342 as the referral code on the app. Once you connect a credit card we’ll both get the bonus.
Buying Discounted Disney Gift Cards
On to the main attraction! Let’s get down to the business of figuring out the most straightforward ways to get your discounted Disney gift cards.
Target Disney Gift Cards
Buying Disney gift cards at Target is probably the easiest way to get discounted Disney gift cards. Target offers a 5% discount on purchases made when you use the Target REDcard. And while the discount doesn’t apply if you buy Target gift cards, IT DOES apply to Disney gift cards.
What I like about the Target REDcard is they offer both a credit card and a debit card option. If you are someone who doesn’t like having a lot of credit cards then the REDcard debit card is a safe way for you to get the benefits without the dangers of a credit card.
Seriously, discounted Disney gift cards aside, if you do a lot of shopping at Target you should sign up for the REDcard. I’m not even sure how much money I’ve saved over the years, but it’s probably in 4 digit realm now.
For every $50 Disney gift card you buy you are actually charged $47.50. Again, that number doesn’t look all that impressive. But remember our example above? If you bought $3000 in Disney gift cards and paid $2850, it starts to look much better.
Using Target Gift Cards to Buy Disney Gift Cards
This used to be one of the greatest hacks for buying discounted Disney gift cards. However, Target no longer allows you to buy Disney gift cards using a Target gift card. They finally caught on to us! I’m really bummed about this because I was able to easily save 10% on Disney gift cards this way.
Target Savings Example
Let’s take a look at a simulated example of the easiest way to get the discounted
- Dining Plan (3 adults, 1 child): $254.45/night
- Dining Plan Cost for 7 night vacation total: $1781.15
- Total Cost-5% savings: $1692.09 (Total savings of $89.06)
I don’t know about you, but if I could save almost $90 by simply purchasing Disney gift cards with my Target REDcard, it’s a bit of a no brainer.
BJs Disney Gift Cards
Wholesale clubs are another popular place to buy discounted Disney gift cards. BJs is a very popular option among them. Part of the reason why is because BJs offers a $10 online membership. This is a justifiable amount to spend on a membership when you only plan to order Disney gift cards.
The $10 online membership also makes it accessible for those who don’t have a BJs located near them.
BJs offers Disney gift cards in a number of denominations, including $25, $50, $100, $150 (3x$50), and $500. Typically, these max out at a 4% discount with the $100 and $500 gift cards as your best options.
So, if you have no access to Target but do have a BJs membership, at least 4% is better than nothing. And if you have even a basic credit card rewards program, you should get 1-2% back on top of that.
If you have a cash back credit card like Discover or Chase Freedom and they offer the 5% discount for one quarter, that is when you stock up. That equals a 9% discount, which is nothing to sneeze at!
In addition, there are times that BJs randomly offers promotions on gift cards that gives them a greater discount. For example, in fall 2020, the $100 Disney gift cards were 8% off bringing the price down to $92. Plus Chase Freedom had 5% off if you paid with your card via PayPal, bringing the discount up to 13%.
Sam’s Club Disney Gift Cards
Sam’s Club is another wholesale store that is popular for buying discounted Disney gift cards. The prices are pretty similar to BJ’s, with your best discount reaching 4%.
However, I will say that I’ve noticed my local Sam’s Club offers a slightly cheaper price on the $150 pack in store than is offered online. If possible, check to see if this is true for you as well. This slight discount knocks my instant savings up to 5% instead of 4%.
The Sam’s Club discount can be improved upon with either a rotating credit card cash back bonus or with using Dosh. If you have 5% cash back through Discover or Chase Freedom that is a great addition.
The Dosh cash back offer changes periodically but is only available for online purchases. Sometimes the discount is only on opening a Sam’s Club membership. However, they often have a cash back offer as well. Currently, the Dosh cash back for Sam’s Club is 1-2% off your total online purchase.
The biggest drawback for Sam’s Club is the cost of a membership. Sam’s charges $45 for a one year membership. There are often deals on Groupon to get it for cheaper. Also, Dosh offers a $20 discount on the membership.
If you already use Sam’s regularly regardless than this isn’t an issue. But $45 is a little steep and eats into your overall savings if only using it for gift cards. Do the math first. You might be better off with BJ’s $10 online membership.
Because we already have a Sam’s Club membership, the Sam’s Club Disney gift cards are one my go to options.
Sam’s Club Savings Example
If I get that $150 Disney gift card for $142 at Sam’s Club I’m saving 5%. If I use my credit card during the 5% cash back period, I get an additional 5% off the price I paid for the card. That’s an additional $7.10 off the cost of the card. That means I got $150 in gift cards for $134.90, or for $15.10 off.
This is a total discount of around 10% (with some slight rounding). Now, if I buy $1000 worth of gift cards my actual cost would be $900, or $100 savings. Let’s look at how that would work with our trip example from above.
- Dining Plan (3 adults, 1 child): $254.45/night
- 7 night vacation total: $1781.15
- Total Cost of Trip-9% savings: $1603.04 ($178.11 savings)
Those Sam’s Club Disney gift cards are worth it, right?
Best Buy + Swagbucks
This option is a little bit next level so might not be for everyone. Best Buy does not offer any sort of discount on Disney gift cards in and of themselves. However, there is a deal you can take advantage of through Swagbucks which ups the ante considerably.
What is Swagbucks?
Swagbucks is an online earning platform. Truly, there are so many ways to earn points on Swagbucks and I’ve only scratched the surface. But the bottom line is you can turn those points into gift cards. Unfortunately not Disney gift cards, but Target, Amazon, Walmart, Sam’s Club, etc.
How Do Best Buy and Swagbucks Work Together?
Note: Currently, the in store deal is “Temporarily Paused”. I have no idea when, or if, it will return.
In your Swagbucks account under shopping you can find Best Buy listed as a partner. The screenshot above shows what you find on that page. See the button that says “Get Code” under Shop In-Store? Print out that code and bring it with you.
The fine print under special terms lets you know how many Swagbucks you’ll earn on your purchase. If you buy a $100 Disney gift card you earn 750 bonus Swagbucks. This is the equivalent of $7.50. In addition to the bonus Swagbucks you also get the standard 2% cash back, or $2 in this example. Now you are up to $9.50 cash back on your $100 gift card.
If you have a credit card that earns rewards on Best Buy purchases, even better. My Capital One card gets me 2% rewards on the $100 gift card. Now my total savings is $11.50 or a whopping 11.5%. I essentially just got $100 for $88.50.
Best Buy + Swagbucks Saving Example
Here we are, back at our Disney Dining Plan example. Let’s see how much savings we get with an 11.5% discount, shall we?
- Dining Plan (3 adults, 1 child): $254.45/night
- 7 night vacation total: $1781.15
- Total Cost of Trip-11.5% savings: $1576.32 ($204.83 savings)
As you can see, the savings get more and more substantial the more effort you put into it.
Other Places to Buy Discounted Disney Gift Cards
The options listed here are the most popular choices, but they are the tip of the iceberg. Opportunities do exist to get discounted Disney gift cards at other locations.
Ask for Disney Gift Cards as Gifts
Seriously, if you have a trip to Disney planned this is an obvious response to the question, “what would you like for your birthday/Christmas/any other holiday?” Because you can’t beat a 100% discount.
Grocery stores have become a great place to get a wide variety of gift cards. Each grocery store has its own reward options when you buy gift cards so look into what your local store offers.
The Kroger line of supermarkets is well known to offer 4x gas points as rewards on gift card purchases during promotions. My local ShopRite has offered deals that give me a $10 off coupon for buying $50 in gift cards. When it’s Disney’s turn in that promotion you better believe I buy one. That’s a 20% savings.
Home Improvement Stores
Lowe’s and Home Depot also stock gift cards these days. In fact, the first image you see in this post was taken at my local Lowe’s.
If you have a rewards card that gives a bonus for home improvement stores this could be a good option for you.
Office Supply Stores
Ditto for office supply stores such as Staples. I have the Chase Ink card which gives 5% cash back on any purchases made at office supply stores. This gives me another option other than Target for an easy 5% off.
In addition to this, Chase Offers occasionally offers an increased discount at purchases made at Staples. I currently have an offer for 20% off. You better believe I plan on buying Disney gift cards with that!
Using Discounted Disney Gift Cards During Your Trip
There are a couple of different ways you can use your discounted Disney gift cards during your trip. The easiest way is to use the gift cards directly at the point of sale. Simply hand over your gift card to the Cast Member and they take care of the rest. The other option is to pay your room balance off at your resort with the gift card.
Unfortunately, there is currently no way to attach a Disney gift card to your MagicBand. If you are a Disney resort guest you can opt to charge everything to your MagicBand first, then pay down the balance with a gift card at the front desk of your resort.
However, timing is key. Disney will charge your room balance to the credit card on file the night before check out or every 5 days, whichever comes first. It’s easiest if you make sure to pay down your balance with your gift cards before the charge goes through.
I use the discounted Disney gift cards to pay down the balance every couple of days. But if you forget, a Cast Member can easily take the charge off your card and use the gift cards instead. It just takes a little more work and time.
Combining Disney Gift Cards
Instead of hauling around a stack of gift cards in small denominations, it’s a good idea to consolidate them all on the Disney gift card website. This website allows you to combine your gift cards onto 5 cards, each totaling $1000. This enables you to store up to $5000 on 5 cards instead of having 100 different gift cards in your suitcase.
I highly recommend that you mark the 5 gift cards with the money on them clearly with permanent marker matching the labels you give them on the website (i.e. Dining, November Trip, Resort, etc.) and put them in a safe place. This helps you make sure you have the right cards when you need to use them.
I always keep the empty cards that I have already transferred, but that’s more due to my own paranoia than anything else.
When I leave for Disney I take one extra empty card with me along with the cards with the money on them. This is the back up in case I lose one of the cards with my money on it. If that should happen, I simply need to go on to the Disney gift card website and transfer the entire balance of the lost card onto the empty card.
Using discounted Disney gift cards to pay for a Disney vacation isn’t for everyone, and that’s OK! If you do decide to use some of these strategies just stick with whichever ones feel most comfortable to you.
I tend to use a combination of these strategies to grab Disney gift cards here and there. I’m VERY opportunistic when it comes to collecting my Disney gift cards. When I see a good deal I scoop it up. On average I probably end up with savings between 10-15% for each trip.
In part this number is due to the fact that I ask for Disney gift cards as gifts. That will clearly bring my overall savings up considerably. But I also use wholesale club stacked deals as much as I can. It is possible to hit these numbers, but it’s definitely work.
Sure, there are quite a few people who’ve taken this whole idea next level. But if you are content with an easy 5% discount from using your Target REDcard to buy gift cards, then stick with that. From my point of view, any savings is better than no savings at all.
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Have you found other ways to get your discounted Disney gift cards? If so, let us know what tricks you have used in the comments below! Don’t forget to follow The Disney Journey on Facebook and Pinterest.