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Video SRQ: What is the Best Credit Card to Use to Book a Disney Cruise?

by on April 28, 2013 · 16 comments

in Barclays, Credit Cards, Disney, Sunday Reader Questions, Video Blog Post

TPG Reader Jamie recently went on a Disney cruise with her family, but is now wondering how she could have been smarter about booking their trip:

“My daughter turned five in March so my husband and I took our family of four on a Disney cruise, which we absolutely loved. I am now regretting not doing more research beforehand to see what credit card would have helped us out most when booking this trip. Since we enjoyed the cruise so much I’m thinking we will go again in the next couple years. What card would you recommend that would be most beneficial when booking a Disney cruise? I looked into the Disney Premier Visa, but it seems there may be better options out there.”

First lets take a look at the Disney Premier Visa.  This card isn’t that great in terms of your overall travel points strategy, but it could be a good option for Disney fanatics. Here’s the current offer on the card:

  • $200 Disney credit after you spend $500 within the first 3 months of opening the card
  • Earn 2% in Disney Dream Reward Dollars on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, and most Disney locations.
  • Earn 1% on all other card purchases
  • Redeem Disney Reward Dollars for a credit on your monthly statement.
  • Buy Disney merchandise or park tickets using your Disney Rewards Dollars that are loaded onto your Disney Rewards Redemption Card.
  • 1 Disney Dream Reward Dollar is equal to $1 when redeeming for Disney products and offerings
  • $49 annual fee
Disney's Premier Visa is great for people who frequently visit the theme parks or make a lot a Disney related purchases.

Disney’s Premier Visa is great for people who frequently visit the theme parks or make a lot a Disney related purchases.

It seems as though the perks are great for people who visit Disney theme parks frequently or shop at a lot at Disney stores, but if that doesn’t apply to you there are much better options out there.

For Jamie’s situation – where she’s not looking to redeem her points for flights since she lives in Florida anyway and can get to Disneyworld and Disney cruises easily – I would suggest getting a fixed-value points card which lets you book whatever travel you want. These are points that you redeem for travel, cash back or merchandise at a fixed rate that is usually around 1-2 cents per point depending on what you want to redeem them for.

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The great thing about points and credit cards is that you don’t have to choose just one kind of points to earn, though. You can still have traditional miles/points for aspirational awards and then also take advantage of fixed-value bonuses to help pay for day-to-day flights and travel expenses that cannot be redeemed with normal airline miles that depend on award availability, or for hotels where you might not be able to use points, such as one-off or boutique properties. Plus when you use these points there are no blackout dates since they are basically just equivalent to using money and you get the miles and elite credit for flights you book with them as well.

Some of the main benefits of the

Some of the main benefits of the Barclaycard Arrival.

One of the best offers for a fixed-value card out there right now is The Barclaycard Arrival which has a sign-up bonus of 40,000 miles when you spend $1,000 in 3 months. Those 40,000 miles equal $400 dollars, but when you redeem your points for travel you will get a 10% points refund every time you use them to redeem travel (including cruises, flights, hotels, car rentals, and resorts). Aside from that, you also earn 2 miles per dollar on every purchase which is essentially giving you 2.2% back on everything you spend. With this card there are no blackout dates when booking travel and no foreign transaction fees. You’ll also enjoy a complimentary TripIt Pro subscription, and the  $89 annual fee is waived for the first year.

Another good option is the Capital One Venture card, which also earns 2 miles per dollar on every purchase. Right now there is a very low sign-up bonus for this card of just 10,000 miles after $1,000 spent in the first 3 months, and an annual fee of $59 waived the first year. In the past we have seen sign-up bonuses of up to 100,000 miles so I would hold off on getting this card until the bonus is raised.

Fidelity has a cash-back card, though no longer available to new cardholders, and Charles Scwhabb has a 2% cash-back card as well if you have a brokerage account with them. If you decide to go with a fixed-value card I would strongly recommend getting the Barclaycard Arrival since it could help make a cruise for you and your family much more affordable and rewarding. Please feel free to comment below if there is another fixed-value or other credit card that will help Jamie when booking a Disney Cruise.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author.s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

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  • Macfather

    I book an annual disney cruise myself. My strategy is to use a card that gives 2x points on groceries (Amex for me) and find a grocery store that provides gas rewards for purchases. Then, I buy Disney gift cards and maximize my points while getting free gas. I pay for my cruise with disney gift cards.

  • http://saverocity.com/ Matt from Saverocity

    I got the Fidelity card earlier this month. Cashing out is more convoluted but there is no annual fee and its 2% on everything ( uncapped) not saying its necessarily better then Barclays in this case, but it’s still taking new card holders.

  • Iain

    We booked our DC through Costco Travel. With Costco Travel you can use any credit card so you can meet minimum spends for new sign ups, which makes these spends easy to manage. However, the best part is the Costco gift card we will receive at the end of the trip. Our cruise is approx $6k, we will receive a $475 gift card to Costco.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dina.lapoint Dina LaPoint

    You can use disney gift cards to pay for trips as well. Gift cards can be purchased from lowes using chase Freedom for 5% points back up to $1500 April-June. In addition I suspect that you might be able to use chase freedom to buy giftcards for disney next quarter July-September because it says 5% cashback on theme parks (I’m still not 100% positive this will work). Also for people with costco memberships, and bj memberships disney giftcards are discounted for somewhere around 4% off. Last but not least you can use target red card for 5% off disney gift cards at target and if you get target pharmacy where you earn 5% there you can get as much as 10% off disney gift cards at target.

    It is important to get the right type of disney gift card. It should say good for disney cruise lines on the back. Disney gift cards for the disney store do not work for the cruiseline.

  • CHSDOC

    Go to cruisecompete.com Have agents bid on your cruise. Disney doesn’t offer much discounts (as compared to other lines), but agents can throw in ship-board credit, etc. Pay it all with a card that gives bonus for travel. I used Chase Sapphire.

  • Sam

    You can pay for a Disney Cruise with a Disney gift card, so what if you went for something that had a category bonus for a store where you could buy Disney gift cards? (This would also work for Disney Parks packages, tickets, or room only reservations). With some advanced planning couldn’t you get 5x Ultimate Rewards if you time your gift card purchase right?

  • James Slager

    The Schwab 2% card went defunct in late 2011, and was replaced by the BoA Cash Rewards card. So unfortunately that isn’t an option anymore.

  • Pan

    If I book through costco, then I can’t pay with Disney gift card, right?
    Trying to think of a way to double dip..

  • http://saverocity.com/ Matt from Saverocity

    Sounds good in theory… about 8% Back in a Costco Card. However, if the price of the cruise was marked up greater than 8% then its not such a deal…

  • CincyRich

    We just got back from a 8 day Disney World Vacation (4 days at the park and a 4 day Disney Cruise). We used our hilton points to stay 3 days free at the Waldorf Astoria (in the park) – was excellent and was upgraded to a very large suite and paid a discounted rate for the 4th night. For the Cruise we used Amex Reward points for 1/2 of the cruise (100,000K points) and for 500 dollars Amex gets you a second state room with porthole window. So my wife, myself and 3 children had two rooms for just 500 more, and paid just under half price during spring break (ridiculously expense time to take a disney cruise FWIW) using Amex Reward points. So Amex has some options as well, if you have built up some Reward Points.

  • Richie

    I have the United mileage plus card and through ther travel portal you can earn up to 35,000 miles by booking a cruise along with the 50,000 bonus by signing up for the card…not a bad deal

  • jmw2323

    the best CC for me for disney cruise was the Capital One rewards card back when they matched to 100k points. $3800 cruise cost me $1300 out of pocket. However, not sure if the disney cruise was worth the $1300.

  • Iain

    Same price. We originally booked the cruise direct with Disney, but transferred it to Costco when I discovered the gift card. You can transfer reservations with 30days of the original booking.

  • Jamie

    If you’re thinking of getting the Disney card, sign p for their free vacation planning DVD. This usually triggers a targeted offer (you’ll get it in the mail) for a $200 reward card after you spend $500. It is a chase card, thorough, so it would be tacking up valuable space in your wallet, but the minimum spend is so low.

  • Felicia
  • DIs Traveler

    So, I you compared a 4 Night Bahamian Cruise for Costco Travel and Disney’s Travel website. Costco was $2056.88. Disney was 1904.88. A difference of $152. Costco gives you a $120 gift card. Which would make the difference only $32. However, if you pay your Disney Cruise completely with your Disney Premiere Visa Card, they give you $50 onboard credits, which is easy to use. On top of that, if you use a travel agency like Small Wonder Travel Agency, they will give you and additional $50 onboard credit for every $1000 spent on the cruise cost. That can add up quickly if you are taking a long cruise or if you book a higher quality stateroom. Plus with the Disney Premier Visa Card, you earn 2% for paying for the cruise. After that, take the rewards dollars and convert them into a Disney Gift card, and then use that to pay for even more things on the cruise.

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