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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
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.
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.
One of the best offers for a fixed-value card out there right now is the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard 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 20,000 miles after $2,000 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.
With great transfer partners like United and Hyatt, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards