How to Save Money Buying Discounted Disney Gift Cards

Dec 17, 2018

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Very few brands have the type of the customer loyalty that Disney enjoys. That equates to sky-high prices for anything and everything with the Disney name attached. That also means it’s often a Sisyphean task to find meaningful discounts on Disney trips, goods and services. In lieu of renting Disney Vacation Club points or following countless false online ads promising a discounted magical excursion, I like to keep an eye out for discounted Disney gift cards. Disney gift cards can be attached to your online Disney account and used to pay for almost anything at Disney World, Disneyland, etc. — including hotels, Disney mealspark tickets and even Disney cruises.

What you won’t often find in your quest for savings are Disney gift cards on sale directly to consumers with significant discounts. In order to get savings, you’ll need to leverage a variety of “stacking” strategies where you utilize two or more financial tools or programs. Many of the below strategies are proven to always work, while others have fleeting success on a cyclical basis.

Related: Best Credit Cards for Theme Parks

(Joshua Sudock/Disneyland Resort)
(Joshua Sudock/Disneyland Resort)

Target

Target REDcard holders receive a 5% discount when using that card to pay for most items in-store and on Target.com. This essentially means your discount via Target as a REDcard holder is maxed at 5%. Target.com does sell Disney gift cards, meaning you could try to go through a shopping portal to earn additional points or savings — typically only 1–2% extra at Target — but most shopping portals exclude gift cards as earning cash back. But some portals do track from time to time, so it is always worth a try.

Target coupons and Cartwheel offers, in my experience, always exclude gift cards and that is hardcoded at registers, preventing additional savings on Disney gift cards. 5% is better than 0%, so this is a tried and true way to save a few bucks.

Amex Offers

TPG regularly reports on the best Amex offers that show on American Express card holder accounts. On a regular basis, a store that hosts a large, third-party gift card rack appears on the Amex Offers list. One recent Amex offer gave 3,000 Membership Rewards points for spending $300 or more at Best Buy. The Best Buy gift card racks sell Disney gift cards and the offer tracked when using your enrolled Amex card to buy gift cards at Best Buy. TPG values Amex Membership Rewards at 2 cents each, meaning you earn $60 worth of points on a $300 Disney Gift card equating to a 20% discount.

I would try and stack this by seeing if I could order Disney gift cards on BestBuy.com and go through a shopping portal for Best Buy on the off chance it tracked. There are also often limits to gift card orders online, so it’s rare that a stack like this would work.

A few words of caution for Amex offers: Just because this strategy worked in the past does not mean it will continue to work. American Express almost surely gets level three transaction data from merchants, meaning they can tell what you buy in-store. Just this year, Amex went back and removed credits earned from Amex offers when it was found card holders used the same offer across multiple cards (a strategy no longer possible). If you earn the points or statement credit now from Amex, they have already proven they could come back at a later date and take away the points or credit. So, if an Amex Offer’s terms exclude gift cards purchases, it may or may not work out in the end.

Cash Back Portals and Apps

There are a plethora of apps and shopping portals designed to save you money on everyday purchases. They either work by physically clicking through a portal on desktop or mobile site so that cookies can track your activity, or, by linking your credit or debit card to the app so it can register when that card was used at a participating merchant and award points or cash back.

Cashbackmonitor.com is my usual resource to quickly analyze which traditional shopping portal is offering the most cash back or points on purchases — but again keep in mind gift cards are typically excluded in the language of the terms and conditions. Here is a list of current offers, deals and strategies I would undertake with different portals and apps to try and leverage savings on Disney gift cards:

  1. GiftCardMall.com + Lemoney Shopping Portal + AT&T Access More Card
    Gift Card Mall sells Disney gift cards online and the Lemoney shopping portal is currently offering 1.5% cash back on purchases with no gift cards mentioned in exclusion language. My AT&T Access More credit card offers three Citi ThankYou points per dollar on online purchases. I can easily redeem Citi ThankYou points for 2 cents each, making my total potential discount 7.5% on Disney gift cards
  2. Sam’s Club + Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards Earn More Mall
    Sam’s Club sells Disney gift cards for about a 4.5% discount on any given day. Right now, the Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards Earn More Mall is offering 5 bonus points per dollar spent on my first order at Sam’s Club online, with a cap of 10,000 bonus points or a maximum $2,000 purchase. Each point I earn is worth 1.5 cents toward paid airfare through the Wells Fargo travel portal.
    I can order $2,100 in Disney gift cards from SamsClub.com for a total of $2,026.86, or a 3.48% discount. I would earn 12,027 points from the purchase worth $180.40 in airfare, bringing my total discount to $253.54 or 12%. The Wells Fargo Earn More Mall is a special portal and I am 90% confident I would earn the bonus points if I decided to make this purchase.
  3. Sam’s Club + Dosh App
    Dosh is another cash back app that detects when your credit card was used at a participating merchant. Dosh routinely offers cash back on Sam’s Club purchases, sometimes just for memberships, but also often for goods. Make sure to read the current terms and conditions for the store. Sam’s will usually have a maximum cash back of $20–$25 per day for goods, which at 2% means you can make a $1,000 purchase of Disney gift cards and save roughly 5% before factoring in your credit card rewards.

There are plenty of portals and apps to stack with credit card earnings. Keep your eyes peeled on SPENT Money, Dosh, Swytch, Fetch Rewards, ibotta, Drop and Ebates apps — among others — for cash back stacking opportunities.

Quarterly Credit Card Bonus Categories

Credit cards like the Chase Freedom offer 5% cash back on a rotating quarterly calendar of merchants and store types (up to $1,500 per quarter). During the last quarter of 2018, the Chase Freedom offers 5% cash back at wholesale clubs like Sam’s Club and others. This means you could stack already discounted Disney cards with an additional 5% back (or 5 Chase Ultimate Rewards points if you also hold a premium Ultimate Rewards card such as a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred Credit Card). Triple stack the Freedom 5x, already discounted Disney cards from Sam’s Club plus Dosh cash back earnings for a pretty decent win. Best Buy, grocery stores, drug stores, Amazon and department stores are usual suspects on the rotating quarterly calendars — many of which sell Disney gift cards.

Fuel Savings

Buying gift cards gives you the ability to earn big fuel rewards points used for discounted fill-ups at many gas stations. While it may not be instant cash back to your pocket, you’ll still save money the next time you fill up your car.

Grocery stores like Kroger, Safeway, Albertsons and Giant (and associated brands) routinely offer bonus fuel rewards for buying third-party gift cards from their racks. It is usually 4x points per dollar and 100 points is equal to 10 cents off per gallon the next time you fill up. A $500 Disney gift card at my local Kroger during 4x fuel point offers equates to 2,000 Fuel Rewards or $2/gallon in savings. You can only use a maximum of 1,000 points per fill up, or $1 off on up to $35 gallons. If you can fill up all 35 gallons twice, that’s $70 in savings on a $500 card, or a 14% discount before any credit card rewards are added.

(Photo by Sol de Zuasnabar Brebbia / Getty Images)
(Photo by Sol de Zuasnabar Brebbia / Getty Images)

This is also stackable with earning cash back or bonus points by purchasing the gift card at the grocery store with a card that pays a bonus at US supermarkets. Some good examples are 4 points per dollar at US supermarkets with the American Express® Gold Card (up to $25,000 per year, then 1x, terms apply) or 6% cash back with the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (up to 6,000 per year; then 1%, terms apply).

The Shell Fuel Rewards program also regularly offers additional fuel savings for buying gift cards. Usually for every $50 in gift cards you buy, you’ll earn 20 cents off per gallon on up to 20 gallons — or a savings of $4 for an 8% discount before credit card rewards. Check your local Shell station for Disney gift cards the next time you’re filling up and be sure to pay with a credit card that gives a bonus at gas stations.

Bottom Line

As a final note, you can always check gift card resale sights like Raise.com and CardCash.com, but your savings are going to be microscopic — to the tune of 0.7% at Raise. You’re much better off investing some time and trial and error into the above strategies to try and score significantly more savings.

Once gift cards are in your possession, go ahead and load them into your Disney account to easily keep up with the balances and prevent fraud — which is rather rampant with gift cards these days. I like to save at least 10% on Disney gift cards if I am going to go through the effort with some of the above techniques. Saving 10% off a family Disney excursion can result in significant money back in my pocket.

 

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