How to save money buying discounted Disney gift cards
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Very few brands have the type of customer loyalty that Disney enjoys. On the flip side, 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, cruises and services. In lieu of renting Disney Vacation Club points or following countless false online ads promising a discounted magical excursion, I like to just 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 meals, park tickets, annual passes 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 meaningful 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 Disney
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. Most shopping portals exclude gift cards as earning cash back, but some portals do track from time to time, so it’s always worth a try.
Target coupons and Target Circle (formerly called Cartwheel) offers, in my experience, always exclude gift cards and that is hard-coded at registers, preventing additional savings on Disney gift cards. Of course, 5% is better than 0%, so this is a tried and true way to save a few bucks.
The information for the Target REDcard has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
TPG regularly reports on the best Amex Offers that show on American Express cardholder accounts. On a regular basis, that list includes a store that hosts a large, third-party gift card rack. For example, one recent Amex offer was 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, effectively equating to a 20% discount.
I then 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. Because there are also often limits to gift card orders online, it’s rare that a stack like this would work on a larger scale.
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 it can tell what you buy in-store. Just this year, Amex went back and removed credits earned from Amex Offers when cardholders had used the same offer across multiple cards (a strategy no longer possible). Even if you earn the points or statement credit now from Amex, the company has already proven it can (and will) come back at a later date and take away the points or credit. If the terms of an Amex Offer specifically excludes gift cards purchases, it may or may not work out for you 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 terms and conditions though sometimes cash back or points are still awarded. Keep your eyes peeled on Dosh, Swych, Fetch Rewards, Ibotta, Drop and Rakuten apps — among others — for cash-back stacking opportunities.
Credit card bonus categories
Credit cards like the Chase Freedom (No longer open to new applicants) offer 5% cash back on a rotating quarterly calendar of merchants and store types (up to $1,500 per quarter). In the past, the Chase Freedom has offered 5% cash back at wholesale clubs like Sam’s Club and others. When this happens, it means you could stack already-discounted Disney cards with an additional 5% back (or, even better, earn 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).
If you triple stack the Freedom 5x during a bonus quarter, purchase an already discounted Disney cards from Sam’s Club plus tack-on potential 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.
There are also permanent bonus categories on some cards that can be very useful when earning a bonus on Disney gift cards. For example, if you have a credit card that awards a bonus at office supply stores (such as Staples and Office Depot), that can help you rack up bonus points on Disney gift cards.
Related bonus: Fuel savings
Buying gift cards gives you the ability to earn big fuel rewards points you can use for discounted fill-ups at many gas stations. While it may not be instant cash back in 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’s usually 4x points per dollar, with 100 points 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 per 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.
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 U.S. supermarkets. Some good examples are 4 points per dollar at U.S. 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.
As a final note, you can always check gift card resale sites 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 to score significantly more savings.
Once any gift cards are in your possession, 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. But saving 10% off a family Disney excursion can result in significant money back in my pocket.
- Magic on a budget: Review of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
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- 9 things families should know about Disneyland
- The best restaurants in Disneyland
Featured image by Summer Hull / The Points Guy
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