How to use points to buy Disney tickets

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A Disney family vacation is an American pastime. It’s an escape from reality and can result in a fun dose of magic and big smiles for all. But along with all that joy and anticipation can come some very real sticker shock at the cost of a Disney vacation. It’s hard to score a true discount on Disney tickets, but using some of your credit card points is a legit way to get real Disney tickets in your hand without spending a wallet’s worth of cold hard cash.

Here’s a look at different ways to use points to cover your park tickets to Disney to make your next family vacation that much more affordable.

Related: TPG guide to visiting Disney World 

Disney ticket costs

While things are simpler at a reopened Disney World in 2020 with no park hopping, no waterparks, etc., normally you may feel dizzy looking at all the different options available for Disney tickets. And currently, most of those options are scheduled to return for 2021 and onward.

How much a Disney ticket costs, and therefore the number of points you’ll need to use, depends on several factors.

These factors include guest age (those under 3 are free, but at 10 you’re a Disney “adult”), what date you’re going, how many days you’ll visit, how many parks you want to go to and what additional attractions you want to experience (waterparks, miniature golf, real golf, etc.).

One constant with Disney tickets is that the more days you visit a Disney park in one trip, the less your per-day cost.

Screenshot courtesy of Disney

Looking at the value on a per-day basis, it’s clearly in your best interest to fit as much Disney in as possible on a single trip to get significantly more bang for your points (or dollars) than taking multiple short Disney trips. Single-day, one-park tickets to Disney World range from $109 – $159 per day while your per-day cost on a longer Disney trip of 7 – 10 days will be $52 – $67 dollars per day.

Related: Should you visit Disney World right now?

Park Hopper Pass. Photo by vivacevy/Flickr
Park Hopper Pass. (Photo by vivacevy/Flickr)

How to redeem points for Disney tickets

If you’re looking for a magical way to get outsized value when using your points for Disney tickets, we have some bad news. Outside of limited-time promotions that may appear, it’s not possible to get an insane return for your points on Disney tickets. But, it’s still possible to redeem points for Disney.

As you’ll see below, the main ways to redeem points for Disney tickets are via a cash back card or at a fixed rate. Some programs make it easier to earn points or cash back at an accelerated rate, making free tickets easier to come by, but at the end of the day, you’re likely redeeming your points at a fixed value toward the cost of Disney tickets.

Related: Save on a Disney vacation by renting Disney Vacation Club points

Redeem Citi ThankYou Rewards points

If you hold a Citi Premier® Card or Citi Prestige® Card with ThankYou points at the ready, you’re in luck.

Citi ThankYou points can give you good value when redeemed toward Disney tickets. ThankYou points earned with these cards are worth 1.25 cents toward travel (until April 10, 2021 when it will decrease to 1 cent), including towards Disney tickets. The welcome bonus for the Citi Premier is currently 60,000 points after $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Those 60,000 points would get you $750 in Disney tickets ($600 after 4/10/2021).

The information for the Citi Prestige card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

To redeem Citi ThankYou points for Disney tickets, you’ll have to pick up the phone and talk to Citi’s third-party travel agency, Connexions Travel.

While the process may be slightly different whenever you call, in recent transactions the process to redeem points for Disney tickets works as follows:

  • Call 1-800-842-6596
  • Hit option 2: “Redeem ThankYou points”
  • Enter the last four digits of your card
  • Select “Travel Rewards”
  • Press 3 for “Cruises and Tours”

Even if the exact flow of phone tree answers changes over time, you’ll want to find your way to the cruise and tour arm of Connexions Travel as they are the ones who can secure Disney tickets and other things Disney.

The Connexions Travel phone agents quote the same prices for tickets as on the Disney website. Once you are sent an email with your Disney ticket number in it, you can link that number to your MyDisney Experience site to secure your Park Pass reservations and more. I will note that in Oct. 2020 tests, the Connexions Travel agent had to get a Disney agent on the phone to process the transaction and it took about two hours from start to finish.

(Photo by Melissa Ann Photography)

Redeem flexible points against the charge

While you can redeem Citi ThankYou points directly for Disney tickets, the same is not true for most other types of points. However, there are ways to use your credit card points to essentially wipe out the charge.

For example, you could use the miles on your Discover it Miles to offset the Disney tickets charge at a rate of 1 cent per point. That card has no annual fee and earns 1.5x miles on all spend, and all miles earned in the first year are matched by Discover, giving you an effective 3x miles on all spend for the first year.

You can essentially do the same with Bank of America Preferred Rewards points earned from the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card, which are also worth 1 cent each. This card awards up to 2.625 points per dollar charged on non-bonused transactions and 3.5 points per dollar on travel and dining purchases if you have the highest tier of perks based on total assets on deposit with Bank of America and/or Merrill accounts. If you are in that preferred earnings tier, it’s just about the most rewarding cash-back type of card on the market.

Here’s a look at some of our other favorite cash back cards.

Redeem travel points for Disney tickets — with a catch

Miles from the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card can be transferred to hotel and airline partners, but you can also use the miles at a fixed rate of 1 cent each toward travel charges made to the card.

The catch with this method is that Disney tickets by themselves purchased directly from Disney don’t necessarily code as a travel charge. More often, I’ve seen them code as an entertainment charge. So, proceed with caution if you hope to use points that only work toward travel charges.

If you are booking a larger Disney hotel and ticket package, that will likely code as travel, and should then be eligible for redeeming flexible travel points. If you want to redeem points that work only toward travel charges, a good option is to purchase your Disney tickets via a site like Undercover Tourist that does code as travel.

Related: These are our favorite Disney World hotels

Chase Ultimate Rewards points don’t work

Until 2018, you could redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards directly toward Disney tickets, cruises, resorts and vacation packages at 1.25 cents to 1.5 cents each if you held a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

But in recent years, while you can redeem your Ultimate Rewards points for flights to Orlando or stays at non-Disney hotels in the Disney World area (such as even the on-property Disney World Swan and Dolphin hotels), you can’t use the points directly for Disney tickets and vacation packages.

What about the Disney Visa?

If you have a goal of using points for a Disney vacation, it’s logical to wonder why 1,000 words into the story, the namesake Disney Visa credit card has yet to come up.

With this card, you earn Rewards Dollars to use toward expenses at the Disney parks, on a Disney Cruise, etc. so it isn’t a bad option if you already have those rewards at your disposal. However, it also isn’t the best option out there for maximizing your spending to earn a future Disney vacation.

Here’s an entire story on whether the Disney Visa Card is worth it and how you can get some of the perks from those credit cards with no annual fee.

The information for the Disney Visa card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: How to save money on a Disney vacation

Bottom line

It takes time and a concerted effort to build up enough points for a family’s worth of Disney tickets. However, there’s no question that the strategic use of big sign-up bonuses can help.

But along the way, you may have to forgo the much higher potential value that you’d get if you transferred points to a travel partner for hotel or flight redemptions. That said, if a discounted trip to Disney is what you want for a future award trip, you can make that a reality with points.

Even if free Disney tickets don’t mathematically yield the best redemption in the world, making family memories with free or discounted Disney tickets can make it your best redemption.

Featured photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy

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