Is the Disney Visa Worth It?
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At TPG, we write a lot about maximizing time, money and points at theme parks, so naturally a question that comes up from time to time is whether the Disney Visa is worth it for those looking to plan a trip to Disney. The answer is a little more complicated than a simple yes or no, but we’ll break it down and get you on your way faster than a wait for a ride around It’s a Small World.
Disney Visa Sign-Up Bonus
There are actually two Disney Visa card products. There’s the actual Disney Visa and there’s the Disney Visa Premier. The Disney Visa is the entry-level product that has no annual fee and awards a $50 bonus after the first purchase in the first three months. The Disney Visa Premier has a $49 annual fee, but awards a $200 or $250 statement credit after $500 in spending in the first three months (I’ve seen both versions of the bonus available at different times).
I’m not one to turn down $50 to $250 in statement credits, but keep in mind, for perspective, that some credit cards have sign-up bonuses worth $1,000 or more. Also note that how many cards you have in total matters, so you have to pick and choose wisely.
The information for the Disney Visa and Disney Premier has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Disney Visa Earnings
The two Disney cards earn at different rates — the no-annual-fee Disney Visa earns 1% back on all card purchases in the form of Disney Rewards Dollars you can use at Disney. The Disney Visa Premier earns 2% back in Rewards Dollars on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants and most Disney locations, 1% back in Rewards Dollars elsewhere.
Earning 2% back in Disney Dollars in some spending categories isn’t bad, but just for perspective, there are many credit cards out there that provide a better return for everyday spending than either of the Disney cards. For example, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card earns 2 miles per dollar spent on all purchases (10x miles when using your Venture card and booking via Hotels.com/Venture). That card does have a higher annual fee at $95 per year, though it is waived the first year. The no-annual-fee Chase Freedom Unlimited currently has a welcome bonus that awards 1.5% back on all purchases. And, if you want to keep things very simple, the Citi® Double Cash Card has no annual fee and earns a total of 2% cash back on all purchases — 1% when you make a purchase and an additional 1% when you pay for it on your statement.
Disney Visa Perks
Here’s where the Disney Visa products get more interesting as there are some perks and savings unique to these cards for those looking to vacation with Mickey Mouse. First, you can save 10% on some Disney merchandise purchases of $50+ and 10% on select dining locations on eligible dates at Disneyland and Disney World. Some eligible spots include: Rose & Crown Dining Room (lunch only), Kona Cafe at the Polynesian Village Resort, the Hollywood Brown Derby at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Storytellers Café at the Grand Californian at Disneyland (I recommend the breakfast with characters at Storytellers).
Those who need to spread out the cost of a Disney trip, can get 0% APR for six months on eligible Disney vacation packages with this card. That 0% includes not only eligible resort trips to the Disney theme parks, but also to Disney Aulani in Hawaii, the Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney, etc. You must book your trip via the Walt Disney Travel Company, Disney Cruise Line, etc. using your Disney Visa.
Finally, Disney card members also get some exclusive photo opps with Disney or Star Wars characters at Disneyland and Disney World. This perk can save you time in line or wasting a FastPass, both of which have real value while at Disney. Of course, if you or your kids aren’t into character meet-and-greets, then this perk has little to no value for you.
You Can Probably Do Better
I’m a bit of a Disney fanatic, so I get the appeal of having a Disney Visa — the cards are even cute with the different available Disney design options. If the built-in perks, such as the in-park character photo opps, discounts and 0% APR for six months on eligible Disney vacations sound intriguing, then a Disney Visa might be right for you since those are perks not really replicated on other cards.
However, if your main goal is to get a credit card that will rack up rewards you can use toward a Disney vacation, you can probably do better. Here are my favorite credit cards for those who want to use perks to travel. You’ll find Disney on there . . . but not until the bottom of the list.
The Citi Premier Card is a good choice for families who want to use points to travel to Disney. It awards 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on the card in the first three months. Based on TPG’s current valuations, those 60,000 ThankYou points are worth $1,020 when utilized for travel via Citi’s transfer partners. However, if you don’t want to mess with transfer partners and award availability, the 60,000-point sign-up bonus is worth $750 in paid travel booked via the Citi ThankYou travel center. That can mean $750 in Disney expenses you pay directly with points. The information for the Citi Premier has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
If you spend a lot of money at Disney and want to earn as many points or cash back as possible on these expenses, the Disney Visa Premier is a good choice, but not the best choice. Two other potentially better options include the previously mentioned Citi Premier Card that gives 2 points per dollar on entertainment expenses (such as Disney tickets) or the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card that awards 4% back on entertainment charges.
For eating out in the Disney parks, those charges will often code as dining, so you could earn 4 points per dollar with the American Express® Gold Card or 4% with the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card.
Option C — The Disney Debit Card
We aren’t huge fans of using debit cards for everyday purchases as you typically don’t earn rewards or have the same level of built-in protections as with credit cards, but if what you are after are the Disney perks, the Disney Debit Card could be an Option C that won’t impact your Chase 5/24 status. The Disney Debit Card has no annual fee and is available to those with a Chase Checking account. It doesn’t earn rewards, but gets you access to many of the same character photo opps, discounts on Disney merchandise, dining, cruise expenses, park tours, etc. as the Disney Visa credit cards. This is a way to get the perks, but avoid fees or spending a 5/24 slot.
The Disney Visa credit cards themselves aren’t slam dunks for Disney enthusiasts looking to earn or use rewards for a Disney vacation. In terms of rewards, they are better than paying for things with checks or debit cards, but they often aren’t the best credit cards on the market if your goal is to use points for your next Disney trip. However, if you want six months of 0% APR on eligible Disney vacations, access to character meet-and-greets and some merchandise or dining discounts, then a Disney Visa might be worth the wallet slot for true enthusiasts.
All images by author except where indicated.