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Over the weekend, multiple ominous reports of Chase cardholders no longer being able to book Disney vacations using their Chase Ultimate Rewards points bubbled across the internet. The process of using Ultimate Rewards to book Disney resorts, park tickets and more has changed several times in recent months, but it’s never been impossible. Until late last week, the most recent process was to call the Chase Cruise and Vacation Packages line to book over the phone. You could then use points from your Chase Sapphire Reserve at a value of 1.5 cents per point to cover your Disney resorts, tickets or cruises, which was a good way to use points to hang with Mickey Mouse.
However, by about Friday of last week, that method of booking Disney stopped working entirely and without notice. The Chase Cruise and Vacation Package representatives can no longer book anything Disney — no cruises, no resorts, no park tickets, no magic. I called this week to test things out for myself, and was told they could not book anything Disney and that this was not expected to be a temporary change. In fact, I was (incorrectly) told that no Chase card, other than the Disney Visa, was eligible to use rewards to book Disney.
However, I say that statement is incorrect. Because while those with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve and Ink Business Preferred Credit Card have at least temporarily lost the ability to use points to book Disney, those with the Chase Freedom can now (again) book Disney resorts and park tickets online using their points.
Chase is transitioning from one travel site to another
Backing up a bit to explain this major difference, last month Chase began a migration of its travel booking site from Connexions Loyalty to the Expedia Group. There are pros and cons of the new Expedia-powered system, but a big pro is that the Expedia interface that’s already in place for Freedom cardholders provides Disney booking options online, where the other cards still on the old interface do not have any Disney options. Additionally, the online Disney functionality was not initially displayed on the new interface, but was added at some point after the launch for Freedom cardholders.
From a pricing perspective, some limited test searches revealed that Disney resort prices displayed in the new Chase travel portal were the same as the current discounted “Enchanted Escape Room Offers” available directly from Disney. However, if you cannot book Disney cruises or resort stays through the Chase Vacation department, then additional discounts you could be eligible for will likely not apply.
When it comes to Disney park tickets, prices available via Chase Travel for those with a Freedom card were similar to purchasing directly from Disney, though not identical in all cases. Multi-day Disney park tickets can usually be found cheaper through third parties such as Undercover Tourist, rather than booking direct. That means you’re paying a slight premium to book directly with Disney or via the prices currently displayed with Chase Travel using the Freedom card.
What comes next for Chase and Disney?
We’ve reached out to Chase and are awaiting official confirmation from the bank on the status of booking Disney with Ultimate Rewards points. More importantly, we’re trying to ascertain future plans as additional card types migrate to the Expedia-powered booking site. My fingers are crossed that, at a minimum, those with premium Chase cards such as the CSR and CSP will be able to book Disney park tickets and resort hotels online with their Ultimate Rewards points when the migration is complete, just as Freedom cardholders can do now.
Even though I have a Freedom card — and you can transfer points from one type of Ultimate Rewards card to another — I would not currently transfer points to the Freedom to book Disney, as the return is only 1 cent per point when booking via that card. The return when using points to book travel via my Sapphire Reserve is 1.5 cents per point, so I’m sitting tight and hoping that the functionality to book Disney using Ultimate Rewards points across all card types returns soon in some fashion.
In the meantime, the best play to use points at Disney is likely booking with the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard, and using the points from those cards at a rate of 1 cent per point to cover the charges. Note that booking Disney resorts or purchasing a Disney Vacation Package directly from Disney historically codes as a travel charge; however, purchasing park tickets alone directly from Disney does not code as travel. Park tickets purchased through a travel company, such as Undercover Tourist, do typically code as a travel charge.
How does this change play into your family’s strategy of using points at Disney?
Featured image by the author.
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