We’ve dropped a couple cards and added a few since last year. Here are the rewards cards we’re using to save on Disney vacations and why we keep each one:
Chase Ultimate Rewards Cards
One of the primary ways we earn points for Disney vacations is with Chase Ultimate Rewards. The most effective way to earn points in this program is with a multi-card strategy. With these Chase cards, the bonus categories are complementary, helping you maximize the number of points you can earn. Plus, some cards with annual fees offer better redemption options and you can transfer all the points you’ve earned into those cards.
Primary Benefit – No annual fee and fantastic bonus categories. In 2017, the quarterly 5x bonus categories included gas, local commuter transportation, grocery stores, drug stores, restaurants, movie theaters, Walmart, and department stores.
Tip – Buy gift cards. When you won’t fully maximize the $1,500 spending cap in a category bonus, purchasing gift cards can help you earn a ton of points.
Chase Ink Cash
Primary Benefit – No annual fee and fantastic bonus categories. It earns 5x at office supply stores as well as on phone, internet and cable. It also earns 2x at gas stations and restaurants.
Tip – Buy gift cards at office supply stores. Our primary grocery store is Safeway. We purchase Safeway gift cards at Staples online and earn 5x points on all our groceries.
Primary Benefit – Purchase travel through Chase, include Disney vacation packages, and get 1.5 cents in value per point.
Tip – If you use CURs to book a Disney vacation package, consider adding the dining plan. You might not normally spend the money on a dining plan, but when you can use points to pay for it, it cuts down on your out of pocket costs.
Primary Benefit – Annual free night in a category 1-4 hotel and free Discoverist status. We’ve recently added this card because we transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to Hyatt regularly. The annual free night is worth about $250. The annual fee is only $75.
Tip – Discoverist status comes with an upgrade to a preferred room when available. This is a room with a better view. Turn on your charm at check-in and ask if a room with a fireworks view is available. This can be a fun perk at hotels like Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress at Disney World or the Hyatt House Anaheim.
Every vacation has some out of pocket expenses. We always end up spending at least some money out of pocket on things like food, souvenirs, and ride shares like Uber.
Discover it Cash
Primary Benefit – It earns 5% cash back in rotating quarterly categories and Discover doubles all your cash back at the end of your first year.
Tip – Be sure to use the shopping portal, Discover Deals, in the first year. It includes great options like Walmart online, offering 5% cash back. Since all your cash back gets doubled in the first year, you’ll end up earning 10% back.
Hotel cards have some of the best perks. Some, like the Hyatt card, we mentioned above come with an annual free night.
IHG Rewards Club
Primary Benefit – For the $49 annual fee, you get a free night at any of their hotels around the world. This benefit is so valuable we have two of these cards.
Tip – Sign up for this card when the sign up bonus hits at least 80,000 points. Spend enough to earn the bonus, then put it in a drawer. Unless you’re staying at an IHG hotel, there’s no reason to use this card. But, the annual free night is why you get and keep this card… forever.
Primary Benefit – Starwood has perhaps the most valuable travel point, which makes it great to use for those purchases that don’t fall into a category bonus with another card.
Tip – Amex Offers, the rebate program that comes with Amex cards, are a great way to save on Disney gift cards.
Primary Benefit – Same as the personal card. With each, you get 5 nights and 2 stays toward elite status. When you have both cards, you’re nearly halfway to Gold status with SPG and Marriott each year (10 stays or 25 nights).
Tip – The business card comes with free lounge access at Sheraton properties. Take advantage at the Sheraton Park Anaheim. You’ll get free breakfast in the morning, hors d’oeuvres in the evening, and a fireworks view from the lounge.
There is no perfect credit card. But, when you use multiple cards that compliment each other, you can build a fantastic rewards wallet.