If you’re willing to put in the effort, there are a few ways to save money on discount Disney gift cards via Target, Kroger, Sam’s Club, and elsewhere. Some of these offer significant savings (10%+) if you jump through a couple of hoops, while others are more modest (<5%, but it all adds up), but easier to achieve savings. Since we are pretty big on stretching our vacation dollar with all sorts of travel hacks, we thought we’d share some of the best methods for scoring discounted Disney gift cards.
Some of this might sound complicated and intimidating, but it’s really easy once you get the hang of it, and the upside is so tremendous that it makes the effort of learning well worth it. With that said, I understand that this is not going to be for everyone. If you don’t have a credit card or are uncomfortable making online purchases, this definitely isn’t for you. While there are a few 101 level travel hacks here, a couple of the tricks are more 404 level.
Raise.com & Target REDCard
We’ll start with a method that sounds a little complicated, but is easy once you get it down. It’s also consistently the best way for saving on Disney gift cards. For this, you need a Target REDCard. If you have one, you’ll need to start by registering for a Raise.com account (get a $5 referral bonus with this link).
From there, search for Target gift cards (NOT Disney gift cards), and sort by percentage of discount. Inventory fluctuates here, discounts are normally 2-4%. Add gift cards to your cart, and enter code RAISE75AF during checkout to save an extra $5 off your first order over $75. Pay for your order, and you should immediately receive the Target gift cards in digital form.
Then, head to Target.com and sign into your account. Upon signing in, your Target Red Card should be “loaded.” This entitles you to a 5% savings on gift card purchases. Add Disney gift cards to your cart, and head to the checkout. There, you should see the 5% discount applied (thanks to your Red Card), and you can enter the Target gift cards purchased on Raise.com as your payment method while still taking advantage of the 5% savings. Do not use your Target Red Card to pay–this is not required for the 5% savings.
After entering the Target gift cards as your form of payment, you should see the 5% discount still applied. Do not hit submit until you verify the details and that the discount has been applied (there shouldn’t be any issues, but sometimes the Red Card discount un-loads). If all looks good, hit submit. Viola, you’ve just saved ~10% on Disney gift cards.
If you don’t have a Target Red Card it might be worth getting one just to take advantage of this deal. Consider this: many Disney fans are Disney Visa cardholders (a fairly crumby credit card, honestly) because of the Disney perks. However, by virtue of this one deal, the Target Red Card is unquestionably a better card from a rewards perspective for Disney fans. So, it may not have Mickey Mouse’s picture on the card, but it gives Disney fans (who know how to use it) greater rewards.
November 8, 2016 UPDATE: Many people have reported having their orders canceled when doing gift card to gift card purchases on Target.com. While some orders have gotten through, it appears unofficial Target policy is to prohibit gift card to gift card purchases online. You can still purchase gift cards with gift cards in stores.
November 28, 2016 UPDATE: For Cyber Monday, Raise is currently offering $10 off $100 purchases site-wide with coupon code CMRAISE – there are some good deals on all (not just Target) gift cards!
Kroger Fuel Points
For those of you near Kroger grocery stores, this is one of the better “everyday” ways to save on Disney gift cards (well, technically, you’re saving money on gas, but it’s because of the gift cards). Normally, every dollar you spend at Kroger earns 1 fuel point, or 2 fuel points on gift card purchases. On occasion, Kroger offers 4X fuel points (sometimes it’s for a period of weeks, sometimes for a single day), which really sweetens the deal.
For every 100 fuel points you redeem, you save $0.10 off every gallon of gas (up to $1/gallon off) you purchase on a single fuel purchase. The precise value of this deal varies based upon how large of a gas tank you’re filling (and how empty your tank), so obviously those with trucks and larger vehicles are going to do better here. Let’s say your gas tank has 25 gallons of empty space: the normal offer could be worth $25 for every $500 spent (5% savings). With the 4X deal, you’re looking at 10% savings. Stack this with a credit card that earns extra at grocery stores, and this can be one of the best deals out there when the 4X bonus is available.
While we use this for Disney gift cards, like many of the offers here, the same theory can be applied to a variety of other stores, including Target, Lowe’s, Southwest Airlines, GAP, iTunes, and Visa. Note to be mindful that the generic ‘Visa’ gift cards have an activation fee, which more or less kills the deal.
Even easier than the Kroger Fuel Points is the discounted Disney gift cards Sam’s Club and Costco sometimes sell. These gift cards (or packs of gift cards) aren’t always available, and when they are, the savings are usually 4-6%, but if you’re not too keen on the other methods (or don’t have Kroger near you), it can be a “better than nothing” scenario.
This deal can be sweetened if you have a Chase Freedom credit card, as wholesale clubs are one of the rotating 5X categories (this quarter, in fact). Speaking of credit cards, make sure you have the correct credit card when visiting your warehouse club of choice (Sam’s Club now accepts Visa; Costco stopped accepting AmEx last month). You don’t want to have to pay in cash, causing you to lose out on that bonus!
Another way to sweeten the deal is by combining the gift card churning with cashback shopping portals. There are a variety of these, and the percentages of cashback they offer can vary based upon what promos they’re offering, and the product purchased. I like to use cashbackmonitor.com or evreward.com for a quick “at a glance” comparison of the cashback portals.
I use cashback portals fairly regularly, but this typically does not hold true when it comes to gift card churning. Many retailers exclude gift cards from their cashback offers, and while you can still game the system to get cashback on gift card purchases (although they are technically excluded, the retailers and cashback sites often do not effectively communicate as to the substance of the order), it’s inconsistent. More importantly (for me, at least), I’ve heard stories of people being blacklisted from certain online retailers as a result of “manipulating” the cashback portals for their gift card purchase rackets. This is another “your mileage may vary” situation, so consider giving it a try for greater savings.
This is another option that can be leveraged in myriad different ways, and with cards that have nothing to do with Disney. If you’re really serious and/or crazy, you could go full circle and apply the principles gleaned here to do manufactured spends. I’m not going to go into further detail on that, as the line between that type of churning and “gift card laundering” is a thin one. Both sides of that “line” are totally legal, the latter might cause some headaches.
Disney Vacation Account
The last step of all might be consolidating all of your gift cards into the Disney Vacation Account. I say “might” because this is one I’ve yet to try. When Disney Vacation Account was announced a couple of years ago, I dismissed it out of hand as a gimmick for Disney to take a low-interest loan on money while people saved for vacation. By and large, that’s still what it is.
However, I’ve heard a few stories of people adding gift cards to a Disney Vacation Account to take advantage of the $20 gift card for every $1,000 deposited perk, and then using the Disney Vacation Account to pay for their vacation. The benefits to this are two-fold. First, there’s obviously the additional 2% back. Second, this seems like an effective way to consolidate the dozens of gift cards you otherwise might have into one convenient account. That sounds like a win-win proposition.
The potential downside is that there are limits to how the Disney Vacation Account can be used. Officially, it can be used for vacation package expenses (hotel bookings, Disney Dining Plan, etc.), meaning that you couldn’t use it for restaurant bills, room charges, or other purchases made in the parks. Unofficially, I’ve heard anecdotes of people using it to pay Disney Vacation Club dues and room charges under $500 (before the end of their trip). The account number is similar to a gift card number, so theoretically, it could be used anywhere that accepts gift cards.
The problem is that you’re not given an actual card (I’d jump on board in a second if that were the case), so success in using the number alone for payment is inconsistent. The DVA program seems as if it’s continually “evolving” so it remains to be seen what will work in the future. I’m tempted to give it a try before our next trip, as I could always get my gift cards refunded if it doesn’t work, but I don’t know if it’s worth the hassle.
As with all of these strategies, I’d recommend not doing this too far in advance of your trip; if you’re doing any of this 3 years in advance, you aren’t beating the system at all–you’d be better off making actual investments given typical ROI and the time value of money. I’d also recommend not tying up more money than you can afford to be stuck in limbo; if you’re paying interest on credit cards to fund this, you’re also losing in the grand scheme of things. Finally, be careful. While all of this is perfectly legal, businesses aren’t exactly “fans” of customers exploiting their policies. If you are cycling a lot of money through any retailer solely in gift card purchases, you might draw some attention to yourself, and risk catching their ire.
With all of that said, good luck leveraging these Disney gift card hacks to save a little more money on your Walt Disney World vacation! With a little work, these strategies can be incredibly valuable and make those exorbitant prices a little more palatable. Once you learn the ropes with using these tactics for Disney, think bigger picture. There are entire blogs and websites devoted to travel hacks, including churning, manufactured spends, etc. Once you get the hang of it, the possibilities are almost endless.
Likewise, if anything sounds confusing, feel free to ask questions–everyone starts from the beginning, and my explanations as someone who has been ‘hacking’ for a while might be insufficient for walking beginners through these processes from start to finish.
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Have you tried purchasing “discount” Disney gift cards to cut the cost of your vacation? Any other strategies you’ve used to save for a Walt Disney World trip? Questions about any of the techniques we’ve shared? We love hearing from readers, so please share some of your favorite ways to save, or any other thoughts or questions you have, in the comments!