This post reviews the Chase Disney Rewards Visa and Premier credit cards, the pros and cons of each card, and the perks cardholders receive at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and beyond. We’ll offer perspective on which credit card might be right for you…or if neither are. (Last updated March 4, 2018.)
There are a few differences between the Disney Rewards Visa credit card and the Disney Premier Visa credit card, but the primary one is that the Rewards card has no annual fee and offers 1% rewards, whereas the Premier card has a $49 annual fee and offers 2% rewards at gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, and most Disney locations, and 1% everywhere else.
For the past two years, the biggest perk of the Disney Visa credit card has been those who visit Walt Disney World in the early fall, as cardholders have received an extended selection of dates for the popular Free Disney Dining Plan promotion. We’d expect the same to hold true for Fall 2018. Plus, there’s currently a $200 sign-up bonus (after spending $500 in your first 3 months), which you can take advantage of with this referral.
Disney now has credit cards with chips in them for added security, as well as new designs featuring Frozen and Star Wars. We’ve had the Disney Visa credit card for nearly a decade, and have come to like it…for certain purposes. It’s not our primary, or even secondary, credit card, but it can come in handy. Read on to find out more about the perks offered by the card, and whether we think it’s worthy of your wallet or purse (or wherever you store your credit cards!).
As mentioned above, there’s now a second Disney Chase Visa Credit Card launched, dubbed the “Disney Premier Visa.” It’s more or less the same as the original Chase Disney Visa, except it offers 2% cash back on certain categories, has a $49/year annual fee, and allows redemption for airline tickets. These are the only two credit cards that Disney currently offers, although there is also a Disney Chase Debit Card.
Disney has had various credit cards associated with its name for years, dating all the way back to the 1990s when it American Express and its “White Glove Treatment” was the program of choice. After that relationship ended, Disney partnered with Bank One to create the Disney Visa Credit Card, which transmogrified into the two Disney Rewards Visa Credit Card from Chase that exist today.
Since these two credit cards are some similar in terms of perks except for the rewards, we aren’t going to bother reviewing them separately. Basically, you should get the “Rewards” card unless you will use the Disney credit card to charge over $4,900 worth of purchases per year in the 2% categories, in which case the extra 1% in rewards you’ll receive will exceed the $49 annual fee.
Now let’s take a look at the other rewards, and the pros and cons of the Disney credit cards…
Perks & Incentives
Most credit cards have a sign-up bonus, and the Disney Visa is no different. The amount varies based upon where and when you sign up. When we signed up, the bonus was $100, but I’ve seen it as low as $25 and as high as $150. Once a cardholder, the following are the benefits you can expect to receive (differences between the “Premier” and “Rewards” cards noted in parentheticals):
- 10% off merchandise purchases of $50 or more at certain Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line, and Aulani gift shops, as well as 10% off $50 purchases online at DisneyStore.com.
- 15% off tours at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland.
- 10% off certain recreation at Walt Disney World.
- 10% off certain restaurants at Walt Disney World and Disneyland.
- 10% off Castaway Cay recreation packages for Disney Cruise Line.
- 20% off select spa services aboard Disney Cruise Line.
- Exclusive character meet & greet locations at Epcot and Disney California Adventure, both only available to Chase Disney Visa holders. The characters at these locations are “random,” and you don’t know who you’ll get before entering the locations, but at both locations only a few characters appear.
- Exclusive Star Wars meet & greet locations in Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
- A free PhotoPass photo download when you visit the characters at the exclusive meet & greets.
- Discounts to Disney Broadway musicals.
- No interest for 6 months on theme park or cruise packages when charging the package to their Chase Disney Visa prior to arrival if booked through Disney or by a Disney-authorized travel agent.
- No annual fee (obviously the Premier card differs in that it has a $49 annual fee).
As with most credit cards, the primary benefit of the card is its reward dollars. The Chase Disney Visa credit cards call these “Disney Dream Reward Dollars.” With the Rewards card, they are equal to 1% of all purchases charged to your card (so $1 back for every $100 spent). With the Premier card, rewards are 2% at gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, and most Disney locations, and 1% everywhere else (so $2 back on a $100 bill at Le Cellier, but only $1 back on $100 spent at Amazon.com).
With both the Rewards and Premier credit cards, you can redeem these Reward Dollars for most purchases you make at the theme parks and on the Disney Cruise Line, including on park tickets, merchandise, hotel. You can also use the Reward Dollars at the Disney Store or DisneyStore.com. With the Premier card only, you can redeem Reward Dollars for airline tickets in the form of a statement credit (in other words, use the credit card to pay for the flight, and Disney will refund the purchase and deduct the points from your account).
In addition to the official discounts and perks, there are some other, less-known perks that come with the Chase Disney credit cards. Card holders often are given a 2-3 day advance window to purchase certain discount packages offered at Walt Disney World. The biggest of these used to be the free Disney Dining Plan promotion, but for the last two years (including 2017), instead of an advance booking window, a week of extra dates were offered to the promotion for cardholders. We expect this trend to continue, with extra dates in August 2018 for Disney Visa Cardholders.
For a while, three or four times a year we would receive notices via US mail or email that we could receive 3X or 5X rewards for certain purchase categories, such as gasoline, dining, or groceries if we spent over a certain amount of money per month. Sometimes, the thresholds were set sufficiently high that we would have had to spend more money than normal to reach them. Other times, the thresholds were quite low.
We most recently received one of these last summer. If we used the Disney Visa Card to pay eligible utility bills, we’d earn 4% on those bills through August 31, for a maximum of $500 rewards back. Not too shabby.
We’ve also received promotion offers for a $300 credit at Disney’s Aulani Resort in Hawaii, plus savings of up to 30% off for cardholders. While we won’t be taking advantage of either promotion, it’s good to see Disney is offering more perks for its Disney Visa Cardholders.
The most recent special offer we received was in March 2018 to redeem our reward dollars for a screening of A Wrinkle in Time at AMC Theaters. This was special in the sense that it allowed us to redeem reward dollars at a non-Disney location, but there was no discount on the tickets or anything.
The decision to open a new line of credit should not be taken lightly, and certainly shouldn’t be made on the basis of whether you will receive a “cute piece of plastic with a castle on it.” Opening a new credit card will have a negative short-term impact on your credit score, and poor credit card management can have disastrous results. Using credit cards to earn rewards is only a pragmatic strategy if you can and will pay the balance of the card off in full each month. Otherwise, interest rates fully negate any benefit you may accrue from the card. However, I’m not here to lecture anyone, so I’ll cut to the chase regarding whether I think the Disney Chase Visa credit cards are worth having.
When it comes to reward dollars, these aren’t good credit cards for primary use. Almost anyone with a reasonable credit score is eligible for cards that offer better returns, and are less restrictive on where you can spend the rewards. Believe, me: I know there is allure in pulling out a cool Disney card to pay for purchases and in having part of your Disney vacation “free” thanks to these rewards.
However, what’s the difference between reward dollars specifically reserved for Disney and reward dollars that are usable elsewhere? If I get another card that offers rewards at Lowe’s at a rate of 2%, every $50 I could have earned in rewards by using the Disney Visa will be $100 at Lowe’s. Since I shop at Lowe’s anyway, I can set aside the $100 I would have paid in cash at Lowe’s in a “Disney fund.”
$100 for your Disney trip certainly should sound more appealing than $50 for your Disney trip, even if the $50 is on a “special” Disney card. My point here is that you shouldn’t let the psychology of the Disney Reward Dollars being “reserved” for Disney make the card overly-appealing. It can be a good credit card for Disney or for travel, but it’s not the end-all, be-all of credit cards.
Even among travel credit cards, it’s not very good. We travel to Walt Disney World a lot, but we also travel elsewhere, too. For us, we’ve found a variety of other credit cards serve our needs better. You can read about these in our Best Credit Cards for Travel post. Even if you only travel to Walt Disney World or other Disney destinations, you have non-Disney expenses like airfare that can make those cards much better options.
This does not mean that you shouldn’t get a Disney Visa card. The Disney Visa credit cards are great secondary or specialized use credit cards, namely for those who are serious Disney fans. The real benefit of the Disney Visa is the the multitude of other perks. The discounts at the parks, the non-interest for 6 months on Disney trips, and character meet & greets all have their allure, as well.
Since we only hold the Disney Visa credit card for its other benefits and not rewards, we don’t have the Disney’s Premier Visa. However, we also usually have 8 credit cards between us, and we charge very little to our Disney Visa since we do most of our spending with better performing cards. If you don’t expect to have many credit cards and think you’ll be able to hit the $4,900 threshold on the Disney Visa, we’d recommend getting that card.
Overall, I think the Chase Disney Visa presents sufficient benefits for most hardcore Disney fans to justify having one. It shouldn’t be your primary credit card, though, but rather one you store away in your wallet to serve as an additional line of credit and for ancillary perks.
Do you have a Disney Visa credit card? Which one, the Disney Rewards Visa or the Disney’s Premier Visa? Any questions about these credit cards this post didn’t answer? Share your thoughts about these credit cards in the comments!