Editor’s rating: 3.3/5
If the House of Mouse is your happy place, you may be thinking about getting a Disney-branded rewards credit card. Disney cards come in two flavors: the no-fee Disney Rewards® Visa® Card and Disney’s Premier Visa® Card, which has an annual fee of $49 and throws in some additional perks for the price.
Neither version of the card deserves top-of-wallet status, however. Anyone seeking a FastPass to savings is more likely to benefit from a card with a rewards structure that can put more Mickeys in your pocket than the lackluster earnings of these cards.
Disney credit cards: Basics and benefits
The two cards at a glance:
On both cards, your rewards come in the form of Disney Reward Dollars. They can be redeemed toward Disney theme park visits, Disney cruises, Disney and “Star Wars” movies, and shopping at Disney’s online and brick-and-mortar stores. If you have Disney’s Premier Visa® Card, you can also redeem rewards for a statement credit toward airline travel.
Both cards charge a foreign transaction fee of 3% (keep that in mind if you’re headed to Disneyland Paris). As of May 2018, the ongoing APR on each card was 17.49%.
Where the Disney credit cards shine
Exclusive cardmember benefits
Holders of either card get access (for themselves and up to five additional people) to exclusive Disney and “Star Wars” character meet-and-greets at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. If you’re the kind of person who cherishes magical moments like these, this perk might be reason enough to carry a Disney card. Outside of the parks, you can also get invitations to events at your nearest Disney store.
Discounts and savings
The cards also offer discounts, which can be notoriously hard to come by at the Happiest Place on Earth. Cardholders save 10% on select merchandise purchases of $50 or more at select locations within the resorts and also 10% off select merchandise at Disney Store locations and shopDisney.com. Select dining locations within the parks also offer 10% off when you use your card, but it should be noted that there are blackout days when that discount isn’t available.
The cards get you a juicy 15% off select guided tour and recreation experiences at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. The savings here can be significant. For example, a one-day Ultimate Day of Thrills VIP Tour can cost up to $349 per person before tax, which means cardholders would save about $52.
0% Intro APR offer
Finally, if you don’t want to have to pay for your entire vacation all at once, the cards come with an intro 0% APR offer good for six months after each time you buy a qualified Disney resort package, cruise or vacation-ownership package. That’s six months of breathing room to whittle down a bill that’s likely to be several thousand dollars.
Where the Disney cards fall short
Less-than-stellar rewards rates
Depending on how you spend, you could probably save more overall with a cash-back card that offers a flat rate in all areas of spending. The 1% earnings rate of the Disney Rewards® Visa® Card just seems, well, goofy compared with no-fee cash-back cards that have higher earning potential, like the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer which gives you 1% back when you spend and another 1% when you pay the bill. And a whole slew of cards offer 1.5% cash back on everything.
The Premier version of the card offers slightly better value, as it earns 2% at gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants and most Disney locations. All other spending earns 1%. With Disney’s Premier Visa® Card, you can also use your rewards as a statement credit toward airline travel, which might make the overall cost of your vacation a bit easier to swallow. Redemptions start at 50 Disney Reward Dollars for a $50 airline statement credit. Keep in mind that you’d have to spend at least $2,450 per year in the 2% categories on the Premier to break even on the annual fee.
With Disney’s Premier Visa® Card and the Disney Rewards® Visa® Card, your earnings can be used only on qualified Disney or “Star Wars” spending or, in the case of Disney’s Premier Visa® Card, as a statement credit toward airfare. You might find it much easier to just earn cash back to spend any way you like or earn general travel rewards to book your hotel, flight or cruise. The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, for example, gives you 2 miles per dollar spent on anything; miles can be redeemed for credit against any travel expense at a rate of 1 cent apiece. It comes with a substantial sign-up offer: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel. The annual fee is $0 for the first year, then $95.
Disney Reward Dollars also expire after five years, which means if you were hoping to accumulate a stash of points over time to pay for a once-in-a-lifetime Disney trip, you’d better make sure you do it within that time frame.
The process of redeeming rewards is cumbersome. Once you’ve accumulated a minimum of 20 Disney Reward Dollars, you can contact Chase and order a Disney Rewards Redemption Card, which functions similarly to a prepaid card but can be used only on qualifying purchases. You can either wait for the card to be mailed to you or pick it up from Guest Relations at a Disney theme park. You need to have earned at least 10 Rewards Dollars to reload the card.
Is a Disney credit card right for you?
For anyone who spends or plans to spend a big chunk of money on a Disney trip, or for frequent park hoppers, these Disney cards could provide solid savings and benefits. Someone who has an annual park pass or takes a Disney cruise every year, for example, may find that the discounts and perks are worthwhile.
But if a visit to Mickey and friends is more of a once-in-a-lifetime thing and you rarely buy the merch, a general-purpose cash-back or travel rewards card is likely to provide more value.
Information about the Disney’s Premier Visa® Card and the Disney Rewards® Visa® Card has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been provided or reviewed by the issuer of these cards.