Let’s get real for a second- Disney trips can be expensive. The first time Mitchell and I went, we saved for 18 months to drive down, stay in their “cheap” resort, get a few souvenirs, and be able to drink around the world (if we shared a drink and didn’t drink in every country!). We have learned a lot since then on random ways to score cheap Disney vacations, which can really lighten the financial burden of such a big trip!
First off, there are times of the year that Disney puts out amazing trip deals. When we went in 2018, we got 30% off our stay and a free meal plan, because we went in September. September and January are their slowest months of the year, so they are most likely to release deals for this time of year. Plus, the parks are way more empty than normal in these months. Win win!
We have learned to use a combination of different cash back/gift card apps, additional savings accounts, and rewards systems to get our cheap Disney vacations. Here are some of my favorite apps to use, that I have had true success with!
This is hands down, my favorite cash back app EVER! I never see it listed on any lists of survey or cash back apps, but it has given me the most success. Basically, every day that you open the app, you get $0.01. If you get a streak going over three days of opening the app in a row, you get $0.03 every day. Hit 75 days in a row and get a $1.50 bonus, and 150 days is a $3 bonus. Turn your location on for the app, and as you are driving around town or running errands, certain stores “zap” you. You will get a notification that you have been “zapped”, and you open the notification, view an ad (that you can immediately close out of), and get anywhere from $0.05 to $0.08.
We live in a medium sized area, and just going back and forth from work every day I get “zapped” probably three-five times. If that wasn’t cool enough, there are surveys you can take on the app too! I only do it when I’m really bored, but normally for a 1 minute survey you get $0.02 and for longer surveys you can get anywhere from $0.20-$0.50. I have had this app for about six months, and cashed out two $25 gift cards! I can not speak highly enough of this app.
To cash out, you have to hit $25. They have gift card options for Paypal, VISA, Amazon, Starbucks, and a few more. I normally get a Starbucks gift card, because they are usable in the parks!
This is an app that you can take your grocery receipts and turn them into “points”. Every time you go grocery shopping, you can scan your receipt. Each receipt gets you 25 points just for scanning! There are additional items that you get more points for purchasing, and they are always changing. There will be random receipt scanning bonuses as well, where you can scan a receipt and get 750 points! I receive the most points from these random receipt bonuses, as I mostly buy off brand products at the grocery store and those aren’t available for points.
You can cash out for gift cards after 3,000 points, and each 1,000 points is $1. They have $3, $5, $10, $25, and $50 gift cards. My favorite part about this app is the variety of gift card options! They have over 100 retailers for gift cards, including travel, retail, restaurants, entertainment, and VISA. Again, I normally get a Starbucks gift card to use for morning coffee in the parks, but they have Delta and Southwest gift cards available for flights, and Uber gift cards if you need to Uber on your vacation at all!
Sign up here and use my referral code for 2,000 points:
Referral code: FPY58
This is another receipt scanning app that functions the same as Fetch Rewards. But, Ibotta does not give you points/money every time you scan a receipt. They have certain times where you can scan a receipt for $0.10, but it is not always! I still always try to scan any grocery receipt using both apps, but I definitely get less out of Ibotta because I am not a brand name shopper. You can withdraw once you hit $20, and it will go right to your Paypal account. They also have $20 gift card options, some that are beneficial to your Disney vacation include Starbucks, Uber, Southwest Airlines, and many restaurants. Whenever I go grocery shopping, I scan my receipt in both Fetch Rewards and Ibotta.
Sign up for Ibotta with my referral code: ljomaky
Other Cash Back Apps
This is a random app that I found about a year ago, that I just keep stored in a folder on my phone. It basically links to many health and wellness apps, and tracks physical activity. You get a certain number of points based on how many steps you take, tracking your heart rate, any workouts done, and even logging your food in My Fitness Pal! There are also some questionnaires and surveys you can take. After 10,000 points, you cash out at $10 and it is sent right to your Paypal account. If you are someone who gets a lot of steps in and workouts regularly, you can probably get to 10,000 points pretty quickly!
This app is the easiest way to earn a lot of cash back if you are an online shopper. My mom has used this for years, and cashes out around Christmas time with at least a $50 check! Basically, you open the Rakuten app or visit their website before you make an online purchase. Go through Rakuten to search for your retailer, and click on their link to go to the website. Once you make your purchase, you get a certain percentage of cash back to your Rakuten app. You can cash out at $5, and they will send you a check in the mail. I love shopping on Amazon, and going through Rakuten has gotten me $10 cash back in the last 3 months!
Use my referral link to sign up and recieve $10 when you spend $25 at any retailer:
Mitchell and I ask for Disney gift cards for every single birthday and Christmas. A lot of our family members enjoy giving gift cards, and this is their new go to for us. For our first Disney trip, we had over $500 in Disney gift cards to use. We paid for everything using our Magic Bands, but every night we went to the front desk and applied the Disney gift cards to our balance. If you aren’t staying on property, Disney gift cards can be used anywhere in the parks.
My parents swear by a little trick to buy Disney gift cards for your trip over time, as $25 at the store 6 months before your trip feels like a lot less than spending hundreds all at once while on your vacation. If you do this, I suggest to buy your gift cards at Target or Sam’s Club! If you get the Red Debit Card at Target, you get 5% off your purchases. This includes gift cards. The debit card is linked to your checking account, so it acts like your bank’s debit card. No payments to be made later on! At Sam’s Club, buying gift cards in “bulk” saves you some change. A $50 gift card at Sam’s is $47.98, $150 gift card is $144.98, and a $500 gift card is $484.98. So, if you have saved up for a year and have $500 designated for your Disney trip, buying a $500 gift card at Sam’s gives you at least a free drink! Remember, when trying to score cheap Disney vacations, every penny counts!
You can combine multiple gift cards into one gift card at https://disneygiftcard.com/Manage. You can also see your balance and transaction history!
Financial Institution Rewards
I will let you in on a little secret here: I am a huge credit union enthusiast. This might come from 6 years of working at one, but if you take nothing else away from this post, let it be that you need to ditch your big bank and join a credit union. They have fewer and cheaper fees, better rates, and a small town feel. If that isn’t enough, a lot of them have amazing rewards programs.
So here is my favorite way to save for Disney- my credit union’s reward program. I earn reward points for a lot of things I just do, like using online banking, mobile banking, online bill pay, receiving eStatements, and getting a direct deposit. Plus I get 1 point for every $2 I spend on my debit card, and 1 point for every $1 I spend on my credit card. Once I hit 5,000 points, I can redeem for a gift card, and Disney gift cards are on this list! If I didn’t want a gift card, these points are also redeemable for flights and other travel! You need to check with your financial institution immediately to see what kind of rewards they offer, because you might actually be missing out on some money.
Disney Credit Card
Before our first Disney trip, Mitchell and I opened a Disney Credit Card through Chase Bank. While I think this has been one of our best ways to earn money so far, definitely be careful opening credit cards if you are a spender! I would suggest only getting this card if you will be able to pay it off each month, as our interest rate is 16.99%. This card also comes with a $49 annual fee, but if you are like us, you earn well more than that in rewards throughout the year. When we got the card, there was an offer for a $250 statement credit if we spent more than $500 within 3 months of opening. They normally offer something like this for new card holders, but it can range from a $100 credit to a $250 credit. This card also offers 10% off merchandise purchases over $50 in the parks, and 10% off select dining experiences. You also get 10% off at Disney stores.
Now, for rewards. You get 2% cash back on all Disney purchases, and at gas stations, restaurants, and grocery stores. For any other purchases, you get 1% cash back. These go into your account as Disney Rewards dollars. You can order your Disney Redemption card at any time, and load it with your Disney Rewards dollars. In the 14 months between our two Disney trips, we had over $250 in Disney Rewards dollars just from our normal purchases! Plus, you can use your Disney Rewards Redemption card just like a Disney gift card so on your hotel, tickets, or food/merchandise in the parks.
It is very hard to be financially prepared for a Disney vacation. We have an old coffee can where we save all our spare change and cash, and all of the gift cards I receive in various ways throughout the year. We also save each paycheck by putting aside a little bit of money into our separate vacation savings account. When trying to go for cheap Disney vacations, it helps to be prepared and have a system! If you have an app or website you use, let us know in the comments! We’d love to help as many people as possible. If you’ve tried any that we mentioned, let us know your thoughts!