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We're proud holders of the Chase Disney Rewards Visa.This might seem obvious. "Duh! You love Disney! You love credit cards! Why wouldn't you love the Disney credit card?!"
But there are actually several other credit cards that we love just as much when it comes to preparing for and saving big on our Disney vacations. In this post, we go through the credit cards we think Disney travelers need to be considering, and how they can fit into your Disney planning.
The Chase Disney Visa - Good for the perks
We’ll start with the Chase Disney Visa cards because they’re the most obvious cards that Disney travelers will consider.
Basics about the Chase Disney Visa
Annual Fee - $0 (standard) / $49 (Premier)
Issuing Bank - Chase
Rewards Program - Disney dollars (1% to 2% back)
Other Perks - Discounts on Disney merchandise and dining; special room / vacation package offers
Our review of the Chase Disney Visa card is here.
Brief Review of the Chase Disney Visa Cards
The Chase Disney Visa has some great perks. There are occasional room discount offers and dedicated character stops, but the 10% off dining is probably our favorite perk.
It is a good card if you can afford your trip but don’t want to be hit with the big bill all at once (0% interest for 6 months) or if you're a big spender on dining or merchandise at the resorts. The Chase Disney Visa cards also give you access to the Disney Rewards program, which allows you to earn Disney Rewards dollars you can spend on Disney vacations.
Best of all, the standard version of the card has $0 annual fee, and the premier version’s fee is only $49. If you’re hesitant about getting a card with a high annual fee and you’re looking for a good option for you wallet before your Disney vacation, the Chase Disney credit cards are good options.
Bottom Line - Chase Disney Visa Card
While we don’t use the card on a daily basis, it’s definitely worth having the no-annual-fee version in your pocket for the perks.
The Citi Prestige - Great for Hotel Savings
Basics about the Citi Prestige
Annual Fee - $450
Issuing Bank - Citi
Rewards Program - Citi ThankYou
Other Perks - $250 annual air travel credit; 4th Night Free
Our review of the Citi Prestige card is here.
Brief Review of the Citi Prestige Card
The Citi Prestige is one of our favorites cards for Disney vacations for one simple reason—4th Night Free. The Prestige’s 4th Night Free benefit is roughly what it sounds like: on hotel stays of 4 or more nights, you get 25% of the first four nights of your stay. You can now book Disney hotels using the 4th night free benefit online, which is easier (but sometimes more costly) than booking via the Citi Concierge by phone.
You can’t use 4th night free on trips of fewer than four nights, nor can you use it twice in one trip unless you split the trip over two hotels. A split stay is really easy to do at Disney World, where the luggage team will move your luggage between two hotels. We did this as part of saving over $2,000 on a Walt Disney World trip. 4th Night Free can even be combined with some Disney hotel deals, which adds up to huge savings!
The Prestige also comes with a $250 annual air travel credit, which can be applied toward airline tickets. This mostly serves to offset the $450 annual fee for the card. While we think this is a steep fee, it is easily offset by the annual travel credit and the 4th Night Free hotel benefit.
Bottom Line - Citi Prestige
We very rarely use the Citi Prestige for everyday spending. We usually put a flight or two on it to get the air travel credit and bring the out-of-pocket cost down to $200. Then we use 4th Night Free to squeeze even more value out of the card.
Chase Sapphire Reserve - Good For Dining and Hotels
Basics about the Chase Sapphire Reserve
Annual Fee - $450
Issuing Bank - Chase
Rewards Program - Chase Ultimate Rewards
Other Perks - $300 travel credit
Our review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card is here.
Brief Review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is our go-to for dining and travel expenses. This includes any Disney-related expenses that don’t go on the Citi Prestige (when we’re getting 4th Night Free) or the Chase Disney Visa (which has 10% discounts on various Disney things).
The big perk of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, as far as Disney trips go, is that it earns 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on dining and travel (including Disney hotels) that can be redeemed at 1.5 cents per point toward travel, including for stays at many hotels near Walt Disney World. Chase Ultimate Rewards points can no longer be used to book Disney-operated hotels (or to purchase other Disney travel products/packages), but they’re still incredibly valuable points.
If you're a Walt Disney World regular, you know how easy it is to put everything you purchase on your Magic Band. Since your Magic Band goes to your hotel bill, when you check out and pay with your Chase Sapphire Reserve, you'll be earning 3X points on your entire stay! The upside of the Chase Sapphire Reserve (and it’s sister card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred) is that you’re getting great return only carrying on card.
Bottom Line - Chase Sapphire Reserve
If you’re any sort of regular traveler, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is worth your consideration. Once you use the $300 travel credit, you’re only out $150 per year. If you’re a little more conservative, you might want to consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the Reserve’s lower-fee sister.
Chase & Amex Marriott / Starwood Cards - Good For the Swan & Dolphin
There are five cards, two issued by Chase under the Marriott Rewards brand and three issued by the American Express under the Starwood Preferred Guest brand, that can earn your points and free nights at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin.
Basics About the Marriott / SPG Cards
Annual Fee - $95 to $450
Issuing Bank - Chase / Amex
Rewards Program - Marriott Rewards
Other Perks - Varies
Brief Review of the Marriott / SPG Cards
These cards are good specifically for people looking to spend the night at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin. While they aren’t as lucrative as they were before the Marriott / Starwood merger, they are still one of the easiest ways to earn free nights at Disney. If you’re looking for an individual breakdown of the cards, check out our post on booking the Swan and Dolphin with points.
Bottom Line - Marriott / SPG Cards
Two banks, a host of restrictions on who can get the cards and bonuses, expensive rates for the Swan & Dolphin, poor earning on everyday spending—these factors add up to keeping us out of the Marriott game. If you’re a Marriott loyalist or looking to quickly earn the points for a stay at Swan & Dolphin, look more into them.
Let’s fill out this list with some cards that are maybe less powerful or well-rounded than our choices, but which you need to know about regardless.
Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited
The Chase Freedom earns 5% Cash Back (or 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards) on up to $6000 or purchases in categories that rotate every three months. The Chase Freedom Unlimited Earns 1.5% back (or 1.5X Chase Ultimate Rewards) on all purchases all the time.
If your pair these with the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preserved, you can easily get more than 2% back on all purchases.