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A website about using credit cards to experience Disney wouldn't be complete without a review of the only Disney-branded credit card, the Chase Disney Rewards Visa credit card. In this post we provide all the information about both Chase Disney Visa credit cards and the Chase Disney debit card to help you decide whether these cards are right for you!
The Basics About the Disney Chase Visa Cards
First thing's first, there are actually two Chase Disney Visa credit cards, the Disney Rewards Visa card and the Disney Premier Visa card. We compare the two versions throughout this post, but for most purposes, they aren't that different. Finally, there is a Chase Disney debit card, which we discuss later in this post.
The Disney Credit Card Is An Exclusive Product of Chase
Chase bank is the exclusive issuer of co-branded Disney credit and debit cards in the United States. If you are interested in applying for one of the two Disney credit cards, first finish this review, then head over to the official Chase website for information on applying for the cards.
The Disney credit cards are "co-branded." This means that the bank that issues them is Chase, but they partner with Disney so that cardholders get special perks, including the ability to earn Disney rewards dollars with every purchase (more on that below).
While Chase is the bank issuing the card, the best source of information about the cards is actually Disney's dedicated website at DisneyRewards.com. That site contains a good overview of the perks of the card.
But wait! Don't just leave us to go read their site! While they have more details about the rewards program and perks, you should keep reading this review to get a good sense of whether or not the card is right for you, including why we are cardholders and the very limited circumstances when we actually use our card.
Annual Fees for the Chase Disney Visa Cards
Depending on which of the two cards you pick up, your Disney credit card will have an annual fee of either $0 (Rewards Card) or $49 (Premier Card). Whether that $49 is worth it is basically a question of exactly what you'll put on the card, as we discuss below.
Signup Bonuses for the Disney Chase Visa Cards
[Last Updated May 20, 2018]
The Disney Premier card has a signup bonus of $200 statement credit after spending $500 in the first three months. The Disney Rewards card has a $50 statement credit after your first purchase.
Because the annual fee for the Premier card is only $49, you'll often be better off signing up for the Premier version, earning the signing bonus and then calling Chase to change to the no-fee option when your second year rolls around.
However, as of this update, we still have an active referral link for the no-fee Disney Rewards card for a $200 statement credit for spending $500 in three months. As long as this bonus is available, you're getting the maximum back without the annual fee.
Disney Chase Visa Credit Card Perks
The perks of the Disney Chase Visa credit card are where it really shines. This is the strong suit of the card, in our opinion. If you're a Disney fanatic, you can save hundreds of dollars using these perks.
The Disney Chase Visa cards are actually rare cards the we recommend getting just for the perks. The upside of the great perks is that you're able to get a lot of value out of the card very easily. The downside is that you will go 11 months without using the card, only to forget it the one time a year you need it. This is why our Disney Visa Card makes our list of 10 Disney essentials we always forget to pack.
Here are some of the major perk to consider when evaluating this card:
10% off select dining locations at Disney World and Disneyland
10% off select merchandise purchases at Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Store, and DisneyStore.com
15% off select tours, like our favorite, Keys to the Kingdom, at Disney World and Disneyland
15% off select spa treatments at Disney World, Disneyland, and Disney Cruise Line (20%)
10% off select Castaway Cay packages on Disney Cruise Line
Special character experiences at Disney World and Disneyland
Advance access to select discounts on Disney World vacations
Special 0% financing on select Disney vacation packages
It's important to note the frequent use of "select" in the above list. The Chase Disney Visa credit cards are not a panacea of benefits. You have to pay attention to which restaurants you're dining at, which spa treatments you're getting, and so on.
From discounts on dining and merchandise, the cash savings alone can make this card worth it. And while we don't recommend going into debt to finance a Disney vacation, the 0% financing will save you on interest if you are going to be doing so.
The vacation package discounts are a little trickier. They might seem like a great perk, but you'll be locked into using your Disney Visa card to purchase these packages through Disney. Some of the vacation offers can be pretty tempting, like this current special offer of fourth night free at Aulani:
When using the dining and travel discounts, you'll also miss out on the points you could earn putting your vacation on a card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which earns 3x Ultimate Rewards points on travel and dining. (But you'll get Disney Rewards Dollars, as we discuss below.)
Disney Rewards Program
The Disney Rewards program is the points program available to holders of the Chase Disney Visa credit cards.
Earning Disney Rewards Dollars
Individuals who use the Chase Disney credit cards for eligible purchases earn Disney Rewards Dollars on their purchases at a rate of 1 or 2 Disney "cents" per dollar spent. Specifically:
Disney Rewards Visa cardholders earn 1% back in Disney Rewards Dollars on all purchases
Disney Premier Visa cardholders earn 2% back at "gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants and most Disney locations" and 1% back on everything else.
Points left in your account expire 5 years after the month in which they're earned.
Redeeming Disney Rewards Dollars
You can redeem Disney Rewards Dollars using a Disney Redemption Card, which is a bit like a Disney gift card. Redemption cards have no expiration date, regardless of when you earned the points you put on them. Besides most Disney locations in the United States, redemption cards can be used for certain movie ticket purchases. Premier cardholders can also redeem their Disney dollars towards airfare.
Evaluating the Disney Rewards Program
One of the most common difficulties for Disney travelers is saving for their Disney vacation. Using a Disney credit card makes it a bit easier, as you earn Disney rewards dollars, not cash back or other points, as you spend. Now, let's be clear: Disney rewards dollars are not as flexible as points or cash back!! However, if your goal is to control how you're spending the money you get back from your credit card, you might want your points to be less flexible!
While the Disney Rewards Program can be really good if you really want to save for a Disney vacation and need to avoid spending that money elsewhere, the truth is that the card can be beat easily on the bottom line by some of the no-fee, 2% cash back cards out there.
If your travel needs are more complex (e.g. international travel) or you're trying to visit Walt Disney World for free using points, then you'll be so much better off with cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve, Citi Prestige, or American Express Starwood Preferred Guest that there isn't really a discussion to be had.
The Best Way To Earn Disney Rewards Dollars
As of May 2018, Chase is still allowing Disney Visa cardholders to earn referral bonuses. This is an awesome way to earn Disney rewards dollars.
The exact terms of your offer will vary, but basically Chase gives you a link to share with friends and family. If someone applies for the card through that link, you'll get a bonus of some amount of Disney dollars. While there is an upper limit on what you can earn, you can often get hundreds of Disney dollars this way.
Finally, what makes this even better is that many Disney Visa cardholders get special offers for their friends. That is, your friend can get a better signup bonus using your link than they'd get from the public offer. They'd be crazy not to help you earn more Disney dollars!!
Which Should You Get? Disney Rewards Visa vs. Disney Premier Visa
Choosing between these two Disney Visa cards is a straightforward affair. There is, unfortunately, some math involved.
Grab the Premier for the Signup Bonus
If you can put $500 on the card in the first three months, sign up for the Disney Premier Visa Card, earn the bonus, and plan to downgrade later. The $200 statement credit means you'll net $151 in your first year after the $49 annual fee. That's better than netting $50 by getting the statement credit for the Disney Rewards card.
(Again, as of this update, we still have an active referral link for the no-fee Disney Rewards card for a $200 statement credit for spending $500 in three months. This means you can get the better signup bonus without paying an annual fee.)
After having the card for a year, you will an all likelihood be able to downgrade the Premier to the standard Rewards card. If by some strangeness you cannot do so, you could cancel the card (which we don't advise because of the negative impact on your credit). However, for some people it will be worth it to keep the card. How do you know if you're one of them?
Estimate Your Spending To See If the Premier Makes Sense
If you spend $4900 or more each year at "gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants and most Disney locations," and you spend at least an average of $49 per year on Disney products (including vacations) or flights, you should keep the Disney Premier Visa Card.
This is simple math. The extra 1% on the quoted categories will offset the annual fee if you spend enough and can actually redeem the $49. But...
Consider Some Other Cards
The awkward part of this analysis is that if getting the Premier makes sense, you'll probably still find better value in other cards:
The Citi Double Cash Card earns 2% on all purchases (1% when you spend, 1% when you pay your bill)
The Amex Blue Cash Preferred Earns 6% on up to $6,000 at Supermarkets and 3% at Gas Stations
The Chase Freedom and Discover it regularly earn 5% on gas stations and groceries one quarter a year
Moreover, as we've discussed, the Disney Visa is not our favorite card to use for Disney vacations. Finally, you'll want to consider whether Chase's 5/24 rule will play into your decision to get the Disney Visa. I didn't even know about that rule when I signed up for the card, and it was a big loss for me in the long run.
Disney Chase Visa Credit Card Designs
This isn't something we normally consider in reviewing a card, but the Disney cards do come with some pretty cool designs. It's not the reason we would make the leap to getting the card, but it bears mention. Here's a screenshot of some of the offerings:
The designs to vary over time, so some of the above designs may not be available at any given moment.
Perks of the Disney Debit Card
The Disney debit card has many of the same perks that the credit card has, including 15% off select tours, 10% off select dining, and access to character greetings. It even has access to that "fourth night free" deal at Aulani we mentioned above.
Given that it has access to these parks, the debit card can be a great way to join the Disney cardholder family without having to open a new credit card, if that bothers you. Remember though, these are separate cards, and neither Disney nor Chase is bound to keep the offers anywhere similar.
Downside of the Disney Debit Card
The big reason to get the Chase Disney Visa credit card instead of the debit card is that, like all debit cards, the Disney debit card does not earn rewards points. That means you're leaving a one to two percent on the table every time you use it instead of the Disney credit card.
This is obviously why Chase and Disney offer the debit card to begin with. It actually saves them money on the rewards end of things. Ideally, they want people to convert to being credit cardholders, since that's where the real money is, and the debit card is a great introduction to the program.
Important Considerations and Conclusions
The Disney Chase Visa credit card has a spot in our wallets, for what that's worth. We use it almost exclusively for the perks, particularly the 10% dining perk. And that's what we think this card comes down to. We don't use it for everyday purchases, even for the categories that give it 2%. We use it for the perks.
The biggest factor against the card for serious travel hackers is the Chase 5/24 rule. That rule limits how many new Chase cards you can get in 24 months, which means if you're trying to earn lots of points through sign up bonuses, the Disney Chase Visa is a waste of one of your Chase cards.
Depending on how your overall credit card portfolio is shaping up, particularly whether you need to be concerned about Chase 5/24, the Chase Disney Visa can be a fine addition to your wallet. The discounts from the card are a great way to get value out of it, and at least you'll be earning some points when you put those discounted purchases on it.