Disclaimer: Some of the offers in this post may no longer be available. They were last confirmed to be available at the start of the month in the post title.
In this post, we'll give an example of how by getting four cards over the course of a year and putting a total of $14,000 on them, you can get a four-night trip to Walt Disney World, including flights, hotel, and park tickets for a family of four for $250. We then give you a quick plan for recouping that $250 to make the net cost of the trip FREE.
This is going to be the second in an ongoing series of posts on paying for a trip to Walt Disney World for a family of four entirely on points. Our previous, similar, hack, which I'm leaving posted for reference, required the Chase Sapphire Reserve's 100,000 point signup bonus. That bonus is still available in-branch, but it is no longer online. As signup bonuses and card perks come and go (and simply as we learn more), we'll have new posts.
Step 0 - Four Cards, 12 Months, $14,000, and 214,000 Points
The big difference between this hack and our previous post is that this hack requires you to have a partner, as you're each going to get the same cards. That's mostly due to the Sapphire Reserve's online signup bonus down to 50,000, after which the $450 annual fee for that card makes it a poor option for this hack. The other two differences are (1) we're cutting the trip down to 4 days and 4 nights and (2) our hotel is going from the Swan to All-Star Music. That is a downgrade on the hotel (of sorts), but keep in mind that we kept the old post up for a reason - as signup bonuses come and go (or just depending on your personal situation), you'll find different combinations work better. Moreover, if you're willing to work a little harder, there's no reason you couldn't use the same strategy to acquire Starpoints that we used in that post to stay at the Swan. Moving on...
If you and a partner can each get approved for the following two credit cards and you spend $14,000 in 12 months collectively on them, you can use the accumulated points to fund four nights in Disney World with flights and tickets for $250. We'll close this post by explaining how we'd recoup that cash to make the trip totally free. Let’s start with the three cards and the type of points you’ll have after you’ve gotten the signup bonuses.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred – 50,000 Ultimate Rewards Points for spending $4,000 in 3 months + 5,000 points for adding an authorized user (we recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred for new travel hackers here)
- Barclay Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard - 50,000 miles for spending $3,000 spending in 3 months (2x miles earned on each purchase)
Here are some important notes on earning the signup bonuses:
- We cover signup bonuses in one of our "Start Here" posts.
- To hit minimum spending, we do not suggest you engage in "manufactured spending." Rather, we advocate for just using your ordinary spending and being deliberate about which cards you put it on. We've got a post on hitting minimum spend in our "Start Here" series.
- To execute this portion of this hack, you're going to sign up for one of the indicated cards roughly every three months and use the following three months to hit the signup bonus. Altogether, that would take 12 months. If you can spend $3,000 to $4,000 in a month, then you'll be able to execute this hack in 4 months.
- If you cannot spend the $3,000 to $4,000 in three months, even after reading our post on minimum spend, you cannot execute this hack. Note that if you bought gift cards for 6 months of spending in 3 months to hit the limit, you could still execute this hack, it would just take extra time (or you'd be left with a years worth of gift cards at the end).
Once you've earned all your signup bonuses, since you also get the points from the spending itself, you'll end up with 118,000 Ultimate Rewards points and 112,000 Barclay miles.
Step 1 – The Hotel
You’re going to use the Chase Travel Portal to book 4 nights at All-Star Music for 36,508 points.
Note the value you get out of these points if 1.25 cents per point. This is because you signed up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which allows you travel redemptions at 1.25 cents per point in the Chase Travel Portal. You can combine cash and points when shopping in the Chase Travel Portal, so if you want to stay at another resort, you can do so, it will just add to the net cost of your trip.
Hotel Cost: 36,508 Ultimate Rewards Points
Step 2 – Park tickets
Getting maximum value from your cards for the park tickets is the trickiest part. Four-day magic your way tickets for two adults and two children costs $1,333.94 on Undercover Tourist. You're going to pay for 1 adult and 1 child on each of your Barclay cards. Since charges to Undercover Tourist code as "Travel," you'll be be able to use $560 in reimbursements from your 56,000 miles on each card. This results in a net cost of $213.94 for the tickets.
Park Ticket Cost: 112,000 Barclay Miles; $213.94 Charge
Step 3 – Flights
Using Kayak to search for flight prices from New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, I found that rates for 4 ranged from $880 to $940. Obviously airfare moves around a lot, so these are imperfect. The Chase travel portal allows you to redeem points at 1.25 cents per point spent on airfare. So $950 in flights would cost 76,000 Ultimate Rewards points. Unfortunately, you only have 71,492 points left. Those are worth $893.65 in travel. You'll wind up spending somewhere around $50 if you can't find flights on the lower end of our estimate. To smooth some numbers, we'll estimate $36.06 spent on flights.
Flight Cost: 71,492 Ultimate Rewards Points; $36.06 Charge
Step 4 – Adding it Up
You've now spent 112,000 Barclay Miles (all of what you had), 108,000 Ultimate Rewards points (again, all of what you had), and $250 in additional expenses.
Optional Step 5 - $300 Easy Dollars
If you want to wind up in the green on this whole endeavor, you and your partner can each sign up for one of the Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited. Those cards both have a $150 signup bonus after you spend $500 in three months.