In my teenage years, I went to both the Hong Kong and Tokyo Disneyland. They were wonderful and magical places. Also, those turkey legs are so delicious. Fastpass was glorious and it truly was the happiest place on earth. However, I’ve never gone to Disney World. Isn’t it time I did?
As an adult, I started planning my trip to Disney World but realized how expensive it was to get there. I learned how to travel for free in college with points and miles and so I never wanted to travel if I couldn’t do it for free. So I put Disney World on the back burner and decided not to go for a while.
The good news? All that waiting let me come up with a blueprint to get to Disney World for free! 😀
In this guide, we’re assuming you’re at least 2 adults since no one goes to Disney World alone. This is because we’re assuming you’ll share a room. I’ll also include extra steps to get up to two children in for free if you’re a family. Don’t have a significant other to partner with? Find a friend! As long as you have someone to share a room with, you’re all set.
- 1 Free Travel To DisneyWorld – Airfare or Plane Tickets
- 2 Free Tickets To DisneyWorld
- 3 Why Is It Better To Stay In A DisneyWorld Resort?
- 4 Free DisneyWorld Hotel Stay In The Park
- 5 What About Food or Souvenirs?
Free Travel To DisneyWorld – Airfare or Plane Tickets
I played around with flights from all sorts of cities that fly round-trip to Orlando, and I couldn’t find one higher than $400 per ticket, so that’s my max assumption of your ticket costs if you live in the 48 contiguous states. If people reading this are from Hawaii/Alaska and are curious how to do this portion, feel free to send me a message or comment and I’ll look into it and add it here.
If you’re planning out your flights in advance, there shouldn’t be a problem getting tickets for this price. I did research on domestic flights and redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards points are the best bang for your buck. Don’t have any? We’ll show you how to get some for free. The CSP card offers 50,000 UR points for its sign up bonus.
Chase Ultimate Rewards Are The Best Domestic Points for Travel
Here’s a breakdown on why getting Chase Ultimate Rewards are the best for domestic flight redemptions:
- Chase UR points are worth 1.25–1.5 cents per point when redeemed for travel. This is the best redemption for domestic flights IMO.
- Chase UR points can be transferred 1:1 to British Avios, United, Southwest and Virgin for airline partners.
- Southwest is a revenue based program. It’s worth 1.28 cents per point. The card sign-up bonus offers 40,000 points vs the CSP’s 50,000. Plus UR points transfer to Southwest, so you always have that option open.
- British Avios round-trip flights are 15,000 points for flights less than 1,000 miles. I mention this because it is a American Airlines and Alaska partner, so you can book flights via Avios for those for American or Alaska. That’s $187-$225 in UR points. If a Avios redemption is a better deal, you can always just transfer UR points to Avios.
SkypesosSkymiles are just not really good redemptions, so really, let’s just leave it at that.
- United requires at least 20,000 miles for a roundtrip US domestic flight for trips less than 701 miles, which is the equivalent of $250-$300 in UR points. United requires 25,000 miles for domestic flights longer than that, which is equivalent to $312-$375. In both cases, you can find airfare for cheaper than these dollar amounts. If you can’t, United points are transferable via Chase UR points, so you can always go that route.
- Jetblue points are worth up to 1.3 cents for economy flights, but the card sign-up bonus is only 10,000 points.
So not only is the CSP card the best card overall, but it has the best sign-up bonus as well. A real no-brainer! The option to transfer your points to a ton of different airlines and hotels makes it a really appealing card. I always try to fly the cheapest airline, whether it be in actual dollars or points redemptions, so this card is awesome.
So, how does one get Chase Ultimate Rewards points? The easiest way is through the Chase Sapphire Preferred (CSP) card if you’re worried about paying an annual fee on credit cards.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Benefits
The CSP does not have a fee for the 1st year, but has a fee of $95 for every year onward. You get 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in 3 months. You also get 5,000 bonus points when you add an authorized user and they make their first purchase. If you and your partner each add each other as an authorized user, you get a total of 110,000 points between both of you. Yes, you can both have the card and both add each other as an authorized user.
You get 1.25 cents per point when you book via their travel portal. That’s $737.5 you can book via the travel portal per card opened when you make the 3 month minimum spend and add an authorized user who makes their first purchase. That’s $1,475 in travel credit for the both of you if you both get the card.
Other benefits of the CSP:
- 2x rewards on transportation and dining (which includes Uber, the subway, trains, etc).
- Transfer your CSP points to 13 different airline and hotel point programs – British Air, United, Southwest, Virgin, Air France, Iberia, Air Lingus, Singapore, and Korean Air for airfare. Hyatt, IHG, Marriott, and Ritz Carlton for hotels.
- Free rental car insurance (no more paying that pesky daily insurance fee – we save $10+ per day with this when renting).
- No foreign transaction fees
- Trip delay insurance up to $500 a ticket (we’ve used this once in Miami when our flight was delayed a day)
- Trip cancellation/interruption insurance up to $10,000 per trip for nonrefundable tickets or lodging.
- If your baggage is lost or delayed, you get $100 per day up to 5 days to spend on clothing and other essentials.
The CSP is an awesome card to use every day due to all its perks above and the fact that it doesn’t have a fee for the first year – it’s only $95 after that!. However, for those who don’t mind paying a fee upfront and getting the money back in travel credit, there’s a second card called the Chase Sapphire Reserve with some extra perks.
Though it does have a much higher annual fee at $450, you get $300 in travel (Ex: Uber, trains, airfare, gas, Airbnb, etc) credit reimbursed. So that means the CSR costs $55 more than the CSP after the first year. However, it does have some extra perks, which I’d recommend for couples or families that travel a few times per year. For me, that extra $55 net I pay is more than worth it. If you don’t travel or eat out as much, it might not be worth it to you.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Vs Chase Sapphire Reserve
Perks the CSR has that the CSP does not have:
- 3x rewards on transportation and dining (vs just 2x for the Preferred)
- Unlimited Priority pass, which means access to business class lounges in the network — usually this costs upwards of $25 per lounge visit
- Free Global Entry/TSA Precheck – ie, skip the super long line every time.
- 1.5 cents per point vs just 1.25 cents per point for the CSP, so a 20 percent increase in redemption
Your flights to DisneyWorld can be covered by either the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve, but if you’re a big spender and traveler, the CSR might be a better card to open. If you’re unsure of how much you spend, apply for the CSP, which doesn’t have a fee the first year, and you can always product change to the CSR next year for free.
If you’re a couple, you’ll probably only need to open one card to get enough to get you and your partner to Orlando for free. If you’re in a family, you might need to open two.
It also depends on where you are. Looking at tickets from NYC to Orlando, the lowest airfare is $125. One card is more than enough for that route, even for a family, and you’ll still have extra dollars left over.
If you live in SF, tickets cost roughly $300 — if you’re a couple, you’ll still only need one card. If you’re a family, you might need to open two cards then, but you’ll get $1,475 total in travel booking, so you simply keep your points until your next big vacation.
The Chase Sapphire cards are my absolute favorite to use on an every day basis. I use the CSR for my dining and travel purchases so I always have a healthy reserve of Chase UR points to redeem.
Free Tickets To DisneyWorld
Disney tickets are pretty pricey, and will run you about $80 a day for an adult. The discount for a child is only a few bucks a day.
We’ll be purchasing DisneyWorld tickets from Undercover Tourist, which gives a small discount through its travel agency. This is important, because we need the purchase to code as a “travel” purchase because some credit cards only offer credits against travel.
If you’re a couple, tickets for 5 days will run you $790.56. If you’re a family of 4 with 2 kids, tickets will run you $1,543.30 for 5 nights. Ouch. But no worries!
There are two main cards that offer travel credit for travel purchases.
The first card is the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. It’s currently offering 50,000 miles for signing up. You earn 2x miles per dollar on all purchases and there’s no annual fee the first year (2nd year it’s $95, so you can decide if it’s worth it to keep). The minimum spend is $3,000 in 3 months, so that means you’ll get $560 worth of travel credits for each card you guys open that you can use against your Disneyland tickets! That’s $1,120 total in travel credits for the both of you. If you have the personality that just wants cash back on travel, this can be your go-to card after you meet minimum spend. For some, the thought of figuring out airline miles or hotel points can be daunting.
The Venture card basically offers 2% cashback on travel, which is an easy rule to keep track of.
If you’re a couple you both get the Capital One Venture Rewards card, you only need $790 for both your tickets. The extra $330 can go towards a flight or other travel expense in the future.
If you’re a family of four and need $1,543.3 for your tickets, don’t fret! We’re not done yet.
The second card that offers travel credit is called the Barclaycard Arrival Plus. Right now the sign-up bonus is 60,000 miles. The minimum spend is $5,000 in 3 months. You get two miles per dollar spent and get 5 percent of your miles back for your next redemption. With each mile being worth a cent, that’s $700 in travel credit bonus per card opened, plus $35 extra for the 5% rebate. You can only redeem travel credits that are more than $100, but in our case, we’re way over that so it’s fine.
Though both the Capital One Venture and BarclayCard Arrival+ offer 2 % cashback on travel credit, the different is the BarclayCard offers a 5% rebate while the Capital One card does not. Also, the Capital One Venture doesn’t have a minimum redemption rule while the BarclayCard has a $100 minimum.
The annual fee is not waived for the first year. It’s $89.
Why Is It Better To Stay In A DisneyWorld Resort?
It’s important to actually stay in DisneyWorld because you get “Extra Magic Hours”, which get you up to an extra hour in the morning and two hours in the evening on certain days and areas of DisneyWorld. Only people staying at a DisneyWorld resort are allowed to be in the park at this time. Shorter lines, fewer people, great times!
You also get access to FastPass+, which means you can book up to 3 rides per day 60 days before you check-in to your hotel. Do you want to spend your time at DisneyWorld in line or skipping to the front? You don’t want to spend hours in line for the most popular rides. People who are not staying at a DisneyWorld resort can only reserve rides 30 days in advance. The most popular ride reservations are usually long gone by then, taken by those with FastPass+.
More benefits to staying in the Disney World Resorts:
- If you’re a family, but just want one night alone as a couple, you can use the Children’s Activity Center in the evenings if you’re staying at a Disney World resort.
- You’ll get access to transportation in the park, such as the Friendship Boat water taxi.
- Free delivery of your purchases to your resort if you stay in Disney World.
Free DisneyWorld Hotel Stay In The Park
The large chain hotels all have rewards programs for hotel points. The vast majority also have credit card bonuses and ways to earn more points when spending with that credit card.
Why is this awesome? There are two hotels in Disneyworld that you can redeem on hotel points. They’re called the DisneyWorld Swan and Dolphin resorts. You can redeem them on Starpoints because they are Starwood properties. You also get the 5th night free when redeeming 4 consecutive nights.
How Do You Get Starpoints?
Since Marriott and Starwood merged a couple of years ago, they’ve been working out a transfer ratio between the two hotels. You can now transfer 3 Marriott points into 1 StarPoint for a 3:1 ratio.
The current sign-up bonus for the Marriott card is 80,000 bonus Marriott points. If you and your partner both sign up for the Marriott card, you get 80,000 bonus Marriott points, which translates to 28,333 Starpoints per person after meeting the minimum spend. For both of you, that’s 56,667 Marriott points.
For the Marriott sign-up bonus, you need to meet a minimum spend of $5,000 in 3 months.
Swan & Dolphin Redemption
For the Swan and Dolphin hotels, it costs 12,000 Starpoints per night for off-peak nights and 16,000 Starpoints per night for peak nights. For 2019, peak nights are 1/1/19-3/12/19 for these two hotels. If you can manage to go after March 12th, 2019, you can get a 25% discount on the number of Starpoints needed. On the bright side, if you don’t go during peak season, there will be less people in the park!
For a five night stay at either the Swan or Dolphin, it’s only 48,000 Starpoints, which you have enough for with the two cards. You’ll have an extra ~9,000 points, which you can use for future hotel redemptions.
There is a $95 annual fee for the Marriott Card, but you get a free night every year for any hotel under 35,000 points per night. There are 9 hotel categories for Marriott, and using the 35,000 points rule rule, you’d be able to book up to a normal hotel room up to category 7 or a saver reward up to category 8. You can save your Marriott night for your next vacation, where hotels in the category 7 to 8 range cost several hundred dollars a night.
What About Food or Souvenirs?
You should have extra points to net against daily food spend, but you could pack little picnics and eat with your family outside in the picnic area if you’re super frugal. Though, since the rest of the trip was free, it might be ok to chill a little bit and spend some on food and souvenirs.
- There are park employees passing out stickers
- Take pictures with Disney characters and put them in a scrapbook
- Sorcerer’s of the Magic Kingdom offers free playing cards. Everyone in your party can get them!
- Chase credit card holders get a special meet and greet at Epcot studios – more reason to get the Preferred
- or Reserve
- Free journal and stickers for the Wilderness Explorer attraction
- Free postcards from resorts
- If it’s someone’s birthday, you get a pin, button, and special songs sung to you.
- Be a train conductor and receive a “conductor card” if you’re a kid
Food Saving Tips:
- Eat a big breakfast at the breakfast buffets in your resort
- Most food at restaurants with service exist for cheaper prices at a grab and go restaurant. If you don’t care about ambience, try to avoid service restaurants. Prices for quick service restaurants average $15 a meal with dessert, while restaurants with service can cost upwards of $40+
- Order an entree (no side or drink) at a quick service restaurant to save money. They won’t have the price listed so you can ask!
- There’s free iced water at quick service restaurants. Or bring your own bottled water but that can be heavy!
- Free soda at Club Cool
- Birnbaum’s publishes a Disney guide each year with coupons in the book for some free food (mostly appetizers or snacks) and 10-20% off meals at specific restaurants.
- Mccormick and Schmick’s has gift cards up to 15% off on Raise
- . These are usable at the Rainforest Cafe’s and Yak and Yeti. The good news is you can buy the card on your phone, so you don’t have to guess at how much you’re going to spend.
- Go to a buffet right before lunch. You’ll pay breakfast prices for lunch.
i hope your travels are magical! Let me know if you have any other tips!
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