The best credit cards for your Disney vacation

11 April 2023

Let’s face it: Disney vacations can be expensive. There’s no pixie dust to magically make the costs cheaper.

However, there are strategies you can use to save money and earn extra rewards from your trip. Whether you’re traveling solo as a Lost Boy or are vacationing with the entire Familia Madrigal, using the right credit card can take some of the sting out of constantly rising costs associated with a trip to the most magical place on earth.

Here’s a look at the best credit cards for Disney trips.

Where you buy Disney tickets matters

Before we jump into the best credit cards for Disney spending, it’s worth pointing out that the right credit card for your Disney trip could change during your trip, as it depends on what you’re paying for and where you are paying. More precisely, it depends on how that transaction codes on your credit card.

The most likely bonus categories for theme park tickets are entertainment and travel.

When purchasing park tickets directly from the theme park, or, say, Disney World annual passes as they go on sale again for the first time in over a year, the charge should code as an entertainment purchase. On some credit cards, entertainment will code as a travel charge, though that’s not typical.

This purchase of Disney tickets coded as entertainment. CHASE.COM

However, if you purchase park tickets from a travel agency (such as Undercover Tourist), charge them to your hotel room or include them as part of a larger vacation package, the odds are high that the purchase will code as a travel charge.

Related: Why you might want to use a Disney vacation planner

Why does this matter? If you pay with the Chase Sapphire Reserve and your $500 ticket purchase codes as travel, you’ll earn 1,500 Ultimate Rewards points (3 points per dollar on travel). If the purchase codes as entertainment, you’ll earn just 500 points (since the card doesn’t have a bonus category for entertainment). If you wanted to use some of that card’s annual $300 travel credit toward your purchase, how it codes matters.

Related: How to save a lot of money by renting Disney Vacation Club points

Conversely, a reduce-the-wait Lightning Lane purchase codes as entertainment, so you should use your best credit card for entertainment expenses for that purchase.

A Lightning Lane purchase should code as entertainment on your credit card. CHASE.COM

Best credit cards for Disney

There are multiple elements involved in your trip. Here’s an overview of the best credit cards for Disney, depending on which expenses you’re looking at:

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card: Best for covering purchases with points for those with Preferred Rewards status.
Bilt Mastercard®: Best no-annual-fee card for using points to pay for Disneyland (see rates and fees).
Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card*: Best for cash back on theme park tickets.
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit CardBest for using a travel credit on Disney hotels.
Chase Sapphire Reserve: Best for using a travel credit for hotels or hotel-and-ticket packages.
Citi Premier® CardBest for discounts on Disney hotels through the Citi Travel portal.
Citi Prestige® Card*: Best for a fourth night free on Disney hotels in the Citi Travel portal.
Disney Premier Visa Card*: Best for earning and redeeming Disney Rewards Dollars toward on-property hotels and park tickets.
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card*: Best for extra perks on stays at Hilton hotels and resorts near Disney parks.
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® CardBest for stays at Hilton hotels and resorts near Disney parks.
IHG Rewards Premier Credit CardBest for stays at IHG hotels and resorts near Disney parks.
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit CardBest for stays at Marriott hotels and resorts near Disney parks.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card: Best for extra perks on stays at Marriott hotels and resorts near Disney parks, thanks to Platinum status.
The Platinum Card® from American ExpressBest for using hotel credits and unlocking additional perks at luxury properties near Disney.
World of Hyatt Credit CardBest for stays at Hyatt hotels and resorts near Disney parks.
Wyndham Rewards Earner® Plus CardBest for stays at Wyndham hotels and resorts near Disney parks.

*The information for these cards has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Riding through “it’s a small world.” KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

Best credit cards for using a travel credit at Disney

If you want to use the annual $300 Chase Sapphire Reserve travel credit on a Walt Disney World or Disneyland trip, book a hotel or hotel-and-tickets package directly with Disney or via a travel agent, such as TPG’s partner Mouse Counselors.

If all you want is Disney theme park tickets, you can use your travel credit on purchases from a travel site like Undercover Tourist instead of purchasing directly from Disney. In this way, your purchase should code as travel, triggering your Sapphire Reserve’s travel credit.

The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card also offers up to $300 in annual travel credits, but you need to book via Capital One Travel to use this perk. Luckily, this site often includes Disney World hotels in its booking options.

For no-cost assistance booking your Disney vacation, you can contact TPG’s travel booking partner Mouse Counselors.

CAPITALONE.COM

Two Citi credit cards also have credits that can knock down the costs of your next Disney trip: the Citi Prestige Card (no longer open to new applicants) and the Citi Premier Card. Citi Premier cardholders receive a once-per-year $100 credit for hotel bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, with Citi Travel.

Citi Prestige cardholders can use their fourth-night-free perk twice a year for bookings in Citi’s travel portal. Luckily, most Disneyland and Walt Disney World hotels appear in this portal.

Lastly, those with The Platinum Card from American Express can use up to $200 in hotel credits annually for bookings with Fine Hotels + Resorts and The Hotel Collection. Select Disney properties near Disney World and Disneyland qualify, such as the JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek, Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Disney World and the Westin Anaheim Resort. Enrollment is required.

Best credit cards for using points on Disney tickets

Let’s start with the bad news: Not all credit card points work for a trip to Disney.

American Express Membership Rewards points aren’t very useful for Disney tickets. However, Bilt Rewards points, Capital One miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards points and Citi ThankYou points are very handy — though in differing ways.

With Bilt Rewards, you can currently book Disneyland and Disneyland Paris tickets in its portal in the “Activities” section.

Disneyland ticket pricing with Bilt Rewards. BILTREWARDS.COM

With Capital One Travel, you can book Disney hotels and pay with miles at a rate of 1 cent apiece.

However, since you can use your miles to offset any travel charge on your card, you can book directly with Disney or elsewhere (as long as it codes as travel) and use points at a rate of 1 cent per mile to reimburse yourself. The same applies to reimbursing yourself for travel purchases with Bank of America rewards points.

Related: Quick Points: How to get up to 10% of your miles back when you redeem with Capital One

If you have Chase Ultimate Rewards points, you can redeem these for Disneyland tickets but not Disney World tickets. The value of your points will vary from 1 to 1.5 cents apiece, depending on which card you have (with the Sapphire Reserve fetching the best value).

Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points at 1-1.5 cents apiece for Disneyland tickets. CHASE.COM

You also can rent Disney Vacation Club points from a site like David’s Vacation Club to save money on your Disney lodging and use credit card points to offset the expense. Additionally, most programs allow you to redeem points for a statement credit to reimburse yourself for purchases where you couldn’t pay with points.

Related: Points of View: Can I cash out my points, and is it worth it?

Obviously, Disney credit cards play a role here, as well.

With the Disney Premier Visa Card, you’ll earn 2% back in Disney Rewards Dollars at Disney locations in the U.S. You’ll also earn 5% back in Rewards Dollars on Disney Plus, Hulu or ESPN+ subscriptions; 2% back at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants; and 1% back on other purchases. You can redeem your Rewards Dollars for park tickets, resort stays and at stores and restaurants on Disney properties. Redeeming your rewards to offset flights purchased with your Disney Premier Visa is also possible. The card has a $49 annual fee.

The Disney Visa Card has no annual fee and earns 1% back as Disney Rewards Dollars on all purchases. While you can’t redeem these against flight purchases, you can use them for Disney spending.

Related: Is the Disney Visa credit card worth it?

The information for the Disney Visa and Disney Premier Visa has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Guests get final pictures after the Magic Kingdom closed for the night. KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

Best credit cards for using points on Disney hotels

The Disney Premier Visa and Disney Visa allow you to redeem Rewards Dollars for Disney hotels and resorts. One Rewards Dollar is worth $1 toward your bill. If you don’t have these cards, additional methods exist to pay for Disney hotels with points.

The Swan, Dolphin and Swan Reserve are on Disney property at Disney World and include many Disney perks. Given they are in the Marriott family, you can use your Marriott Bonvoy points and free night certificates to stay on Disney property. How many points you need for a night at these Marriott hotels varies, starting at around 40,000 points per night. This makes the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card and Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card great credit card choices if you want to book on-site lodging with hotel points.

Near Disney World and Disneyland, you also can enjoy a handful of Disney benefits at some off-property hotels. These open the possibility of using Hilton Honors, Wyndham Rewards and IHG One Rewards points for your hotel stay while enjoying benefits like early access and complimentary shuttles to parks.

Related: The best Disney World hotels for your next magical stay 

If you want to use your hotel points and aren’t worried about these extra benefits, there are quality options near Walt Disney World and Disneyland from not just those programs but also World of Hyatt and Marriott Bonvoy. Redeeming points for free hotel nights can significantly reduce the costs of a Disney vacation. A big sign-up bonus from credit cards in these programs could help you snag several nights at a hotel near Disney using points rather than cash.

Related: The best hotel credit cards

Beyond the hotel programs, credit card points also can help you pay for Disney hotels.

Bilt Rewards points can be redeemed at a rate of 1.25 cents per point toward some Disney hotels in the Bilt travel portal. See here for details on rewards and benefits of the Bilt Mastercard. Until recently, Bilt had Disney World hotels in its travel portal, though it only has Disneyland and Disneyland Paris options at the present time. It’s worth checking to see if Disney World returns.

BILTREWARDS.COM

Additionally, you can use other points at a rate of 1 cent apiece for Disney hotels in various travel portals. This includes the Citi Travel portal — with not only the Citi Premier Card but also no-annual-fee options like Citi® Double Cash Card and Citi Rewards+® Card — and Capital One Travel, using miles at 1 cent apiece from cards like the Venture X, Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card.

Best credit cards for Disney tickets

Lacking options to pay for tickets with points? How you buy them matters, as the best Disney credit card likely doesn’t say “Disney” on the front.

If buying tickets directly, the purchase should code as entertainment. Consider the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card, which earns 4% cash back on entertainment purchases and has a $95 annual fee. Its sibling, the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, has no annual fee and earns 3% back on entertainment purchases. The Marvel Mastercard® also earns 3% back on entertainment and theme park tickets; it also has no annual fee, but it’s currently closed to new applicants.

The information for the Savor Cash and Marvel Mastercard has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

If you don’t have these cards, consider the best credit cards for everyday spending. These can provide a good return on spending, even without a bonus for entertainment or theme parks.

Card name
Everyday earning rate
Value of rewards*
Total value

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
2 points per dollar (on up to $50,000 of annual purchases, then 1 point per dollar).
2 cents.
4 cents per dollar.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
2 miles per dollar.
1.85 cents.
3.7 cents per dollar.

Citi Double Cash Card
2% back (1% at purchase, plus 1% after paying the statement).
1.8 cents.
3.6 cents per dollar.

Chase Freedom Unlimited
1.5% back (or 1.5 points per dollar).
1-2 cents each (2 cents each if you also have a premium Ultimate Rewards card).
1.5-3 cents per dollar.

Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card
1.5 points per dollar (up to 2.625 points per dollar with Bank of America Preferred Rewards)
1 cent.
1-2.625 cents per dollar.

* Value of rewards is based on TPG valuations and not provided by the issuer.

But what if you don’t buy your Disney theme park tickets with your credit card? What if you buy them with a gift card instead?

Many office supply stores, warehouse clubs (such as Sam’s Club or Costco), Target, grocery stores and even home improvement stores sell Disney gift cards. These may or may not be on sale, which is another discussion, but there are ways to make these purchases rewarding beyond just sales.

Related: How to save money buying discounted Disney gift cards

With the Ink Business Cash Credit Card, you’ll get 5% back on the first $25,000 spent at office supply stores and on internet services, cable services and phone services each cardmember year (then 1% back). You can turn those earnings into Chase Ultimate Rewards points if you have a card that earns those points.

Using the American Express® Gold Card, you’ll earn 4 points per dollar on your first $25,000 in annual spending at U.S. supermarkets (then 1 point per dollar). That’s an 8% return on spending, per TPG’s valuations.

With either method, you’ll earn extra points or cash back when buying Disney gift cards; you can use the gift cards to pay for park tickets.

For other options, check out the following:

The best grocery credit cards
The best office supply store credit cards
The best credit cards for Costco purchases
The best credit cards for Target purchases
The best credit cards for home improvement stores

Best credit cards for Disney meals

Luckily, meals at on-property true restaurants typically code as dining, triggering the restaurants/dining category on credit cards that have it.

This on-property restaurant coded as dining, but the Amex Platinum doesn’t earn bonus points in this category. AMERICANEXPRESS.COM

If you use a credit card with a travel bonus, thinking that would apply at a theme park, you won’t earn extra points. A good example is the screenshot above when paying with the Amex Platinum Card.

Related: The best credit cards for dining and restaurants

Best credit cards for flights to Disney

We would be remiss not to mention using points and miles for free or discounted flights to Disney’s parks. A lot of us don’t live near Disney World or Disneyland, after all.

For more on this topic, see the following:

TPG’s guide to getting started with points, miles and credit cards
How I decide when to redeem points for a flight or pay cash
12 tips for using frequent flyer miles for family travel
How (and why) you should earn transferable points
6 apps and websites that make award redemptions easier
From newbie to expert: 6 ways to up your mileage redemption game

Building your own Disney credit card strategy

Disney Rewards Dollars can play an important role in offsetting costs for your magical holiday. However, sign-up bonuses from credit cards represent the fastest way to earn large sums of points and miles — the types that can be used to travel to Disney parks in ways Rewards Dollars can’t. If you have the time and want the best of all worlds, it may make sense to earn a couple of different types of credit card rewards to use toward your Disney trip.

Related: My tips for starting out with points and miles

Using these questions as guidance, you can find the best credit card for a Disney trip that your family will love and your bank account will tolerate:

What travel expenses do you have in addition to theme park tickets? The more varied your expenses for a Disney trip, the more transferable points will help you.
Are you willing to stay off-property? If staying at a Disney-owned and -operated hotel is mandatory, your strategy will change. You can pay for your hotel with points if it’s not a requirement.
What expenses can you pay for with points upfront?
What expenses can you pay for and then offset with points afterward?

Which credit card is best for Disney?

The best Disney credit card will vary from person to person. And the answer may not be a “Disney credit card” at all. For most people, earning a mix of points from various credit cards will be most beneficial due to the flexibility this strategy offers.

How to choose a Disney credit card

With the Chase Disney credit cards, you can earn and redeem Disney Rewards Dollars for on-property hotels, park tickets and on-property meals. Those are important (and pricey) elements of your Disney trip. You’ll earn faster and have broader redemption categories with the Disney Premier Visa Card, which is the better option for most families.

However, there are additional costs that these cards might not cover. Consider your transportation to Anaheim, California, or Orlando. You may need flights, gas or a rental car, and you may not have enough Rewards Dollars to cover your lodging, meals and tickets. 

MATT STROSHANE/WALT DISNEY WORLD

Bottom line

Options abound for using credit card points and miles to pay for various elements of your Disney trip. That’s good news, considering how expensive these vacations can be.

If you want to make a big dent in the cost of your trip, you may not be looking for the best Disney credit card but rather the best Disney credit cards. A combination of points, free nights and discounts from the above strategies can help defray costs when planning your family’s next trip to Disneyland or Walt Disney World … which can make it all feel extra magical.

Related reading:

How to use points for Disney tickets
How to save money by renting Disney Vacation Club points
The best hotels at Disney World
The best restaurants at Disney World
Credit card bonuses worth more than $1,000 in the 1st year
Tips for visiting Disney World in 2023: 18 ways to save money and have more fun
How to save money at Disney so you don’t go ‘bibbidi-bobbidi-broke’
Yes, you can visit Disney World on a budget: Here’s how I did it

See Bilt Mastercard rates and fees here.

See Bilt Mastercard rewards and benefits here.

 

Additional reporting by Summer Hull.

Need Help?

Please use the contact form to get support or send an email to [email protected].