Many families travel to Disneyland and Walt Disney World on a budget so we aim to provide as many budget tips as possible here on Mickey Visit! One of my favorite budget tips is one I use quite often and the best way to save money on Disney gift cards. There's a few ways to do this and you don't even have to use a credit card to do it. Keep reading to find out how I save $5 for every $100 spent on the trips I take to Disneyland.
Disney Gift Card Basics
First it's helpful to know what you can spend your Disney gift cards on at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. You can spend them on park tickets, dining, shopping, and Disney property owned hotels. There isn't much that is excluded from the use of Disney gift cards.
The main exclusions you will find in the Disneyland area are:
- Balloon vendors- the vendors in Disneyland do not take Disney gift cards because they usually take cash only.
- Mobile ordering- much to the dismay of many park guests, you cannot link a Disney gift card to your Disney online account and therefore can't use it for mobile ordering.
- Specialty marketplace booths- California Adventure is known for its festival marketplace booths and some of these vendors are local which means they won't take Disney gift cards.
- Non-owned Disney stores- any of the non-Disney owned stores and restaurants in Downtown Disney won't take Disney gift cards, even if you can book a reservation through Disney for them. But if it's Disney owned, like World of Disney, you're good to go.
That's a pretty small list considering the vast size of Disneyland and all the shopping/dining options at your finger tips.
Besides Disneyland you can also use Disney gift cards at:
- Walt Disney World (including payments for vacation packages!)
- Disney store locations in the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico including Disney outlet stores
- Disney Cruise Line
- Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa
- Disney's Beach Resorts
- Adventures by Disney
As you can see, you can use this tactic to save money on all types of Disney vacations.
Discount Disneyland Tickets
Our favorite Disney-approved re-seller, Get Away Today,offers the best Disneyland discount tickets around. In addition to great discount prices, their customer service and easy support is absolutely fantastic. They have an entire department dedicated to making sure every order has a wonderful experience and they are on-call to help you during your vacation if you need them.
Buying tickets from Get Away Today is easy and convenient since all their tickets are sent electronically. You can take their vouchers and head straight to the gate without needing to wait in any ticket booth lines. They also offer layaway plans so you can pay off your vacation over time.
You can read my review on my personal experiences booking through Get Away Today and how much you can save here!
How to Save Money on Disney Gift Cards
Now that we've covered the basics and you can see the ease of using these cards on your trip, let's get into the money saving tips.
Hands down the easiest and most convenient way to save money on Disney gift cards is by opening a Target Redcard account.
If you're not looking to open another credit card you can get a Target Debit Card which basically is like an additional debit card for your bank account. Just simply fill out the form online or in the store and wait for your card to arrive. If you wait to sign up during a promotional period you can get additional coupons and discounts for signing up.
When you use your Target Red Card (debit or credit) at Target stores or Target.com, you will receive 5% off on your purchases. And since Target sells Disney gift cards, that means you can use that 5% on those gift cards! Gift cards are not excluded from that discount which makes this option our favorite way to save money on Disney gift cards.
In the store you can purchase Disney Gift cards in $25, $50, and $100 amounts but if you go online you can purchase e-gift cards in amounts up to $500.
So for every $100 you spend, that's $5 saved and that adds up quickly when it comes to knocking some dollars off your dining and shopping budget for your Disneyland trip. If you budget to spend $1000 on dining for your family on your trip and purchase that amount in Disney gift cards, that's $50 saved. That amount does add up and it's really simple to utilize.
Once you're a Red Card holder you can watch the mail for additional discounts. Every few months Target will send out an additional 5% coupon that you can combine with your existing 5% discount to get a total of 10% off your transaction. People usually report having more success using this coupon for Disney gift cards on the website as opposed to going into the store.
Another thing to watch out for is as a new Red Card holder sometimes you're set a limit, for the debit card anyways, as to how much you spend in one transaction. Splitting the purchase of your gift cards into multiple transactions is the best way to avoid any hassles. I usually divide my total amount I want to buy in gift cards between two-three transactions over a couple months to make sure I don't run into any issues. It's a pretty unknown variable as to what your account limit is and they don't tell you when you sign up. The longer you have a Red Card though, the more this amount will increase. When I first opened a Red Card I was still able to purchase up to $500 in gift cards but when I pushed that number to $700 I got denied. Just be warned so you don't have surprises at the checkout. Some guests report having better luck with that unknown variable on the website and not running into any issues. Either way, be prepared to split your purchase up into different transactions if you encounter problems.
This is a great and easy way to save money on Disney trips and it really takes no time at all to do it! You can easily do everything online if you don't live near a Target from applying for the Red Card to purchasing the gift cards.
Disney Gift Card Hacks
Some people might be hesitant to carry around stacks of gift cards and worry they might get lost. Luckily, there's ways around that to make it more convenient.
Once you purchase your gift cards head over to the Disney Gift Card website and make an account. Once your account is set up you can register your gift cards to the account (up to five max) and then you can transfer balances between them right from the website. Each card can hold a maximum of $1000 on it at a time and there are no service fees. Disney gift cards also never expire!
One thing I like to do is buy three physical gift cards in the store and then buy e-gift cards online for the rest of our spending money. Then I register my physical gift cards on the Disney Gift Card website. I load all my money onto two separate cards and divide the balances into two categories: shopping and dining. This way I can keep my money organized and it also helps me to stay within my budget if I know my shopping money is only set for a certain amount on this card. This also works great for kids. If my son earns money for a trip, I give it to him on his own personal gift card so once it's gone- it's gone!
As for the extra card on my account, I keep that on there as a backup. It's a good rule of thumb to do this because if you happen to lose your other gift card with your money you can quickly log into the Disney Gift Card website and transfer the funds onto a different card.
You can also just use the e-gift card from your phone or print it out on a piece of paper. Whatever works best for you but I've found using the physical gift cards to be the easiest for me. Each time you make a purchase at Disneyland, the cast member will print out a receipt with the remaining balance on the bottom so you can easily keep track.
Alternate Ways to Save Money on Disney Gift Cards
While using the Target Red Card is my number one go to, there are other ways to save money on Disney Gift Cards.
One popular option for guests is to utilize the Kroger Fuel Points at local Kroger owned stores (King Soopers, etc.) and use that as a way to stockpile your Disney Gift Cards. Essentially, you're saving money on gas but you're doing that as you're buying gift cards for your trip. Every dollar you spend at Kroger earns 1 fuel point on regular purchases and 2 on gift card purchases. Sometimes they will offer 4x fuel point coupons to watch out for which can help make those fuel point savings add up. For every 100 fuel points you can save $0.10 on every gallon of gas.
Another way that guests can save money on Disney gift cards is to watch for deals at Costco or Sam's Club. Occasionally they will sell four packs of Disney gift cards at a discounted rate of up to 6% usually.
Once in awhile if you book a Disney vacation through Costco you can get Disney gift cards thrown in your package for free. Despite that, it's still a better deal to go through our trusted travel partner Get Away Today to save on your tickets and hotel which will you get you a better savings in the long run despite how good a ‘free' gift card offer sounds. Buying tickets from Get Away Today is easy and convenient since all their tickets are sent electronically. You can take their vouchers and head straight to the gate without needing to wait in any ticket booth lines. They also offer layaway plans so you can pay off your vacation over time. You can read my review on my personal experiences booking through Get Away Today and how much you can save here!
Do you have any great budget tips for traveling to Disneyland? Share them in the comments!
Plan Your Disneyland Vacation!
Keep reading our blog to keep you updated on everything you need to know to prepare for a Disney Parks vacation! We have a team of writers working hard to keep you updated weekly on events in the parks and tips for navigating the magic. Subscribe to our free deals newsletter to receive helpful planning information, exclusive Disney deals, and access to the lowest priced Disney tickets anywhere. You can find more information on planning your vacation here:
- Discount Disneyland Ticket Guide
- Guide to Using MaxPass at Disneyland
- Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Guide
- Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway
- Guide to Parades at Disneyland