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If you’re a Disney fanatic (and who isn’t?), you may be tempted to get a Disney Visa card. But are the Disney perks really magical – or will interest rates make you let it go? Read on to learn if you should make a Disney Visa card part of your world.
Is the Disney Credit Card Right For You?
If you’re a Disney lover – or just the type to be enchanted by shiny, pretty things – it’s hard to resist the Disney credit card. Issued by Chase, this Visa card is emblazoned with images of Mickey Mouse, the Sleeping Beauty castle, a Star Wars character, or your choice of Disney favorites.
What Mouseketeer worth her ears wouldn’t want to be a card-carrying member of that club?
But I want to be clear up front: If you’re not able to pay off the balance each month, a Chase Disney Visa card isn’t the right choice.
In early 2020, both Disney cards carry an intro interest rate of 17.49%. That means carrying a balance on this credit card would swallow up the benefit of any rewards you earn. And who wants that?
The Lure of that Disney Benefit
My family has made a vow to live debt-free. We are actual graduates of the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University; living without credit is one of the basic tenants of that plan. The bottom line is – for us – easy-access credit just isn’t worth it. Currently, we don’t have any credit card debt, nor do we use any credit cards we can’t pay off within the first billing cycle. Living debt-free is a whole new world, and it works for us. Your mileage may vary.
And yet, we have the Chase Disney Visa card. Two of them, in fact.
What’s the Reward?
Before deciding which Disney credit card is right for you, it’s important to understand the basic reward system.
Chase will “reward” Disney card holders with Disney Rewards Dollars when the card member uses the Visa rewards card on qualified purchases. Each Disney Rewards Dollar is worth $1 when redeemed for Disney merchandise purchases. The rewards dollars can be used to buy theme park tickets, at select dining locations in Disney Parks, for stays at Disney resorts, and for Disney vacations at many (though not all) Disney locations.
The Disney Reward Dollars come in the form of a credit on a redemption card, similar to a Disney gift card.
2 Types of Disney Visa Cards by Chase
Chase offers credit cards that pay off in Disney rewards:
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- the Disney Visa card
- the Disney Premier Visa card
The Disney Visa credit card has no annual fee. Cardholders earn one Disney Reward Dollar for every $100 charged to the card (1% cash back). That’s like free money (if you’re paying off your card monthly), but it is limited. You can redeem your Disney Rewards Dollars only in qualifying Disney purchases.
The Disney Premier Visa has an annual fee — $49 in early 2020. But cardholders earn rewards twice as fast — 2 Disney Rewards Dollars for every $100 spent on select merchandise purchases, as well as purchases at gas stations, restaurants and grocery stores. Other purchases earn 1% in rewards dollars. Unlike the basic Disney card, Disney Premier Visa rewards can be used to buy airline travel.
So Which Card Should You Choose?
Which Disney Visa card should you choose? Before deciding, check the Chase website to see if there are any sign-up bonus offers available for new card holders. Currently, Chase is offering a $200 statement credit to new Disney Premier card members who make $500 in qualifying purchases in the first three months. If you choose a Disney Visa card (the basic model), you can earn a $50 statement credit after making your first purchase.
With its 2% reward earnings rate, the Disney Premier Visa may seem to be the obvious choice.
So why is my card (both of them, actually) a basic Disney Visa? Because of that annual fee for the Disney Premier Visa. To break even, you would have to charge $2450 in purchases that earn the 2% rewards rate every year. So if you plan to charge all of your expenses to a Disney Visa, the Premier is the better choice.
However, I don’t usually charge expenses (on any card). I also drive to Disney, so I don’t need the airline credit. For me, it “pays” to hold a basic Disney Visa card.
Instead, we enjoy the perk of using the Disney Visa card as one of our budgeting tools when we plan a Disney trip. Whenever we go away (on vacation, or on a day trip to any “big location”), we make our purchases on our Disney Visa. When we get the bill, we promptly pay it off, using the cash we we would have spent during the trip.
The Perks of Using a Disney Credit Card
Earning Disney Rewards Dollars is just one perk of the ChaseDisney rewards credit cards. Here are the others:
- Six months interest free on select Disney vacation packages and cruises. You must book the Disney cruise or theme park package through Disney or one of its authorized travel agents and charge it to your Disney Visa to get that perk.
- 15% discount of of select guided tours at Disneyland or Walt Disney World. Current options include the Keys to the Kingdom Tour at the Magic Kingdom, the Star Wars Guided Tour at the Hollywood Studios, and the Wild African Trek at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. See the Chase Visa page for a complete list of tours.
- 10% discount on dining at the Disney Parks. The perk is available at selected dining locations.
- 10% discount on select recreation experiences. Choices are limited, but include carriage rides at Disney’s Port Orleans resort and Horseback Trail rides at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground.
- 10% discount on merchandise purchases of $50 more. The discount is available at select gift shops in Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Aulani, the Disney Cruise Line and at my favorite spot, DisneyStore.com.
- 20% off select spa services aboard the Disney Cruise Line
- 10% off Castaway Cay recreation packages.
- Exclusive perks at Disney Broadway musicals in New York City. If you book your premium theater tickets to a Disney Broadway musical (currently Frozen, Aladdin and Lion King) using your ChaseDisney Visa, you will receive an exclusive VIP package that includes a non-alcoholic beverage in a keepsake cup and a commemorative print.
Theme Park Exclusives
One of my favorite reasons to have a Disney Visa card is the exclusive perks available in Disney Theme Parks – even if I never use my card all year!
First, you can visit exclusive meet and greet locations available only to Disney Visa card holders. We’ve visited Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and others in EPCOT (currently in the Imagination Pavilion) and challenged Kylo Ren at an exclusive meet and greet in Disney’s Hollywood Studios (currently in the Animation Courtyard).
Characters aren’t announced, but inside sources say that you can meet up with Darth Vader himself at the Star Wars Launch Bay – but only if you have a valid Disney Visa card.
There are similar meet and greet opportunities at Disney California Adventure and Disneyland – without the long lines and waiting! You also get a free PhotoPass download when you attend a Disney Visa meet and greet. Eligible for six people per card member account. Now you know why we have two!
There are also limited-time offers for Disney card holders, offered via email or snail mail. These are sporadic and vary, but in the past, we’ve been offered:
- Extended time for free dining with a Disney vacation
- Exclusive access to special Disney pins
- 20% off Disney on Ice tickets
You must use your Disney Visa card to cash in on these deals.
So, Is the Disney Visa Right for You?
If you are someone who visits a Disney theme park annually (or even every other year), the answer could be yes – if you are disciplined enough to pay off the balance each month.
You can also reap some rewards (like the character meet and greets and in-park savings) even without using your card for purchases outside a Walt Disney World Resort.
So even if you are one to rack up credit card rewards, you’re best to do that with a card that offers a higher percentage back and more spending flexibility. Save this card for Disney purchases, and use the rewards balance as part of the budget for your next Disney vacation!
When Is the Disney Visa Wrong for You?
Although Disney rewards can be redeemed throughout the Disney parks in the United States, they cannot be used at the international Disney resorts. So if Disneyland Paris is your next getaway, this isn’t the card for you.