My wife and decided that we wanted to go to the Walt Disney World (WDW) resort. No, we don’t have kids yet, but we both love Disney! I even proposed to her at Disneyland. Neither of us had been to the WDW in Orlando, Florida. Our WDW trip was from: April 30-May 5th.
This is my first post on a series that I’ll call: Travel Hacking Disney. The first topic that I’ll discuss is: Disney Gift Cards (GCs).
Why buy Disney GCs?
Because these gift cards can be used for pretty much anything at the Disney resort. Here is a complete list that Disney has provided:
- Walt Disney World® Resort.
- Disneyland® Resort.
- Disney Store locations within the US and Puerto Rico.
- Disney Cruise Line.
- Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa.
- Disney’s Beach Resorts.
- Club Penguin.
This means you can use Disney GCs to pay for park tickets, hotel fees at Disney-owned hotels, or gratuities on your Disney cruise. Since we bought our WDW tickets from Undercover Tourist (which I’ll highlight in another post) we primarily used these gift cards for food and souvenirs in the theme parks.
Where to buy Disney GCs?
You can buy Disney GCs at a lot of grocery stores. They rarely discount them, but at least you’ll get gas points for buying them. Also, if you have a card that has a category bonus for grocery stores you can save 5-6% as well.
You can also find Disney GCs at Staples/OfficeMax. So if you have an AMEX offer, this is another great way to save some money. There have been AMEX offers that give you $20 back for spending $100 so you essentially get 20% off.
Another place to get some discount on Disney GCs is Sam’s Club. They sell packs of 3 $50 gift cards ($150) for $142.98, which is 4.7% off plus whatever credit bonus you receive.
However, the ideal place to get Disney GCs is Target. I’ll explain why below.
The Target-eBay-Disney GC Churn
UPDATE 06/2016: Unfortunately, Target has removed eBay gift cards from their website so you are no longer able to purchase them online. This makes the gift card churn much less lucrative.
In order to take advantage of these savings, you’ll have to start well before your Disney trip as it takes time. Here are the basics:
- Buy a Target gift card
- Use that Target gift card to buy an eBay gift card at 5% off
- Use that eBay gift card to buy a Target gift card
- Repeat steps 1-3 till about 1-2 months before your trip
- Use Target gift card to buy Disney gift cards at 5% off
Using this method, I saved $177 on $400 worth of Disney gift cards. That’s approximately a 44% discount. This is not including the eBay bucks and other portal earnings that I received, which were around ~$91. If you consider eBay bucks as equivalents to cash, then you could say I bought $400 worth of Disney gift cards for $132! Not bad for 4-5 months of churning Target and eBay gift cards.
Here are some things that added to my increased savings:
- Target and eBay sales – during my 5 month churning period, there were a couples sales:
- eBay Sale: $185 for $200 of Target
- eBay Sale: $95 for $100 of Target
- Target Sale: $95 for $100 of eBay (which with the RedCard discount came out to roughly $90.25)
- Target Sale: $90 for $100 of Disney
- eBay Bucks promotions that earned 8x or 10x eBay bucks
- Portal bonuses for 2% back
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- When you buy Target gift cards from eBay, if they aren’t on the daily deals section you’ll have to pay shipping. Shipping is $2.99 for the first card. After that it is, $0.99 for each additional card. This means that you’re better off buying at least 2-3 cards to cut down on shipping costs. You also want to buy the $150 cards if they are available. When I was churning Target gift cards, they only had $50 and $100 cards available.
- To receive the 5% Target RedCard discount, you’ll need to apply for the Target RedCard. There is a debit and credit option. They will both give you the 5% discount so I suggest getting the debit option.
- When buying eBay gift cards from Target, you want to check out as if you were using your Target RedCard to pay for it. Then right before you submit the order, you’ll be sent to an order summary page where on the bottom right corner you can choose to pay with Target gift cards.
- It takes about 2 weeks to receive your Disney gift cards via mail.
This is a great method to make your Disney vacation somewhat more affordable.
Can You Combine Disney GCs?
Yes you can. Disney makes it pretty easy. Each gift card can hold up to $1,000 of funds. Since we had $400 worth of Disney GCs, I decided to put $200 on one card and $200 on another card so that my wife and I would each have one.
In order to combine your gift cards, you’ll need to make an account on disneygiftcard.com. After you do this, you can enter in all your gift cards. Entering in the gift cards was kind of a pain since you have to scratch off those little silver stickers that cover the gift card number. You can now transfer funds from card to card.