This is an incredible guest post from my reader Vikki.
“HOW many gift cards do you want to use to pay off your room??”
The Cast Member on the other end of the phone didn’t believe his ears when I said I planned to use SEVENTEEN gift cards to pay my room balance shortly before our family trip to Walt Disney World. Together, it took us 30 minutes to enter all of the numbers, but it was the best-paid half hour of my life!
One of my favorite “Couponing to Disney” strategies to save money for our trip is buying Disney gift cards in advance. Those 17 gift cards totaled $1350, enough to pay off my room balance. I calculate they saved me about $400. Maybe you’ll be able to use some of these ideas to save money buying Disney gift cards before your trip:
- Gas reward points – Kroger (and other) grocery stores offer fuel points for buying groceries and gift cards. Often the gift cards will give you twice the points. Right before school started, my Kroger was running a special deal that offered FOUR times the fuel points for buying gift cards. Under that promotion, I bought $250 in Disney gift cards and got 1000 points, enough for $1.00 off per gallon. That meant a savings of $20 for filling my van’s 20-gallon tank. Savings: Up to 8 percent.
- School promotions — My son’s high-school marching band requires hundreds of dollars in fees, but our Kroger-brand store offers 6 percent back to his account when I buy anything (including gift cards) at the store using a gift card linked to his account. I add money to the gift card (using my Disney VISA, of course), then use the card to buy groceries and Disney gift cards. I get the fuel points mentioned above AND 6 percent into his band account for trip and uniform fees. I made over $125 in the last year for his account between groceries and gift cards. Savings: 6 percent.
- Sales on gift cards — Twice now in the spring, I’ve seen packets of three $15 gift cards ($45) trigger a $5 Catalina coupon that you can use on your next transaction at the store. Watch the gift-card area of your grocery store for special promotions and read local money-saving blogs. Savings: 11 percent!
- Minimum-purchase deals — Sometimes stores have coupons for $10 off of a $50 purchase, or a soda deal that only works if you spend $25. If your total is going to fall short of that magic number, buying a Disney gift card can raise your store total so you can use a dollar-off coupon or discount. In the $10 off of $50 example, you’d save 20 percent!
- Gift card bonus packs — In the past (and hopefully again soon), Sam’s Club has offered a $100 gift card for $98.87 that included a bonus $10 Disney Store gift card. You can use the $10 bonus card to buy T-shirts, plush, or light-up toys at the Disney Store before your trip, also a money-saver itself. Savings: 10 percent.
- Disney VISA card – 1 percent Disney cash back, $200 offer for signing up. The Disney VISA runs special offers for certain categories in certain months – make sure you watch the mail for these offers. I had an offer for 3 percent back on groceries and gasoline over a three-month period. If you can shift your spending in those categories to your Disney VISA, you can earn extra points. That’s 2 percent extra savings (plus the whopping $200 sign-up bonus).
Each time I bought gift cards with a discount or rebate, I put the cards in a safe place and transferred my extra savings to my Disney fund. This way I slowly built my stash of gift cards and earned cash toward other trip expenses.
If you know you will be visiting a Disney park in the next year, you could park all of your savings in an account earning 1 percent or less. Or, when you find a deal on Disney gift cards, you could purchase them as you go, and save while doing it. With a $200 VISA bonus plus roughly $200 I earned buying gift cards, I saved around 30 percent!