This is part 2 of my guest post by my friend Karolyn. In case you missed Part 1 of this post, it can be found HERE. In this post Karolyn covered saving on Disney hotels, park passes, dining and much more!
Karolyn has vacationed at Disney over a dozen times and offers some amazing tips for saving! Her and her family are able to save literally thousands (THOUSANDS, PEOPLE!!) on the overall expenses of their trip each time they travel because of these tips.
So without further ado, here is the latter half of Karolyn’s post- How to save $$$$ on your next Disney Vacation (Part 2 of 2).
If you read Part 1 of this Disney saving series, you might be wondering how else you can save some serious cash on your next Disney vacation. It might take some effort on your part, but I have to ask you one question… Do you WANT even more suggestions for saving money on Disney?
Sure you do!
Okay, I’ve got a couple more tricks up my sleeve on how you can save money throughout the year preceding your big Disney vacation.
Are you a Sam’s Club member or know someone who is one? Purchase Disney gift cards via Sam’s Club and you’ll save money! Here is how that looks…
1 – Package of 3x$50
Value = $150 | Cost = $142.98
2 – Packages of 3x$50
Value = $300 | Cost = $285.96
3 – Packages of 3x$50
Value = $450 | Cost = $428.94
4 – Packages of 3x$50
Value = $600 | Cost = $571.92
5 – Packages of 3x$50
Value = $750 | Cost = $714.90
…You get the idea. The more gift cards you purchase, the more you’ll save! If you’re going to spend money at Disney, this is one way to save a little in the process.
Sam’s Club does this with several gift cards, so feel free to stock up on gift cards that’ll come in handy on your next vacation.
On a side note, I recently read that if you have a Target Red Card (credit card) you will get 5% off Disney gift cards – since Target classifies these as entertainment cards, not gift cards. Is this true? *shrugs* I do not know, I do not own a Target Red Card. Still, I thought it was worth mentioning, just in case you have one and you’re willing to try it out.
Swagbucks is a free reward program that helps you earn points and spend them on a wide variety of gift cards. These gift cards can help you save on your next Disney vacation. They have gift cards for Amazon, Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, Starbucks, etc. If you really don’t know how you want to spend your money, they even have Visa reward cards (that can only be used online).
How can Amazon help with your Disney vacation? I recommend storing up gift cards for Amazon so you can buy luggage, Disney treats for the kids (i.e. autograph books, coloring books for traveling, stuffed animals of their favorite Disney characters, etc.), or any other travel needs you may have. It’s Amazon; there’s a lot to choose from. It took some time, but I just cashed in on a $250 Amazon gift card, myself – and yes, I’m putting it towards items for my next Disney vacation.
If you’re flying, try going with an airline that has a gift card you can snag through Swagbucks. Shop for flight sales or, if your travel dates are flexible, fly on days that are cheaper to stretch you savings even more.
Starbucks gift cards come in handy while you’re traveling. If you have enough, you can even use them to purchase food at most locations.
Kohl’s, Target, Walmart, Old Navy, Toys ‘R’ Us, TJ Maxx/Marshalls/Home Goods… the list goes on. Snag some gift cards that will come in handy as you prepare for your trip. Get some new clothes, swim suites, sun screen, beach towels, sunglasses, surprises for the little ones… it’s time to get creative!
When using Swagbucks, you can earn a lot of easy points by watching videos and answering surveys. And don’t forget to download the Swagbucks smart phone apps (there are two)! No matter what you do to earn points, only do what you feel comfortable doing. I do not recommend earning Swagbucks points via signing up for deals that require credit card information – that’s just a little too personal for me. You can also get points for joining other free reward programs like Bing and Pampers – read about those reward programs below.
This a great way to earn free gift cards with very little effort. Simply sign up for Bing Rewards and earn points by searching via Bing – get even more points when you search via desktop/laptop AND their smart phone app. That’s it. Bing also offers Amazon, Starbucks, Toys ‘R’ Us gift cards. So if you earn these gift cards through multiple reward programs your rewards will add up even faster.
[Sign up for Bing Rewards HERE and start earning points today.]
If you have little ones, you’d probably benefit from joining these reward programs. Pampers and Huggies have offer codes on their products and when you enter them into your account you earn points. You’re already buying diapers and wipes; why not earn something back?
Pampers has a lot of children’s toys in their rewards, but they also have rewards for Shutterfly, magazine subscriptions, and various gift cards. You can use your rewards to create a free memory book from Shutterfly after you come home from your vacation or maybe you can get a free magazine subscription for yourself so you have something to read while you’re traveling and a toy/book for the kids so they have something new to entertain them.
Huggies has a different variety of rewards. They have Shutterfly options and magazine subscriptions, but they also feature Amazon, Gap, Foot Locker, and Subway gift cards.
Keep an eye on all rewards as they are subject to change. So when you see a reward that you want (and you have the points to redeem it) be sure to get it right then. Don’t wait!
Keep an eye on sites like hunt4freebies.com and hip2save.com because they’ll feature bonus codes for each of these reward programs – it’s free points! I also use these sites to stock up on random freebies that come in handy for traveling. Items like deodorant, shampoo, lotion, toothpaste, etc.
Depending on what you sign up for or what type of surveys you take, e-miles is a great way to earn some extra airline miles/points. When you reach 500 points in e-miles you can transfer your points to your current frequent flier account. This is completely free!
Technically, my husband and I were invited by Southwest Airlines to join e-Rewards program – or click HERE to request a membership. You must have a Southwest Rapid Rewards account to enroll – but don’t worry, it’s a free reward program. In fact, you’ll get 500 Rapid Reward bonus points when you complete your first survey within three months of enrolling in e-Rewards.
Through e-Rewards we participate in online and mobile surveys (yes, they have a smart phone app). Surveys vary and we don’t always qualify to fill out the full survey. Still, even partial surveys earn you virtual dollars. Since joining e-Rewards, I’ve earned $0.25 – $25.00 per survey.
And to clarify, no– you don’t actually get paid in cash for each survey. Instead, you can use your virtual dollars to buy gift cards and other goodies. We use our virtual dollars to buy Southwest points. It took me about two years, but I managed to buy a round trip ticket to Orlando, Florida just by using points I earned through e-Rewards!
Some surveys are quick and others can take a long time. I have my account set so I get notified (via email) whenever there is a new survey available; I want to be notified about every opportunity! To increase my earning potential I also use their mobile app for additional survey opportunities.
[To look into this program, click HERE.]
BONUS TIP: If you’re looking to get extra airline miles one trick is to shop through various reward programs. For example, Southwest Airlines has Rapid Reward Shopping. Before you shop online, log in to your free Southwest Rapid Rewards account and click on Rapid Rewards Shopping. Check to see if the store you’re about to shop at (online) is an option.
As you can see, you’ll earn various points per dollar if you just select the online store through Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping first. Once you select a store you’ll be redirected to the company’s official website and it is all normal online shopping from there. This also works with credit cards and select reward programs like Swagbucks. If time permits, check to see who will give you the most points per dollar. I recently did some online shopping at Crate & Barrel. Before going to Crate & Barrel’s website, I noticed that Southwest would give me 0.5 point/$ and my credit card would give me 1 point/$ – so, this time, I used the link through my credit card. If you’re going to shop online, you might as well get some extra credit! Points vary and there are also special promotions where point values are increased higher than normal.
EXTRA! EXTRA! [even more ways to save for your trip]
Ebates is another way to earn some extra cash, just by starting an online shopping trip through their website first. It’s so easy! Log in, find an online store, click on the link, and shop their website like you normally do. You’ll earn cash back that you can put towards your next Disney vacation. See, I told you it was easy. Just shop online and watch your Ebates rewards add up.
One more thing… if you’re shopping online don’t forget to look for coupon codes. Check out sites like RetailMeNot.com for a chance at some extra savings. Their smart phone app also features coupons that you can use in stores. Gotta love rewards AND savings!
This is strictly a smart phone app, so you’ll need a smart phone in order to take advantage of their reward program. Simply snap photos of your receipts and rate your experience. Not all receipts qualify but I’ve found that most do. Some receipts earn you points and some receipts earn you a slot spin. You also get bonuses for reaching certain levels. Points can be cashed in for Amazon and Paypal rewards. I find this reward program to be slow when it comes to adding up points, but then again, it’s free and really easy.
NOTE: Receipts cannot be more than two weeks old and you can be rewarded for up to 20 receipts that earn Receipt Hog coins in a 7 day rolling period.
I saved the most obvious for last. 🙂 If you’re interested in going to Disney World, you probably have a nice collection of Disney movies. If you haven’t entered those movie codes into a Disney Movie Reward account, now is a great time to start!
Inside each specially marked CD, DVD, and Blu-ray case is a unique code. Enter the code and score points. You can also get points if you see Disney movies in theater. You can use the points to get Disney freebies (including movies, toys, apparel, etc.) and occasional gift cards (Disney and Starbucks). They always seem to have some kid-friendly freebies available – mostly activities you can print out at home.
Some of my family and friends don’t own enough Disney movies to make this worth signing up for. To keep those points from going to waste, family/friends cheerfully send me their codes (in other words- ask your family and friends who may be willing to share their codes!).
Also, be sure to like them on Facebook and play their Disney Challenge every couple of weeks for bonus points. Their Facebook page also posts the occasional freebie code for bonus points.
MORE REWARDS: SHOPKICK, VIGGLE/PERK, IBOTTA…
Once again, this blog post is already plenty long, so I’m going to simply suggest looking into other rewards programs like Shopkick, Viggle/Perk, and Ibotta. There are so many free reward programs out there, it just depends on which programs you’ll get the most use out of – and which ones you have time for. No matter how you stock up on rewards, I suggest keeping them organized so you can watch the savings add up. It’ll really encourage you to keep going.
- One helpful thing to consider is creating a “junk” email account so you can use it to sign up for different things – because signing up for various promotions can create an increase in spam. You probably don’t need any extra spam in your primary account, so consider creating a separate account. It’s up to you which email(s) you want to use when signing up for various offers. Some I send to my primary account (so I can keep a close eye on specific deals) while others go to my junk account.
- If you AND your spouse/significant other both sign up for select reward programs, you can double your rewards! If you have children who are old enough to create their own reward accounts, have them sign up as well. It can be a family effort to earn free rewards.
- Sometimes Groupon features deals on Starbucks. In the past I’ve used a free $5 Groupon reward to purchase a $10 Starbucks gift card. Yep, totally worked! Clever, huh?
- By signing up with Bing, Pampers, and Huggies reward programs, I have gotten lots of freebie codes from Shutterfly. Items like books, calendars, prints, magnets, ornaments, and mugs. These will come in handy when you want to create custom memorabilia from your vacation. So make sure you agree to receive their emails – and if you send these emails to your junk mail account, be sure to review it from time to time so you don’t miss an offer. I actually keep my junk email quite organized. Sounds weird (I know), but it helps me keep track of all the deals.
Now, let’s wrap this series up…
So there you have it, folks! As you can see, saving on a Disney vacation throughout the year is absolutely possible. Plus, the longer you plan and the more effort you put into free reward programs like Ebates, Swagbucks, and Bing, the more you can stock up on rewards and use them to make your vacation even cheaper. Surely, the longer you plan, the more you’ll save all around. Plus, if you have a credit card that earns you free airline miles and/or gift cards, consider using those to help you save on your next vacation as well – just don’t go nuts spending money just to earn credit cards points/rewards. Please (always!) spend your money wisely. 🙂
If you’re completely new to vacationing with Disney, I highly recommend requesting one of their free DVDs. They’re a great way to get the lay of the land and understand what families do when they’re at Disney World. PLUS, if you have a Swagbucks account, search for an opportunity to request a DVD through one of their offers – you’ll earn some easy Swagbucks points that way.
Good luck and best wishes as you plan your next (or FIRST) Disney vacation!
Karolyn has vacationed at Disney over a dozen times and loves trying to find creative ways to save. When she’s not busy planning her family’s next Disney vacation, she enjoys photography, movies, writing, and quality time with family and friends — including their rescued Chihuahua pup.
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