Updated February 4, 2020
A while back I heard someone speaking about using store credit cards and discounts to save money on buying gift cards. Intrigued I wanted to learn more. I discovered that certain stores, such as Target, give you a discount by using their store credit/debit card on purchases including gift cards bought in the store. For the sake of this post I will be explaining how to use a Target credit/debit card because that is what I used, however, I have heard that other stores such as BJ's and Costco offer the same thing. Please confirm with your store before attempting what I explain below.
So here's how it works:
When you have a Target credit or debit card you receive 5% OFF all of your purchases in store and online. You also get free shipping from target.com (This tidbit comes in handy. I explain below).
More about the Target Red Card (credit and debit cards):
If you are worried about using credit cards, Target offers a debit card that has the same exact perks of their credit card, however the money can be preloaded or drafted from a checking account, so that you don't have to worry about using credit. You can apply for both cards in your local Target. If you do not have a Target nearby, you can also apply online by CLICKING HERE.
How much will you save:
Target sells $50.00 Disney gift cards. You may see them in other denominations, but I usually see $50.00 cards in my local Target. Every once in a while they’ll have $100 and I get so happy because it’s that many less I have to consolidate or use when I call lol. When you use your Target Red Card a single $50.00 Disney gift card will only cost $47.50. Bump that number up to $1000.00 and it will only cost $950.00.
Saving up to pay for your trip/gift cards:
Here is what I suggest and what I did. I saved my money up in a savings account until I knew we had enough to travel. I also did this to keep my money as cash for as long as possible. If an emergency arose, you could cancel your trip and still have your cash, but once you buy gift cards, they stay gift cards. You can't exactly pay for a totaled car or hospital bill with Disney gift cards. (Trust me I've tried! lol) You can use any savings account you may have, but I personally recommend and use Smartypig.com. Now don't let the name discourage you. Smartypig is one of the top rated savings accounts and is FDIC insured. It allows you to create a virtual piggy bank for saving money the old fashioned way, but gives you a very competitive rate (at the time of writing this article it was 1% APR.) You can deposit money manually or schedule auto drafts. It also has the added feature of allowing others to contribute to your account. Let's say Aunt Sally or Granny likes to send you money on your birthday. Well now they can deposit money directly and securely into your savings account. Just share your personal link via email or Facebook and they can add money and neither of you will see each others personal or banking info. (A little note: this is also a great way to save for kids' college funds that allows for others to occasionally contribute rather than a card with some cash.)
Purchasing the gift cards:
Ok, so now you have your money saved up, or you just put it on credit. When you go to Target simply get the number of Disney gift cards you want and check out paying with your Target Red Card. That's it! The savings will automatically be deducted. You can even use Target online or the app.
How to pay for your trip with the gift cards:
You have a few options to pay for your trip.
You can take all your smaller denomination gift cards to your local Disney Store and they will gladly issue you a single larger denomination gift card. I personally was too afraid to take all my gift cards to my local mall to do this. If you lose your gift cards along the way, they are gone forever and you will not get your money back. Walking around with thousands of dollars in gift cards just worried me. Too many variables that could equal lost or stolen cards. If you are comfortable doing this, go for it.
Disney Gift Card Website:
You can use this website to store and consolidate gift cards. It’s very easy to use. Simply create an account and use the prompts on the screen to enter a new card. Then you have the option to add more balances from other cards. There is a draw back though. You can only have 5 cards on file with a max per card of $1000.00. A huge bonus is if you ever lose your card or have it stolen you can immediately transfer the funds to another card! I also will often purchase discounted “cards” from Target online that are sent via email then I transfer the electronic gift card’s balance to my card on file. It makes getting extra discounted cards while at Disney super convenient. To learn more and set up an account visit https://disneygiftcard.com/
Pay by phone:This is the simplest way to pay with gift cards. You can call Disney as often as you want to apply a payment to your vacation package. If you buy your gift cards over the course of time you can call and apply them as you obtain them. You could also call and do it all at once. I once asked a cast member if there was a limit on the number of gift cards that can be used to pay for a trip, and she told me no and that the cast members take bets to see who can get the highest number of gift cards at once! So go ahead and call them, but keep in mind a $4000.00 trip in $50 gift cards is 80 gift cards. That's a lot of numbers and pins to read one by one over the phone. You may call Disney and speak to a cast member by calling (407)939-5277.
If staying at a Disney resort you can also set it up to have room charges applied to your MagicBand. This is what I choose to do to keep my pockets light and lessen the chance of losing the gift cards. If you set up room charges you will still need to link an active credit or debit card. I personally would suggest a credit card just in case charges are accidentally made! When you check-in simply tell your front desk cast member that you will be paying everything off with gift cards. They will make a note on your account to not put the charges through. Keep in mind there is a limit, but there is a way around it. I was told the limit was $500.00 and to try to come in and give them gift cards to pay it off before it hit that limit. In the event that charges are made to your credit card, they will gladly reverse them so that you can pay with your gift cards. I made two trips to my resort's front desk to give them gift cards to pay my balance off with no issues whatsoever. One benefit of using room charges is that they can give you an itemized receipt when you check out. This allows you to see what you spent money on and helps when budgeting your next trip.