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 only saw $50.00 cards in my local Target and on Target.com.) 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. If purchasing online there is a limit of 3 $50 gift cards per transaction. All you have to do is check out with 3 gift cards and then buy 3 more. Repeat until you have the desired amount.
How to pay for your trip with the gift cards:
You have a few options to pay for your trip with gift cards. I will explain 3 different ways to pay. I personally used the Disney Vacation Account option as it has the added benefit of earning you a $20.00 Disney gift card for each $1000.00 spent on your vacation, essentially saving you MORE money. One note: to earn your gift card bonuses you must have your account open and active for at least 120 days, so make sure you open it in enough time. You could easily open it now with $10.00 and then add money as you have it later to ensure you would receive the bonus $20/$1000 spent.
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 Vacation Account:
This is an actual savings account issued through Disney themselves. You can fund it through your bank account, Disney Chase Visa, and Disney gift cards. You will need $10.00 to open the account. This can be done with any checking account or your Disney Chase Visa (interest rates apply as usual). Once the account is set up, you deposit your gift cards by entering the numbers found on the card. (Look for the "apply gift cards" button.) Please note: any money deposited into your account that isn't used for a trip may only be refunded in the form of a Disney gift card. Before you pay for your trip you will need to obtain your account number. To keep your account secure, some of the digits in the account number will not appear online. You may request your full account number by following the links on their website. Once you have all the digits, you can call Disney and tell the cast member you are paying with your Disney Vacation account number and they will easily walk you through it. (407)939-5277.
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.