Sharon and I have been Disney fans for most of our lives. That being said, it should be no surprise that we each have the Disney Rewards Visa credit card offered by Chase.
Back when it was introduced, you can bet that I had my application in even before the card was released. My card still says Cardmember since DAY 1. It’s not the first Disney card that I’ve had in my life. As you see, I’ve had several.
I still have my account open and use it sporadically, just to make sure that Chase doesn’t close my account for inactivity. Why keep a card that you don’t use, you ask? There are several reasons:
- The card has valuable benefits for someone who visits Disney Theme Parks
- The card has no annual fee
- I’ve had the card for a long time so it helps my credit score
- I still like having a Disney card
Chase lists these benefits on their website:
- $50 Disney Gift Card after first purchase if you have not received the bonus in the last 24 months
- 1% in reward dollars on everyday purchases
- 10% savings on shopping of purchases of $50 or more at Disney Store or DisneyStore.com
- 10% off select merchandise purchases of $50 or more at select locations at Walt Disney World and Disneyland
- Disney Character Experiences and Star Wars Character Experiences at our private Cardmember locations at the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts. You’ll receive downloads of your photos to mark your visit
- 10% off select dining locations most days at Disneyland and Walt Disney World
- 15% off the non-discounted price of select guided tours at Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts
- 0% interest for the first 6 months following the purchase of select Disney vacation packages or Disney Vacation Club real estate interest
Let’s look at these benefits one by one to figure out if they are good or not.
The $50 gift card for a no annual fee card with no spending requirement isn’t bad.
Signing up for a card for $50 is better than some offers I’ve seen like this one for a 2 liter soda for applying for a Walmart card (Sharon saw this picture and said she got a 2 liter bottle of Coke for filling out an application for a Discover card in the mid-1980s). Chase does offer me a chance to refer my friends for this card since I have it myself. The referral offer is slightly different and better in my opinion, if you can make the spending requirement. You will get a $200 Disney Gift Card when you spend $500 on the card within 3 months of opening the account. This is the same sign up bonus that Chase offers for the Disney Premier Credit Card but that card has a $49 a year fee. (Full Disclosure – if you use my referral and are approved, I do get a $50 credit. You can message me if you want to sign up and I’ll forward you a referral link)
The 1% in reward dollars on purchases is really poor. If you had a different card from Chase, like the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, you would earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases, Earning only 1% back is disappointing in comparison. I look back at the time when I used a $200 credit I earned by using this card for a Disney Cruise. That means I put $20,000 of charges on this card over the period of several years. That spending could have been placed on a card which would have earned me so much more if I knew better back then. Don’t make the same mistake I did.
10% savings on Disney purchases might be of a great value to you but we don’t buy many things at Disney anymore. If we do, it is rarely over $50. YMMV.
Disney and Star Wars Character Experiences. This is a perk that can save you a bunch of time. When we went, the line for the Star Wars Experience was around 45 minutes. By showing my Disney Visa, we were escorted to a special line and waited 5 minutes before our audience with Darth Vader. I’m keeping the card for this benefit alone.
The 10% off dining overlaps with a discount that I get from my Disney Vacation Club membership and from being an Annual Passholder so I don’t get any additional value from it.
We have done all the Disney tours that we wanted to see so the 15% off the non-discounted price of tours isn’t helpful to us.
I have used the 0% interest when paying for a cruise one time since I’ve had the card.
I do value some of the perks the card offers and I end up keeping it because it has no annual fee. You see, keeping cards that cost you nothing can be a very good thing. This is because one of the things that goes into determining your credit score is your average account age. Holding a card for a long time increases the average age of your accounts (and when getting started in this hobby, you can open several cards quickly. If you have a thin credit history, that average account age can drop fast). I’ve had this card since 2003 and I have no intention of getting rid of it.
Finally, I really do like having a Disney Credit Card. It’s something I think I’ve had as long as I’ve had credit. Now, I’m not totally thrilled of the card design I currently have (Sharon and I both have cards on the account and I picked the design with her in mind – she was a huge Tinker Bell fan at the time). I don’t use it much so it’s fine. I have a Tinker Bell card. I’m totally OK with that.
I mentioned the Disney Premier Card earlier and the $200 bonus offered for signing up. It’s worth mentioning since they also keep pushing for me to upgrade to it. It has the same benefits as the regular card and it also carries a $49 a year fee. The main advantage they tout for it is that you can earn 2% back on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants and most Disney locations. You still earn 1% back at all other locations. Sounds appealing right?
Well, it’s not really all that great when you think about it. I already get 2x points for all our dining purchases with our Chase Sapphire Preferred card, including those at Disney locations (like the 17 points we got for our Glühwein from from the Holidays Around the World booth in Germany at Epcot). I place a higher value on Chase Ultimate Rewards points than I do for Disney Rewards because I can change Ultimate Rewards points into hotel points or airline miles. With Disney Rewards I am only able to use them to get a Disney gift card. For our grocery store purchases we earn 4.5x back from American Express and I’m currently getting 5% back from Discover on my purchases at gas stations. As far as getting discounts at Disney locations, I have most of that spending covered too. I just got back 2x Citi Thank You points for the purchase of our annual passes. For us, nothing about the Disney Premier card beats other cards we already have. Even if you didn’t have a card which is better for everything, you could still get a Citi Double Cash card with no annual fee and earn 2% cash back on every purchase and use that money to pay for your Disney vacation. Now I’m not recommending you go out and sign up for a bunch of cards right away. Remember, you need to have goals and signing up for the right cards is part of that strategy.
So for me, I’m going to keep my no annual fee Disney card with Tinker Bell on it. If you are a big Disney fan, it’s a worthwhile thing to think about. It’s just not a great card to put your spending on. I’ve introduced you to some of them in this article and we’ll get more into that in a future post.