It’s well into summer vacation season and that may mean it’s time to make a trip to your local amusement or water park, or it may be the time of year you pack up the family and head to Walt Disney World for the week. Finding discounts for some places can be easy, such as saving on admission for Six Flags parks by bringing a Coke can (They’ve been doing this promotion since I was a kid).
Finding discounts for the Disney parks can be much more difficult and here are some hints of where to look (and where not to).
Wherever you decide to go, you can also maximize the points you earn for the tickets by paying with the right credit card. Here’s how:
1) Use a card that earns bonus points for amusement and theme park tickets
The only cards that say they will pay a bonus for amusement and theme park tickets are the Citi Thank You Preferred, Premier and Prestige cards. Each of these cards will give you 2x points for your tickets. I’ve also found that other purchases inside the park (like souvenirs) might also trigger the 2x bonus, but you can’t count on that. I can confirm that Universal Orlando tickets, Walt Disney World tickets and tickets for Schlitterbahn Waterpark all pay the bonus for admission tickets
2) Buy tickets online ahead of time from a travel agency and use a card that gives bonus for travel
There are many travel sites that sell tickets for theme parks and amusement parks. When you buy tickets from these agencies, they will typically code as “travel” and you’ll be able to collect the bonus points for that category.
Many more credit cards give bonuses for travel than the few that give bonuses for amusement park purchases. Some of the main ones are:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve – 3x points for Travel Expenses
- Citi Thank You Preferred & Prestige – 3x points for Travel Expenses
- Chase Sapphire Preferred – 2x points for Travel Expenses
- Costco Anywhere – 3% cash back for travel purchases
I’ve heard many people speak well of Undercover Tourist to purchase tickets. I’ve never used them but I do trust the opinions of people who have. I did use aRes Travel, referred by Mousesavers.com, to get us tickets for Disneyland and had no problems. I’d also check out any discounts you may get from your employer. I have access to PerkSpot through my job and they refer me to Ticketsatwork.com to buy discounted tickets. The savings are average but it saves you the time of hunting around to save a few more dollars.
3) Buy gift cards or prepaid tickets at a supermarket, office supply or home improvement store and use a card that earns bonuses for those categories
I know for a fact you can buy Disney gift cards pretty much anywhere. Pick somewhere where you get a good bonus on spending and get your gift cards there. You can then use these cards to pay for your tickets (If you have to get a large amount of money to pay for tickets, it’s possible to combine the amounts from several Disney gift cards onto a single card online by going here).
For example, Publix supermarkets sells Disney gift cards and Universal Orlando ticket vouchers in the store. With the American Express Everyday Preferred card, we get back 4.5x points for all spending at supermarkets. If I were to go to Office Depot, I could get Disney gift cards with my Chase Ink card and get 5x points per dollar. Any of these would be a way to maximize your spending on admission tickets
4) Purchase tickets at the hotel and charge to the room to earn extra hotel points
I read about this the other day and couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of this one before. If you’re staying at a hotel that has a concierge desk, they may sell theme park tickets. NOTE: FIRST MAKE SURE YOU ARE NOT OVERPAYING FOR THE TICKETS!!!!!!!
If the tickets are the same price you would pay otherwise, see if you can get tickets and place the charge on your room. That way you can use whatever card gives you bonus points for your hotel and you may even get extra hotel points as well.
5) Food you buy at the park will (usually) show as dining and not amusement park charges
That’s right. Most of the big parks will have their food establishments (except for carts selling things like popcorn and sodas) set up as dining with the credit card companies. Remember to use a card that gives you the best return on dining. Smaller parks are hit and miss. I just found out food vendors at Schlitterbahn Water Park shows up as Theme Park spend.
Going to an amusement park can be an expensive proposition. You can do your homework ahead of time to save as much as you can on the tickets but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also try to earn the most points for the money you are spending.
How do you try to get the most points when buying tickets for amusement parks? Do you have any tricks that I’ve missed?
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