The last few years have been difficult and unpredictable and Walt Disney World is expensive. You want to visit your happy place to keep your sanity, but at the same time, you don’t want to go into debt for a vacation. Seriously, don’t go into debt for a vacation. There are plenty of ways to make extra income devoted to Disney.
A typical Disney vacation for a family of 4 can easily come in around $5,000. Ouch. Budget vacations can totally happen! Let’s talk about ways to save up enough cash for a budget Disney vacation! And none of these include hours of surveys trial offers! Ain’t nobody got time for that nonsense.
Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the article to see the total amount that you can save up with these tricks!
Also, check out our article on how to save over $1,000 at Disney World!
Passive Income for Disney World
Let’s be honest, when we have free time we have a phone in our hands. When we wake up: phone. When we’re going to bed: phone. Drinking coffee: phone. Going to the bathroom… admit it: phone. There are a bunch of apps out there that you can earn cash just for playing. Seriously, this is not a trick. You won’t get rich, but $20 here and $10 there definitely adds up.
Swagbucks is a rewards app that allows you to earn points that are redeemable for gift cards or PayPal transfers. They do not list Disney gift cards as a redeemable option, but you can transfer funds to your PayPal account and purchase Disney gift cards from there.
You can earn points by watching videos and doing those dreaded surveys if you’re into that type of thing. But the most lucrative way to earn Swagbuck points is with their cashback tools. Swagbucks has partnered with big brands like Amazon and Macys. If you make your purchases through their link you earn cashback.
Now, the amount you accrue is based on how much you spend, but there is a $10 bonus for signing up! Swagbucks offers up to 4% on Amazon purchases through their link and that typical American spends $1,400 on Amazon a year. (Really, is that all? I feel like that’s low…) That’s ….*drumroll, please*… $56 per year just from your Amazon purchases.
Just Play & Game Apps
There are a bunch of game apps out there that offer cash for you to play! Apps like Just Play, Rewarded Play, Earn Money, and PlayWell are all basically the same thing. They are hubs for games that are still in beta phases looking to get people to download and play their games to get hooked on the game, tell their friends about the game, or to move them up in the searchability of the app store. Whatever their reason, you can take advantage and earn cash!
Don’t get too excited and download a bunch and think you’re going to make bank. Been there, done that, got the intense wave of spam phone calls from putting my information everywhere only to come out with a couple bucks. Most of these apps represent the same games with the same payout amounts. You can only collect from an a game that you download through the pay to play app the first time it has ever been on your device.
Our advice: Pick just one pay to play app based on the best initial cash offer to download and stick with just that one.
I downloaded the Just Play app and went through and played the games intermittently throughout the day like when I woke up, before bed, and an occasional break in the day. It can be addicting at first, but as someone who is not a gamer, I was totally bored with it within a month. I cashed out $50 and deleted the app. I don’t believe that you make $50 per month because so much of the points are earned in the beginning. It’s very slow moving after that. Assume $10 a month after the first month.
How many receipts do you have piled up in your purse? What about in your car? Receipts are everywhere. What if you could use these to earn some extra cash? Like $100 or more. Score, right? Big brand companies pay these smaller companies for your purchasing history to figure out what consumers buy, how much they buy, how often they buy, and where they buy. Big brother is out there capturing your purchasing as it is (store loyalty cards), you mind as well get paid for it!
Ibotta is by far the biggest player in the grocery cash back game. Once you create an account you choose the stores that you shop at the most and scroll through the current offers. Offers can be as low as $0.25, and as high as $10.00 cash back on items. These offers are on specific items and brands, with the typical cashback offer of $1.00 per item. After making an account, we scrolled through and set Walmart as our favorite store and chose offers for things like macaroni and cheese, laundry detergent, disposable razors, toothpaste, etc. and if I purchased these items I would have $18 in cash back!!!! This was not a “just signed up” bonus. Ibotta can reasonably earn you $20 each month in cash back.
Upside is a new cash back app that is focused mainly around gas stations. With the cost of gas these days it’s a great feeling to recoup some of that money! When you download Upside the app will show you gas stations nearby that are offering cashback on fuel when you upload your receipt. New to Upside is that there are limited offers available for restaurants and groceries. Upside works best if you live in near a bigger city, but you can go to Upside’s website, and input your monthly budget and it will tell you your estimated cash back over 12 months!
Other Cash Back for Receipt Apps
Unlike the pay to play gaming apps, there is no limit as to how many apps you upload receipts to. Really, it comes down to your due diligence and motivation for the cash back. Other apps like Fetch, Receipt Hog, Checkout 51, CoinOut, not to mention countless others, will work the same way. Upload your receipts and certain items will earn you cash back. Other apps do pay significantly less than Ibotta. All in all, you’re looking at around $100 a year after using multiple apps per year.
Gift Cards for Disney World
Disney gift cards are a great way to save up for a trip over time and then stay on budget while you’re there. They can be used to purchase park tickets, pay for Disney Resort stays, food, souvenirs, and pretty much everything in the parks and Disney Springs. One of the only things you can’t use them on is Disney balloons. Go figure.
Weekly Gift Cards
This is one of our favorite methods for passively saving for a Disney trip! Even if we don’t have a trip planned, I throw a Disney gift card in the cart on my weekly grocery shopping trip. Do I miss $5,000 when I book a family trip? Heck yes. That is painful. (But worth it!) Do I miss $25 a week? No. Over a month that’s about $100! That equates to about $1,300 per year! Then as you’re planning the big trip that’s a huge chunk already paid for!
Naturally, you are not going to want to have 52 gift cards in your wallet. Disney will allow up to $1,000 on a gift card. Using Disney’s official gift card website you can combine gift cards, purchase new ones, and check balances.
PRO TIP: The Disney gift card website has multiple gift card designs, whereas the stores just have the generic Mickey. If you are saving for different items like food, souvenirs, etc., it might make sense for you to have different card designs to tell them apart. Shipping is free on their website and there are no activation fees.
Discount Gift Cards
We’ve established that gift cards can be a great way to save for your next trip, but what if you could save on the gift cards themselves? It’s possible!
If you are a Target Red Card cardholder, you can buy your gift cards with the 5% discount. Sure, 5% doesn’t sound like much, but it does add up. If you bought your weekly gift card using your 5% off from your Target credit card, you would save $65 over the year. That money could get you a new pair of ears, a coffee mug, and a churro!
You’re getting closer to the trip and need to pay off the rest of the expenses. We hope that you’re a Sam’s Club member because you can buy a pack of Disney gift cards at a Discount! Sam’s Club sells $500 worth of Disney gift cards for $485. You have been saving all year but still have to pay off $2,000, so get yourself 4 of the $500 packs from Sam’s Club and save $60!
Discount Gift Card Sites
If you’re reading this article, you’ve probably been cruising the internet for all types of ways to save money on your Disney vacation, so you’ve probably seen the website GiftCardDeal.com. They offer Disney gift cards with steep discounts. We mean STEEP. Like hundreds of dollars off. Remember what grandma says, “If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is”.
Let’s talk about this:
How Can They Offer Such Steep Discounts?
This website is selling you gift cards that they’ve bought from other people. Huh? Have you ever seen those sites asking to buy your gift cards that are unused or partially used? Yeah. To make it a little shakier, some less than honest people use gift cards as a way to commit fraud and not even Disney is immune.
What Does That Mean For You?
The website even admits that it can be an excess of 30 days before you receive your gift cards. Some reviews even mention up to 60 days! Why is that significant? We find it highly suspicious that that is the company’s lead time when that is the exact time frame in which you can report fraudulent charges or stop payment to a business for malpractice. In English, after 30 days when you haven’t received your thousands of dollars in gift cards, you cannot get your money back. Period.
Is it Legit?
It’s a gamble for sure! The reviews online are very mixed. Some have said that the gift cards came and were a great savings for their vacation. Some have said that they received empty gift cards. Others hadn’t received anything at all and they are just out the money entirely.
The real question is are these discount cards worth it? We don’t think so. In fact, we say back away slowly and don’t make any sudden movements. Even the best reviews from people that were happy with the company share shady business practices, like having to email and call the company multiple times to ask for their gift cards. And what company in the United States shipping to the United States needs a lead time of 30 – 60 days. You know that gut feeling that tells you something isn’t quite right? Listen to it.
Nowadays you would be hard pressed to find a credit card that doesn’t offer some type of cash back or rewards. If your card doesn’t, dump them and get a new one! You can check through all different types of credit cards based on their rewards and perks, as well as by your credit score to determine what you are most likely to be approved for. #TreatYoSelf and use those cashback dollars for vacation!
Disney Credit Card
As you might have seen throughout the Disney website, Disney has its own credit card available through Chase. The card is super cute and screams Disney fan, first of all. There are a handful of designs that you get to choose from to suit your Disney fandom.
The Disney card offers between 1% – 3% cashback BUT that cashback is only available to spend in Disney dollars. As in, you can only use it on ShopDisney.com, in a Disney store or at a Disney Park. There are a lot of cards out there with wayyy better cashback offers that offer more freedom, but the Disney card being limited forces you to save for Disney instead of spending it on something frivolous or just applying it to your balance. That cashback is your reward for making these companies insanely rich, spend it on something that makes you happy!
There are other perks to being a Disney Chase card holder, too. When you’re in Disney World, there are character meet and greet locations in EPCOT and Hollywood Studios that are exclusive for cardholders. And let’s not forget to mention that Disney Chase cardholders get a discount at all merchandise locations on Disney property when the total is paid on the card. Score.
Credit Card Rewards
As mentioned before, most other cards have a way better cashback program than the Disney Chase card. The Disney card is great to have for the exclusive meet and greets and the discounts. As far as actually accumulating cashback to put towards a Disney vacation, pretty much any other card is the way to go.
There are credit cards out there that earn up to 5% cashback. Of course there are limits, but if you’re a typical American that has NOT won the megamillions jackpot, you don’t really have to worry about reaching that threshold. (And if you have won the $1B jackpot, we need to be besties…)
Imagine that instead of running bank drafts to pay all of your bills if you paid them on a 5% cashback card instead? You’re going to pay it from your bank anyway, just add the extra step so that you can make something from it. Imagine that your household has $2,000 in bills, food, etc. and you put that on your credit card before paying it off. That would earn $100 in cashback! Over a year, that’s $1,200!
Amount Saved Up Over 12 Months:
- Swagbucks $66
- Pay-to-Play Apps $160
- Ibotta $240
- Upside $300
- Other Cash Back Apps $100
- Gift Cards $1,300
- Target $65
- Sam’s Club $60
- Credit Card Cashback $1,200
Total Savings for 12 Months
If you follow all of these tips and tricks you will save a whopping $3,491! Now you’re left with 2 choices: Do you do the full, big $5,000 Disney vacation where now you only need to pay $1,500 to complete or do you pat yourself on the back for savings well done and go on a sweet budget vacation with just the money that you saved?
What’s Your Best Disney Saving Trick?
I am a mother of three that has refused to grow up. Adulting is for the birds, so I go to Disney World every chance I get for that magical escape from reality. I believe that Haunted Mansion is the best ride in all of the Disney Parks, and I am fervently in team Happily Ever After for fireworks spectaculars, (sorry, not sorry, Enchanted). Finally, I hope I never grow tired of skipping down Main Street, USA, and my dream come true would be “friends with” the Fairy Godmother in my old age.