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When Disney Gift Cards Expire and Why You Should Use Every Vacation

When Disney Gift Cards Expire and Why You Should Use Every Vacation

You’ve probably seen Mickey’s happy smiling face on gift cards at the checkout section of your local store. If you have an upcoming vacation you might want to consider throwing some of those gift cards onto the conveyor belt. 

Just like any other gift card, they act as cash out on vacation, but without the messy coinage. Disney Gift cards can be used to pay for resort stays, park tickets, merchandise, most restaurants, and even most places in Disney Springs. Before you brush off the idea as pointless, scroll through our guide to see why Disney Gift Cards are the best way to have a totally stress-free vacation.

Why Bother With Disney Gift Cards?

Not many people use basic cash in their day-to-day lives anymore. Most of us live with our credit cards always by our side and even on our phones! But when it comes to vacation, it may not be the best route.

Saving for Your Vacation

Vacations are expensive, especially Disney vacations! The typical family of 4 will spend around $3,000 for their Disney vacation. Dropping that kind of cash really hurts and takes a lot of the fun out of it. Instead, when doing the weekly grocery shopping we throw in a gift card to the mix and put between $25 – $50 on it. That equals $100 – $200 a month, and if you do that all year that is between half the cost of the vacation, or almost all of it!

Souvenir Budgets

We love to allow our kids to pick a souvenir or two during family vacations, but the gift shops can be overwhelming. Our kids will constantly ask “can I have this?”. We started just giving them each a gift with $50 on it and once it was gone, that was it. We found since they treated the card like it was “their” money, and not mom’s money, they were a lot more careful with it. And if that weren’t, that’s okay too! Once it’s gone, it’s gone!

Staying on Budget!

Kids aren’t the only ones who want everything in the shops! How can anyone choose between ears, Loungeflys, or coffee mugs?? We put all of our “play” money for vacation on gift cards so we won’t come home to a shocker of a credit card bill. It all adds up so quickly! 

If you’re looking for ways to save on your vacation, check out our article on how to save $1,000 on your next vacation here.

Something to consider: If you’re planning to walk around the world at an EPCOT festival, gift cards are a great way to keep on budget because those small plates are hard to keep track of how much you’re spending. EPCOT even sells special Disney Gift Cards that are on wristbands. They work just like regular Disney Gift Cards, but you can wear them instead of having to pull out your wallet every 5 minutes! 

Eliminate the Stress

If you’re anything like me, every time you swipe your credit card it hurts a little bit. I tend to be a bit stingy, and that is literally no fun on vacation! I used to love the Disney Dining Plan because I paid for everything in advance so I got to be a “fun mom” who let the kids have a milkshake that I knew they were not going to finish because we had a snack allotment to use. The DDP has not returned since 2020 and there was a famous moment in our family where I insisted that our family of 5 would share ONE Dole Whip… That’s not fun. Instead, I mimicked the Disney Dining Plan by calculating the amount I would have paid for it and then added that amount on Disney Gift Cards. Now I can guilt-free make sure everyone has their own snacks! 

Where to Get Disney Gift Cards?

You can purchase Disney Gift Cards everywhere it seems, EXCEPT Amazon! You will find them at your local grocery story, Walmart, Target, Costco, BJs, etc. 

PRO-TIP: If you are a Target Red Card holder, you can save 5% on all purchases, and this includes gift cards! Sure, 5% doesn’t seem like much, but if you purchase your whole vacation of $3,000, you can save $150! 

PRO-TIP II: If you are a member of Costco or BJs, you can purchase Disney Gift Card bundles that are sold slightly undervalue. The discount is usually 5% off the face value. 

What About Discounted Gift Cards? (link save $1000 article)

Have you seen those websites that offer deeply discounted Disney Gift Cards? Like between 20% – 30% off? Remember those old sayings, “if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is”. We have scoured the internet for reviews of these places, and while yes, we have found many positive reviews 

that talk about receiving gift cards worth in excess of $1,000 and only paying $800, there are a lot of shady practices around those purchases, like having to wait multiple months to receive them. 

There is a lot of risks that goes into buying from these companies, so we urge you to resist the temptation to save dough. Only buy your gift cards in person brand new or through Disney directly. Never trust third parties or buying used gift cards. 

See more about these sketchy third party vendors here

Do Disney Gift Cards Expire?

Good news! Disney gift cards NEVER EXPIRE. Disney Gift Cards do not charge an activation fee like a lot of gift cards on the market. They cost their literal face value, unless you get the discounted ones mentioned in the select stores above. You will never be charged a loading or reloading fee. There are also no fees for unused funds over time. Nothing. 

What to Do If You Lose Your Gift Card?

This is the biggest fear amongst people giving gift cards to their children. What if you lose them? If you lose your Disney Gift Card you are NOT out the money IF you first registered your card to your Disney account here

As soon as you get a Disney Gift Card you should always register it on the website. There you can check the balance, but more importantly, you can transfer funds. If you are to lose a gift card, immediately log in to your account and select transfer funds and you can empty the lost card onto another. Boom! 

Where Can You Use Disney Gift Cards?

Disney Gift Cards are used for much more than merchandise, though that is a big draw. You can literally pay for your entire vacation with Disney Gift Cards. We’re talking park tickets, photo pass, Disney resorts, restaurants, snacks, quick service, etc.! Did you know you can even use Disney Gift Cards at most places in Disney Springs, including those that are not Disney-owned, like Vera Bradley and Coach? If you are visiting a restaurant in Disney Springs that is not Disney-owned, always ask a server if Disney Gift Cards are accepted first, though we have had no place turn us away yet! There are a few places that do not accept them, but they are so few and far between that Disney has not ever put out a list. The one notable area that we know for fact does not accept Disney Gift Cards are the balloon carts. Balloon vendors accept cash only. Weird, we know. 

Did You Know You Can Get “Fancy” Disney Gift Cards?

When Disney Gift Cards Expire and Why You Should Use Every Vacation 4

Alright, now you’re on the Gift Card bandwagon, now we need to tell you about fancy cards! All Disney Gift Cards purchased at stores will look the same. White with a red circle and a very happy Mickey Mouse. If you’re paying for the whole trip, food, souvenirs, etc. on gift cards, you’re going to want to have the cards look different so you don’t get them mixed up. 

Check out ShopDisney to see oodles of character and park-themed gift cards here. You can find so many fun characters that you can really separate who’s funds are whose. We recently ordered our food budget gift cards and every card featured a picture involving food like Lady and the Tramp sharing their signature spaghetti, but our favorite was Donald Duck eating park popcorn and a Dole Whip! Though, come on, Disney, how is there not a Ratatouille gift card?!

WARNING: Learn from our mistakes here. Yes, it’s true, even with all of our Disney expertise, we are not perfect. ShopDisney is not the quickest shipper for merchandise. Even knowing this, I thought 3 weeks was more than adequate timing. Turns out, ShopDisney doesn’t make their own gift cards so the lead time is close to 14 business days before shipping. We still recommend ordering these fancy cards because they are too cute and make great gifts, but definitely do not order right before an upcoming trip! 

How do you keep your Disney trips stress-free? Let us know in the comments!