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A Better Way to Use Points to Stay at Disney World Properties?

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Written by Dustin

With Disney being a top location for many to visit, could this popular reward currency be the best way to stay on-resort?

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I have a friend who really enjoys taking his family to Disney. In the last year or so, he has gone twice and is planning to go again. We were talking about hotel options using his points, but there were a few options that caught my eye. Could this be a better way to use points to stay at Disney World Properties?

A Better Way to Use Points to Stay at Disney World Properties?

Current Options:

Disney World is a favorite place for many people to take their kids (or without), but Disney definitely isn’t a cheap vacation. Couple it with the fact using points on hotels at Disney is usually pretty limited.

At the moment, you can open cards like the Barclay Arrival, Capital One Venture, or any other cash back credit card to reduce the cost. These can help to reduce your cost at least $400, still leaves a large bill for you to deal with.

The more talked about option would be to open the SPG credit card.

If you open the SPG credit card, the current bonus is 25,000 points after spending $3,000. Once you meet that requirement, you have two options to use you SPG points at Disney World:

  • Walt Disney World Swan- Category 5, requiring 12,000- 16,000 points per night
  • Walt Disney World Dolphin- Category 4, requring 10,000 points per night

Add in the 5th night free as well and you can save some points. After you burn through the bonus, they are very slow to accumulate. I don’t think too highly of SPG, I consider it an overrated program.

I guess there is the option to just pay for it, but where’s the fun in that, right?

A Better Option?

While my friend was looking at staying potentially at a Hyatt near Disney World, he checked the Ultimate Rewards portal to see other options. When he looked he saw resorts like:

  • Animal Kingdom
  • Disney’s Beach Club Resort
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort And Spa
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort French Quarter
  • Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
  • Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
  • Disney’s Old Key West

These Resorts are right on Disney Property and even better, they were able to be booked using Ultimate Reward Points!

This could be a great alternative for the families that love to visit Disney World and who would prefer to stay on the resort.

I don’t think using Ultimate Reward points is a bad redemption option, especially when using the Chase Sapphire Reserve for on-resort Disney Properties. It is always great to have more options available, but how does it compare with prices at Disney?

Chase vs Disney:

One issue I have with Ultimate Rewards portal or any third party site, is the fact prices can vary. They can vary from each third party site as well. I have asked Chase before why the price differences, I have been told it is the negotiated price and can’t be adjusted.

For these 2 examples, I chose the same dates, June 10th through June 17th.

** The point totals come from my Sapphire Preferred, so I will put in point totals for Sapphire Reserve**

Example 1: Animal Kingdom

Use Points to Stay at Disney

Through Chase, the price is $504.07 per night. The total price including taxes comes to $4104.34. If you were to be using your Chase Sapphire Reserve, this would require 273,623 points (328,378 points with Chase Sapphire Preferred) to be completely paid for.

Use Points to Stay at Disney

Now booking directly though Disney is $504 per night. The total price including taxes is $3969.

The taxes through Chase were higher than booking directly through Disney. Although it is about $135 more to book through Chase, you will redeem your points at a higher rate, so to me that is fine.

Example 2: Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

gardenview

Chase start their pricing extremely high at $703.63 per night. A week stay here, with the dates I mentioned above, would cost $5403.98. The taxes on the room totaled $478.59

If you redeemed your points with your Chase Sapphire Reserve you’d need 360,265 points. (432,319 points for Sapphire Preferred)

 

gardendisney

Booking directly through Disney gives you a much better rate per night for the same room! This room will cost $621.57 per night, but your total will be $4894.90. I found it interesting that Disney’s taxes were 523.90.

In this case, Chase cost $509.08 more than booking directly through Disney. On the other hand, if you were to book with Disney directly, you’d need 489,490 points (since you’d need to cash out at 1 cent per point).

Although Chase is quite a bit more expensive you would still be saving points booking through portal instead of cashing them out. This would be a judgement call if you would prefer to spend $500 more but get more value for your points or not.

These are just a few examples, but as with anything, you should do your homework to make sure are getting a good redemption.

Booking Vacation Packages:

My friend was looking at booking a package with a dining plan, water passes, and a few extras. If he were to book directly through Disney he would receive a discount to do so and have himself quite a bit of cash.

When looking online at the Ultimate Rewards portal, there is no option for that. You are only able to book hotel rooms. If Chase wouldn’t allow you to add these features on then overall you might be better off booking through Disney, but…

I decided to call Chase and ask them a few questions about this. I was told that you can only book the hotels online, and not the packages (such as the one my friend wanted). If you wanted to add any passes or meal plans, you would need to call and book your vacation through “vacation packages.”

One thing to consider, since there were pricing differences with the rooms, there could be a difference when booking a vacation package through Chase. I would really consider pricing out your options on Disney to have an idea of what it would cost you. Then, I’d call Chase to book your vacation package to Disney with the options you want.

Once you receive your total from Chase, you’ll wan to compare it to the price with Disney. The decision to use your points could become a little cloudy depending on the price difference if any.

Conclusion:

In the end, is this really a better option? It really  depends on the person booking their trip. I think it is fantastic that you can use your Ultimate Reward points to stay on Disney. This opens up more opportunities for people to use their points on the resort.

I would even say this option is better than using SPG points to stay at Disney.

You will definitely receive more value if you were to redeem with your Chase Sapphire Reserve, but you could still be overpaying. It is important to compare prices as there were price differences between Chase and Disney.

If you were looking to book extras onto your trip, you will need to call in to Chase to make your reservation.

Will you be using your Ultimate Rewards at Disney? Do you think this is a better option?

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About the author

Dustin

After completing 6 years of pharmacy school, I finally had the time to travel. I started investigating ways to travel for less and when I redeemed my first award flight for my honeymoon, I knew I was hooked! Fast forward a couple of years and places I had never dreamed of visiting like Budapest, Honolulu, Bermuda and many other places where all within my reach, and for little to no money out of my pocket. Now, I have collected well over a million points and miles, and try to help people travel for less on their wallet.

9 Comments

  • Disney is one of the most difficult popular destinations to use points/miles in an efficient way in my opinion. The benefits of staying onsite, such as early fastpass selection, magic hours, and free parking are big advantages on a Disney trip. For me, that eliminates the surrounding resorts like Hilton, Hyatt, or Marriott. When the Swan resort is close to $300/night or 10k SPG points, that’s about the best Disney redemption i can really see. And even then, unless you are Platinum, they make you pay the $25/nt resort fee and $17/nt parking if you have a car.

    I think if you have the Citi Prestige card that is an attractive way to help defray the cost. If I was going to do a stay at the Grand Floridian, I’d probably pay for 4 night with the Prestige card and then the other 3 nights with Chase points. But as someone who has been to WDW over 20 times in the last 20 years, I think they Grand Floridian is a bit overrated and would NEVER pay $600+/night. I would never pay that price for ANY Disney hotel to be honest.

    I think there are much more affordable options such as renting points from DVC members. Also in your example, your friend would need to see if there are annual pass discounts as well. It might make sense for 1 person in the group to get an annual pass as the room/dining discounts can be huge on a 7 day deluxe trip.

    • Hey Shaun,

      I’ll disagree about SPG 10k points being better option. To earn 10k SPG you need to spend $10k. You can earn UR points much faster, but to each their own.

      Also, great tips!

      Thanks for reading,
      Dustin

  • The best way to save money at Disney is to use David’s Vacation Rentals, and literally save thousands of dollars on other people’s vacations rentals

  • Another thing to remember is there are often ways to buy Disney Gift Cards at a 20% discount. Accumulate those in a Vacation Savings Account and pay for it that way. So when comparing cash prices vs. points I’d want to think about an 80% of Disney cost vs. points myself.

    • Hey Glenn,

      I don’t disagree at all with buying GCs at a discounted rate. I think that is a great strategy. I am a big fan of discounted GCs!

      Thanks for reading, I appreciate it.
      Dustin

  • Disneyland has no similar options. Either you pay Disney prices or you stay off-property. We stay at Hyatt/Marriott near enough, shuttle in. It’s great actually to come back to “normal” after a day of Disney.

    • Hey Vicente,

      Who knows, maybe Chase will expand into this areas as well. I hadn’t seen Disney World listed in the UR portal before either.

      Thanks for reading, I appreciate it,
      Dustin

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