This post was written by Robert Dwyer, who you can follow on Twitter or find at his blog Wellesley Wine Press. He wrote up some thoughts on using bank points (or credit card points) for a Disney hotel stay. Below you’ll find some good tips about how to go about using your points to pay for a Disney vacation. Thanks to Bob for helping to provide content when I’m lazy! 🙂
Joe did a nice job summarizing the approach of using bank points for a Disney hotel stay, usually Chase Ultimate Rewards or Citi Thank You Points (How to pay for Disney hotels and tickets with points). And perhaps bundling park tickets with it as part of a package.
I think the topic is worth discussing in more depth.
The thinking is it’s hard to get discounts on Disney so if you can accrue points for a penny a point or less you’re getting a deep discount. 1.5 cents per point of value with the Chase Sapphire Reserve for example. If you’ve got the Citi Premier you’re getting a 1.25 cents per point. And if you’ve got both the Citi Premier and Prestige you’re getting even more value thanks to 4th night free.
Of course, if you can earn the points for less your discount is even better. Given how voracious the Disney community is for Disney Gift Cards when discounted as modestly as 5-10% I think 33%+ is actually spectacular.
While comparing notes with Joe I was doing a bunch of searches for upcoming trips. I found the prices quoted on Chase’s portal were consistently ~5% more expensive than on Disney’s site. This bothered me because it eats away at the per-point value I’m getting out of my hard earned rewards.
So I did something we normally don’t recommend: I called.
Whether you’re dealing with Chase or Citi, call the phone number listed in their respective redemption portals and ask for the Cruises & Tours department.
To speak to a Chase Travel Specialist, please call. Advisors specializing in flights, hotels, car rentals and activities are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Advisors specializing in cruises are available Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET, and Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET.
ThankYou Service Center
Monday to Friday8am to 1am ET
Saturday and Sunday9am to 9pm ET
Why Cruises & Tours?
If you want to book a travel package (say a Disney hotel stay that includes park tickets, or a dining plan) you’ll need to talk with the Cruises & Tours department. They handle more complicated bookings like these, seemingly behaving more like a full service travel agent than the reps who just book the same hotels and flights you see yourself online.
Even if you don’t want to bundle park tickets or a Disney meal plan it could be worth contriving a package (say by adding a rental car to a hotel stay) because the Cruises & Tours reps seem more empowered to get better rates than what’s in the portal.
I called the Chase Cruises & Tours department and got a helpful agent right away.
I described the trip I wanted to take: Disneyland Hotel Club-Level with Park tickets.
I saw a price of $717/nt on Disney’s site:
The Chase portal was consistently about 5% higher across all room types. $752.18/nt in this case:
Incidentally, Citi’s portal (run by the same people, but with different inventory) was $759/nt:
I asked the rep if she could match the price I saw on Disney’s site and bundle Park tickets with it to make it a vacation package. She took my information and said she’s call me back. About a half an hour later she called me back with good news: She matched the price she saw on Disney’s site down to the penny and bundled in Park tickets to make it a package. Sold!
Related reading: Is Disney Cruise Line Concierge Level worth it?
Does this work for other hotel chains?
I don’t know. I have some datapoints that say it does not work for other scenarios. I saw a price for Hyatt timeshare property that was $349/nt on Hyatt’s site and about $100/nt more in Citi’s portal. I called and the rep told me to pound sand. That the prices were what they were and if I didn’t like it I could pay cash.
What’s been your experience?
Does calling Cruises & Tours open up hotels not bookable online?
No, it doesn’t. I called Chase back a few weeks later looking for that same Hyatt timeshare. Although it was available in the Citi portal it was not available in the Chase portal. The rep I spoke with, coincidentally the same exact rep who helped me out with the Disney booking, was unable to find the Hyatt timeshare in their booking channels.
Can I stack Citi 4th night free with Park tickets?
I don’t think so. But it’s worth a shot. I think as soon as you try to combine a 4th night free hotel booking with a package you get out of the 4th night free realm. The closest you can come to leveraging 4th night free for a hotel stay that’s more than just a hotel is to book an all-inclusive hotel.
I don’t have great expectations for the food & beverage options at the Disneyland Hotel Club Lounge but I did justify it in my mind by thinking we’d be getting 1.5 cents per point towards a bit of food & beverage in the lounge.
I’d be interested in hearing if anyone was able to get Citi 4th night free (essentially 25% off, before taxes) with any kind of package.
Can I stack Disney Annual Passholder/DVC/other discounts with bank point redemptions?
That’s a great question. I think you can, though I’ve never done it myself. I haven’t done it myself because I’ve never had a discount available for the hotel/room type I’m looking for coincide with my vacation. I say “I think you can” because Disney’s site says to book with Disney or call a travel agent to take advantage of the offer. Chase and Citi effectively act like travel agents when they make these bookings. So I think they’re possible.
Any datapoints on this?
See also: Using Citi Prestige 4th night free at Disney Hotels
If your goal is to take your family to a Disney Park, stay on-site and use bank points it’s worth trying to maximize the redemption. I find it harder to get discounts on Park tickets and dining than airfare and hotels. And it’s relatively affordable to earn URs and TYPs. So it’s a redemption I can justify in my mind.
See also: Going all in on Disney World: On-site trip report
I’d love it if I could stack Citi Prestige 4th night free with a meaty 30+% off Disney discount with 1.25 cpp uplift and bundle in Park tickets and Free Dining while I’m at it. That’s not possible but it’s always fun to try to get as close as possible.
Ping me on Twitter @RobertDwyer if you’d like to connect. I’d love to compare notes on this stuff.
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When you booked with Cruise and Tour, were you able to use partial UR points and partial cash, or did you have to use all UR points to book? I’m planning to book a room and ticket package and don’t know if I will need to accumulate more UR points first or if I can sub in cash for what the UR points don’t cover. TIA!
Hey Melissa, yes you can pay partially with points and partially with cash. You can even pay partially with points and partially with Disney GCs which is nice when you can get Disney GCs at a discount.
I did this for a Disney Cruise booked with Citi TYP. Your Citi/Chase travel agent facilitates taking the GC codes and passing them along to Disney. Hope this helps, and let me know if you experience something different?
Thank you so much for your quick response! I am collecting UR points and discounted Disney GCs. I knew you could book the room only through the Chase portal for partial points/partial cash, but wasn’t sure if you could do the same through Cruise and Tour. That will be extra helpful if I can use the gift cards through them as well! I will not be booking my package for a couple months yet, but I am hoping everything will go smoothly when I do 🙂
Wow! If I’m reading this right, you got the park tickets added for free to make it a package? Or no? That’s crazy if so!!
No I think they charged the going rate for tickets. That would indeed be crazy!
Joe is correct, I paid for the room and park tickets at the going Disney rate with Ultimate Rewards.
I just re-read what I wrote and I can see where the conclusion that the tickets were free might come from. The main point of my post was that room rates were higher on the Chase/Citi portals than what Disney was quoting. And by calling you could get them to match the price. So I showed the room rate on each to highlight that difference.
Then I mentioned I added park tickets to the mix without showing the total bundled price of each option (Disney/Chase/Citi). I did that because you can’t price out a bundle on Chase/Citi’s site. You have to call. So I couldn’t do a screen shot of each option.
I still think it’s pretty tremendous to be able to pay for park tickets and/or dining with URs at 1.5 cents a piece. Because it’s harder to get deep discounts on Disney Park tickets and dining than it is to get deep discounts on Disney hotels. Because you can readily book Disney hotels through online travel agencies or pay with credit card points, but you can’t do the same with Park tickets and dining.
I hope that clears it up. Thanks for the comment!
Is it possible to just book a one day Disneyland ticket by calling the UR rep directly?
No, in my experience they don’t sell one day tickets 🙁
Hey Robert – I successfully booked the AP rate through Chase twice now. Once with the Deluxe Dining Plan and once as room only. Thanks for the tip!
That’s great! Thanks for the datapoint.