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And Beyond,  Blog Post,  Planning,  Tips

Travel Hacking a Disney Cruise

Do you ever have serious FOMO watching other people’s vacations and wondering how they can afford them? Same. We booked a Disney Cruise in the middle of Covid times and had 18 months to pay it off. It was still painful. I have to say though, it was worth it! So we wanted to do it again.

This is a sort of unconventional way to “travel hack” a Disney Cruise. It takes a lot of commitment to the result so hang in with me. We are going to use a combo of points, miles, and discounted gift cards to make this happen. Disney cruises are not cheap Y’all. Additionally, “travel hackers” would not consider this the “best use” or value of points. The thing is though we would not have been able to afford this otherwise. So you make your best decision. There is a method to the madness.

The Method

I booked our cruise via United Miles Cruises. You can book a cruise with a combination of points and miles. I used four ways to accumulate United Miles. 1. Chase Ultimate Rewards points, 2. United Miles earned via the United Shopping Portal, 3. United points via the United Mileage X App, and 4. Capital One Miles.

This is the cost for a 5-day summer cruise for 4 people in an inside room. We booked in January it would have been cheaper if we booked further in advance.

You need to shift your mindset to think about always maximizing your return on everyday spending. You can “Stack” promotions or miles-earning opportunities to maximize your points. Some of this may seem like too much or overwhelming. You can do all these things or only one or two of these things to start earning points. Do what is manageable for you.

The Madness

This section includes some personal referral links. I would love if you use mine as I get something from it but you can also reach out to friends and family to see if they have a referral link for any of these cards too. Better yet use my link, then refer your spouse/partner/cruise buddy to earn more points.

First, you need a combination of at least one of these credit cards to maximize your earnings. This is how we were able to hack a Disney Cruise.

  1. A card that earns Chase Ultimate rewards. I use the Chase Saphire Preserve. When you sign up for this card and meet the minimum spend you will ( at the time of publication) get a bonus of 60,000 ultimate reward points.
  2. I also use the Chase Business Ink Card. My business is reselling items on Poshmark and Facebook Marketplace. When you meet the minimum spend bonus you get 75,000 -90,000 Ultimate Reward points. This card is useful because you get 5x points on purchases at office supply stores. Who cares? Office supply stores sell gift cards including Visa and Master Card gift cards. You purchase them when there is a sale waiving the activation fee. I use mine to pay for school lunch, aftercare, and water bills, and to buy gift cards through the United Mileage X app. You can transfer all points earned on this card to your other Chase card ( in my case my Chase Sapphire Preserve)
  3. Route all the shopping you can via a shopping portal ( it is free). A lot of major airlines have a shopping portal ( American, United, and Southwest). When you purchase via a shopping portal you earn additional points for that airline. Below you can see how I earned some miles and shopping bonus miles for things I was buying anyway.

4. If you are shopping in store and not online use the United Mileage Plus X app. ( it is free) This allows you to buy a exact amount gift card to immediately be used/scanned at the store. I use this all over the place. Sometimes you can use it in conjunction with the shopping portal. ( your mileage may vary though).

You can see I bought a lot of Disney Gift Cards. This is because I had some Disney Vacation Club dues to pay so I got some bonus points going through this app.

5. The last card I used to wipe out the remainder of my cruise is the Capital One Venture X. It earns 2x points on everything you buy and can be used to erase any travel related charge ( including a Disney Cruise). You can refer your spouse/partner/friend/cruise mate to this card and get a referral bonus. You can also call and combine your points allowing you to erase an even bigger portion of your cruise. For example 10, 000 = $100 travel charge.

We got this $5,500 dollar cruise down to about $1000 out of pocket. I think that is worth all this work.

If you opened these cards and used the bonus points You would have 75,000 Bonus points after $4,000 spend in 3 months ( 83,000 Points total) from the Capital One Venture X Card. 75,000 Points from the Business ink card plus points from the $6,000 Minimum spend for a total of 105,000 ( if you maxed out your shopping at the office supply store). If you opened the Chase Saphire Preferred you could earn 60,000 points plus 6,000 points for meeting the $4,000 minimum spend.

254,000 points you could transfer to United to book the cruise. Then $830 to wipe out a travel charge on Capital One if you only used a credit card sign-up bonus to book a cruise. Not including any points/miles earned via the app or shopping portal.

We did not use credit card sign-up bonuses to pay for this cruise so the amount we paid will not match what I am showing you below.

Now you don’t have to open any credit cards to earn more miles. Use the app and the shopping portal of your choice. The goal is to leverage your everyday spending into a vacation you may not otherwise take. You could do this to take a regular Disney trip and offset the cost of flying to Orlando.

Let me know what you think. You could use these miles to fly to Orlando and stay in a hotel. You could use these miles to fly to Europe. We wanted a Disney Cruise before our kids didn’t want to go on one anymore. Questions? Comments? Need more Help? Check out our other money-saving hacks here. Leave me a comment or reach out to us on Instagram at AdventuresbyDrennon.

I'm Jen. Disney Lover, runner, penny pincher and mother of two boys, We live a few short hours away from Orlando and try to visit often. Follow along for family and adult Disney adventures as well as the occasional non -Disney family adventure.

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