Recently my wife and I moved to Florida. Being lifelong Disney fans, we obtained (almost) free Disney annual passes with points. I call it the Disney Tax–the cost of fun while living in Central Florida. While not 100% free, we greatly reduced our costs using Bank of America Travel Rewards credit cards. You could do the same to obtain (almost) free Walt Disney World annual passes (in or out of State), free Disney theme park tickets, or free tickets to nearly any theme park; or obtain a large variety of travel items free. Among them: free cruises, free on-board credit (OBC), car rentals, and hotel nights. But we’ll focus on getting (almost) free Disney annual passes using points.
Here’s the secret:
- Rack up points on travel statement credit cards
- Consolidate those points if possible
- Make your Disney annual pass purchase using the travel statement credit card with the most points
- Request travel statement credits for the purchase
- Marvel at your resourcefulness
1. Rack up points on travel statement credit cards
Bank of America offers two travel statement credit cards: the Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card and the Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard credit card. Both have no annual fee. My wife and I both got one of each. The personal card typically offers a 20,000 point signup bonus (worth $200 in travel). The business version offers 25,000 points (worth $250 in travel).
2. Consolidate those points if possible
Bank of America allows combining points between an individual’s personal and business cards. Online and at no cost. It also allows spouses to combine points online for free. So, with two personal cards we had $400 worth of travel (2 x 20,000 points), $500 worth of travel (2 x 25,000 points), for a grand total of $900 worth of travel ($400 + $500). I say consolidate “if possible” because there are other, similar cards like the Barclay’s Arrival Plus that don’t allow free points consolidation.
3. Make your Disney annual pass purchase using the travel statement credit card with the most points
We went with two Disney Gold passes for about $600 each plus tax. While the Gold pass is only available to Florida residents, non-Florida residents may purchase the Disney Platinum pass for $729 each. Both prices are at the time of this writing–things change. So, our passes cost a little over $1,200 total. Around $300 more than our 90,000 points value of $900 in travel statement credits.
4. Request travel statement credits for the purchase
Many, but not all, travel-related purchases qualify for travel statement credits. Several days after your transaction posts, check your statement online to see what does. In this example, I saw two purchases that qualified for redemption. One was for a case of wine at a local winery–a surprise because I’d never consider that travel–and the other was for our annual passes. We actually had 98,399 points to redeem–more than the combined signup bonus points; probably from purchases we made with the cards:
This equated to $983.99 worth of travel statement credits. Certainly enough for one free Walt Disney World Gold annual pass; and almost enough for two.
5. Marvel at your resourcefulness
$1,254.58 minus a credit of $983.99 = two Walt Disney World Gold annual passes for around $270! Had we chosen the less expensive Disney Silver passes, we’d have scored both entirely free. We chose the Gold passes because Silver blocks out all four Walt Disney World theme parks for all of July and half of August.
Are We Giving You the Business?
We got more than half the points required from two business versions of the Travel Rewards card. You may feel locked out if you don’t own a business. But do you not? Simple things can qualify you, such as if you sell items on eBay, run a blog that earns ad dollars, or simply have a concept you’d like to pursue for a new business–your startup could start now.
In business credit card applications, it’s acceptable to use your own name as the business name (sole proprietor), zero revenue, and zero months in business. Chase, Barclays, and other banks may require verification of your business. Bank of America, however, at the time of this writing, seems lax. When we applied for Bank of America business cards, we used the startup approach. Never were we asked to provide additional proof beyond filling out the apps themselves. Honesty remains the best policy–please don’t lie. But do honestly assess whether you may qualify as a business.