Sunday, March 24, 2013

Part Two: My Free Trip to Disney & How You Can Get One Too!

How I am using Credit Cards and Rewards Points to my advantage to take a FREE Trip to Disney 

Part Two // Month Two

So where did we leave off? I am using a small variety of credit card rewards programs to pay for a future trip to Walt Disney World.  The plan is to spend 5 days/4 nights in Disney at the end of the year. We would stay at the Swan (or Dolphin) and plan to visit the parks using park hopper tickets.  We will hopefully be able to catch one of the Christmas Party events as well and pay for our dining using rewards and disney dollars. So far, I used a check-in style app called CheckPoints to earn a $10 gift card for Amazon and ordered myself a 2013 guide!

Here is an update on my point earnings:

1.  Disney Visa Rewards Card 
Goal: Pay for our park tickets + Christmas Party tickets- $650 
Current Earnings: $70 in Disney Dollars (This was from paying monthly bills on the card first then paying them off.  Yes, it created an extra step but this coupled with some online gift buying and adding one more step really adds up!)
Still need: 580

2.  Starwood Rewards American Express Card 
Goal: Cover our stay at the Swan and Dolphin for 4 nights- 40,000 points
Current Earnings: 11,110 (the equivalent of a 1 night stay!)
This card offers a bonus 15k points if you spend 5k on your card in 6 months.  My goal is to do this by the end of the school year so I come in at just under 5 months time. Currently I have spent (and paid off weekly, mind you) 1,110 / 5,000
Still Need: 28890

3.  Jet Blue American Express Card 
Goal: Pay for our flights- 44,000 points
Current Earnings: 12,082 points (These are from points I have earned with past travel that never expires because of my Jet Blue card but remember this is a card you get 1 for every $1 you spend if you don't have travel points!)
Still Need: 31,918 points

4.  Discover Escape Card       
Goal: Spending money/Cover as much of our food expenses as possible
Current Earnings: 2785 (These are from random purchases but the goal here would be to rack up a 10,000s of points since then I can spend that much in 100s in the parks and redeem for credits when we return. This goal is the only that seems unlikely at this time as I simply don't spend that kind of money to use cards for more than bills and regular living expenses so I don't seem to have anything in particular to designate to this card so I am going to set the goal lower to 20k starting now.)

5. Paypal Savings
Goal: This was originally planned for extra spending money and then I realized that we don't have access Disney's Magical Express shuttle service! We will need to pay for the Mears transportation shuttle to and from the airport and the Swan (or Dolphin) which will cost $34 per person, so roughly $70 total.
SavingStar: $1.90    Ibotta: $3.25
Current Earnings total: $5.15
Still Need: $64.85

So after my most recent round of statements, this is where I am.  I have been being organized designating our Disney Visa for bill pay and the Starwood card for purchases, then each week we pay them off.  Again, this does add a second step since usually we would just use our debit card.  But isn't free trip to Disney worth an extra step? I am pretty happy with where I am currently.  As you probably noticed above, the Starwood Rewards card offers a 15,000 points bonus if you spend 5,000 on your card by the six month mark.  If you add the sign up bonus of 10k + the 5k you spent and got points for to reach this goal + the 15k you get as a bonus for reaching it = 30k in points! That means with using the card for $5k in purchases I reach 75% of my goal!

I feel like I am going to have no problem meeting my goal on the Starwood card for our hotel stay, on the Disney Visa for our tickets, and even on my Jet Blue points.  I am not sure I am going to rack up very much on Discover because, as I stated above, I just don't spend that much to get use out of any more points.  Plus the SavingStar and Ibotta money add up so slowly.  I have put out my Disney Vacation Fund Jar to use for saving our loose change so that will be good for some more spending money!

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