Want to visit Disney World without breaking the bank? We'll show you how your family can visit Disney for free (well, almost free). Check out our step-by-step guide to scoring free Disney tickets, finding cheap flights, and staying at Disney hotels - all for less than $100!

How to Score Free Disney Tickets, Hotels, and Flights

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As writers and world travelers, one of the most common questions we get asked is, “How can I save money at Disney World?”

Any way you slice it, a trip to Disney is expensive. You’ll have airfare, park tickets, and lodging to pay for…and that’s all before you walk through the gates. Then, there is food, souvenirs, and more to worry about. Even for the most money-savvy families, a trip to Disney can strain the budget.

But, what if you could save thousands with just a few simple steps? You’d be all over that, right? You’re in luck.

Through a combination of the best travel credit cards and other “not so secret” travel tips, this step-by-step guide will teach you how to visit Disney World for free – well, almost free anyway. We’ll talk about how to get free Disney tickets for your family, find cheap flights, and stay at Disney…all for less than $100.

Sound too good to be true? Trust me, it isn’t. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get started!

Disney for Free: The Basics

Want to visit Disney World without breaking the bank? We'll show you how your family can visit Disney for free (well, almost free). Check out our step-by-step guide to scoring free Disney tickets, finding cheap flights, and staying at Disney hotels - all for less than $100!
By Flickr user: Michael Gray Wantagh, NY https://www.flickr.com/people/kathika/ [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
As we mentioned above, when it comes to visiting Disney World, there are 3 major expenses that most families have to deal with. They are:

  • Flights to Disney World
  • Walt Disney World Park Tickets
  • Disney Hotels (on or off property)

These items alone can run thousands of dollars. And, if you’re like most families, coughing up that much dough just to see Mickey can be tough.

But, by limiting your out-of-pocket expenses for the “big three,” you could potentially save thousands! So, what’s the best way to do that?

Credit card rewards.

Don’t let this scare you off! They aren’t as intimidating or as difficult to use as you might think. In fact, we’ve used rewards cards to save tens of thousands on trips all around the world – including places like Paris, Rome, London, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, and more.

If you’re new to credit card rewards and need a primer on how they work, check out our “Beginner’s Guide to Rewards Cards” to learn more.

Go ahead, we’ll wait 🙂

Saving Money at Disney World: The Strategy

Alright, here’s the basic strategy for saving at Disney: Over a period of several months, you (and your partner, if applicable) will open several new credit cards. Your goal is to earn the massive signup bonuses offered by these cards. These bonuses translate into thousands of dollars in free travel!

To earn these signup bonuses, you’ll use your new cards for all of your regular monthly spending. Then, you’ll redeem these points to book flights, hotels, and Disney tickets all for free!

Now, this is important: Don’t spend more than you normally would just to earn the bonus! Use the cards for your regular spending only! Your goal is to save money on Disney, not spend more to create the illusion you saved.

Are we clear? 🙂 OK, let’s get to the savings!

Step 1: Earning Free Flights to Disney World

Want to visit Disney World without breaking the bank? We'll show you how your family can visit Disney for free (well, almost free). Check out our step-by-step guide to scoring free Disney tickets, finding cheap flights, and staying at Disney hotels - all for less than $100!

We’ll start with the simplest step – earning free flights to Orlando.

Your best bet for finding cheap flights to Orlando is by booking with points on Southwest Airlines. Airfare is typically cheap, and the amount of points needed to book is directly related to the cost of the flight. They also have extremely flexible policies when it comes to redeeming your rewards. There are no blackout dates for award flights (which is not true for every airline), and the Southwest cancellation policy allows you to change or cancel any upcoming flight at no additional charge.

So, what’s the best way to earn Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards points? Sign up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

image of Chase Sapphire Preferred CardEven if you weren’t traveling to Disney, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card benefits are pretty great. In fact, it’s almost always the first travel rewards card we recommend.

You’ll earn a signup bonus of 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on the card in the first 3 months. Then, you can transfer your points to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio, giving you plenty of points to book your flights. (You earn points on your spending as well.) There is a $95 annual fee, but the bonus points waaaay more than make up for it.

If both you and your partner get the card and earn the bonus, you’ll have 200,000 Chase points. Depending on where you live, round-trip flights to Orlando often run about 15,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points. So, a family of four could easily make it to Orlando on that – with points to spare.

Learn how to apply | Read our review

Alternative Cards for Flights

Already have this card? You’ll need to search for an alternative. The Southwest Visa credit card comes in a few options that might interest you.

If you haven’t earned a bonus on this card yet, you and your partner should consider the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card. Currently, this card offers a signup bonus of 40,000 points after spending $1,000 within the first 3 months. So, if you both earn the bonus, you’ll have 80,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points.

To put that into perspective, 80,000 rapid Rewards points are often enough for two round-trip flights to anywhere Southwest flies in the continental U.S. or Caribbean – provided you are flexible with your dates. That is some serious savings!

There is an annual fee on the card of $69 and it is not waived. So, it does cost a little bit to earn your points. However, the minimum spending requirement on this card may be more attainable for some families to hit.

Learn how to apply for a Southwest Visa Card

Step 2: Finding Free Disney Tickets

The next big expense to consider is WDW park tickets…and these babies ain’t cheap.

Bought individually, tickets typically run well over $100 per park, per day. However, discounted admission to Disney parks are available by purchasing one of Disney’s multi-day packages. Even then, you’re still looking at a minimum of about $100 per day.

Unfortunately, you can’t transfer credit card rewards directly to Disney to purchase park tickets. So, here’s the workaround: You and your partner should sign up for the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.

image of capital one venture cardThe Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card provides a 60,000 mile welcome offer after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months you have the card. These miles are worth a $600 statement credit toward travel expenses. You’ll also earn 2 miles per dollar on all of your spending.

So, if both you and your partner meet the terms for the welcome offer (including the 2x miles you earn on your spending), you’ll end up with a total of about 132,000 miles. That’s worth $1,320 in travel credits.

There is an annual fee of $95, but earning the bonus more than makes up for that. Once you earn the miles, use your cards to pay for your Disney park tickets. (Spread it across both cards because you only have about $560 in credits each!) Then, apply the travel credit and get the tickets for “free.”

Learn how to apply here | Read the review

Important: Where Should I Purchase Disney World Tickets?

If you purchase your Walt Disney World tickets directly through Disney, the tickets may not “code” as a travel expense. Thus, all your work earning the signup bonus will be for naught.

However, purchasing Disney tickets through Undercovertourist.com – an officially authorized seller – does code as a “travel” expense. Plus, tickets are typically a bit cheaper.

I ran a little pricing experiment on 3-day (1 park per day) tickets for 2 adults and 2 children. Here’s what I found:

  • Direct from Disney – $1,260.98 (tax included)
  • Undercovertourist.com – $1,205.96 (tax included)

That’s a savings of $55.02, plus the tix should code as travel on the Capital One Venture Rewards card. So, if you spread the purchase across both cards, your $1,120 in travel credit means you can enjoy 3 days at Disney parks (1 park per day) for just $85.96.

You’re welcome 😉

Find Disney Tickets at Undercovertourist.com Here

Step 3: Booking Lodging at Disney World

Want to visit Disney World without breaking the bank? We'll show you how your family can visit Disney for free (well, almost free). Check out our step-by-step guide to scoring free Disney tickets, finding cheap flights, and staying at Disney hotels - all for less than $100!

So, this is maybe the most straightforward part about visiting Disney for free.

For a limited time, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card is offering 125,000 bonus points and 1 free night (valued at up to 50,000 points) when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months. That is a lot of points

The card also earns up to 17x points per dollar spent at Marriott Bonvoy hotels and 2x points on all other purchases. You’ll also earn a free night award (valued at up to 35,000 points) each year on your account anniversary. There is a $95 annual fee, so – like most of the best rewards cards – it does cost a little to keep it.

So, what hotels near Disney World accept Marriott points? Here are a few options:

  • SpringHill Suites Orlando at Flamingo Crossing/Western Entrance
  • TownePlace Suites Orlando at Flamingo Crossing/Western Entrance
  • Sheraton Lake Buena Vista Resort
  • TownePlace Suites Orlando Theme Parks/Lake Buena Vista
  • SpringHill Suites Orlando Theme Parks/Lake Buena Vista
  • Residence Inn Orlando Lake Buena Vista
  • Courtyard Orlando Lake Buena Vista in the Marriott Village
  • SpringHill Suites Orlando Lake Buena Vista in the Marriott Village
  • Fairfield Inn & Suites Orlando Lake Buena Vista in the Marriott Village
  • find more Marriott hotels near Disney World here

All of these hotels are Category 4 Marriotts, which means they cost 25,000 Marriott points per night. When you book with points, you also get your 5th night free!

Additionally, these hotels are all located within minutes of the WDW Resort. In fact, the first two we listed are right across the road. (Seriously, the western entrance to the resort is right there.) Since they aren’t actually on the resort, you don’t even have to pay a resort fee. Bonus!!!

You can also consider these “on property” resorts:

  • Walt Disney World Dolphin
  • Walt Disney World Swan

Both of these properties are Category 6 hotels, meaning they cost 50,000 points per night.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless: Learn How to Apply

Paying for the Rest

Of course, this isn’t all you’ll have to pay for while you’re at Disney World. There is still food, souvenirs, and more to consider.

So, even if you use credit card rewards to pay for most of your trip, you’ll still want to start a travel fund to help pay for the rest. Keep in mind that Disney no longer offers their own savings plan, so you’ll need to do it yourself. Here’s a step-by-step guide to building a Disney savings account of your own.

Final Thoughts

Want to visit Disney World without breaking the bank? We'll show you how your family can visit Disney for free (well, almost free). Check out our step-by-step guide to scoring free Disney tickets, finding cheap flights, and staying at Disney hotels - all for less than $100!
By HarshLight from San Jose, CA, USA (Wishes) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
A family trip to Disney World is one you’ll never forget. Yes, it can be extremely expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Just follow the plan above and your Disney World dreams could come true in no time.

One final note: It is super important that you do not overspend to meet the signup bonus requirements. Put your regular spending on the cards and no more. Doing so can help you score free Disney tickets, hotels, and flights. Fail and you may end up spending even more to visit Disney than you anticipated.

We hope this guide has been super helpful as you plan your Disney vacation. Thanks so much for reading! Have fun and happy traveling!

Have you saved money at Disney? We’d love to hear about it. Leave your tips and tricks in the comments below!Want to visit Disney World without breaking the bank? We'll show you how your family can visit Disney for free (well, almost free). Check out our step-by-step guide to scoring free Disney tickets, finding cheap flights, and staying at Disney hotels - all for less than $100!

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8 Comments

  1. MOMOFTWOPRECIOUSGIRLS says:

    If doing just our typical spending to earn these bonuses we would have to stagger them out probably over the course of close to a year! Are there any expiration dates on these rewards points to consider?

    1. That’s a great question! Most people will have to sprad this out over several months to make it work.

      CSP and Venture rewards do not expire as long as your account stays open. Marriott rewards expire if you don’t earn or redeem points at least once every 2 years. The easiest way to stay active, then, is to put a small charge on your card once every 2 years.

      I hope that helps!

      1. MOMOFTWOPRECIOUSGIRLS says:

        Great! Thanks for the information.

        I never went to Disney and I’m a huge fan, and would love to go and bring my girls but have never been able to justify the expenses. This makes it a bit more palatable!

        1. Yeah, it is definitely expensive if you pay out of pocket. It’s also a major drain on points, so – whether you use points or cash – it’s up to each person to decide which trips are most important to them.

  2. I am having trouble understanding what is the benefit of transferring your points to another card. In the flight example, you suggest earning the 50,000 points and then transferring them to Southwest. Do you get a better redemption rate through Southwest’s program, or could you just keep the 50,000 points on the Chase Sapphire, purchase the flights with the Chase card, and then use the points to cover the travel charges on that card? Thanks so much for all the great information. Disney is the vacation my family is begging to go on, but I am having trouble seeing the value for the cost. This definitely helps!

    1. Hey Joe! Thanks so much for reading and great question. We’re glad to help.

      When you earn Chase points, those points can transfer to 13 different partner loyalty programs at a 1:1 ratio, including brands like Southwest Airlines, United, Flying Blue, Hyatt, Marriott, IHG Hotels, and more.

      So, by earning 50,000 Chase points, you can transfer them to your Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards account (not the card but their actual loyalty program), and you’ll have 50,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards. After the transfer, you then book your flight through Southwest using the points in your Rapid Rewards account.

      Keep in mind, that – even though you aren’t paying with money – this also takes a lot of points. So, there is an opportunity cost of using the points at Disney instead of somewhere else. In the end, it’s really a matter of what redemptions are the most valuable to you.

      Here are a few pieces about getting started with rewards cards and how they work that might interest you:
      The Beginner’s Guide to Rewards Cards
      Complete Guide to Using Chase Ultimate Rewards
      9 Reasons to Make the Chase Sapphire Preferred Your First Card

      I hope that helps!

  3. Greg, thanks for the great posting. Yes, every trip to Disney is challenging for cost control, both planned and spontaneous.
    As a Marriott Rewards member for 20+ years and an occasional business traveler with a Marriott credit card, I have used points three times for a “3 bedroom villa” with a full kitchen at different Marriott timeshare resorts. For my family of seven, this was a more efficient use of points than three hotel rooms. The 5th night free applies. The drive to a Disney park was only 10 minutes. The quiet, walkability and resort amenities were added pluses. I recommend reserving at least six month in advance for better availability on the Marriott website. Also, no timeshare presentation.

  4. So grateful to find this amazing and helpful website. Thanks so much for all the great information. I hope I can travel soon after this crisis!!

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