If a trip to the Magic Kingdom is in your future, it’s time to start saving!
Unless you’re completely in the dark, you already know a trip to Disney World is bound to lay a hurting on your wallet. Heck, visiting Disney for just a couple of days can cost more going to the beach for an entire week!
Instead of racking up huge credit card bills and dealing with the cost later, it’s smart to plan ahead and save for your Disney trip in advance. However, if your plans included using the official Disney Vacation Account, you’re out of luck. The program is being discontinued.
But, that doesn’t mean you should stop trying to save! Now, it’s more important than ever to start your own Disney savings account. Here are a few tips on how to do it!
Why the Disney Vacation Account Wasn’t a Great Option Anyway
I have to admit, I admire Disney’s ability to milk money from us in every conceivable way. From movies, to music, to toys, Disney is the world’s best branding machine! For a while, they even tried their hand at being your vacation banker with the Disney Vacation Account. Unfortunately for them, consumers must not have seen this as a very good deal because the program closed for good on September 27, 2017.
While the Disney Vacation Account provided a few advantages, it still wasn’t a great option for most consumers. The account did offer a $20 bonus on every $1,000 you deposited, provided your account was open for 120 days. That meant that, effectively, you earned an interest rate of roughly 2% if you spent the money within a year. (That’s better than you’ll find in most savings accounts.) You could also add Disney gift cards to your account (up to $500 per household), which was also a nice perk.
The Disney Vacation Account even helped consumers create a savings plan for their trip, complete with automatic debits. So, if Disney was definitely in your travel future, the account may have worked alright for you.
Of course, there were some catches. As expected, the only way to use your Disney Vacation Account was to book your Disney trip entirely at Disney. That means visiting only Disney parks, eating only Disney food, and staying only at Disney properties. Offsite hotels, trips to Universal, and other expenditures were obviously not eligible.
Additionally, you could only use your Disney Vacation Account funds prior to arrival! Although you purchase meal plans beforehand, the money in your account was not available to use on dole whips, mouse ears, or other items once you got to the park. Blech!
Creating Your Own Disney Savings Account
Not to fear, Disney travelers! All is not lost. Saving for Disney is still important, and it can easily be achieved through creating a Disney savings account of your own. Here’s how:
Open a Separate Savings Account – Instead of using a Disney Vacation Account, simply create a separate Disney savings account of your own. A high-yield savings account is the perfect way to do it! Opening a separate account ensures you aren’t spending your Disney funds on other items. Plus, you can use the money on absolutely anything you want – including food at the park, souvenirs, or booking a cheaper off-property hotel.
Save in Your Current Account – If opening a separate Disney savings account seems like a hassle, you could also save money in an account you already have. Mentally set aside the money or keep track of it on a spreadsheet. You’ll run the risk of accidentally spending your travel bucks on other purchases, but – if you stay organized – it’s definitely workable. That said, most people will probably have better luck with a separate account because it’s easier to keep track. It’s also fun to watch it grow!
Earn Credit Card Rewards – Earning credit card rewards is a great way to help cut costs on your Disney vacation. While earning points on your regular spending is great, you may consider opening a new card in order to cash in on a huge signup bonus. Then, use these points to pay for your flights, hotels, and more. We’ve used credit card rewards to travel around the world for pennies on the dollar, so we definitely know this strategy works! Compare our favorite rewards cards here.
Oh, and don’t forget to check out some hotels where you can stay for free on points!
What to Do If You Already Have a Disney Vacation Account
If you’ve already set up an official Disney Vacation Account, all is not lost. You’ll have until September 27, 2017 to decide how you’d like to spend your Disney vacation money. While you can no longer contribute to the plan, you can still apply that money toward booking your upcoming Disney vacation or receive a refund.
Of course, Disney doesn’t want to let your money get away either. If you’re bound to visit Disney anyway, you might want to consider cashing out your Disney Vacation Account for Disney gift cards. Doing so before the deadline will net you an extra 5% bonus (capped at $500, or $10,000 in gift cards) for your troubles. While the 5% is some decent free money, the downside – again – is that the cards can only be used for Disney items.
Saving for a Disney Vacation
Regardless of which option you choose, saving for Disney is going to take some work. You’ll definitely want to set up a monthly budget so you know exactly how much you can save every month. We typically keep track of our budget using a pen and paper, but budgeting apps like this can help you create a plan and track it automatically.
In my opinion, the official Disney Vacation Account was never that great a deal anyway. While it was a smart experiment by Disney, banking my money with Disney was always too restrictive for my taste. I’ve always believed people were better off creating their own Disney savings account instead.
Don’t forget, we can also help you save money on your Disney vacation through our free travel rewards advice service. Just give us some details about your trip, and we’ll help you find the right rewards cards to save money on flights, hotels, and more. Follow the link above or complete the form below for more info!
As usual, let me know if you have questions or comments below. Thanks for reading, and happy traveling!