How To Travel Hack a Free Trip to Disney
If you've never heard of travel hacking, it's time to find out.
This is the story about how i earned my family of four a (mostly) FREE trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
A big shout out to Richmond Savers, which provided me with the initial idea for this mission.
Be sure to check out their site for more information on travel hacking a trip to Disney.
So, Travel Hacking--what exactly is it? Sounds well illegal right? I mean 'hacking' equates to BAD, doesn't it?
Well, no, not exactly. Travel Hacking in its purest form, involves signing up for credit cards with the sole purpose of earning rewards.
They call it hacking, because in essence you're signing up for either multiple cards at a time or (in my case) successively.
This plan won't get to you to Disney for absolutely nothing, but it well get you damn close.
And the biggest keys are this--you need to pay off your cards every month (no one wants 20% + interest rates).
And the biggest question--does Travel Hacking hurt my credit?
Well, that's a hard question to answer, but in all, not really. I would expect there to be some volatility in your credit score if you're signing up for cards (mine actually increased over this entire process) so if you're expecting to purchase a new home or car (which requires a new loan) in the forthcoming months, then i'd probably hold off on this plan.
So, here's how you do it.
1) Get the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card - Most would agree that Chase cards (especially this one) are the cream of the crop. The Chase Sapphire Preferred card offers 50,000 points if you spend $4000 over the first three months. There is a $99 annual fee, but most advise to just call when the year is up to switch the card into another non-annual fee card. This is done so that there is no impact to your credit.
Credit bureaus don't really mind big credit lines, but closing cards tends to be a minor red flag, so avoid closing if you can. So 50,000 points actually gets you $725 worth of Travel Rewards. If both you and your partner can sign up for this card, then you basically have flights for two adults and two children covered for FREE. Plus these Ultimate Travel Rewards points can be used for flights, hotels, basically anything.
QUICK NOTE - Some are probably asking--wait $4000 in Three Months? That's a lot of dough! How exactly am i supposed to spend that much money in three months? The key is that you MOVE all of your possible spending to that card in question.
That latte at Starbucks--on the card, that lunch at Chipotle--on the card...those groceries--on the card---that $300 gas bill--on the card--that filling at the dentist--on the card. If you have big expenditures, set the card aside to cover those. Trust me, that $4000 goes by pretty quick.
2) Get the SPG American Express Card - This card from SPG/Amex gets you 25,000 points after $3000 spend in three months. If both you and your significant other can do this concurrently, it equates to a FREE Five Night stay at either the Swan or Dolphin resorts at Disney. These are NOT Walt Disney owned properties but are located ON site at Walt Disney.
As Richmond Savers points out, both hotels are within 'a short walking distance (or nice free boat ride right out back!) of both EPCOT and Hollywood Studios'. Note these are both category 5 hotels, so in order to get the FREE 5 nights, you likely need to go offseason. Be sure to check your plans and check both hotels to see how much it will cost in points per stay. Also note there is a resort fee on both properties (i think $30 a night?) so note it won't be ENTIRELY free, but VERY VERY close.
3) Get the Capital One Venture Rewards Card - Ok, so by now, we've got Airfaire and Hotel all SET. Sweet, and if you can do everything back to back, that's basically just seven months (or even sooner if your spending is higher). Now let's take care of the park tickets. This card is great since it allows flexible travel redemptions; as Richmond Savers notes -"you just pay for the “travel” purchase with your credit card like you normally would."
The card offers 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months, which is worth $560 in travel credits. Many advise to use UndercoverTourist.com to purchase the park tickets. So, If you and your significant other each open the Capital One card, you will have $1,120 to be purchase disney park tickets, allowing for redemption of statement credits on each card!
That's it! Three cards--roughly a year's time, and you have yourself an (ALMOST) FREE vacation for four to Disney World.
Now the only thing we didn't cover is FOOD, and I'd recommend heading over to MouseSavers.com for some tips on dining at Disney.
Best of luck! Let me know how it works out for you!