Chase Disney Visa: Useless Mickey Mouse Card Or Valuable Touring Accessory?

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Mickey, Walt, Mickey

I’m almost surprised that when guests arrive at their Disney Resort for check-in, a giant meet & greet Mickey Mouse doesn’t appear, pick them up by the ankles and shake them upside down like a child vigorously shaking his piggy bank to get every last coin to fall out. Of course, Disney basically does this anyway over the course of a visit, except guests don’t get the opportunity to meet Mickey Mouse in the process (without grabbing a FastPass or waiting in line, at least!). So maybe the joke is on us guests!

The Mouse has long seen the benefit of being in the credit card game, dating back to the 1990s when it established a partnership with American Express creating the White Glove Treatment.  Following that, Disney partnered with Bank One to create the Disney Visa, which was the short-lived predecessor to the Disney Rewards Visa Credit Card from Chase that presently exists today (there’s also a new card called Disney’s Premier Chase Visa).  While the Chase Disney Visa has some cool rewards, which will be discussed in turn below, it doesn’t compare to the AMEX, which offered some deliciously enticing perks, namely, free dessert (what more needs to be said?!) at select restaurants.

However, since the AMEX is no longer available, there’s no sense in lingering on the past. Instead, let’s survey the perks the Chase Disney Visa offers, to see if it would enhance your touring experience at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort.

Let’s start with the application process. Luring new prey–I mean customers–is big business for credit card companies. As such, they will offer bonuses if you’re accepted. These bonuses can range from things as small as a sandwich or a baseball (I’ve seen both: outside of a college campus Subway and in a minor league baseball stadium, respectively) to two free domestic round-trip flights.  The Chase Disney Visa actually offers variable incentives based on where you see their advertisement. You may see an offer for $15 if you’ve just completed an order on DisneyStore.com, but if you fill out a few of the various “requests for information” on a Disney website, you may get a $100, $150, or $200 offer by mail. Despite already having a Chase Disney Visa, I have actually received both a $100 and $200 sign-up offer by mail in the last two months. The point here is that you should have patience, rather than accepting the first offer Disney slings your way.

As with most credit cards, the primary benefit of the card is its reward dollars. The Chase Disney Visa calls these “Disney Dream Reward Dollars,” which are equal to 1% on purchases charged to your card. You can redeem these Reward Dollars for most purchases you make at the theme parks and on the Disney Cruise Line, including on park tickets, merchandise, hotel. You can also use the Reward Dollars at the Disney Store or DisneyStore.com.

Cardholders also receive benefits once they arrive at the parks. These benefits include:

A character meet & greet location inside Innoventions at Epcot and a similar meet & greet at Disneyland, both only available to Chase Disney Visa holders. Although I find the Epcot location poorly lit (a complaint of most character meet & greet locations), it is nice to have a photo with a few characters in it. The characters inside are fairly random, and you don’t know who you’ll meet until inside. This spot can attract moderate lines, but they’re never as long as lines at the nearby Character Spot.

Cardholders receive a 10% discount on merchandise purchases of $50 or more at select locations in Disneyland and Walt Disney World, and 50% discount on stroller rentals at Disneyland Resort. Plus, a 20% discount on almost every tour offered at Walt Disney World and Disneyland.

Chase Disney Visa holders typically receive a 2-3 day advance window to purchase certain Walt Disney World discount offers. This head-start can be great for the Free Disney Dining Plan and other money-saving Disney packages. Guests who book through the Disney Travel Company directly (or have their travel agent do it for them) pay no interest for 6 months on theme park or cruise packages when charging the package to their Chase DisneyVisa prior to arrival. The Chase Disney Visa site often touts special discount codes for DisneyStore.com or Disney shows, but typically the general public can access similar deals, so I don’t view this as a real benefit.

Finally, the Chase Disney Visa has no annual fee. This is a fairly significant, as it makes it worthwhile to hold the card even if you rarely make any purchases on it.

Disneyland - Disney California Adventure - "Home of Deliciousness"

Obviously, the decision to open a new line of credit should not be taken lightly. Opening a new credit card will have a negative short-term impact on your credit score (as it will reduce the median age of your cards), which is something to be considered. More importantly, using credit cards to earn rewards is only a pragmatic strategy if you can and will pay the balance of the card off in full each month. Otherwise, interest rates fully negate any benefit you may accrue from the card. Since this is a Disney blog, and not one on financial responsibility, I’ll leave my warnings at that, and recommend reading a resource on financial management and/or credit cards if you have any questions.

Simply put, the Chase Disney Visa is not a good card for its Reward Dollars. Most people are eligible for cards that offer better returns (2-3%), and are less restrictive on where you can spend the funds. I know there may be some allure in having part of your Disney vacation “free,” but if that’s really your goal, get a card that offers actual cash-back rewards  that can be spent anywhere and has a better return-rate, and just save those rewards for Disney. Don’t let the psychology of the Disney Reward Dollars make the card overly appealing.

That said, the multitude of other benefits can definitely make having the Chase Disney Visa worthwhile.  For those who find themselves frequently calling to book the Free Dining promotion the second Disney Reservations opens on the first day the promotion is offered, the 2-3 day head-start that Chase Disney Visa card holders frequently receive may be appealing.  However, I wouldn’t get it as a primary-use card.

Disneyland's Tomorrowland

All things considered, I think the Chase Disney Visa presents benefits that most Disney fans will find appealing, which might make it worth getting just to have. Plus, who doesn’t want Mickey Mouse’s smiling face giving them a smile of approval each time they make a purchase?

What do you think of the Chase Disney Visa? Any rewards you find appealing?

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Posted on April 1, 2011

41 Responses to “Chase Disney Visa: Useless Mickey Mouse Card Or Valuable Touring Accessory?”

  • I have the Disney Visa and I have to agree, its not the best rewards program out there. I have had it for 2 years now and have accrued only about 125 points.

    I never really considered the fact that holding a balance basically negates the savings due to the interest. It does, however, have the lowest interest rate out of all my cards (I also have a Spirit Airlines card for miles and a PNC card that I was using for its reward program but now no longer use). We can easily pay off the card but for whatever reason… we don’t. My husband is in the mortgage industry and I recall him saying something about having a balance that is 50% of the credit limit can be good for one’s credit score? I wouldn’t quote him or myself on that, I don’t know all the details.

    Back to the Disney rewards, we have used it to get some of the discounts, such as the 20% off for the Around the World tour at Epcot, plus the 10% off a $50+ purchase. And I do look forward to cashing in my rewards for our upcoming trip in October even though I don’t at all like to think of how much we have spent to get those points. Going forward I will probably use the card much less often, only for those things where we can get a discount.

    • And “only” 125 points… usually we use this card for our larger Disney vacation purchases… hotel, tickets, etc. And we’ve been there about 3 or 4 times since we got the card so we have accrued points maybe a little faster than the average person making everyday purchases. Even so, 125 points as a reward for what we have spent?? Talk about shaking us upsidedown for every little penny.

  • We have both the Disney Visa and the Disney Debit, and love them both.

  • The 6 months with no interest when you book a vacation or cruise and the 10% off $50+ purchases are the only reasons to use this card, in my opinion. It’s fun to have Disney-specific rewards points to use on the vacation, but I have other cards for non-Disney purchasing that have better rewards.

  • I’ve got a FREEDOM Chase VISA card already, and asked to change to a Disney Chase Card, but they declined me. I don’t know why????

  • I would add a couple notes for the character meet and greets. First, this is even a little better than mentioned above. At least at DCA, when you go to the meet and greet, they will give you a coupon for a free print of one of your photos with the character. (In Disney $, that’s almost a $20 value…) Sometimes they’ll even let you use that free print for any other PhotoPass shot you got on your trip.

    Second, at least at DCA, the characters seem to be reasonably predictable. We’ve been several times in the past two years and chatted up the cast members. At DCA, for now, you seem to get either Pluto or Chip&Dale at the Meet & Greet.

    • Yes! I can’t believe I neglected to mention this. In Epcot, you get this print as well, and we have found that most of the time, they’ll let you get any print you want.

      The one downside is that sometimes the lines in the Camera Shop at Epcot to get it printed are a little unbearable. However, it’s still a great perk that we usually take advantage of once per trip.

  • We got the card for our first trip (the six-month no interest financing) as well as the $100 incentive offered at the time. I do think you may have overlooked one other incentive they offer. It seems that once or twice a year I get notices for 3X or 5X rewards for certain purchase categories, such as gasoline, restaurants, or groceries. You have to call in and sign up for the extra reward points, it doesn’t automatically apply to your card. I haven’t taken advantage of this in the past but may consider the next offer that comes my way.

    • We used to get these promo offers almost every month, but haven’t received anything for the last year and a half or so. Much like Disney PIN codes, they are not uniformly distributed to everyone.

      But you’re right, they are a great incentive. I know the months I received them the Disney Visa became our primary card!

  • We do exactly what you say at the (near) end of your article. We have a Discover card that gives us 2% cash back and up to 5% cash back on special items depending on the time of year. We earmark that money for our vacations (yes, we do go other places than Disney. *gasp!*) We find this to be one of the best reward plans out there and we can use our reward for anything (including just cash off your bill!). So rather than picking one specific card, and believe me that Southwest Visa card has definitely enticed me a time or two, we just keep our ‘can use the points for anything’ card. We just make sure to keep track of the rewards and only use them for fun things like vacations instead of boring things like gas and groceries.

  • We HAD the Disney Chase Visa card and we paid off our last years Disney trip with our tax refund and planned to use it this year for our next Disney trip. Good customers right? Wrong. Have to WARN everyone here…after we paid that card off they immediately took the credit down from $5000 to $600. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? We’ve got good credit, NEVER late in any payments and they did this to us! Un-freaking believable. I used the rewards points before they cut us out, and got the photopass for $19…so that was worth it. But be forwarned if you pay off this card you may not get any more credit with them! Never ever ever pay a credit card down with your tax refund monies…put that money in the bank and pay the minimuns on all your cards. Lesson, learned.

    • This actually started happening to quite a few people around the Summer of 2008. If you Google the issue, there is a lot out there on what you can do to avoid any problems the reduction may cause. Paying only the minimums on your credit cards is not a good idea.

    • The same thing happened to us! So angry with Chase Visa! We used to have a decent limit and then after we booked our Disney Cruise and paid it off in a timely manner, they lowered our limit to $1000. Because we were good customers, never missed a payment and payed it off quickly, we got a lower limit. I can’t do anything with that! Looking to book a trip for the fall and it will be well over the $1000 limit, I won’t be able to take advantage of any of the “perks” such as the 6 month deferral, and if Disney offers a special package for Disney Visa Card holders, I won’t be able to get that either. I’ve tried calling them and asking them if they would raise the limit, but get rejected every time. And I have great credit. Thumbs down for the Disney Visa Card!

  • Honestly, if the Disney Rewards Visa didn’t have a shiny picture of the castle and make me smile/think of WDW every time I pulled it out of my wallet to pay for groceries, gas, or some other boring yet mandatory purchase, then I probably wouldn’t use it :) It is kind of nice to have the rewards $ that can only be used for Disney, even if they don’t add up very quickly.

  • We use our Disney visa for all our large purchases, and never carry a balance. We even
    charge our trips to Universal. Sorry Mickey, you dont get all our money! When we take a trip to Disney, our rewards points frequently pay for our meals. our own kind of “free” dining plan. Cashiers frequently comment that they like my card, with Tinkerbell,and I know I’ve found a kindred spirit!

  • We’ve been Disney Visa Card members since the very beginning of the program. We love our card. Yes it doesn’t have the best rewards percentage, but we consistently accumulate enough rewards dollars each year to get two or three nice dinners out of it. I will say the best way to get your money’s worth is to use it for everything you would pay cash for and pay it off every month. Do we use it exclusively? No, but often enough to reap benefits from it. By the way, my favorite thing to do every year is the private meet and greet and free print. It is often the only time I get a picture of my whole family together with the characters.

  • I carry the card for the perks, not the rewards. I like the free character photo at Epcot and DCA. And having an extra 6 months before that multi-thousand-dollar cruise starts accruing interest is a nice savings too. But the actual rewards are a limited 1% cash back. That’s basically the worst rewards program you can get from a credit card. You’re far better off using a different credit card that gives anywhere from 3-5% back via cash or giftcards. Remember, your bank account doesn’t care where the money comes from or goes – a dollar is a dollar. If you spend $50 more at Disney World but save $75 at Target, you come out ahead.

    • Your final sentence sums up my thoughts completely! I think for a lot of Disney fans, there is a certain allure to being “forced” to use the rewards for “free” things at Disney. However, you have to consider the opportunity cost of getting that “free” thing at Disney. In the end, it’s not as good of a deal as just paying out of pocket at Disney and getting a better reward elsewhere.

      • by Amy from KC on April 1, 2011, at 10:49 pm EST

        I agree with you both. If you can accumulate better rewards elsewhere, then you are better off overall. (Good example, Paul.) I have been tempted to get a Disney card for the other perks – pictures, etc. – but we use a different card to accrue air miles. It has really worked out better for us. We use it to pay pretty much everything to maximize our rewards, and pay it off each month.

        It was really interesting to see the benefits of the Disney card summed up in your article, Tom. I look forward to reading your blog posts every Friday.

  • Boy, this post really brought home the fact that credit card rewards can really suck you in! I have had the Disney Rewards card since 2005, and actually used the above mentioned benefits for our 2008 trip. Ever since then however, I have not accumulated points as quickly as I did before, and have paid outrageous interest~money that could have gone into a vacation fund!! SO…now we have the Chase Disney Visa debit card. The annual fee is 25.00, but in the 6 months I’ve had the card I’ve earned approximately $200.00 in reward money. Granted, this is limited to Disney rewards, but if I am brutally honest with myself, I probably wouldn’t have saved that money any other way. With our next trip in August, I’m figuring that my rewards will pay for alot of our meals. As this is a debit card, my only expense is the annual fee, much better than paying interest on a carried balance. Besides, I LIKE having a bit of pixie dust in my wallet!!

  • We seem to get the 3x or 5x bonus rewards offers every three months. We usually get a postcard in the mail. Our last one just ended in March. I am waiting for the Apr-June offer to arrive. We really rack up the Disney Dollars with the bonus promotions!

    • For a while we were getting them this often too, but they stopped. When we were receiving these benefits, it was our go-to card. I wish we’d receive these offers again. They make the card a GREAT card!

  • by jessica dorow on April 2, 2011, at 9:54 am EST

    I like others do appreciate the 6 months no interest, even on the vacation deposit. Plus we got an extra $50 shipboard credit on Disney Cruise Line for paying with the Disney Visa. It is also better now that most large stores in the World and Downtown Disney do the 10% off of $50 or more, it used to be just World of Disney store.

  • Another good Disney credit card option with better rewards is the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express. You earn 1 Starpoint for each dollar spent. How does this help at Disney? At the Swan and Dolphin, which are Starwood hotels! The rate for a room at those hotels is 10,000 points/night. Given the usual rate is about $199/night, the “return” is about 2%, or double the Disney Card return.

    It actually gets better – for every five nights you stay on points at a Starwood hotel, you get the sixth for free. So then you’re down to 8,333 average points/night, the return goes up to 2.4%, which really is pretty good.

    Some other niceties – they give you 10,000 points when you join (equivalent to a free night at the Swan or Dolphin). Also, if you spend $30,000 in a year, you get free “Gold” status, which means you’ll likely get an upgraded room wherever you stay.

    If you don’t mind staying at the Swan and Dolphin (and they really are quite nice and have most of the “on site” perks), it seems like a really good card for Disney fans. I’ve used Starpoints for vacations at the Swan and Dolphin, but also for other vacations too.

    The negatives are that it has a $65 annual fee, and I’m guessing the interest rates aren’t great. I think it’s worth the $65, and I always pay my balance in full, so it’s not an issue for me.

    Anyway, it’s another card to consider.

    • Funny you should mention this, I’m actually considering the Starwood AMEX for our next credit card.

      The $65 annual fee really isn’t a big deal to me–I know annual fees scare a lot of people, but usually fee cards have much better rewards.

  • I just got the $200 offer in the mail and decided to go for it so I could use that on my trip in June. Don’t plan on using the card for much else though.

    • Same here. I have the card now, and have used it a couple of times, just to trigger the $200 gift card. I am debating whether to make the Disney Visa my main card; I currently accumulate points on another Chase card, and cash them in for gift cards to Lowes or Pottery Barn. Tough choice, but we ARE planning two more trips to WDW this year, so…

    • I got the same offer in the last month but we are in the middle of a kitchen remodel and lost my paperwork! gggrrr. We are planning a trip in October and wanted to use the $200 towards that. Does anyone have the phone number or code? Thanks!

    • I received the $200 offer in the mail. I applied for and received the card prior to the expiration of the offer. After 3 months, I still did not see the $200 credit on my statement. I called and Chase said “sorry, it’s been over 90 days since you opened your account, we can’t give you the points now.”

      If you still have your mailed offer (which I do), it clearly states the points could take up to 8 weeks to show up on the card, so after the 3rd statement, I made the calls. If I would have called after the 2nd statement, they would have told me to wait one more month. This card seems to be a scam to get you to sign up and then not deliver on it’s promise.

  • Just an FYI to those that have the Chase Disney Rewards DEBIT card…While checking out the benefits on their website for our upcoming trip I noticed that they are ending the debit card program on July 12th. I never received a notice in the mail about this. If you have the debit card make sure you redeem you rewards by October 31, 2011!

  • At this point the biggest reason we keep our Disney VISA card is because they say “Charter Members” and “Since Day 1″ on the front. Isn’t that funny??? In 2006 Chase raised our limit to some stupid number like $10k which we promptly requested that they lower to $3k. Not the smartest thing to do in terms of credit score at the time but as the consumer we didn’t want our limit to be that hey lest temptation actually get the better of us. We’ve had the account paid off (actually, it has a $2+ credit) as long as I can remember. We get better “rewards” with our other happy-orangy-dot card with a minimum of 1% and always some category of purchases that are eligible for 5%. If you watch, that orange-dot-friend will offer the 5% on hotels and/or travel including cruises. Great time to book those trips!

    One thing I hate about Disney VISA’s rewards program is that when you want to transfer those rewards dollars you have to transfer a minimum number of dollars or you can’t make the transfer to the usable rewards card. I’ve been in a situation where I transfered my dollars but then wound up earning a few extras when making a big purchase. Unfortunately, I was 1 shy of what’s required to make a transfer again so I was out of luck. With our other cashback card, this is not an issue.

    If it weren’t for the fact that closing the account and doing away with the card would actually hurt our hard-earned excellent credit rating we would probably do away with this card. For now we just let it sit. We don’t even carry the cards on our person. If Chase ever decides to put an annual fee on the Disney VISA we’ll certainly close the account at that time.

    Great article, Tom. Very comprehensive. Wish we’d have had your financial wisdom at your age. LOL!

  • I just noticed that the $100 gift card off, on the Disney Vacation Club member page, now states that the card has a $49 fee.
    I used the same link a few weeks ago to apply, and read the terms, and it said No fee.
    So I guess I will wait and see if the card comes with No Fee.

    I agree, it is not the card I would use as a primary card. But as a card for use during a Disney Vacation, it makes sense (as long as there is no fee).

  • by McKinneyMouse on February 3, 2012, at 8:31 pm EST

    Hi Eileen, There are 2 cards available. The regular Disney rewards card has no annual fee and pays 1% in rewards on everything you use it for, plus the other card perks and discounts you probably saw. The second one deemed “Premier” has a 49.00 Annual fee, but will pay in some categories like gas and groceries (and purchases from disney owned) 2% in rewards and 1% on everything else. Also the premier card has the other card perks the regular card has, but there is some airline ticket purchase benefit where you can buy your tickets on your card and use your rewards dollars as a credit on your statement. I’m not sure how good a deal this is for the airfare thing because if the interest rate is 14.25% and you have to wait 1-2 statements for the credit to be reduced from you account balance, won’t you have paid way more than just having the extra rewards in you pocket when you go to buy or visit something Disney. I think I’ll call and get info on how that works before I plan on using points to pay for the tickets on my upcoming trip.

  • I just got an offer three weeks ago in the mail for Disney rewards visa-offer was, if qualified, fo $250 in gift cards received after my first purchase! Just received the gift cards the other day-it’s legit-and an amazing deal!!!

  • Does anyone have the code for the $200 insentive?

  • I pitched it in the garbage when I applied and they are only going to give me the $50 incentives instead of the $200 one with out the code.

  • We signed up for the Disney Visa about 3 years ago. Used it to pay for everything and paid it off in full each month. Just cashed in our rewards to pay for over 2/3rds of 3 night stay at Disneyland Hotel and 3 day hopper ticket package. We would not be going otherwise. I know if I used any other cash back card, I would not be diligent enough to put those rewards in a separate vacation fund. This worked for us!

  • I’m not sure how old this post is (I wish blogs did better with dating articles, maybe I’m not looking in the right place) but as of now, the card perks have changed some. We’ve had the card almost 5 years, used it to pay for 1/2 of one trip to DL, and it will cover 1/2 of another trip next year.
    1- it is no longer advertised to have stroller rental discounts.
    2- there has always been a 10% off specific restaurants in the parks. It used to be great with numerous locations. Now, there are only 2 restaurants in DL with the discount, and they even narrowed down the use to only lunch or dinner. (Lame!)

    ….over the years, it seems like the perks are becoming more restricted and total perks are becoming few and far between. It’s been disappointing to watch

  • We have just come back from Disneyland. You are now required to pick up your photo that very same day before the DCA park closes and the Disney employee was kind of rude or curt, And demanded to see 2 more forms of ID! before giving us the certificate for the free picture. It seemed like she was trying to make things very difficult for you to get your picture. Very Sad I would probably go with a different card that gives more points in the future.