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Are you looking to book a trip to Disney World in Orlando, but you’re stuck figuring out how to afford it? Yup, same. LOL

You are not alone, everyone who is looking to travel to the most magical place on Earth wants to do it while spending as little as possible. In this post, we will explore ways to save money on Disney World hotels.

I have lived in Florida my whole life and have spent many times traveling up to Orlando to spend time at Disney World as an annual pass holder. I’ve also stayed on-site at Disney-owned resorts, Disney Springs Area hotels, and off-site resorts and hotels. So, I know the ins and outs of figuring out Disney World accommodations.

From visiting during the off-season to using points and miles to help offset the cost or even erase it, you will have everything you need to plan your next trip to Disney World without breaking the bank on Disney World hotels.

Whether you’re planning a girls trip to Disney World, a magical romantic getaway, a family vacation, or a trip of any type, these tips will give you what you need to save money on Disney World hotels. You can use that extra cash saved for Disney tickets, food or even souvenirs!

Some of the links contained in this post are affiliate links, meaning that at no cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

1. Visit during Off-Peak Dates

If you can be flexible with your dates, traveling during off-peak dates will save money on Disney World hotels. We like to check the Disney World crowd calendars to confirm the best times to visit, but it’s generally going to be during the weekdays while kids are in school.

Best Times to Visit:

  • Late January through early February
  • Late April through early June (before schools let out)
  • Late August through September

Late January through early February is after the holiday rush and before the spring break crowds. You can enjoy much cooler weather with fewer crowds. This is my favorite time to visit Disney World!

Late April through early June is another sweet spot between spring break and the start of the summer vacation season, with the bonus of nice weather.

Lastly, late August through September marks the end of summer and the start of the school year, which not only sees a decrease in crowds but also often lowers hotel rates and promotional offers direct from Disney World. Additionally, you want to avoid major U.S. holidays.

Front view of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin entrance
Walt Disney World’s Swan and Dolphin Hotel can be booked with Marriott Bonvoy points

2. Use Points to book your Disney World Hotel

My favorite way to save on travel is to earn and redeem points and miles. I like to do this by being strategic about my everyday spending and using credit cards, but you can also earn points without applying for new credit cards.

The point is to earn loyalty points on purchases you already plan to make so that you can get the most out of your money!

Luckily, Disney World has an “on property” hotel that can be booked with loyalty rewards points, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin which is a Marriott property. This means that it can be booked with Marriott Bonvoy points!

The Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin has 3 distinct properties that can be booked with Marriott Bonvoy:

Credit Cards that earn points that can be redeemed for Marriott Bonvoy:

Of course, if you want the best points redemption rate, you’ll want to book off-peak dates and if there is availability you are in for a treat! The Swan and Dolphin is a beautiful property within walking distance of both EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. It’s one of our favorite places to stay at Disney World.

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3. Get reimbursed by your Credit Card

A great way to offset the cost of your hotel stay at Disney World is to use credit card points and miles to reimburse you for the purchase. The best credit card (in my opinion) to do this with is the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card.

Not only is it a great premium travel card with many travel benefits, but it also includes a feature called Purchase Eraser, which allows you to redeem miles and reimburse eligible travel purchases on the credit card statement. The purchase must be coded as travel and can only be erased within 90 days of the travel purchase.

The Capital One Venture X does have a $395 annual fee, but don’t let that scare you there are ways to offset the annual fees to make them worth it.

Here’s how to get reimbursed:

  • Make Your Booking: Use your Capital One Venture X card to book your hotel stay. Ensure that the booking will be coded as travel. Usually, when you book directly with the hotel, it should be coded as travel.
  • Check Your Statement: After your stay, keep an eye on your credit card statement to confirm that the hotel purchase was indeed coded as travel and eligible for reimbursement.
  • Apply Reimbursement: Within 90 days of your purchase, you can apply your Venture Miles to cover eligible travel purchases.

The redemption is done at a fixed value of 1 cent per point. So if you have 100,000 Venture Miles, they are worth $1,000 for eligible travel purchases.

Capital One Venture credit cards that have the Purchase Eraser:

a screenshot of Capital One credit card options to credit a travel expense
You can use Capital One Venture Miles to “cover travel purchases”

4. Book through a Credit Card Travel Portal with points

Another credit option for using credit card points is to book through the travel portal. This provides flexibility because even if you don’t have a credit card that can transfer points to Marriott or other hotel loyalty programs you may still be able to use your points to book hotels at Disney World!

Considerations When Booking Through a Portal:

  • Redemption Value: The value of points can vary significantly across different credit card travel portals. For instance, Chase Ultimate Rewards points are redeemed at a fixed value of 1.25 cents per point for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or 1.5 cents per point with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
  • Availability and Restrictions: Some hotels on third-party booking sites or the hotel’s website might not appear in credit card travel portals. Some bookings made through these portals might not be eligible for hotel loyalty points or status benefits.
  • Promotions and Deals: Occasionally, travel portals offer special promotions or deals that enhance the value of your points or provide additional perks, such as room upgrades or late checkout. You’ll want to keep an eye out for these offers so that you can maximize your benefits.
Screenshot of chase travel portal trip cart showing details for a 2-night stay at Walt Disney World Swan, with check-in and check-out dates, room type, price in USD, free cancellation policy, and points redemption options.
Booking Disney Hotels through the Chase Travel Portal

Even if you don’t want to use your points to pay for the hotel through the credit card travel portal, it can still make sense to book this way if your credit card gives you a travel credit or offers bonus points.

In the image below, you’ll see I have a $100 credit (when spending $500 or more) to use with the Citi Travel Portal from my Citi Premier credit card. At the time the they were also offering 10X bonus points when booking hotels through Citi Travel when paying cash.

We would consider these credit cards:

Screenshot of hotel search results on the Citi Travel Portal showing Disney's Polynesian Village Resort and Disney's Boardwalk Inn with ratings, distance to city center, amenities offered, and pricing in USD and points.
Booking Disney Hotels through the Citi Travel Portal

5. Use Free Night Certificates

Free Night Certificates have different terms and conditions for every loyalty program, but they are basically a voucher for a free night stay. Leveraging these certificates can significantly reduce the overall cost of your trip to Disney World.

In most instances, you will not be able to use a free night award for a Disney-owned property, but they can work for the Swan and Dolphin through Marriott Bonvoy if you can find eligible nights which is possible if you’re flexible with your dates!

How to Earn Free Night Certificates:

  • Hotel Loyalty Programs: Many hotel chains offer free night certificates as part of their loyalty program rewards, earned by reaching certain membership tiers or after a set number of stays within a calendar year. Examples are Hilton and Marriott.
  • Credit Card Benefits: Specific travel credit cards partner with hotel brands to offer annual free night certificates to cardholders as part of the card’s benefits.

Maximizing the Value of Free Night Certificates:

  • Understand the Terms: Certificates often come with conditions, such as blackout dates, category or hotel restrictions, points caps, and expiration dates. You’ll want to ensure that you are familiar with these before making plans to use your free night award.
  • Combine with Other Rewards: Sometimes you can pair a free night certificate with points or cash stays to help cover your stay.

Credit Cards that offer Annual Free Night Certificates:

All information about Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by Traveling Franklins. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Elegant 2 bedroom hotel room at Disney's Riviera Resort with two queen beds, crisp white linens, a mounted flat-screen TV, and a balcony view, capturing the comfortable ambiance
The guest room of the 2 bedroom villa at Disney Riviera Resort

6. Stay at Disney Springs Area Hotels

Staying at Disney Springs Area hotels will give you a blend of value and Disney magic where you can enjoy some perks of staying on Disney property without the higher price tag. These hotels provide convenient access to dining, shopping, and entertainment within a short walk or complimentary shuttle ride to the Disney parks.

As a bonus, many of the Disney Springs Area hotels are part of well-known hotel loyalty programs, such as IHG, Hilton Honors, and Wyndham Rewards. This gives you the option to use loyalty points and miles to offset or completely cover the cost of your hotel stay at Disney World!

We have stayed at 3 of these hotels and had an amazing experience:

  • DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Orlando – Disney Springs® Area
  • Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace – Disney Springs® Area
  • Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista – Disney Springs® Area

Credit Cards that we like for Disney Springs Area Hotels:

Want to learn how to use Points and Miles for “FREE” Travel?

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7. Stay offsite

As much as I love Disney-owned and non-owned hotels at Disney World, there are plenty of amazing options offsite as well. Disney-approved offsite properties near Disney World are called “Good Neighbor Hotels”.

Many of these hotel properties are with a variety of major hotel chains so you have the option to use points and book directly on the hotel website, maybe use a purchase eraser/statement credit option or you may be able to find them on the travel portal.

We have stayed at many of these hotels and you really can’t go wrong as they are carefully selected by Disney to be included on the list of Good Neighbor Hotels.

Credit Cards we like for booking Good Neighbor Hotels:

8. Purchase discounted Disney Gift Cards

Another great way to save on a trip to Disney World including your accommodations is to save up for the trip by purchasing discounted Disney Gift Cards.

Disney Gift Cards are an acceptable payment method across Disney parks, resorts, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Store locations in the U.S., and shopDisney.com. They can cover practically every expense associated with your trip, from park tickets and hotel stays to dining, merchandise, and even annual passes.

Finding Discounted Disney Gift Cards

The key to this strategy lies in purchasing Disney gift cards at a discount. Here’s how you can find discounted Disney gift cards:

  • Warehouse Clubs: You may find Disney Gift Cards at places like Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s Wholesale at a slight discount. Even savings of 2-5% can add up, especially on larger purchases.
  • Grocery and Retail Stores: Some grocery stores may have discounted gift cards or if you have a store credit card like the Target RedCard you could get 5% back when purchasing Disney Gift Cards at Target. I’ve even found discounted Disney Gift Cards online at Best Buy!
  • Credit Card Rewards: Use credit cards that offer bonus points or cash back at certain retailers that offer Disney Gift Cards. For example, some credit cards give you bonuses at grocery stores or office supply stores where Disney Gift Cards are sold.
  • Gift Card Resale Sites: Websites that sell discounted gift cards may occasionally list Disney gift cards. While these offers can be more sporadic, they’re worth checking out for potential savings.
Spacious hotel lobby of the Disney Port Orleans Riverside hotel adorned with holiday garlands and a grand chandelier, with guests at the reception and resting on furniture

9. Earn Cash Back with Shopping Portals

We all shop, so why not earn cash back on these purchases on top of any credit card points you may be earning. I’m talking about shopping portals!

These online portals offer a percentage of your purchase back in the form of cash back which can be cashed out for gift cards, deposited into your bank account or in some instances, credit card points. This can be another way that you save up for that trip to Disney World!

Popular Shopping Portals that we like:

  • Rakuten – instead of cash back you can opt to earn American Express Membership Rewards points instead. These points can then be used for booking flights, hotels, and more.
  • Swagbucks
  • BeFrugal

Maximizing Your Earnings

  • Look for Special Promotions: Shopping portals frequently run promotions offering higher cash back rates or bonus points. Plan your larger purchases around these promotions to maximize your earnings.
  • Refer Friends: Many shopping portals offer referral bonuses when a friend signs up and makes a purchase through the portal.
  • Combine with Credit Card Rewards: Use a travel rewards credit card for your purchases through the portal to earn cash back, points, or miles from both the card and the portal, this is called stacking, effectively doubling your rewards on the same purchase.

Want to learn how to use Points and Miles for “FREE” Travel?

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10. Renting Disney Vacation Club Points

Disney Vacation Club (DVC) Members own points that they can use to book stays at DVC resorts. When members can’t use their points, they often rent them out, giving non members an opportunity to experience these resorts at a fraction of the cost.

How It Works:

  1. Find a Point Rental Service or a DVC Member: You can rent DVC points directly from owners via forums, social media like Instagram or Facebook Groups, or websites dedicated to DVC rentals. There are also DVC point rental services which will act as a go-between for DVC members and renters.
  2. Choose Your Dates and Resort: Decide on your travel dates and preferred DVC resort. Availability can be competitive, especially during peak seasons, so having flexibility in your travel dates or resort choices can increase your chances of securing a reservation.
  3. Calculate Points and Cost: Each DVC resort and room type requires a certain number of points per night, varying by season. Rental services and DVC members typically charge a per-point rate. This rate is often significantly lower than booking the same room through Disney directly with cash.
  4. Complete the Reservation: Once you confirm availability and agree to the rental terms, the DVC member or rental service will book the reservation in your name. You’ll receive a confirmation directly from Disney.

Things to Consider:

  • Cancellation Policies: Renting points often comes with strict cancellation policies. Understand the terms before booking, as changes or cancellations might be limited or incur fees.
  • Advance Planning: DVC members can book resorts up to 11 months in advance, so you’ll want to plan early to secure the best options.
  • Payment Policies: Most rentals require full payment upfront, and you may need to pay a deposit when you submit your reservation request.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is that if you are strategic and savvy, you can save money on Disney World hotels.

In this guide, we’ve given you 10 tips to save money when planning your trip to Disney World. My favorite way to save money on travel is to use loyalty points and miles earned with my everyday spending. In this post, we’ve given you a few ways to use these points to help offset the cost of your trip.

However, points and miles are not the only way. You can do things like save up with discounted Disney Gift Cards or rent DVC points. Whichever method you choose, these are all practical and actionable tips that you can start working on today!

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