This week, we’re giving Howie a chance to show his Disney prowess by getting a family of four to Disney World in Orlando. Here’s the back-story and challenge:
Dick and Jane are public schools teachers in Seattle with two lovely girls, ages 8 and 6, who have always dreamed of going to Disney World. Mom and Dad are not fans of renting cars and would like to avoid it if at all possible. Their credit scores are 715 each, they don’t have or want a business, and only spend about $2,000 per month total on their credit cards with legitimate spend. Can we make a four day dream trip to Mickey-land come true so they can have a magical summer? Can we also include a four day Disney Hopper pass?
Here’s how Howie pulled it off for only $316.36:
DICK’S APS: Three cards – Chase Sapphire Preferred, US Airways Dividend Miles Premier World MasterCard, Starwood Preferred Guest American Express
JANE’S APS: The same three cards – Chase Sapphire Preferred, US Airways Dividend Miles Premier World MasterCard, Starwood Preferred Guest American Express
ITINERARY OVERVIEW: Dick and Jane will book a round-trip flight for four from Seattle to Orlando with US Airways for June 3, returning on June 8. They’ll have four full days at the parks from June 4 through June 7. They’ll stay all five nights at the Walt Disney World Dolphin and Swan Hotel.
TOTAL TRIP VALUE: $5,306.90
HERE’S HOW THEY CAN DO IT:
The first thing Dick and Jane need to do is increase their credit card spend from $2,000 a month to $3,000 a month. They can do this by leveraging Amazon.com payments where they might have elsewhere used other forms of payment. Alternately, they can pay things like their rent or mortgage with their credit cards using services like Venmo. Over the course of six months Dick and Jane will spend $18,000 with their cards.
June 3, 2013 – Round-Trip for Four: Seattle – Orlando
Cost: $2,787 ($697 per person)
Method: 80,000 US Airways Miles
- US Airways Dividend Miles Premier World MasterCard– 80,000 US Airways Miles
- Dick receives 40,000 miles after his first spend on his card (which can literally be a cup of coffee)
- Jane receives 40,000 miles after her first spend on her card
Explanation: The US Airways card offers 40,000 miles on first spend plus 10,000 after a balance transfer. Not only that, but by using that link you’ll have Dividend Miles Select, which begins award travel at only 20,000 miles (rather than 25,000 miles, as seen on the US Airways redemption chart). So if Dick and Jane both use that link, they’ll receive 80,000 miles – enough for four US Airways round-trip tickets to Orlando.
Out of Pocket Cost: $0
June 3-8 , 2013 – Walt Disney World Swan
Cost: $1,301.9 ($260.38 per night for one standard room with two queen beds)
- Starwood Preferred Guest from American Express– 40,000 points
- Dick receives 10,000 points on his first purchase
- Dick receives 15,000 points after spending $5,000 within six months, which he’ll accomplish in the third and fourth months of his spending
- Dick receives 5,000 points earned at $1 per point by using the card for his minimum spend
- Jane receives 10,000 points on her first purchase
Explanation: The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotels are Disney hotels, however they’re operated by Starwood. That means Dick and Jane can use their Starpoints to book it! The hotels are Category 4, which cost 10,000 Starpoints per night, or using Starwood’s Cash & Points program, 4,000 Starpoints plus $60. Personally, I’d do Cash & Points to save up my points … but let’s get them the rooms for as little as possible.
Starwood also offers a fifth night free when booking four nights. So Dick and Jane can get a standard room with two queen sized beds for their 40,000 points + a $14 daily resort fee. (Free Internet & 2 bottles of water). This resort also participates in the Green Choice program. Decline housekeeping services daily, and Dick and Jane will pick up 2,000 SPG points to start building their balance up again!
Plus, as the hotel is part of the Disney Resort, Dick and Jane can take the Magical Express from the airport to the hotel (and back) for free. Thanks for the corrections below. The family can take a Mears shuttle round-trip for $122 for everyone. Not free, but shuttle service is a winner. And, of course, they can jump on a bus or water shuttle to get to the park itself. Goodbye rental car!
Out of Pocket Cost: $70 + $122 for shuttle
June 4-7 , 2013 – Disney World Theme Parks
Cost: $1,218 (including Park Hopper)
Method: Ultimate Rewards Statement Credits
- Chase Sapphire Preferred– 93,000 Ultimate Reward points
- Dick receives 40,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months, which he will spend in full the first month
- Dick receives 3,000 points after spending the minimum requirements at 1 point per dollar
- Jane receives 40,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months, which she will spend in full the second month
- Jane receives 3,000 points after spending the minimum requirements at 1 point per dollar
- Dick receives 7,000 points spending $7,000 over the fourth, fifth, and sixth months. In reality Dick and Jane should earn more than 7,000 points, as dining earns two points per dollar, however for purposes of this we’ll stay conservative
Explanation: Ultimate Rewards points can be very valuable – if used properly they can be worth as much as 5.5 cents per point. So using them as statement credits at one cent per point isn’t the best use. But it’s certainly a decent option to get a family of four to Disney World. At a penny a point, Dick and Jane’s Ultimate Rewards are worth $930.
If you book tickets directly through Disney, the total ticket cost will be $1,218. However, using the site mousesavers.com, I found 2 adult and 2 child Hopper tickets for a total of $1,054.36. Including the statement credits, Dick and Jane’s total out of pocket cost will be $124.36.
Out of Pocket Cost: $124.36
Next week’s challenge will be back to our rookie, Jeremy, who will attempt to take a free romantic vacation to Hawaii with his girlfriend.