Over the past week, we have spent $2,540 on gift cards. You might think I'm crazy. I'm not. Maybe we're going nuts for Christmas this year? Nope. We're actually cutting back.
So then why are we spending all this money on gift cards? Because….we're going back to Disney World!
What does one have to do with another? Well, read on. I'll first go over the trip, then make clear why we dropped some serious bank on gift cards.
Recapturing The Magic
Long time readers might remember that we went to Disney World in 2015. We had a great time. During that trip, we stayed for eight nights. We stayed at a deluxe resort. We dined with a Disney meal plan. It was a fantastic time with all of our family.
My wife is our trip planner, and from the moment we got back, she was planning our next trip in her head. She wanted us to go while both of our kids were nine or under. Why? Because tickets get much more expensive after they turn ten.
We went on a fantastic spring break trip to Tampa last year during the kids week off of school. We loved it so much that we booked the same rental for the same week in 2018.
It was early fall when my wife brought up the idea of modifying the trip so that we could go back to Disney World. We looked through the numbers and made it work.
We're still going to our rental place, but for five nights instead of a week. Then, we're going to Disney World!
It'll be different than last time in a few ways:
- Length – We're staying at Disney World for five nights. It's still a longer total trip, but less time at Disney made it more affordable.
- Resort – Last time we stayed at a deluxe resort to get the best experience. This time, we are staying at a moderate resort.
- Dining – Instead of using the Disney meal plan, we're paying our way. We'll still be eating at restaurants around the parks, but we think we'll save money. We found that with the meal plan (which was free as part of a promo last time), we were eating all the time. We ate meals when we weren't hungry because we felt we had to. This time, we'll eat less frequently. Plus the kids can split meals and such.
- Driving – We flew down to Disney World on our last trip. Since we're going to Florida near Easter, flight prices were not affordable for us, so we are driving.
Where Gift Cards Come In
It's the holidays. For some reasons, holidays find great deal on gift cards. They mark them down so that you shop at the store. So deals are bountiful and we took advantage.
We do most of our grocery shopping at Meijer. Now, Meijer has a whole display of gift cards. You can buy gift cards for just about anywhere. Amazon, Home Depot, Applebee's. And also Disney.
Meijer is running a special where, for every $100 you spend on gift cards, you get a $10 credit on your next bill. Each person registered in their in-store rewards program can spend up to $1,000 to get this reward.
So, we each spent $1,000 on Disney gift cards and each got $100 towards future shopping trips. By spending $2,000, we are getting $200 in groceries for nothing!
This was another great find. One day per year around the holidays, Target offers 10% off their own gift cards. Each person can buy up to $300 in gift cards at 10% off. You can then use those gift cards to buy other gift cards, including Disney cards. So, we each bought $300 of Target gift cards for $270. We then each ‘spent' those on $300 of Disney gift cards.
So, when it's all said and done, we spent $2,540 and ended up with:
- $2,600 in Disney gift cards that we can apply toward our trip costs
- $200 in Meijer gift cards that will pay for 2+ weeks of groceries.
By spending $2,540, which was money we were going to spend regardless, we ended up with $2,800 in spending power. It doesn't get much better than that!
The only downside is that we lost a little bit of money on cash back rewards. Had we spent the equivlant $2,540 directly with our travel agent, we would have gotten 3% cash back on our credit card. That would have given us $76.20.
Our card gives us 2% cash back at Meijer, and 1% at Target, so we'll end up with $45.40 in rewards. So, while we're gaining $260 in freebies, it does, in a sense, cost us around $30. But we still come out ahead. Plus, I always look at the cash back as extra, in that we never count on it. So, either way we're still coming out ahead.
All in all, we are pretty pleased with how things turned out. I love when we can find ways to save on spending that would happen no matter what.
Readers, have you ever used gift card promotions as a way to keep money in your pocket? Let me know what works for you in the comments below. Thanks so much for reading!