Is a Disney credit card worthwhile?

If your family is made up of hardcore Disney fans, the answer is maybe

Cashing In columnist Tony Mecia
Tony Mecia is a business journalist who writes for a number of trade and general-interest publications. He writes "Cashing In," a weekly column about credit card rewards programs, for CreditCards.com

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Question Dear Cashing In,
I went to Disney World last month with my 6-year-old daughter, and they had kiosks in all the parks advertising Disney credit cards. I’m sure I’ll go back to Disney at some point. Would it be good to sign up for a Disney credit card? – Meg

Answer Dear Meg,
If you have ever been to the Disney theme parks, you know that the company excels at finding ways to make money off its guests while offering magical and unforgettable experiences.

For example, the exits of many of its rides dump park visitors directly into a gift shop. So if your daughter leaves the fun “Toy Story” ride at the Magic Kingdom with plenty of enthusiasm about the movie, she will have an immediate chance to ask you to buy all kinds of Buzz Lightyear merchandise.

I mention this not to be cynical, but rather to suggest that if we are evaluating a credit card offer from Disney, we should do so with some detachment instead of becoming swept up in the “magical” Disney hoopla.

For instance, unlike most reward cards, the Chase Disney Premier Visa and the no-annual-fee Disney Rewards Visa come with a choice of card designs. There are 10 options, including Sorcerer Mickey, “Frozen,” Yoda and Darth Vader. That might add to the cool factor and make for some fun conversations at the checkout counter, but it’s probably a poor basis for signing up for a credit card. 

The Chase Disney Premier Visa at a glance

 
Annual fee $49.
Sign-up bonus $200 (statement credit, after spending $500 in three months).
Earning rewards 2 percent back at gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants and most Disney locations; 1 percent on all other spending.
Redeeming rewards Rewards are in Disney Rewards Dollars, which can be redeemed at Disney parks, cruises, stores, vacation packages, as well as for airfare.
Other card perks

Cardholders also receive 10 percent off Disney merchandise, 10 percent discounts on food at some park restaurants, and access to exclusive character meet-and-greets.

It’s always tough to know if a particular credit card is the right one for you. Generally, it is important to find a rewards card that gives you rewards in a currency you like to use and plan to use. For instance, if you seldom travel, having one of the best airline credit cards probably would not be a wise move.

The same principle applies here: If you go to Disney a lot, your daughter dresses as Tinkerbell for Halloween, you’re obsessed with Star Wars memorabilia (the franchise is owned by Disney), and you’re planning a trip on the Disney Cruise Line, then one of the Disney credit cards could be perfect for you.

There are credit cards that might give you more value, such as a card that pays 2 percent cash back on all purchases. With the Disney Premier Visa, you get 2 percent back on only some purchases, and instead of cash, you receive a currency that is restricted to use at Disney locations. The card also has a modest annual fee.

On the other hand, both Disney cards come with a statement credit ($200 for the Premier Visa, $50 for the Rewards Visa) and shopping discounts. And it’s hard to place a monetary value on experiences the cards offer such as meeting Disney characters. The only way to gain entry to those is with the Chase cards.

Disney credit cards are best for hardcore Disney enthusiasts who will have plenty of opportunities to redeem rewards. If you’re merely a casual Disney fan, you might do better with another card, but even then, you probably can find some value in a Disney card. Just don’t expect it to turn you from a pauper into a prince.

See related: Video: Ways to save money on a Disney vacation, Rewards card reviews

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Updated: 12-16-2017