Jan 30 2014

Flight, hotels and tickets booked and cash back update

ETA: I decided to buy a flight ticket for our baby, Amelia. I know she can technically fly free, and there’s also a chance we could luck out and have an empty seat for her, but after thinking about it some more I want to have her car seat and her in it for takeoff/landing/turbulence/the whole time if possible. I’d be very sad if she got bonked around during a rough landing just because I was trying to save some money.

Squee! We have our flight, hotels and park tickets booked for Disney World! We’re going  this spring.

  • Flight: Southwest “Wanna Get Away” rates, with free baggage. Total for four people: $952
  • Hotel: Two on-site Disney resorts. We couldn’t decide between two, so we picked both and will stay three nights at Art of Animation and four nights at the Wilderness Lodge. Total $1,953
  • Tickets: 7-day base tickets. Two adults and two children (Amelia is free). $1,214
  • Trip insurance: $79

Kacie’s Barclaycard: I redeemed 45,000 points good for a $450 statement credit against the plane tickets. Barclaycard has a neat deal where if I redeem for travel, I get a 10% bonus back instantly, so they put 4,500 points back in my account right away.

I won’t have other redeemable travel purchases on this card, but I’ll be able to redeem the leftover points for cash at a lower payout. Right now, I have 5,166 points (about $25 worth) and that’s probably all it will be.

Total benefit from this card: around $475 in statement credits

Shane’s Barclaycard: We put both hotels on this card, and after I hit the $1,000 minimum on my own card, we put all purchases on Shane’s. I redeemed 45,000 points against one of the hotels, good for a $450 statement credit and once again got 4,500 bonus points back. That brought the total remaining to 5,834. I put 5,000 toward the second hotel (must be redeemed in increments of 2,500 for travel).

That was good for a $50 statement credit, and wouldn’t you know it, they gave me 10% back on that, for 500 more points. This card now has 1,334 points left, but I need to hit 2,500 on it to be able to swap that for a $12.50 statement credit. That = spending $583 more on the card to get to that threshold.

So, I bought the kids’ two park tickets ($588) with this card to hit the minimum threshold and will redeem it once it posts. I bought the adult tickets ($626) on my 1.75% cash back card. I ran our ticket selection through this calculator and OfficialTicketCenter.com came up the best for those tickets.

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Total benefit from this card: around $512 statement credits

We have money waiting to be redeemed at our 1.75% back PNC card, and will move spending to that one to increase the balance. It’s at $94.63 and growing.

How we saved on the hotel stay

We could have taken a few approaches — stay off-site (and much cheaper per night), but rent a car and have those associated fees. Admittedly, the hotel cost is way high and we definitely could have gone for cheaper accommodations to save money. But for this trip, paying rock-bottom wasn’t our primary concern.

We wanted to stay on-site for the extra park benefits, we didn’t want to mess with car rental (car big enough for 5 car seats, gas, parking at $15/day), and for us a fun hotel is a big factor in our overall vacation — the pools, the activities and themeing. We could have saved more than $1,000 in this category with different choices, and we are splurging here.

I realize it’s not frugal and we still could have chosen cheaper on-site hotels, or a fun off-site hotel, but it is what it is.

We did save money with the hotel by booking during a Disney promotion, stacking it with a 20% off promo code through Cheaptickets.com, clicking through Ebates for 1% cash back, and of course paying for it with the Barclaycard (which we pay in full every month of course).

The 20% off promo code was worth $417 off, and the Ebates cash back was $20.

I found out about that promo through the MouseSavers newsletter. Definitely get on that list!

Our remaining expenses are parking fees at our airport, tips, souvenirs, food and pre-trip purchases. Park food prices are huge. We’ll eat breakfasts in the room with food we brought from home (thank you, free baggage!), take snacks and stick with counter service restaurants vs. table service. That will still be several hundred in food.

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Total earned in statement credits and pending cash back: $1,101

With that in mind, that brings the total for flight, hotel, insurance and park tickets to $3,018 for eight days, seven nights and seven days in the parks for our family.

I wanted to mention a site that has helped with trip planning: EasyWDW.com. Love the reviews and analysis for best park to visit each day. Helpful stuff!

For the payout benefit, doing the credit card rewards have absolutely been worth the effort. If we had more time before the trip, we’d be able to get even more in rewards.

Time to start training for walking miles and miles every day! A fun exercise motivator if I ever had one.

photo credit: Brett Kiger via photopin cc

photo credit: insidethemagic via photopin cc


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Posted under Uncategorized | 3 Comments »


3 Responses to “Flight, hotels and tickets booked and cash back update”

  1. Rob and I went to Universal Studios last summer (left the kid with grandma) and stayed on site. I don’t think we’ll ever do a trip and not again. Besides the car savings we found it great to be able to walk to the park first thing, then go back to the hotel to rest/go to the pool/ get out of the heat for awhile. Then go back to the park in the evening. Not sure what your nap/eating schedules are or how that would work for you, but we found it less crowded early and late and didn’t have the pressure of “must stay all day to get our monies worth” Being able to get a break and go back was amazing. Hope you guys have a great time. We are thinking about doing this next year, so looking forward to your review when you get back.

  2. I think with the perks at Universal, staying on site has even more appeal! For me, staying on site at Disney for being able to bounce over to the hotel for a nap or whatever was a big factor. Definitely wanna hit the ground running in the morning.

  3. You’re going to love the Wilderness Lodge. We’ve stayed there twice. The first time was the 7th floor (concierge) for our honeymoon. Last trip, we visited almost every hotel for dinner and/or drinks and said we’d still stay at the WL :-)

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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