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If you’re like most parents, there are few things you enjoy more than seeing your child’s eyes light up with joy and wonder. If there is any experience that is guaranteed to do that – it’s a trip to Disney World or Disneyland. For that reason, many parents save up for months or years in order to take their kids on that once-in-a-lifetime, memory making Disney vacation. But traveling to Disney doesn’t come cheap.
You’ll have to factor in car travel or airfare, the cost of getting into the park every day, food, hotel accommodations, and all those Elsa or Cars souvenirs. If you have a family of four, that could easily add up to several thousand dollars. Many parents scrimp and save for months or even years in order to make their kids’ Disney dreams come true.
Disney knows this and has tried to help in the past. One of the things that Disney to help people save up for a Disney vacation was set up something called a Disney Vacation Account.
What Was a Disney Vacation Account?
The program, which was recently canceled, allowed people to put money into a special savings account called a Disney Vacation Account and for every thousand dollars a family saved, they would give savers a $20 Disney gift card to spend on qualified Disney vacation purchases.
That essentially worked out to about 2% cashback – which was a healthy return on investment if you put your cash in the account for a short period of time. For that reason, many people signed up for the Disney vacation account in order to get a little bonus money towards their Disney trip.
But the program had a number of downsides, including the fact that the options were very limited when it came to what you could spend the money on. For example, you could only cover air or ground transportation if it was part of a Disney vacation package, and you had to pre-pay for a Disney meal plan if you wanted to use your account in order to pay for food. What if you found a great deal on a non-Disney hotel or airfare package? You would have been out of luck as you wouldn’t have been able to use the money in your Disney Vacation Account to pay for it. Also, that 2% cashback might have been a good deal if you kept the cash in your account for six months, or even a year – but if you saved up for years using your Disney account the return wasn’t as good. In addition, if you didn’t use all your money on a Disney vacation, you couldn’t take the remainder out and use it for something else later.
So, what do you do if you signed up for a Disney Vacation Account and still have Disney cash in your account now that they’re closing all accounts?
Options for Disney Vacation Account Holders
Disney has given those who still have money in there Disney Vacation Accounts four options to choose from.
The first option allows you to use the total amount to purchase Disney gift cards, as long as you do so by September 27, 2017. With these cards, you qualify to get an extra 5% in Disney gift cards. If you choose this option, you get these funds for your immediate use via e-mail.
Option two allows you to redeem the money in your Disney Vacation Account towards a Disney vacation of your choice. They also offer some special rates and vacation packages for you to use it towards.
Option three is for those who want their cash back. If that’s you, you just have to do nothing and after September 27, 2017, Disney World will close your Disney Vacation Account and give you a refund. They will send these funds in the form of a payment or a check to the mailing address that they have for you. As a thank you, they will include a bonus of 2% of your balance at closing or five dollars (whichever is more) on a Disney gift card. In this case, it would take about 15 days for the delivery of the refund and the bonus gift card.
The final option would be to request a refund before September 27, 2017. In that case, you would get your money fully refunded via a check that would be sent to your mailing address, but you would not qualify to receive a bonus on a Disney gift card.
Alternatives for Saving for Your Disney Trip
Whether you had a Disney Savings Account that’s about to be closed or are just looking for the best way to save money for your Disney trip, you’ll be happy to know that there are a lot of options that will help you fast track your savings.
Two great options are a high interest savings account or a certificate of deposit (CD) – both of which are probably far better options when saving for a Disney vacation than the Disney Vacation Account was anyways. Both allow you to earn a high interest-rate on your savings, but also give you the flexibility of being able to make choices around how to use the funds.
For example, these types of savings accounts give you more flexibility so you can take advantage of a cheap hotel deal that isn’t at a Disney hotel, eat wherever you want to, or even bring your own food. A high interest savings account allows you to book your own air travel and have far more options than if you had to use Disney gift cards for all your purchases. Also, if something happens and you cannot take the trip or if you don’t spend all of your balance, you can use that money for anything you want.
High Interest Savings Account
There are a number of different options for high interest savings accounts on the market today. Unfortunately, you’re not likely to find a good high interest savings account from your brick and mortar bank. Traditional banks tend to have very low interest rates in comparison to the options available from online savings accounts. For example, as of September 2017, the interest rates on a Wells Fargo savings account started as low as 0.01% – 0.06%. That’s not going to help pay for any Elsa figurines! But compare that to Synchronicity Bank’s rate of 1.20% on their online savings account – which will make a much bigger difference in your savings.
Online banks are so much more generous with their savings account interest rates because they don’t have the same infrastructure that their competitors have to pay for like branches, huge numbers of staff, and massive ATM networks. They pass those savings onto you in higher interest rates on your deposits.
Certificates of Deposit
Want to earn an even higher interest rate on your deposits? If so, you should look into certificates of deposit. CDs are a savings vehicle that comes with a contract. You agree to put a certain amount of money into an account for a specific length of time in return for a higher interest rate.
For example, you might have to put at least $100-$1,000 into an account for a term of six months or two years in order to earn a 3% interest rate.
There are a number of different types of CDs – some whose terms are as little as a month long and some that have terms up to 10 years or more. The longer that you put your money in a CD, the higher the interest rate is likely to be. The best thing about CDs is that they give you a high return without risk. Your deposits are insured up to $250,000 by the FDIC at most banks. That makes it a very safe and effective way to save for your Disney vacation.
While there are a lot of benefits to using a CD to save, there are also some drawbacks. If you need the money in your account before the term is up, you’ll have to pay a penalty to get it out. This is usually equivalent to several months’ worth of interest. That could spell trouble for you if your term isn’t up for another month, but there is a great seat sale on airfare that you want to take advantage of. Still, if you are only saving these funds for your vacation, you might be able to buy a CD that will mature when you’re ready to pay for your trip. There are also CDs that allow you to take out the interest earned on your deposit before your term is up so be sure to shop around and figure out what’s right for you.
There are lots of great options to replace the Disney Vacation Account when it comes to saving money for your Disney vacation. These options will help you save and give you much more flexibility when it comes to planning your trip.
Author: Jeff Gitlen