Using Gift Cards to Pay for Meals

Hi All!

I’m wondering if there is anything I should know about using my stockpile of $50 Disney gift cards to pay for our meals in the World (and I have read the great TP “Disney Gift Cards 101” post :smile:). Specifically, should I just pay for meals via Magic Band and use the gift cards to pay off my accumulated resort charges? Or is there any reason to actually present the card(s) when paying the bill at the end of a meal?

My plan is to have enough gift card dollars to pay for all of our ADRs, and then to use cash to buy counter service meals and snacks.

I’m waffling on this issue as well. I have a couple of big gift cards, but I know that using my MB is super easy. I’m kind of thinking I’ll use the gift cards first until they’re empty and then start charging things to my room. I contemplated using the gift cards to pay off charges at the end of every night, but I’m worried that I’ll be too tired at the end of every day to deal with the front desk. Another issue for me is the Disney Visa. I have one, so I know I can get a discount in the shops for larger purchases and in some restaurants. I’ll need to remember that if I don’t use my Disney Visa, then I will be paying more for some purchases than I have to. It’s all very complicated.

I never remember to stop at the desk at the end of the day. I’m so tired I just want to get into bed and sleep. So I bring the gift cards and use them. I keep all the ones with balances in one section of my wallet and the used ones in another so I don’t get them mixed up.

It is complicated, isn’t it? :smile:

I guess my big question is whether it’s more difficult to add the gratuity by gift card versus by Magic Band? Generally, when you pay for a restaurant bill by credit card, the restaurant will charge your card without adding whatever gratuity you’ve written onto the receipt, and then the full charge (with tip) clears a few days later (at least, that’s how it is with my Wells Fargo check card). How does that work with a gift card? I suppose they just don’t debit the card until you’ve written a tip onto the receipt?

I thought I read that you can “load” your Magic Band with the value of any gift cards (up to a certain amount?) at the start of your trip, so maybe I will try that!

I am hoping to do the same for our April trip. We are staying at the Dolphin so I don’t have the option of charging to my MB. I am hoping the waiters aren’t annoyed by using 4 $50 GC for the meal.

I charge everything to the room so I don’t have to keep track of the balances on each gift card or have to carry them around in the parks. The only exception is any meals and/or souvenirs that I purchase after checkout on my last day, since I can’t charge things to the room any longer.

You don’t have to go to the Front Desk every night to apply the GCs to your room balance. You only need to do it when your room balance is getting close to the level where they will automatically charge it to your CC on file.

And even then, I’ve had the cc charge reversed and then been able to use the gift cards.

You can add a few at check in and have a positive balance to start

I do the charge to MB and apply gift cards at front desk method. Much easier to track overcharges on your room charge than on a gift card. Less likely for a gift card to get lost if I am not taking it into the park. Since I know that the charges I am paying off are always completed transactions (belly full or purchases in hand), I don’t have to worry about having the proper gift card for refunds.

That’s great information @keithloveswaffles! I have one big GC, and it would be so nice to just apply it upon check in. thanks.

[quote=“brklinck, post:7, topic:6901”]
You don’t have to go to the Front Desk every night to apply the GCs to your room balance[/quote]

A front desk clerk told me they charge your card when you have around $400-$500 worth of room charges, though they couldn’t give me an exact number. However, unless you’re eating with large groups or at Victoria and Albert’s for every meal this is good advice. You don’t have to go to the Front Desk every night.

I’ve also had the experiences that @keithloveswaffles mentions with gift cards at check-in, either to end up with a positive balance (usually applying the full value of a $50 gift card to pay for something like a $10 charge) or to be able to reverse credit card charges. Often, I find my credit card has already been charged for the balance of the room when I check in, but usually clerks are able to reverse those charges and apply the gift cards as payment. It takes a little while, as they have to scan each card individually, but for an extra 5% off my hotel stay I’ll sacrifice an extra 10-15 minutes of my vacation.

The amount varies depending on the level of resort you are staying at. I can’t remember the exact amounts, but it’s something like $500 Value, $750 Moderate, and $1,000 Deluxe.

That sounds reasonable, @brklinck, since I was staying at a value resort when I was told the amount. Didn’t realize it changed for different resort categories. Good to know.

I have paid off room charges with Disney Gift cards. I carried one in the parks and used it twice when the magic band scanner didn’t work.

Where do you buy the 5% off giftcards? I know you can by them at Sam’s at a discount.

Target, if purchased with a Target debit or credit card

I use gift cards for all restaurant purchases. I number the cards to keep track of them better. I keep a sharpie with me and mark them with the remaining balance. I adjust the balance for gratuities I’ve added. Since the cards are all numbered and I go in order, I find it easy to keep track of where I’m at. I use the Disney Visa for shopping to get the 10% off purchases of $50 or more.

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You can also use the Disney Gift Card app to track your balances. No Sharpie required! :wink:


Be aware that restaurants at Swan and Dolphin and some shops in Epcot don’t take Dis GCs since they aren’t technically Dis. Call ahead even if they take TIW which seems like sure thing.