Ways to Prepay with Universal on site trips?

Hi there!

One of the things I loved most about planning my trip to WDW was that I could slowly pay off the trip in advance with MDE and still have the option of pulling out and getting all my money back up to 30 days before we traveled. Is there a way to do that if staying at one of the Universal Loews hotels? And, does Universal have gift cards that one can buy up (at discounts throughout the year) they way Disney does?

Thanks for any help anyone can provide!

So the cool thing with Universal is that everything is seperate. Hotel, tickets etc. YES you can buy a package. However in even speaking with the reservation people the only real advantage is “convenience” there is no cost savings. So with our reservations at Portafino - you can cancel up until a day ahead of arrival. And you don’t pay until you check out. Additionally I got tickets at undercover tourist to save $$$

If you want to save for the vacation - I suggest you just open up an additional account at your bank or (capitalone / ING / etc) and just pop money in there every month. There are cards - https://www.universalorlando.com/Gift-Cards.aspx. However I do highly suggest undercover tourist for the tickets https://www.undercovertourist.com/ (I’m not an employee - just a happy customer)

Thank you, David. Those are some good advantages and tips. I will buy through undercover tourist as they do have better prices. Have you had luck getting good prices at Portofinos through buying an AP at universal? Or any other way? What price per night is considered a great deal there? Have you stayed there before and do you think it’s worth it? I’m debating about that hotel and the Royal one too. And even Cabana sounds great except that one can’t get the express pass there. I’m kind of sold on the idea of staying on property for all the conveniences it offers and for not having to rent a car, but maybe there is something I’m not thinking about. Thanks!

This will be my first time there in a LONG LONG time (more than 20 years) - I’m old - ha.

I have seen Portafino rated as one of the top hotels in Orlando on several sites. It looks awesome. We got a great deal - $336 for a bay view. However the prices fluctuate all the time. I would suggest calling the hotel directly, ask about any discounts etc they have (AAA, or whatever). Also the longer you stay the cheaper each night is. Additionally be flexible a bit. We were going to do Unvieral at the end of our trip, but by moving it to the beginning I was able to save $100 a night. I would then look out on Hotels.com, Trivago, etc to see if there are any other discounts. I have actually rebooked my stay there 2 times. I call and see if the rates have gone done. They did twice. I was in a garden view room and for $2 more a night - I got a bay view just by checking and calling back - worth the $2 I think

The Royal seems very nice too and we almost stayed there. However the rooms at portafino are bigger and as our kids are getting older - a little more room is nice. We were also in Italy last year so a “revisit” to it was very appealing. The Hardrock didn’t hold any appeal to myself or my wife - but people love it.

I would certainly stay at the higher end hotels - especially if you want the express pass. I was MUCH MUCH cheaper to stay at Portafino and get the pass than even staying at a motel 6 and buying the passes.

Sign up for Lowes loyalty program. I have done that with other hotel chains and even as a “low” user of the hotel chain have been upgraded simply because I was a loyalty member.

Hope this helps

Awesome information. Thank you for taking the time to write it and share it. All of this will help me in planning our stay. I hope you’ll report back when you go and let us know what you thought about everything! When do you travel?

We are going in April. So after I get back I plan to bore people with this. But for our trip I am pretty proud of the $ I am saving

Airline - Got SWA CC and got 4 roundtrip from Philly - for a TOTAL of $145 (normally $800)
Swan (WDW) - Got Starwoods CC and got 5 NIGHTS - FREE (less tax) (normally $1800)
Portafino - using Capitlone points to pay for 3 NIGHTS - FREE (normally $1300)
WDW Tickets - bought at Undercover Tourist (saved $200) but will pay off with Capitalone points - FREE (normally $1400)
Univeral Tickets - bought at Undercover Tourist (saved $70 I think) - $700 (I think) - will pay $700
Will have to pay for food and other incidentals - but saved $5100 by planning and using points - not too shabby


Wow David, great savings! We do the same and as long as we keep spending tons of money on our credit cards and fly Southwest, we will continue to have cheap trips. Great job!

ha - hello fellow cheapo!! I love it - we put EVERYTHING on the CC. I love the “HUNT” for a good deal

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Unbelievably amazing that you could build up that much savings through points and credit cards. Good for you. But, even putting everything on a credit card, you had to have 270,000 points to pay for Portafino and the WDW tickets! That’s a lot on a credit card. Maybe you have a business or travel for business?? Congrats! I’m hoping to take $1000 off my trip with credit card points saved up and then hoping MVT has good deals for when I want to go. The MVT prices for WDW hotels are quite discounted. Those SW flights are great for people who live in the right places. They don’t work in my part of the world, unfortunately. After all your info and Wahoohokie’s info, I’m leaning toward a longer trip that includes both WDW and Universal and I’m definitely staying at one of the Universal hotels. Have a fantastic trip in April!!!

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Me too!

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Thanks! Actually - I don’t travel and don’t have a business - just a regular “guy”. We just put EVERYTHING on the CC. Phone, cable, groceries, ANYTHING we can. You MUST pay the CC off every month though to make it worth it. Its taken about 2 years to get to this point. The cool thing - since I “paid” for Portafino / WDW Tickets on my CC - i get points for them too. We got locked into something that gives us crazy points.

I think it will be very worth staying onsite at Universal. You MUST stay at a deluxe for the FREE express though.

I definitely will stay Deluxe!

Hey David-If you’re still around I have another question for you. First though, I have decided to stay at Portofino next year, so I’ll join the loyalty program and keep an eye out for rates. I plan to buy the AP so that I can maybe get a good discount that way, but I’m not sure whether over Memorial weekend, they’ll offer discounted rooms to AP holders. Anyway, my question is this: Can you give me an estimation of what a family of 4 (two adults/two preteens) might expect to spend on food, on average over a 4 night stay? Assuming we have maybe two nice family meals while there plus the regular snacks/drinks/counter food, would $200/day on average be a reasonable estimation? I figure that if the DDP expects $250/day for a family of 4, and that’s overpriced, then at Universal, I could expect to spend about $200/day. What are your (or anyone’s) thoughts? Thanks!

Katy - I am actually planning on geeking out and putting together a “post trip” recap. So I will let you know!!! I have basically budgeted about $150 / day. Now we plan on having breakfast in the room. Poptarts, I’ll make oatmeal. But our family isn’t a big group of eaters - my wife usually prefers what is on the kids menu - but I will let you know exactly what we spent! One thing that I know jacks up the price of food a lot is drinks - not just alcohol - but soda etc. So we try to stick with water. I will get wine or a beer if the meal needs it (a steak or really nice seafood). But especially at lunch - we try to order just water.

I’ll also let you know what I thought of Portafino - can’t wait!!

Thanks, David! Yes, I totally agree about the soda (empty calories and empties the pockets). We do love food, though. And my husband really enjoys dining experiences. So, I look forward to hearing what you ended up spending when you get back. Remind me when you go again?