How To Get A Disney World Annual Pass On The Cheap

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Disney World Annual Pass

How To Get A Disney World Annual Pass On The Cheap

My Disney World Annual Pass just expired, I discussed why I let it expire earlier. But when it’s time to get tickets (and perhaps another annual pass), I plan to use my previous strategy with Citi Thank You points.  With a few slight tweaks, you can use that same strategy to greatly decrease (or even, possibly zero out) the cost of a Disney World Annual Pass.  Let’s go through the next steps of this strategy.

Step #1 – Obtain an Expensive Ticket with Points

First, review this method for obtaining a Disney World ticket with Citi Thank You points.  If you definitely know you want an annual pass, book the most expensive Disney World ticket you can with the Citi Thank You Servicing Center.  For instance, a standard, 10 day park hopper ticket for a trip starting October 10th is $628.35 with tax.  Your price will vary slightly based on the time frame of your Disney World trip.  In this example, the ticket is about 50,268 Thank You points when incorporating the extra 25% of Thank You point value the Premier card provides.

Step #2 – Stay Updated On Annual Pass Prices and Safely Travel to Disney World

Between the timeframe of booking and traveling to Disney World, stay abreast of Disney World annual pass pricing, as it can change.  Currently, the price of a Disney platinum pass is $1,191.74 (including tax).  These prices can change and seem to increase more frequently than ever.  Your upgrade option to an annual pass will (most likely) be driven by current prices, of course.

Next, safely get to Disney World!  Only mild sarcasm there, as the rest of this strategy cannot be put into action until you arrive at a Disney World park.

Disney World Annual Pass

Step #3 – Visit Guest Relations at Any Disney World Park

During your visit, stop by a Guest Relations office at any Disney World park and request to upgrade your park ticket to an annual pass.  Be sure to listen to all options that the Disney Cast Member provides, ensuring that you are getting the pass you want at an acceptable price.  You will owe the difference between the annual pass price and the cash price of your Disney World ticket (even though you obtained it with Citi Thank You points).

I used this method to obtain my previous annual pass at a lower cost, albeit with a ticket I purchased with Chase Ultimate Rewards points (which is no longer possible).  During my recent January 2020 visit, I confirmed that it was possible to upgrade my wife’s ticket (which had been booked with Citi Thank You points) to an annual pass.

When during your visit should you upgrade your ticket?  There are multiple answers, and they can each work depending on your situation.  For instance, some visitors have told me that they like to upgrade their tickets on the last day of their visit, in essence giving themselves a few more days on their annual pass.  However, for my situation a bit over one year ago, I upgraded at the beginning of our trip to take advantage of all the passholder benefits (dining discounts, Photo Pass, etc) during that same trip.

Finally, I have found the Guest Relations offices within the actual parks to have shorter wait times and more superior customer service compared to the longer waits at Guest Relations offices outside of the parks (e.g. before scanning your Magic Band into the park).

Step #4 – How To Pay For The Difference

In my above example, this is what you would still owe for your annual pass:

  • Annual Pass Cost:  $1,191.74
  • Less Cash Value of Your Ticket: $628.35
  • Difference Owed:  $563.39

Stop!  You do not need to actually pay $563.39!  First, you could simply use Disney gift cards.  You can easily obtain discounted Disney gift cards, or you can obtain free Disney gift cards by using other points currencies.  I went into more detail on that in my previous Disney gift card post.

Another promising option is charging the difference owed to your Disney resort room via Magic Band and using the proper credit card to erase the charges.  For instance, I recently erased about $400 of Disney room charges by using the rewards from my PNC Premier Traveler Visa Signature card.  While I only have first-hand knowledge of successfully using my PNC card for erasing Disney World expenses, there are plenty of other credit cards that offer the travel purchase credit/erase feature, such as the Capital One Venture card and the Barclays Arrival+ card.

Final Thoughts

Using this simple strategy can greatly reduce (or even zero out) the cost of a Disney World annual pass.  I’ve followed this general method in the past, and I plan to do so again when our Disney World visits are more strategically planned.  What other methods do you know that could decrease the annual pass cost even further?

Benjy Harmon
Benjy Harmon
Benjy focuses on the intersection of points, travel, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently roams throughout the USA close to expense-free. Benjy enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

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  1. @gosavorla Yes, good thing to keep in mind, except no annual passes have blackout dates (unless you qualify for the special Florida resident/DVC passes).

    • ah thanks. I’m speaking from my West Coast Disneyland experience. Didn’t know there’s no blackout dates for Disneyworld! That’s awesome

  2. I doesn’t matter when you trade in your ticket for the annual pass. The start date (and thus the expiration date) of the annual pass will be backdated to the first day you used your ticket.

    • the caveat is that it does matter in the sense that your original multi day pass usually don’t have black out dates but the level of your annual pass might. So you want to be careful that you don’t trade the tickets in too early and mess up a weekend trip.

    • Bret, great question! Curiously, only the Premier obtains the extra 25% value for Thank You Points; the Prestige does not have this same feature. That said, you could try leveraging the Prestige’s fourth night free benefit through a call to the Citi Thank You Servicing Center. Lastly, if the Prestige isn’t providing enough benefits to outweigh the annual fee, you could simply product change your Prestige to the Premier.

      • Thanks for the reply Benjy! And unfortunately, the 4th night free benefit doesn’t quite work as well as it used to at Disney resorts for me. I rather be more flexible with annual pass discounts and receive up to 25% off in other ways than utilize the 4th night free nowadays there. Good point on the downgrading though! I may inquire into applying for the Citi Premier outright and eventually downgrading my prestige to a Cit+ card for the 10% return

  3. Even better – Undercover Tourist sells tickets at a discount and counts as a travel agent for Barclay Arrival or Capital One Venture giving you the full 2x benefit for credit against travel expenses. I believe the Citi portal just sells tickets at face value so you’ll be paying almost $100 a ticket more than you would via Undercover Tourist.

    (And yes – any of these things works for Disneyland. Except for certain promotional tickets – you can always apply the value of a ticket towards upgrading to an annual pass).

    • David, thanks for the great tip for us all! Personally, I don’t hold either of those cards, so that’s good info to know.

    • yes, with or instead. Ask Mark’s podcast co-host Joe for an affiliated link from his Disney podcast cohost for a deeper discount on getawaytoday.


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