At the end of February, a new credit card policy for Disney World Resort hotels went into effect. And it may not work the way you think it does! But here’s what you must know before using your Magic Band to charge back to your room.
What the New Credit Card Policy for Disney World Resort Hotels Means for Your Stay
We spent a few days at Disney World over spring break and got to “test” out the new room charging policy. We love the convenience of charging back to the room. And with Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival – the ease of tapping your Magic Band is priceless!
As soon as the new policy was released I studied it as much as I could. I knew we’d be at a disadvantage since our trip was just a couple of weeks after the policy went into place. But I read all the Disney blogs and followed the posts in the Facebook groups. But nothing prepared me for the mess I was left with at the end of our stay. To say I was shocked is an understatement.
What changed with the new policy?
Under the old room charging policy, Guests would place a credit/debit card on file upon check-in and that card wouldn’t be charged until you hit the preset limit (value and moderates – $1500 and deluxe – $2000) or the day of check out, whichever came first.
The new policy does away with the preset limits and instead, upon check-in, a $100 authorization hold is placed your credit/debit card. And anytime you spend over that $100 another hold is placed on your card.
I’m not a fan of the new changes, but I understand the need for the updated Disney World room charging policy. But hopefully, with this handy guide to the new credit card policy for Disney World Resort hotels, you’ll be better prepared!
What is charged when checking in to Disney World Resort hotels?
On the day of
I’m not sure if they run the cards all at the same time or if it’s based on when you check-in online or in person, but the hold was placed early in the morning on our arrival day. I did do online check-in with my card already attached and listed an early arrival time.
When will Disney Resorts charge your card again?
Anytime you reach over $100 in-room charges, another authorization hold will be placed on your credit/debit card for the amount over the $100.
On our first night, we went out to dinner at T-Rex Cafe in Disney Springs and charged almost $200 back to the room. When I checked my credit card the next morning the charge for the entire dinner was already “pending” on my account.
3/29/2019 Update: Our pending transactions from 3/12/2019 fell off on 3/28/2019 and our transactions from 3/13/2019 dropped as of this morning. So, it was just over two weeks before those funds were freed up.
What happens when you have an extended trip?
We just did a short two-night stay, but according to Disney’s policy online
Example: Staying for 14 days
- Day 1 – $100 hold placed on the card
- Day 1 through Day 5 – various holds placed on the linked card for charges over the initial $100
- Day 5 – credit card actually charged for account balance plus another $100 authorization hold will be put into place
- Day 6 through Day 10 – various holds placed on the linked card for charges over the initial $100
- Day 10 – credit card charged for the account balance and again another $100 hold is placed on your card
- Day 10 – Day 14 – various holds placed on the linked card charges over the $100 hold.
- Day 14 – (check out day) credit card charged for the
The end goal is there will always be $100 on your Disney Resort account for incidentals. But because it takes so long for the authorization holds to fall off you could end up multiple $100 holds on your card.
Please keep in mind this is what others are saying, since I haven’t done an extended stay, I don’t know for sure how this is working.
What you need to keep in mind with the new Disney credit card policy
- The daily transactions are authorization holds, not actual charges. This is so Disney can make sure you actually have the funds available at the time of charging.
- They will do multiple holds on the same day if you charge more than $100 to your room. We didn’t
chargemuch each day but ended up having two holds placed on our credit card each day of our stay.
- The resort will do an actual charge on your account upon check out or throughout an extended trip. But the holds placed will stay on your card.
- Authorization holds show up as “pending” charges and can take up to 30 days to fall off your credit/debit card. Which can lead to these transactions tying up hundreds to thousands of dollars on your credit/debit
Check out this post by Leslie from Trips with Tykes – Why every traveler needs a credit card.
My experience with the new Disney Resort hotel room charging
Our trip was March 12th through the 14th, so short and sweet. We didn’t do any parks but spent most of our time enjoying Saratoga Springs Resort and Disney Springs. As locals, we don’t buy a lot of souvenirs, but we do tend to go a little crazy when it comes to dining. We love table-service restaurants and would rather spend our time and money at two or three sit down meals a day.
For 3 days, two nights we ended up with almost $700 worth of room charges and five authorization holds on our credit card. This included the initial $100 hold that was charged the morning of check-in.
As of publication (March 25th, 2019), I still have four “pending” charges on my credit card which total almost $700. The only one that has fallen off is the $100 one. My card was charged for the full amount owed on the day of check out. That transaction has cleared.
Because I was unsure of how the new credit card policy for the Disney World Resort hotels worked, I made sure to use a card that had a zero balance with plenty of credit available.
We did a split stay over two days, August 29-31st, 2019, and this time I put my debit card on file. On the day of each check-in, a $100 was held on my debit card. I purposely did not use my MagicBand to charge back to the room so I could easily track when each of the holds fell off.
I was surprised that they actually both fell off within a couple of days instead of the weeks it took with my credit card.
Now, our family spent over $1000 that trip, so if I had actually used my MagicBand to charge to the room that still would have tied up an extra $1000+ because of the holds plus actual charges. Even at just a couple of days, that would have been devastating to our household budget.
Tips for managing the new Disney room charging policy
If you don’t have a credit card, I would not link your debit card to the hotel reservation. With the possibility of having twice the amount tied up on your account for a month, the benefits do not outweigh the cost in my honest opinion.
You can pay off your charges daily with a Disney gift card or different card then the one linked. This would save you from having the double charges on your credit/debit card.
You don’t have to link a credit/debit card to your hotel reservation. Instead, buy some Disney gift cards to use to pay instead of charging to your room. They can be bought in various amounts up to $1000.
And there is always the option of just taking your wallet into the parks. Old school, but it works… Unless you’re like me and have an uncanny way of losing your card at every turn.
If there is a credit/debit card linked to your hotel reservation be prepared for them to place multiple $100 authorization holds throughout your stay, even if you do not charge to the room. This could add up to a few hundred dollars being held, depending on your length of stay.
If you do decide to link a credit/debit card to your Disney World Resort hotel reservation, use the My Disney Experience app to keep track of your room charges. This way you know how much is being held on your credit/debit card.
You do NOT have to have a credit/debit card linked to your hotel reservation to have Disney Dining reservations!
Check out The Best Family Resorts
So is the convenience of room charging worth the hassle while at Disney?
We have older kids who go off on their own and having the ability for them to charge back to the room, makes it worth it for our family. I am now fully aware of how it works, so I can be better prepared for our future trips.
But with these changes, it definitely makes the decision tough. It’s always been a personal choice. Some people love the freedom of tapping their MagicBand for everything, while others hate it. When it comes to the new way of things, I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. Especially, if you don’t have a credit card and usually use a debit card only.
If you’ve stayed at Disney since the credit card changes I’d love to hear from you. Share your experience in the comments below!