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How to book Disney vacations with City National Bank rewards (up to 1.35 cents per point!)

This website had the unfortunate timing of launching right when Chase ended the ability to book Disney packages. While you could still book all things Disney (tickets, packages, hotels, cruises) through Citi’s cruises and tours department, 1.25 cents per point just didn’t feel as good as 1.5 cents per point with the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Here at Miles to the Magic we just realized that you can book Disney vacations with City National Bank rewards! Better yet, you can get up to 1.35* cents per point, which beats 1.25 from Citi. The key here is that Connexions runs City National Bank’s cruises and tours department, just like Citi. And we’re pretty sure you get the same great benefits:

I think to unlock full value, you need to have the City National Bank Crystal Infinite card. While the card can be a bit of a pain to apply for, we really think it brings a lot of value to the table.

(Miles to the Magic tip: if you and your spouse both have the cards, you can pool your rewards).

Let’s take a look at how to get to the City National Bank Rewards cruises and tours department and what you can do with them. (Spoiler alert: it’s pretty similar to Citibank!)

* – it’s technically slightly less than 1.35 cents per points since you need to pay a $25 booking fee using the Cruises and Tours department. You can see how that affects airfare prices here, it will be similar with cruises and tours.

How to get to the City National Bank Rewards cruises and tours department

Getting through to the City National Bank cruises and tours department is simple.

  1. Call 1-855-853-5496
  2. Press “1” for new reservations
  3. Enter your 12 digit rewards ID or 16 digit credit card number
  4. Press “2” for the cruises and tours department

If for some reason that doesn’t work for you, ask for the cruises and tours department the first time you get to speak to a human. Still, you shouldn’t have to worry about that if you follow the prompts above. The cruises and tours department is open 9AM – 9PM EST M-F, and 9AM-5PM EST Saturdays. Again, exactly like Citi.

You can book Disney magic beyond cruises through the cruises and tours department (Photo Credit | Matt Stroshane, dclnews.com)

How can you save money by booking Disney vacations with City National Bank rewards?

If you have the CNB Crystal Infinite card, you get 1.35 cents per point when redeeming through the cruises and tour department (plus a $25 booking fee). Unfortunately, it’s tough to figure out what rate you’d get with other cards, so we’ll just stick to Crystal Infinite for now. If you have the card, and you use your reward points at 1.35 cents per point, you effectively save 26% off your Disney vacation. Not as good as the 33% you used to save with Chase Sapphire Reserve, but better than the 20% you save with Citi Thank You Premier. (Related: our beginner’s guide).

You don’t have to pay for your entire vacation with your points either. If you don’t have enough points, you can pay partially with points and partially with cash. And since we’ve been able to use Connexions (via Chase and Citi) to pay balances with Disney gift cards, we’re you can do this through City National Bank as well. Don’t forget to buy your cards with a discount!)

We’re super excited to be able to use a non Citi bank to redeem points for our Disney trips!

Make the Grand Californian more affordable using your CNB rewards (Image Credit | Disneyland Resort)

What can the CNB cruises and tours department book for you at Disney?

Like with Citi – you call the CNB cruises and tours department to book Disney vacations, not necessarily Disney cruise vacations (though you can do that too!). Even though it seems weird, at this point we’re used to always going through cruise and tour departments for Disney bookings.

We confirmed that you can buy tickets, hotel packages, cruises, and pretty much everything you can book with Disney online through CNB’s cruises and tours department. The agent we spoke to did say that they cannot book annual passes, but that was the only restriction. Since at this point the process is exactly identical to Citi, I’ve cut and paste how to book the various options below.

Booking tickets

If you want to book tickets, you’ll have to give a start date (which matters now in terms of pricing). Other than that, just tell the cruises and tours agent what type of ticket you’d like including what options (Park Hopper, etc.) and the number of adult and child tickets you need. You’ll be quoted the exact same price as what you see on Disney’s website – but again your points are worth 1.35 cents per point plus the $25 fee.

Booking hotels or packages

When booking a hotel, the travel agent will be looking at the same thing you are looking at on the Disney World website. So if Disney is offering discounted rooms, be sure to ask the agent to look for the “Enchanted Room offer” (or whatever particular offer is going on at the time). The same goes with packages. I’m guessing they could even book free dining if its a free dining time, though we haven’t tried that personally.

Using discounts

Since Connexions is a full blown travel agency, they should be able to apply any discounts available to you personally. That means if you have an annual pass, you should be able to use your annual pass discount using CNB’s cruises and tours department (confirmed here and here w/ Citi and with a CNB agent). We’ve even been successful using discounts that have been e-mailed to us personally.

(Photo Credit | Matt Stroshane, wdwnews.com)

Tips for finding a good Connexions agent

In our experience, 90% of the Connexions agents are great. Still, if you find one that’s really great, take down his or her extension. At this point, there are two or three Connexions agents we rely on for all our miles and points related travel needs.

It seems to us like the same Connexions agents staff Citi, Chase, AND CNB’s cruises and tours department (Chase still seems to have them handle the cruises and tours stuff). That means if you have a Chase cruises and tours agent you really like, you can use them with Citi too. Or CNB! We’ve found that some of the best agents are super reliable through e-mail and we can get a lot of our travel set up via e-mail without even calling.

If for some reason you find a cruises and tours agent that doesn’t seem to know what they’re doing, just try again. Most are incredibly competent at what they do and a pleasure to work with.

Final Thoughts

Move over Citi, CNB rewards now takes the crown for Disney bookings with points. (Chase who? JK come back to us!) A 1.35x uplift is getting close to the 1.5x we used to get with Chase,  and we find it very valuable for booking Disney vacations. Of course, the trick is getting the CNB Crystal Infinite card. But for us, it’s worth the hassle.

Questions, concerns, or datapoints? We’d love to hear them in the comments!

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