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My favorite cruise line, NCL or Norwegian Cruise Line, does not sell company-branded gift cards of any kind (at least, as of this post date). The only thing they do that is real nice is allow you to pre-load fully refundable cash up to $1,000 per cabin before the cruise. You can then spend this however you want and if you don’t spend it you get it back the last day of the cruise. And before you ask: YES, you can use a credit card to load up at no extra fee!
HOT TIP: Limited time use promo code “MAYSAVINGS” for an extra 3.5% off on top of discounted offers!
But lots of other cruise lines do sell gift cards. At most retailers, you are paying face value unless there is some kind of promotion percentage off, a gas/fuel points promotion, and so on. But there is also another way to find online discounted cruise gift cards. Take a look here! (<-link)
Cardcash offers will change over time but you can check out each cruise line gift card to see if there is value in buying a gift card before your next cruise, or before you book. The latter really is important because with some cruise lines, spending their cards is super simple while others not so much. Let’s start with a simple one.
Carnival really does it right. There as so few restrictions on these things and you can use them to pay for just about anything. 7% off is not as good as widely known ways to get 10% off on their gift cards. Take a look.
If you join AARP via Rakuten (you get $30 bonus for joining and then spending $30) for 5 years you get $20 cash back. With this and the bonus, you only pay $13 for five years of AARP membership. With that membership, you can buy Carnival gift cards at 10% off face value (up to 25 per month)! But as already mentioned above, if you can find store sales you can save even more than 10%!
Next up, we look at Celebrity. This is one of those you want to be careful to buy as it can ONLY be used for new bookings – you can NOT use them toward any shipboard charges and that may be one of the reasons they sell for 14% off! The full terms for Celebrity cards can be found in this PDF.
I was chatting with fellow Frequent Floater MJ about this next one and he had not done this yet, that is, take advantage of the chance to save 9% off his RCI sailings. But once again, we have a LONG list of “got-ya” terms and conditions. Take a look:
“A Royal Caribbean gift card may be used only as a form of payment toward a new reservation made directly with Royal Caribbean International.
The Royal Caribbean gift card value may only be applied toward the cruise fare for Royal Caribbean International sailings quoted in USD and cannot be used toward payment of the required initial deposit. The initial deposit must be paid in USD (by cash or credit card) at the time of booking.
A Royal Caribbean gift card may not
be split between multiple reservations.
be partially redeemed.
be applied to a reservation within a group, charter or casino program/promotions.
be used to obtain onboard credit or to settle any shipboard charges.
There are no blackout dates and no restrictions as to ship, itinerary or stateroom category; however, all reservations are subject to availability at the time of booking.
Multiple Royal Caribbean gift cards may be applied toward the cruise fare of the same reservation. Remaining balances due may be paid with cash or credit card.“
So saving 9% is sweet but you need to have all your ducks in a row before you even think of buying an RCI gift card for your cruise. I am not sure if you can have a travel agent use these cards for you when booking as the T&C seem to suggest you must book directly. Maybe a reader can comment if they have done this or not.
Because Carnival is the parent company for Holland America, we can see why they are also very friendly to spend. The percentage off is lower than others — but savings is savings and you can use them before the cruise or onboard as well (loaded into your onboard account).
Our last one is again under the parent Carnival that is Princess Cruises. So, as just mentioned with Holland America you have lots of flexibility with these gift cards. I will be buying some before my next cruise.
The only line I have left off for consideration is Disney because the discount is so low I would not pick them up via CardCash – I would look for sales at say Kroger or Meijer or other retailers when the discount is strong!
Overall CardCash is a site to at least consider rather than paying full retail to get a discount when you are ready to book your next great adventure at sea! – René
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Thanks, this is a useful guide! I have an upcoming final payment on a Celebrity cruise. I might look to use the $1k limit on GCs, but want to check with my TA first to make sure he’ll process for me. I read on cruisecritic that TAs that issue rebates to clients back out GC payments as they’re not commissionable. If that’s the case it cuts into the $100-140 savings ($1k in GCs with a 10-14% discount on face value) and probably isn’t worth the hassle for me.