Earn Tons of Bonus Points at Universal Orlando With New Amex Offer

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I’ve never been to Universal Studios Orlando and have only been to Universal Studios Hollywood once as a kid many decades ago. In contrast, I’ve been lucky enough to make it to Disney World a decent number of times. So, while I consider myself fairly knowledgeable on most things Disney, it is fair to say that I am a Universal newbie. However, I am the mom of a Harry Potter-loving second grader who is the perfect candidate for a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios.

My Harry Potter girls.

Since we are going to Orlando this summer, I’ve been studying up on Universal Orlando as much as possible, and I’ve learned one very key lesson very quickly. Universal Studios is very expensive, even more expensive than Disney World if you can believe it. Not only is it expensive, but during peak seasons you need to pay up even more than a base ticket price to avoid wasting a huge chunk of the day in lines.

You can do this by paying for Express Passes, a VIP tour, or by staying at one of the higher end onsite properties such as the Loews Royal Pacific hotel that conveys unlimited express pass access which otherwise would cost a family hundreds of dollars. I honestly have no clue which of those paths we are taking for our summer trip, but with a pretty impatient husband, Florida’s July heat, and a two-year-old in our group, you can guarantee we will be taking some pathway towards shorter lines.


Earn Tons of Bonus Points at Universal Orlando With New Amex Offer

Today an Amex Offer appeared that may offer the best possible solution outside of losing my mind and splurging on the Universal Orlando VIP package coming up in the Daily Getaways sale. The Amex Offer available in my account provides 10,000 bonus Membership Reward points for $500+ spent on a Universal Orlando Resort package. The package must include a minimum of hotel accommodations and theme park tickets and it can include additional items such as photo packages, dining plans, VIP experiences, shows, and event tickets as long as it also includes hotel and theme park tickets.

I value 10,000 Membership Reward points between $150 – $200 when redeemed with their Membership Rewards partners, so that is a very decent return on a $500 purchase. However, let’s be real. A Universal Orlando theme park package for a family of four can very, very easily cost way more than $500. In fact, the one I am looking at will cost right at $1,000. Ouch.

The plus side of that extremely ridiculous total is that they seem to allow you to split the charge between up to four different credit cards. If you load the Amex Offer to two different Amex cards and split a $1,000 package between the cards, then you should be able to earn 20,000 Membership Reward points on your $1,000 expense. That may be about as good as it gets for peak summer travel to visit Mr. Potter.

The offer is valid until July 7, 2018, so you will want to be sure the charge has been made by that date. Also note that the terms of the Amex Offer indicate the charge must be made in a single purchase, so not a cumulative total of a deposit and then final charge.

As an added perk of paying for the vacation package with your American Express Card, you should also be eligible for admission to the American Express Lounge in Universal Studios Florida if you select a Multi-Park ticket or Annual Pass. I’m all ears if anyone has Universal Orlando money and time-saving tips to go along with this pretty stellar Amex Offer!

Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. Just came back from Universal. Stayed at Loews Royal Pacific bought from daily getaways last year.. It was great.. Came with express pass.. and just bought 1 day park to park pass. Did this the year before too.. We have no problem hitting every ride in both parks in 1 day.

    • Perfect – that is starting to become our plan it seems. I’m okay not hitting every ride, but certainly, want to soak up everything Harry Potter for the girls!

  2. I agree it is really pretty easy to see everything you want at both parks in one day without much effort if you arrive at park opening and are at a Universal hotel with the express pass!

    • Embarrassingly enough, yes. It would be the price for our family of four with a park to park one-day pass. Universal is crazy, crazy expensive.

  3. Make sure and budget for getting the interactive wand in the gift shop so your daughter can cast spells within the park. It’s a must do. We actually went to Universal Hollywood last year, and are going to Universal Florida this Memorial Day. We’ll probably stay off site because of the crazy prices plus we want to get in a day at Disney as well.

  4. Just came back a month ago, curiously our kids (teenagers) didn’t care much for Harry Potter but mom and dad (us) couldn’t get enough of the Wizarding world of Harry Potter (after returning we all watched the 7 Harry Potter movies). The lines without express pass are huuuuggee, read the reviews in tripadvisor, some say the enchantment dies down after waiting in line for 3-4 hours… And yes, we stayed in Hard Rock Lowes hotel, the closest one walking distance to Universal, and it was fantastic! Also, you may enjoy the newest water park addition, Volcano Bay, but in February it was already very crowded and there is no such thing as an express pass, you sign up with a wrist device called the TapuTapu and each ride will tell you how long to wait (at least 60 minutes or more).
    You’ll have a great time! Go for the Lowes hotel, you either walk to the parks or take a very charming boat ride to and from the parks.
    (and thanks for all your great tips and reviews!)

    • What stinkers for not loving it. 😉 We paused our 8-year-old on the third HP book for about six months…much to her dismay. But will let her read the 4th and watch the movie when she finished second grade before our July trip to get everyone in the magical mood.

      Thanks for the tips and for reading!

  5. Our family of five went 2 years ago, and we weren’t really able to find any discounts or deals, so we ended up using Amex’s fine hotels and resorts to stay at Portofino bay which included breakfast for 2 per night and $100 F&B credit, as well as the fast pass for all 5 of us. The fast passes really made a huge difference and I would not ever go there without them during peak times. We thoroughly enjoyed the hotel and the parks, but it is definitely expensive. Good luck!

  6. Yeah not many deals to be found for Universal – a few years ago Orbitz codes worked but no more. We stayed last summer at Hard Rock Hotel – used 200k UR points (compliments of 2 Sapphire Reserve bonuses) and booked the hotel through Chase Travel Portal. No way I would go without an Express Pass so I definitely recommend staying deluxe over buying those outright – Express Pass makes the trip MUCH more relaxing than a Disney trip. The Amex lounge is OK – it only has water and granola bars and not much seating – but definitely nice to get out of the heat plus it has a private bathroom. If you can swing it go at least 2 days so you have time to thoroughly explore both parks – you really can spend all day just at the Harry Potter sections. Oh and a couple of tips – stay far away from Hogsmeade in the middle of the day because it bottlenecks horribly – go in the morning or the evening, also take full advantage of the child swap rooms, just ask an attendant up front and the good thing is person waiting can hold everything so you don’t have to use the lockers. Have fun!

  7. We just went to Universal in March and stayed at the Lowe’s Royal Pacific for two nights so we could get the unlimited Express Pass included in the price of our rooms. I would definitely recommend the Express Pass–totally worth it. Also worth noting is that you continue to get the benefits of the Express Pass even after you’ve already checked out of your room for the trip. Your room key is your Express Pass, so it is a good idea to bring a lanyard for it.

    We were primarily there for HP and we all LOVED IT. But it does get really crowded in the afternoons. Definitely try to be there when they open. (And another advantage of staying at the Royal Pacific is that it gets you into the park an hour before normal.) Hit up Hogsmeade in the morning before the crowds get too crazy, and get a wand at Ollivander’s first thing because the line is LONG. (Make sure it’s one of the interactive wands; they sell both kinds.)

    If you get the park-hopper thing, you can ride the Hogwart’s Express, which is so much fun. We rode it three times back and forth between the parks.

    Breakfast at the Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade really wasn’t very good. Lunch at the Leaky Cauldron was better. If you don’t mind sickly sweet things, get regular butterbeer, but if you would rather have something less sweet, get the frozen butterbeer. (I liked both of them but couldn’t finish the regular because it was just too sweet.)

    The rest of Universal is kind of underwhelming. There are a few good rides/rollercoasters, but HP is the real reason to go. If you get there when they open and have the Express Pass, you can do pretty much everything there is to do in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley in one very full day. We spent two days there and had some extra time for other Universal things and extra time to do some of the HP things more than once.

  8. We are shopping for annual passes only. I know it says hotel and ticket purchase, but how would they know? Manual intervention? Multiple codes? Any input would be appreciated! Thanks.

  9. My family loves Universal Orlando! A 1 or 2 day stay at UO or WDW is crazy expensive, as discounts don’t kick in until after day 3 or 4.

    Just wanted to make sure you knew that a one night stay at a hotel that offers express pass (PBH, HRH, or RPR) will give you TWO days of Express Pass – both your check-in and check-out days.

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