Earn 5x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar when paying for your Carnival cruise

This morning I received a rather pleasant email notifying me that Carnival gift cards are now available at over 9,000 retail outlets in the U.S. Some of the retailers mentioned are Kroger, Lowe’s, Safeway and OfficeMax.

Carnival

You can find the entire list of participating locations here.

This means that when you’re heading to your next Carnival vacation, it will be possible to purchase the gift cards at one or more of these retailers and pay with a credit card that earns you bonus points, such as the Chase Ink Plus or Bold cards, which earn you 5 points per dollar at office supply stores, or a card that earns you bonus points at supermarkets. Currently the Discover It card is offering 5% cash back at purchases at Lowe’s until November 30th (targeted and if you selected Lowe’s as your merchant for the cash back bonus, which I did). This would essentially mean 5% off your cruise purchase. You can also purchase additional gift cards and apply them to your cruise balance, since you always end up having incidentals on the ship, such as tips, drinks, photos and tour excursions, among others.

I actually was at OfficeMax yesterday and did not see any Carnival gift cards, but I wasn’t actually looking for them. I will have to return again and see if I see them and report back. They may be trickling their way into stores as we speak, so look out for them.

One thing to keep in mind. As always when paying with any gift cards, you lose some of the protections afforded to you when paying with credit cards. This comes into play for things like terrible service, defective products, or trip insurance. The Chase Sapphire Preferred card offers trip cancellation insurance when paying any portion of your fare or tickets with it, so it’s a good practice to use the gift cards to pay for the bulk of the cruise purchase, but always pay a small amount of it with the Chase Sapphire card or any other card that offers similar benefits, so keep this in mind as well. You can always consider simply purchasing trip insurance directly from Carnival as well or get your own policy if it makes you feel more comfortable.

Also, when sailing with Carnival, consider the additional savings you can realize by taking advantage of their Shareholder Benefit.

The question is, will other cruise lines like Royal Caribbean and Norwegian follow suit and offer the gift cards as well? One only hopes so.

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