Disney World Credit Card Charges May Surge as Partnership Between Banks and DeSantis Develops

Disney DeSantis
Credit: Disney / ABC / Canva

Florida saw a pretty big battle this legislative session that went unnoticed. It did not produce a controversial law, but it could affect everyone planning a future trip to the Walt Disney World Resort.

The Florida Legislature was considering a law that would have allowed credit card companies to continue charging higher fees to vendors every time a customer charges a credit card. The law would have cemented credit card companies’ rights and ensured they could charge vendors fees on sales tax and the original purchase.

Ron DeSantis superimposed over cascading 100 dollar bills

Credit: DeSantis/Canva, edited by Inside the Magic

Those vendors, in turn, pass those fees along to guests. In this case, Disney World will charge you more every time you use your credit card.

However, the Florida Tourism and Restaurant Association successfully blocked that bill from becoming law and is now working to create a law that would ban swipe fees on sales tax throughout the state.

The Florida Tourism and Restaurant Association represents the likes of Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando, who also have sway with Florida Lawmakers. Disney World saw this as a threat to its profits and fought to ensure it did not become law.

In this case, there really is no good guy; just two large lobbying organizations are attempting to take money from consumers. The question is how much they will get.

Mickey Mouse with stacks of coins

Credit: Inside the Magic

The answer is around $300 million a year from Florida alone. These companies make millions by charging credit card fees on sales tax, which is a fight to the death.


First, some background. When you use your credit card, companies like Visa, Mastercard, and American Express charge merchants between two and three percent for every transaction. So, say your Disney vacation costs $5,000; Visa receives $150 of that. It may not seem like a lot, but think about how many times people use their credit cards on a daily basis. It adds up.

Mickey Mouse and DeSantis with cascading dollar bills

Credit: Disney/CBS, edited by Inside the Magic

But that cost is just the base price of your package. It doesn’t include the six percent state tax. That adds another $300 to your purchase. So, the total cost is $5,300.

In Florida, credit card companies are allowed to charge not just the package price but also the sales tax. That adds $18 in fees to the credit card companies. This also doesn’t include the “other” fees that Disney adds to your trip. Again, it doesn’t seem like a lot, but it adds up.

Vendors end up having to pay that fee, or more likely, they pass it on to you, and your vacation package gets more expensive. Retailers have been lobbying the Florida Legislature to get rid of those extra fees, but now, credit card companies are spreading money around to make sure they can keep those credit card transaction fees as high as possible.

What’s Next?

Having been defeated in the Florida Legislature, the credit card companies have turned to another ally: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Having lost his bid for president, Governor DeSantis drained his donor base, but he is finding new friends in the credit card industry.

(R-L) Cinderella Castle and Character Scrooge Mcduck, looking at his money

Credit: Inside the Magic

But realistically, what can DeSantis do to help the credit card industry? While the credit card companies and banks pushed the law not to pass, writing into the budget was a bit of a compromise that the tourism and restaurant industry was looking for.

The budget set aside money for a study on ending credit card swipe fees on sales tax. The state’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research will conduct the study to find a way to “prohibit the collection of interchange fees on state sales tax.”

Governor DeSantis can eliminate the study from the state budget and ensure that these credit card companies can still collect the state’s swipe fees on sales tax.

However, the study will most likely show that these fees are hurting small businesses in the state and should be eliminated.

Governor DeSantis has not yet vetoed the study; however, according to Jason Garcia from Seeking Rents, the credit card companies are pressuring him to do so.

Scrooge McDuck Diving into his money bin.

Credit: Walt Disney Productions

Your Disney World Trip

Either way, guests heading to the Walt Disney World Resort still have to pay these fees. If they continue using credit card companies, Disney will simply pass the cost to the consumer.

Disney World won’t lower its prices by three percent if the fees are eliminated. Paying in cash doesn’t help, either, as the costs are already part of the price.

So, while these two lobbying behemoths duke it out, consumers are stuck in the middle.

What do you think of Florida’s law on credit card fees?

This post originally appeared on Inside the Magic.

About Rick Lye

Rick is an avid Disney fan. He first went to Disney World in 1986 with his parents and has been hooked ever since. Rick is married to another Disney fan and is in the process of turning his two children into fans as well. When he is not creating new Disney adventures, he loves to watch the New York Yankees and hang out with his dog, Buster. In the fall, you will catch him cheering for his beloved NY Giants.

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