How To Buy Discounted Carnival Gift Cards (And Should You?)

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One of the best hacks for saving money on a Carnival cruise vacation is to buy discounted Carnival gift cards. You can essentially get free money by adding money to your Carnival account at a discounted rate.

But where do you get discount Carnival gift cards, and how do those discounts work? Let’s take a look.

A hand is holding a 'Carnival Gift Card' against a wooden surface. The card features a stylized image of a cruise ship's bow with waves, a sun, and clouds in a blue sky, emphasizing the fun associated with a carnival cruise.

How to get a discount on Carnival gift cards

You can get discounted Carnival gift cards from select retailers and rewards programs. You pay a reduced rate for the gift card and can then apply that card to your Carnival account. You need to be a member of a selected scheme to be able to access the discounted gift cards.

Some of these schemes cost money, but the amount you pay will be less than the value you can save on the gift card, so it still makes sense to sign up.

The best discounts you can expect to get on a Carnival Cruise Line gift card are 10%, with some retailers and schemes offering less – typically 5% or 6%.

Gift cards are usually sold in either $50, $100 or $500 denominations, so you can pay $450 to get a $500 gift card.

The best place to buy Carnival gift cards with a discount is through AARP Rewards – provided you’re a member, you can get 10% off a Carnival gift card with a limit of 30 gift card purchases per month.

1. AARP and Carnival Gift Cards

AARP Rewards is a program that lets you enjoy thousands of discounts, including 10% off $100 and $500 Carnival gift cards. You do need to pay to be a member and access the discounted gift cards, but membership costs around $12 a year. As long as you’re buying more than one $100 gift card, you’ll save money.

A couple of people have reported issues when buying the gift cards, saying that they were waiting a long time to receive the e-gift card information and that AARP’s terms and conditions allow for long wait times:

The discounts are compelling but gift cards are being paid for and NOT delivered.

However, this very much seems to be the exception, and most people who’ve bought from AARP and discussed their experience on forums and social media report almost instant delivery of e-gift cards.

2. Verizon and Carnival Gift Cards

A person is using a laptop displaying the 'Verizon Smart Rewards' program on the screen, featuring a happy customer using a smartphone. The setting suggests a casual environment, perhaps a home or café, with a focus on the benefits of the rewards program.

Verizon is another option for receiving up to 10% off Carnival gift cards, but it relies on you being a Verizon customer and having rewards points to spend. If you are a Verizon customer then this is better than using AARP since you don’t have to pay any extra.

To access the cards, you need to log onto your Verizon Smart Rewards account on the Verizon website. Here you’ll be able to find $50 and $100 gift cards, which are physical gift cards – you’ll need to wait for them to be mailed to you once ordered.

It costs 1,000 points to get a 10% discount on a $100 card, and 500 points to get a 10% discount on a $50 card. Earning those points is easy as a Verizon customer – you’ll get 500 each month just for using paperless billing.

3. Target and Carnival Gift Cards

Target sells Carnival gift cards, and provided you’re a Target Red member, you get the same 5% discount as you would on anything else purchased with the card.

Target Red is a banking account with different options – you can choose a credit card, a debit card or a reloadable account. Whichever version you choose, you’ll get the 5% off Carnival gift cards.

While the discount isn’t as big as with AARP or Verizon, it may be an easier option for you if you want to buy your gift cards in-store.

Target stores around here have them, and if you have a Target Red card, you get 5% off the cards.

4. Kroger and Carnival Gift Cards

Kroger is another store that offers Carnival gift cards, and while they aren’t discounted, you can save more money.

With Kroger, your purchases earn you fuel points, which you can redeem on gas. But to make the most of the offer, you need to buy your Carnival gift cards during the promotions where 4x points are offered.

This earns you 4 fuel points for every $1 spent – so a $500 gift card earns you 2,000 points.

You can then use 1,000 points to get $1 off a gallon of gas, up to 35 gallons but in one transaction only. Realistically, most cars have a capacity of around 10-15 gallons, so you’re only going to save $15. So, for a $500 gift card, you can do this twice and get $30 off your gas.

It works out at around 6% using that math, but it may be easier to buy the cards elsewhere and just get a discount.

5. Allstate Rewards and Carnival Gift Cards – Defunct

If you’re looking on social media and forums for more advice on buying Carnival gift cards at discount, you might see Allstate Rewards recommended. Just a quick note to let you know that this program was retired in October 2023.

How to use Carnival Gift Cards

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You can use Carnival gift cards either to book your cruise or to credit your onboard Sail & Sign account. You can also use them on ships, provided the ship is using USD as the currency onboard (so it excludes Australia sailings, for example).

You can use the gift card in the same way as you would any other gift card – just enter the details of the card on the Carnival website when purchasing your cruise, or when crediting your Sail & Sign account on the Carnival website. You can also hand over a physical gift card when on the ship to make purchases in the stores.

Just be aware that you can only use a maximum of nine Carnival gift cards at once.

Refunds of Carnival Gift Cards

If you apply a Carnival gift card to your Sail & Sign account and then don’t use all of the money by the end of your cruise, you’ll be refunded in the form of a new Carnival gift card. All Sail & Sign refunds are processed to the original payment method, so you won’t be issued cash or a bank credit – you’ll get a new gift card to use instead.

Final Word

So, should you use discount Carnival gift cards to save money on your cruise?

Generally, it’s a good idea, provided you’re planning on spending a large sum. It might be a lot of effort for minimum reward if you were only planning on saving $10 on a $100 card. But if you were buying at least one $500 gift card, the savings become significant.

There’s always a very small risk with gift cards that something could go wrong – e-gift cards may not arrive, physical gift cards could get lost in the mail, you could misplace the gift card – but that risk is small, and most people who use discount Carnival gift cards do so without issue.

As long as you’re careful, then you could get a decent saving on your next Carnival cruise.


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Cruise Mummy

Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

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