Disney Vacation Club – The Basics Part 3
Part 3 of my DVC breakdown covers the odds and ends that I think are important to know about DVC. I cover some DVC facts beyond “use DVC for Disney vacations” (non-Disney park vacation uses for DVC points, the resale market, and renting DVC points) and list some points to think about when deciding if DVC is right for you. There’s a lot to cover (this is the longest part), so let’s dive in!
I know I said this in both Parts 1 and 2, but it’s worth repeating: I do not work for Disney or DVC and that I am not at all being paid for or given perks for writing this post. This is a safe space where you’ll get only my personal opinion and experiences. Questions are welcomed and encouraged, but if you’re looking to actually buy into DVC, you should speak with somebody who is qualified (licensed?) to help you with that process. This is the 3rd and final part in the series!
- Part 1 – What is DVC (click here!)
- Part 2 – The Bonuses and Financing (click here!)
- Part 3 – Those Pesky Details and Is DVC right for me?
Those Pesky Details
I guess I’ve got one more disclaimer for this part of the series — I do not have any personal experience with any of the topics covered under “Those Pesky Details.” I’m sharing information I’ve learned from a lot of research, but I’m also only covering the basics. Each of these topics has a LOT more detail and could be a post all its own. Here, we’re just touching on a little bit of a lot of things, to give you broad strokes of the big picture.
Your DVC points are not exclusively for Disney vacations at DVC resorts. Because DVC is organized with RCI, a DVC membership puts a lot more at your fingertips. RCI offers vacations worldwide and as a DVC member, you can exchange your DVC points for some of those RCI experiences or book cash-only RCI experiences. When we were discussing DVC with our with our Disney Vacation Club Guide, before purchasing, we were told that this is like getting the Disney stamp of approval on certain hotels around the world. If you’re traveling somewhere brand new, it could be nice to have a trusted resort guru letting you know you’ll be staying in a great room. Since I haven’t yet looked into taking advantage of this perk, I’m not familiar with the exchanges, but I do know some exchanges can be booked as far as two years in advance (while others can only be booked 10 months out). I’ve heard rumors (a friend of a friend of a friend told my friend) that the exchange rate makes this path more expensive than just booking a vacation from scratch. If this is an important perk for you, definitely get more details on numbers before signing on the dotted line.
Your DVC points can also be used to book Adventures by Disney — a more structured vacation with activities planned by Disney to keep you busy and entertained. If you don’t like planning out a trip, this can be a great way to give somebody else the keys. Members also have access to special member-only rates, member-only trips, and DVC “extras and surprises.” Free swag?
A third way to use your DVC points outside of a DVC resort is to use them to book a Disney cruise! Going on a Disney cruise (or 50 Disney cruises) is definitely on my bucket list, so I did look into this one, and, unfortunately, it seems like it’s a better buy to use points for WDW vacations and just pay for the cruise. The points-per-night cost is astronomical. There are special Disney cruises only available for DVC members, which are pretty neat! There seems to be a DVC “policy” that at least one person cruising uses points to book, but that policy has been waived for the 3 2019 Member Cruises (I’m not sure if it’s often waived, though).
DVC Resale Market
As I’ve said before, Disney is currently only selling points at Copper Creek at the Wilderness Lodge and at Aulani in Hawaii (with Riviera (2019) and Reflections (2022) expected to be coming soon). Disney is not your only source for DVC points, though. There is a very lively secondary market where buyers can purchase points from existing DVC members. Since I haven’t bought any points in this way (not saying I don’t have my eye on Bay Lake Tower points…), I’m not comfortable recommending a particular marketplace, but a quick Google search will pull those sites right up. As with any decision to make a major purchase, especially online, please make sure to thoroughly research your source before buying to make sure everything is legitimate.
Some perks to buying resale points:
- Price – On these markets, you’re going to see a potentially significant discount compared to Disney’s per-point price
- Resort availability – this is really a great option if you want your home resort to be one that Disney has already sold out. Disney has a right of first refusal for all resale contracts, so it’s possible that they’ve bought back some points from members looking to sell and have them available for purchase again, but that’s kind of a “luck of the draw” situation and you’d need to call DVC to see what they have available.
- Variety – you’d be amazed by the huge range of DVC point packages available on these markets (price, number of points, length of contract, etc.)
Some downsides to buying resale points:
- Risk – while these transactions may be completely safe and totally legitimate, you’ll still have to do some research to make sure. Buying straight from Disney will be safe.
- Right of First Refusal – I briefly mentioned this right above. It means that before you can buy resale points, those points must be offered back to Disney first. This means that just because you find a contract you like on a resale market, it doesn’t mean you’ll get it. If Disney decides to purchase those points, they’ll get first dibs and you’ll have to find a new contract to buy.
- Disney resort use limitation – points purchased on a resale market after January 19, 2019 are subject to some serious limitations regarding where they can be used. Points from any of the 14 “original” resorts can only be used to book vacations at those 14 resorts. Resale points (once available) for Riviera can only be used to book vacations at Riviera and resale points for Reflections (once available) can only be used to book vacations at Reflections.
- Limits on bonuses – members who buy their points from a resale market won’t have access to many, if not all, member bonuses (exclusive experiences, Adventures by Disney perks, discounts, etc.). This should be considered when evaluating whether the discount on the per-point price is worth it.
- Shorter contract – since you’re buying somebody’s contract with Disney, you only get points until the end of that original contract, which has been partially used up by prior owners.
These are by far not all the facts you should consider, but hopefully they help provide a starting point for weighing your DVC options.
Renting DVC Points
DVC points aren’t just available for purchase. You can also rent points! As a DVC member, point renting lets you get some income for points you can’t use (when you still want to keep your contract for future years). Part 2 of this series discussed “banking” unused points, but you can only bank points for one year. If you don’t use banked points the following year, you lose them. Alternatively, if you know you can’t use points, you can offer them for rent and make some money.
On the other side of this transaction, people may want to rent points for a number of reasons. DVC members may want to rent points if they don’t have enough for a special, larger vacation (that doesn’t warrant increasing their DVC point contract). Alternatively, a member may want to rent points for a resort other than their home resort to get to book that other resort 11 months out (and have significantly increased chances of getting the type of room they want for the days they want).
Non-DVC members can still book DVC rooms and pay cash. This can be a good way to check out DVC rooms before buying DVC points. Depending on the facts surrounding a guest’s vacation, it’s possible it’s more cost effective to rent points and book a DVC room with those points than to book a DVC room with cash.
Is DVC right for me?
A lot goes into the decision to become a DVC member. I’m not going to sit here and try to convince you it’s right for everyone. In all honesty, it’s not. Even if somebody determines they can afford a DVC membership, and they “like” the idea, that person should still carefully weigh the practicality of being a member.
Here are some questions I think you should ask yourself in this process:
- How often do you want to visit Disney / a Disney resort? For DVC members, I think this answer should at least be “every 3 years,” (think about banking/borrowing) if not more frequently unless you’re ready and willing to rent your points. You really shouldn’t let points go unused. You don’t get any refund for unused points. Yes, I mentioned you can use points for non-Disney vacations. If you plan on doing that, make sure it’s feasible before you buy-in.
- When you go to Disney, where do you like to stay? If your heart is set on staying off property, that won’t magically change once you’ve got points in your pocket. Even if you like staying on property, take some time to calculate your annual hotel cost. Then, try to figure out the TOTAL cost of your DVC contract (contract cost, interest (if any), and annual dues and taxes for the life of the contract). Crunch some numbers and see if your average per-year cost is less with DVC. This will be an ESTIMATE. We can’t know how Disney hotel prices will change (go up) over the years and we can’t know future fees/taxes. Also, there’s a value to any perks you get with DVC (assuming you have access to those perks). This should be a start though.
- How would you use your points? Think about how many people you’d want to take on each vacations (Solo? Couples thing? Full family?), and think about the time of year you usually take vacations (Do you expect to go during spring break — a more expensive time?). Do you expect to take annual vacations? Bigger trips every three years? Or are you a local who will use your points for quick staycations? All of these answers will impact how many points you’d need to make your dreams come true!
Whew!!! That was a LOT, I know. I hope this series was helpful! If you ever want to chat DVC or Disney in general, reach out below in the comments or on Instagram, @home_at_disney.