Hi all! Decided to put together a summary of some DVC rental background information and logistics for people who go on message boards and facebook groups and have no idea where to begin! A lot of the facebook groups do have summary pages also FYI, but I figured I have an unusual amount of expertise in this area from my daily phone calls with member services/frequent point transfers/etc.
So, when you are looking to book a stay in Disney World, you have a few options. You can book directly through Disney, book with a Disney travel agent, stay off property, or stay on property using Disney Vacation Club points. I have minimal-to-no exposure with staying off property, although I hear amazing things about Bonnet Creek, so I won’t provide any insight about that option. In general, WDW has 4 tiers of resorts that you can stay at, and the price increases substantially as you go up in the tiers. The hotels that fall into each tier currently are as follows:
Value: Pop Century, Art of Animation, All Star Movies, All Star Music, All Star Sports, Fort Wilderness Campgrounds
Moderate: Caribbean Beach, Port Orleans (Riverside and French Quarter), Coronado Springs, Fort Wilderness Cabins
Deluxe: Animal Kingdom Resort, Beach Club Resort, Boardwalk Inn, Contemporary Resort, Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, Polynesian Resort, Yacht Club Resort, Wilderness Lodge
Deluxe Villas (These are the DVC resorts in WDW): Animal Kingdom Lodge (Jambo and Kidani), Beach Club Villas, Boardwalk Villas, Bay Lake Tower, Boulder Ridge, Copper Creek Villas, Old Key West, Riviera, Saratoga Springs, Villas at the Grand Floridian, and Polynesian Villas.
Please also note that there are DVC resorts that are not on Walt Disney World property. There is a DVC resort in California (the Grand Californian), another in Hawaii (Aulani), another in Hilton Head, SC, and one in Vero Beach, FL.
You’ll note that the DVC resorts are the highest tier of resorts on Disney property. Several of them also have an associated Deluxe resort that is a non-DVC resort as well (for example the Boardwalk Villas are connected to the Boardwalk Inn). The price range for these resorts is significantly higher than the Value and Moderate resorts (if I were to just give a rough example, maybe you could find one night for $125 at Pop Century at a given time of year. The same night might cost $250 at Caribbean Beach and around $450 at the Boardwalk Inn for a standard room). The point of this information is to show that the quality of the resort you are staying at when you rent DVC points is far superior to what you might get if you tried to save money by staying at a Value or Moderate resort. This isn’t even factoring in that if you stay at a DVC resort you can opt to stay in a larger Villa that includes a separate living area, kitchen, laundry area, etc. Exactly what makes a resort superior is subjective, but oftentimes with WDW resorts, the location is the largest factor, followed by the theming of the resorts, the amenities, the restaurants on site, the transportation provided, etc. For example, if you were to stay at All Star Movies, you would save a significant amount of money over staying at the Grand Floridian, however, you would have to take a bus to all of the 4 theme parks, plus Disney Springs and the water parks. At the Grand Floridian you would just be a 5 minute monorail ride from Magic Kingdom (and soon they will complete a walkway directly to Magic Kingdom from GF as well). You also can take the monorail to Epcot with one transfer at the Transportation and Ticket Center. Similarly, most of the other DVC resorts offer transportation outside of buses to multiple parks. If you stay at Beach Club or Boardwalk you can walk to Epcot and Hollywood Studios (or take a Friendship Boat) and you can even walk through Epcot and take the monorail to Magic Kingdom, which means you only have to take a bus to Animal Kingdom. Many of the Deluxe resorts offer character dining on site as well as multiple quick service restaurants. Several also offer amenities such as easy access to beaches, multiple pools, nightlife/bars, shopping, etc. It is an entirely different experience than staying at a value resort, so if there is a way to make a stay at a Deluxe Resort attainable at a reasonable price, it is something worth trying to do.
Initially I thought in order to stay at a DVC resort, you needed to be a DVC member. My parents bought in back in 1996 and I was proud to be part of the “exclusive club” that got to stay at the Boardwalk Villas back in the day. However, I have subsequently wised up and realized since we OWN the points that we bought, we can RENT them out to people who want to stay at the resort using our points. I will use our Boardwalk points as an example throughout this post.
Home Resort : Boardwalk
Number of Points: 300
Use Year: June
What this means is that we have 300 points to “spend” on resort stays at DVC resorts each year. You can access point charts for the different resorts online on various sites, but I’ll link to one example below. Basically each villa category (size) at each resort is given a point value per night (similar to a $ cost per night, except that it is set in stone by these charts a couple years prior) and you pay that number of points for the room for the night. Unlike other timeshares, we didn’t buy a certain week of the year in a certain accommodation. We can try to stretch our 300 points whatever way we want by going at “cheaper” times of the year or staying in “cheaper” accommodations. That being said, we opted for 300 points because we knew we would typically need a 2 bedroom at the Boardwalk for our family and we wanted to comfortably have enough points for at least 1 full week every year and maybe an additional weekend in a studio here and there. One thing to note: these point costs per night are not subject to inflation like regular room prices. When DVC introduces a resort, they have a set number of points distributed across the room types and they can redistribute them as they see fit, but they cannot increase them across the board. For example, they could say that a one bedroom in December is going to increase by 5 points per night, but then they would have to decrease another room type by 5 points per night at another time of year. The total points charged across the year cannot increase year over year, so you don’t have to worry about your points losing value in that regard.
So when you are looking to travel to Disney, you would figure out what resort you are interested in, pull up one of those point charts if you want to be thorough, and figure out approximately how many points you think your trip will cost in the room type you want. The charts make it easy to compare whether you think you can splurge for the next room size up (one bedrooms truly are worth it, I swear – they seem illogical when you are just looking at the # of guests and the cost per night, but they are 100% better accommodations than studios in my humble opinion).
At that point, you would start trying to line up an owner/member to rent points from. In doing so, here are some of the terms you might see thrown around on message boards/facebook groups (which I maintain are a much better place to rent than rental websites just because you are paying a person directly and avoiding middle man fees – plus a human being is accessible to manage your reservation and make changes for you).
When someone refers to their “use year” it has very little bearing on anything relevant to you as a renter. All it really means in our case is that we get a new allotment of 300 points every year on June 1st because we have a June use year. So every year on May 31st, any unused points of our’s expire. We have a deadline by which we need to “bank” our points in order to move them to next year if we choose to do so. That deadline for a June use year is January 31st. So in January we need to decide if we are going to use our points by the end of May or if we should move them to the next use year. Again, not super relevant for a renter, except maybe to help you understand why someone wouldn’t take kindly to you canceling a trip at the last minute (because they wouldn’t be able to bank the points and the points would expire at the end of the use year).
Home resort booking window: This is much more relevant for someone looking to rent points. Each DVC member purchases points at a certain home resort. The points can be used at any DVC resorts* , but with home resort priority. What this means is that since we own Boardwalk points, we can book reservations at the Boardwalk up to 11 months prior to our stay. So if we know that we want to go on vacation during super popular Food and Wine Festival in November, we can book all the way in December of the prior year. That way, we have a very good chance of getting a room before anyone else. For all other resorts that are not our home resort, we cannot book until 7 months prior to our travel date. So if someone else with Saratoga Springs points wants to book a Boardwalk room in November, they have to wait until April to do so. They can book their Saratoga Springs room in December though. So basically, if you have a certain resort in mind, and you want to travel at a time of year that may be in high demand, you should find a DVC owner that has points with that resort as their home resort. That way, they can book your room 11 months prior to your trip and you will be all set with no stress about waitlisting a room or anything.
*I say all points can be used at any resorts, but this did recently change. If the DVC member purchased their points directly from Disney, this is still true and all points can be used at all DVC resorts, however, if the points were purchased “resale” in the past year or so, there are some restrictions. Resale points purchased since January 2019 are restricted for use either at the original 14 DVC properties before Riviera opened (if the contract purchased is for one of those earlier resorts) or for use only at Riviera (if the contract purchased is for Riviera). So if you buy resale points at one of the DVC resorts besides Riviera right now you cannot use them at Riviera, but you can use them everywhere else. If you buy resale points at Riviera, you can ONLY use them at Riviera, and no where else. This will be true for any future DVC properties and how they will be handled on the resale market as well.
“Confirmed booking”: sometimes you will see people posting that they have a “confirmed booking” for xx dates at xx resort. What the heck right? Aren’t all of these rentals confirmed ?! Well no, usually you would just be looking for someone with points available to make a booking for you, then once they make the booking it will be confirmed. These confirmed bookings on the other hand are reservations that have already been made for certain dates at a certain resort and the renter is probably renting them at a premium because those dates are no longer available for anyone to book. You would be interested in a confirmed booking if you are looking for specific dates that are no longer available at the resort you want. The hope would be that you could find someone with those dates already booked and willing to rent them to you.
Point transfers: Lastly, you’ll see people refer to point transfers. This is only an option as a transaction between two DVC members, so if you are not a DVC member, this is irrelevant. If you are a DVC member and you want or need additional points, this is a good option. It is actually such a good and underappreciated option, that DVC has several restrictions on it so that people don’t realize how good it is and start taking frequent advantage of it. The most notable restrictions are: 1. You are only allowed one transfer in or out of each DVC contract per use year and 2. You cannot transfer banked points (you can, however, bank transferred points). So basically, if you need extra points, you need to make sure you get a big enough transfer to definitely cover what you need for the year, because you will not get a second chance to make an additional transfer that use year. The benefit of getting a transfer as opposed to other forms of renting is that you get the points in your account and they are fully under your control. You can use the points to book reservations as you please. You aren’t at the mercy of another DVC member making a reservation for you. The one administrative downside is that transferred in points are not visible online in your dashboard, and you have to call in to member services in order to use transferred in points. My personal approach with transferred in points is to get a large transfer whenever I see people offering points at a bargain price, and then call member services and ask them to “reallocate” those transferred in points to an existing reservation. This then frees up my normal home resort points and allows me to see them in my dashboard and book normally. The caveat to this is that in order to reallocate points to a reservation, the reservation needs to have been booked within the 7 month booking window and there can’t be any issues with the “pecking order” of points that the DVC system uses (specifically, the system HAS to use banked points before it will be able to apply transferred in points, there doesn’t seem to be any way around that). If you booked a reservation within your home resort booking window and you want to reallocate transferred in points to the reservation, you will have to cancel and rebook at least one of the nights within the 7 month window in order to apply the points, which gets a little risky.
So to summarize:
As a renter you should follow these steps:
1. Figure out what dates you are looking for and what resorts you are interested in. Use the point charts to help you make your decision if price is going to be a factor, since people will charge per point so more points = more expensive.
2. Put out feelers on Facebook groups to see if anyone has points available at those resorts to book 11 months in advance of your travel dates. The person renting you the points will tell you the final # of points and how much they charge per point. Peruse the Facebook group to make sure the price they give you per point seems reasonable. Also check websites like David’s point rental to see how the prices compare.
3. The DVC member will book the room for you and you will pay them by their preferred method (PayPal, Venmo, etc). To protect yourself, you could ask for a contract or you could ask for references. I personally have never used a contract, but I know many people do. Facebook is great because it allows you to speak to real people who have rented from the same people before. I also try to call the people and speak to them so I know they are actual kind human beings who love Disney as much as I do.