Our totally Unexpected Switch to a Direct DVC Contract

If you’ve seen any of my prior posts, you know I am a very vocal proponent of purchasing DVC Contracts via the Resale Market. I have an old post comparing prices, and I plan to do another similar analysis in the near future given how good of a buyer’s market it is right now and how awesome resale prices are again, but for a brief spell last year, the unthinkable happened: Direct contracts actually became the better buy as compared to resale contracts, at least for us.

It turns out, there will be times where purchasing DVC points direct from Disney may actually be the smarter financial move than purchasing a Resale contract. Unbeknownst to me, when Disney opens a new DVC resort, or even just new DVC rooms at a previous resort, they offer flash sales with big incentives for buying new points direct.

In 2022, Disney opened new DVC Resort Studios at the Grand Floridian and in the lead up to the opening of these studios, there was a really strong push to sell new Grand Floridian contracts. There was a brief spell around March/April of 2022 where there were extra incentives being offered when you purchased a GF contract or a Riviera contract direct from Disney, including a “Developer Credit.”

Now I should add that not only am I a big supporter of Resale contracts, but for the past 10 years I have specifically mocked anyone who buys Grand Floridian contracts direct from Disney for paying a ridiculously high price for points at a resort that also has ridiculous point charts (meaning each night in a room at the Grand Floridian requires a lot of points). I’ve always sworn by the logic of buying cheap resale points, ESPECIALLY if you want to stay a resort that requires a lot of points per night, so the fact that people pay a premium for direct Grand Floridian points has always been a bit laughable to me. However, in seeing the incentives offered last year, I came to the realization that the cost to buy Grand Floridian points direct from Disney would barely be higher than the amount I could receive for our resale Bay Lake Tower points if I sold our contract on a Resale site. The price we were quoted if we purchased during the incentive period, including a “Developer Credit”, was $186 per point for 200 points. At the time, this was actually cheaper than resale Grand Floridian points were going for. The normal base price for direct Grand Floridian points at the time was $207 ($217 now). At the time I was seeing BLT contracts sell on the resale market in the $170s, so “upgrading” to Direct (the cheaper annual passes are the big draw for me) for potentially only $16 per point was almost worth it for me.

**It is worth noting, that these specific incentives were only being offered to existing DVC members adding on points to their membership.**

I was still kind of wishy washy on it though, because I honestly loved our BLT resale contract. It checked all the boxes for me, late expiration date, low(ish) annual dues, easy to rent out points, etc. I debated and I was about to pull the trigger on the GF contract when I realized that the points could not be used until the date of the Grand Floridian Resort Studios opening, a few months later. This was a deal breaker for me honestly since I wanted to use the points to travel in the next month or two, or at least rent out some points to help cover some of these new costs we’d be incurring.

At the same time that I learned about the restrictions on when we could start using the Grand Floridian points, I also learned that Riviera points were being offered with the same incentives, but also were including the prior year points upon purchase. So basically, I would be purchasing 200 Riviera points at a steep discount, in March of 2022, with a June use year, and the contract would include not just June 2022 points, but also 200 June 2021 points that I was entitled to bank despite the banking window having closed. This was a big game changer for me because my math was telling me originally that the Grand Floridian points would cost me about $10k more than I’d get selling our BLT contract (our BLT contract was only 160 points, that I would sell for approximately $170 per point, while the GF contract would be 200 points at $186 per point), but now I could get a 200 point Riviera contract again for $10k more than I’d get selling the BLT contract, but with basically a free $4200 credit since I could easily rent out the 200 prior year points for $21+ per point. That was a huge game changer. Basically for just over $5000, I was getting a contract with 25% more points every year (40 points is nothing to scoff at, the cash value renting those is about $880 each year currently), and the contract was Direct, which means an annual savings of $1200 minimum on annual passes alone for a family of 4, nevermind the additional direct “perks” related to discounted cruises, the ability to book at Riviera and future resorts, access to Member Lounges, etc. None of these additional perks have ever been deal breakers for us, but to get them at pretty negligible cost (the extra 40 points and the discounted annual passes pretty much make up for the $5000 in 2-3 years) is pretty awesome. The only downside is that Riviera has higher annual dues than BLT or Grand Floridian, but upon review of their financial statements for the past few years, the dues have not increased since the resort opened, which is a good sign at least that maybe the pace of increases will be slower and at some point the dues will be comparable to those at the monorail resorts. The other downside that most people should consider when purchasing a Riviera contract is the resale limitations specific to Riviera contracts. Riviera resale points can ONLY be used at Riviera, which should theoretically drive the price of Riviera resale contracts way down, but so far it has not, because Disney steps in and buys back any contracts offered at too low of a price, therefore propping the resale prices up a bit. This is not a big concern for us given that we have no intention of selling the Riviera contract ever honestly. We are viewing ourselves at lifelong Direct Riviera owners at this point (don’t get it twisted though, we are Boardwalk people through and through and will primarily be using those points to stay at the Boardwalk whenever possible).

*Just a reminder – I grew up in a family that owned Direct Boardwalk points since the 90s. I am not on the deed though and therefore not eligible for Direct member access to the discounted annual passes, which is why this was a significant issue when we bought our BLT resale contract. Honestly we didn’t have any trouble buying discounted annual passes as resale owners, but we were told that that glitch in the system that had been allowing us to purchase the DVC Gold Pass without any issues had been resolved with a system upgrade around 2021 and going forward there would be no way for us to purchase the discounted annual passes. Whether this is true remains to be seen. I’ve seen numerous resale owners post on Facebook that they have been able to purchase discounted annual passes (Sorcerer’s Passes to be specific) in person despite not being eligible. To that I say, good for them, I would do the same. The more kids we have though, the more I want to be confident that we will continue to be eligible for Sorcerer’s Passes and not just hope for the best, given how significant the cost difference is between Sorcerer’s Passes and Incredipasses (yikes).*

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