In order to save money, you have to use choose the best uses for your Disney Vacation Club points, and use them efficiently. Getting bang for your buck out of Disney Vacation Club, rather than having it cost you more in the long run, actually requires this. This post covers the best ways to use DVC points to stretch them as far as you can.
Not everyone buys into Disney Vacation Club to save money. For those who buy for convenience, vacation pre-planning, or simply for the happiness of ‘owning a place’ at Walt Disney World or Disneyland, getting good value out of Disney Vacation Club may not matter.
Those who join primarily to save money need to be cognizant of the fact that not all Disney Vacation Club point uses are created equal. Everyone knows that the DVC point charts offer a good idea of which times of year or more or less costly, but there’s a bit more to it than that.
Value can be a subjective term, so your mileage may vary with regard to some of these tips, but at the very least these suggestions should provide things to keep in the back of your mind when using your Disney Vacation Club points.
Certain times of year, the stars align for certain scenarios of Disney Vacation Club point usage. Boardwalk Villas in the fall offers good value and a great location for grazing Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival kiosks before stumbling back to your room. Wilderness Lodge the first two weeks of December offers awesome holiday ambiance at a low point rate.
New Year’s Eve (and the days leading up to it) at Bay Lake Tower doesn’t offer great monetary value (the opposite, in fact), but it’ll all be worth it as you watch the amazing fireworks from the Top of the World lounge without fighting any crowds. There are certainly other times and locations like this (early Halloween Time at Disneyland for the Grand Californian, Marathon Weekend for Bay Lake Tower, etc.), but these are our top picks.
Maybe writing that the “stars align” was getting ahead of ourselves. Unfortunately, due to the value, ambiance, and benefits these Disney Vacation Club resorts offer at these particular times of year, snagging reservations (especially inside the 11-month window) can be extremely difficult. Fortunately, there are viable alternatives (Beach Club Villas for Food & Wine or Flower & Garden, Villas at Grand Floridian for the first two weeks of December), but even those will have intense demand.
Disney Vacation Club members are typically frugal and intelligent (no joke–it’s premised on savings and at least partially targeted at those who have sufficient disposable income, so what do you expect?), and if there’s an advantageous way to use points, many have found it and exploited it. This makes competition for some of these best seasonal times fierce!
Old Key West
Pretty much year round, the point chart at Old Key West is favorable as compared to other resorts. In addition to that, Old Key West has the largest rooms of any Disney Vacation Club resort. Considering these factors in light of the above, you might figure Old Key West is a tough resort to book. Not at all. Along with Saratoga Springs Resort, it’s typically the easiest.
This is due to its large size and location. Old Key West was the original Disney Vacation Club resort, and was built before the Club’s proliferation. At one point, it was going to be the Disney Vacation Club at Walt Disney World, and largely-sized to accommodate that. Disney Vacation Club quickly outgrew that one resort, and the rest is history.
Old Key West isn’t for everyone (I love it, my wife doesn’t), so make sure to read plenty about it before booking if you’ve never been. If it does seem like your style, it can be a great gem for easy and efficiently using your points. If it’s not your style, check out the Animal Kingdom Villas, which can be an even better value if you’re able to score a “Value” class room!
Only Do Weeknights
Over the last few years, the point charts have been shifted (note: your points can never be ‘de-valued’, so any increase to one night is matched with a corresponding decrease elsewhere) so that weekends are not incredibly more expensive than weeknights. The difference is still there, and in some cases, significant. Back when weekends were (in some cases) double the point cost of weeknights, we would use our points for weekdays, and pay out of pocket for weekends. Sometimes, we’d switch hotels, staying places where we couldn’t use our points, but other times we’d just do the same hotel, and simply move rooms.
With the weeknight v. weekend gap having closed a bit, we now view this as usually more hassle than it’s worth, but this isn’t always the case. Our breaking point is when the swing between weeknight and weekend is more than 5 points. Using a conservative valuation of $10/point, this represents a $50/night difference. For $50/night in terms of point value, we are more than willing to hassle with the switch, especially if there are good room-only discounts running.
Your personal breaking point may vary, but traveling only on weeknights or doing a weekend switch is definitely something to consider when trying to get the most bang for your buck from Disney Vacation Club points!
Rent Points Out!
The most important tip we can offer is not how you should use your points, but how you shouldn’t use them. One of the biggest concerns we hear from people in our Disney Vacation Club Buying Guide’s comments section regarding our recommendation to buy via resale is the inability to use points in the Concierge Collection, the Disney Collection, or the Adventurer Collection.
This means no booking non-Disney Vacation Club hotels at any worldwide resort nor Disney Cruise Line or Adventures by Disney with points. This is something Disney Vacation Club guides stress–as any commission-dependent salesperson would–as it gives them an ostensible selling point for consumers who see resale as a cheaper alternative. Our response to that supposed selling point is basically, “so what?”
Using Disney Vacation Club points in any of those manners isn’t a good idea. The ‘resale restriction’ only matters on paper, not in the real world. If you’re a Disney Vacation Club member and you want to go on an Adventures by Disney trip or use Disney Cruise Line, you should pay out of pocket, as the value you’ll get for your points in those situations is abysmal. In a perfect world, you’d just bank those Disney Vacation Club points and use them for a later trip. Many people don’t have the luxury of being able to do that, which is why they want to use the points for cruising or adventuring, in the first place.
Instead of using the points for Adventures by Disney or Disney Cruise Line at the poor exchange rate, rent them out and put the money you make renting the points to your Adventures by Disney or Disney Cruise Line trip. It’s a bit of extra work, but you will definitely come out ahead this way, unless you way under-price your points. Plus, any Disney Vacation Club owner can rent out their points, effectively circumventing that restriction on newer resale purchases using their points for Adventures by Disney or Disney Cruise Line. (Now do you see why we say “so what?” to the meaningless restriction?)
If you want to get the absolute most bang for your buck on point rentals, you can use the rent/sell/trade boards at Mouseowners or Disboards, where you can typically get $11-13 per point. There’s no middle man, but you operate at your own risk. We’ve heard of very few instances of problematic transactions on these forums, so the likelihood of a problem is low.
If you’re a worrier or just don’t want to deal with the hassle yourself, using a third party may be the better option. There are a few of these, although the two big dogs are the DVC Rental Store and David’s Vacation Club Rentals. Both are accredited by the Better Business Bureau, have full-time teams assisting with the transactions, and both have excellent reputations. The downside is that they typically pay less (at the time of this post, DVC Rental Store was the highest paying, offering $11.25 per point), the upside is safety and peace of mind.
Doing the extra work isn’t just for the sake of saving a few bucks. The savings can be multiple thousands of dollars, depending upon the adventure or cruise and number of people going. That’s why this is our best tip concerning how not to use your points!
Ultimately, whether a certain use of your Disney Vacation Club points is a good value is really up to you. If you feel it’s a good value, and it costs less than the points cost you, maybe that’s enough. (In that case, we hope you bought Google stock at its IPO–we’re willing to pay you $86/share! ;)) Regardless, we believe the advice here will help you use Disney Vacation Club points in ways that make the most economic and practical sense. Hope these tips gave you some ideas of your own for ways to use your points!
Looking for Disney trip planning tips? Make sure to read our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide and Disneyland Trip Planning Guide.
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What’s your preferred use of your Disney Vacation Club points? Have you ever rented out your points? Any other tips? Hearing from you is half the fun, so if you have any other questions or comments, please share them below!