Renting Disney Vacation Club points is a great way to save money and get Deluxe-level hotel rooms at Walt Disney World for Moderate-level prices. Since purchasing Disney Vacation Club (or DVC, as it’s known) can be a significant financial investment, renting Disney Vacation Club points is also a great way to “test the waters” of Disney Vacation Club, so to speak, and determine whether buying into the club is right for you. Plus, since the only thing as expensive as a hotel at Walt Disney World is airfare for the trip, renting points will save you a lot of money over booking a hotel. (Sorry, can’t help on airfare…although look for airfare savings in a future article! ).
Renting DVC points is the one-time use of a set number of a Disney Vacation Club member’s points to book a Deluxe Villa room at a Disney Vacation Club Resort. The owner of the points agrees to “rent” the points out to a rentee, and in exchange for payment to the owner of the points, the owner makes a room reservation for the rentee in the rentee’s name. The amount of the payment is determined by the number of points needed for the booking, with a per-point cost being agreed upon by the parties. For example, if the agreed upon price is $13, and the rentee wants to stay 4 nights at the Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas, which will require 40 points during a given time of year, the total payment under the agreement will be $520, or $130 per night. The owner calls or goes online to check Disney Vacation Club availability at the resort where the reservation is desired, and the agreement is finalized if there is availability. There are a few other details that will be discussed below, but that’s the general jist of renting Disney Vacation Club points.
In recent years, renting points has gone from relatively uncommon to a bit more mainstream practice. There are individual owners who rent points because they either aren’t going to be able to use their points or need a way to offset some of the considerable cost of membership, and there are companies that exist solely for the purpose of renting Disney Vacation Club points to savvy Walt Disney World and Disneyland guests.
One caveat from the outset: we have never actually gone through with a DVC point rental ourselves. We’ve contacted individuals on forums about rental and have gone through the process of inquiring about rental when we were considering renting points, but we have never actually completed a rental. We’ve also stayed in the same room as someone else who rented Disney Vacation Club points, but we’ve never actually paid to rent points ourselves. We plan to do so this year for a stay at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel (we don’t own enough points for the stay), and I had planned on writing this article then, but we’ve received a lot of emails about points rental and several comments and questions about it on our Disney Vacation Club Buying Guide, so I figured I’d at least share what we’ve learned from our extensive, albeit incomplete, experience, along with my thoughts about the pros and cons of each method of renting points.
Let’s start with the pros and cons of renting DVC points in general to determine whether it’s right for you.
The biggest benefit of renting Disney Vacation Club points is saving money. The example of Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas above is a good one. If you wanted to book a stay August 19-23, 2013 in a value view studio, that’s exactly how many points you’d need, and how much it would cost if you rented points through the DVC Rental Store. For a stay December 2-6, 2013, it would be even cheaper! Other nights throughout the year would cost more, but you get the idea. You couldn’t even stay in a Moderate Resort for the rates you can get by renting Disney Vacation Club points, let alone a Deluxe.
Another benefit of renting Disney Vacation Club points, for some people, is getting the Disney Dining Plan without purchasing park tickets. This means that you can purchase tickets from an authorized ticket broker like Undercover Tourist, rather than buying directly from Disney, thereby saving even more money. It’s not huge, but if you’re goal is to save money (and clearly it is if you’re renting DVC points), every little bit helps. Depending on the size of your party and the tickets you get, this could amount to another $100 or more in savings!
The biggest downside to renting Disney Vacation Club points is that you don’t have total control over the reservation. Someone else books the reservation for you, and someone else has to make any changes to the reservation for you (such as adding Disney’s Magical Express or the Disney Dining Plan). Disney Vacation Club won’t discuss the reservation with non-members, so even if your name is on it, you’re at the mercy of the person who booked it if you need changes.
Another downside for some guests is that, since the unit rented is a villa and not a hotel room, housekeeping service is not daily. Most stays will only have one visit by Mousekeeping. This isn’t a problem for us (we always have the “do not disturb” sign up), but for some people, not having the full hotel experience might be a fatal blow to renting DVC points. On the plus side, the villa room means a kitchenette and greater ability to prepare food and do laundry!
If you’re convinced that renting Disney Vacation Club points is right for you, the next question is who to use. There are a couple popular choices here, including the DVC Rental Store and David’s Vacation Club Rentals. The advantages to renting through them are that both are accredited by the Better Business Bureau, both have a team that does this as its full-time business, and has both have a sterling reputation. The other upside to renting from the DVC Rental Store or David’s is convenience. They have “home resort” inventory for every Disney Vacation Club resort, meaning that if you want a popular resort (like Beach Club or Grand Californian), you can book with him at the 11 month mark. If you want a hard-to-book resort and plan on booking through an individual, you need to do so 11 months out and find an owner who has the resort you want as a home resort. That can make the whole process of booking through an individual more time consuming and tedious.
The downside to using one of these companies that that both charge about $1-2/point more than the average individual who might rent their own points out on a forum. There are a few other options, such as the Timeshare Store, and DVC-Rental, all of which seem to have their following. I’ve seen a few reviews of each of these, and they are all generally positive.
The alternative to renting points from David’s Vacation Club Rentals or the DVC Rental Store is renting from individuals. There are a few places to do this, but I’m only going to list two: the Disboards DVC-Rent/Trade Board and MouseOwners’ Rent/Trade/Transfer Board. There are other options out there, but the ones of which I’m aware don’t even bear mentioning as they’re not reliable.
The advantages to renting from individuals is that you save money. The average per point price on these boards is $11-12, with points sometimes going for as little as $9/point if the owner is desperate or the points are about to expire.
The downside to renting from individuals is that you have no guarantee that you aren’t going to be ripped off, or that the owner will be available to assist you if something goes wrong with the reservation. You’ll have a bit of uneasiness until the moment at the check-in desk that your reservation pulls up.
Basically, it comes down to how risk averse you are and how much more you can save by going through an individual. Back when we were looking at renting Disney Vacation Club points in 2010, I found several owners who were renting for $8-9 per point on the forums, which was a few dollars in savings over the DVC Rental Store. Unfortunately, each of these owners that responded to my posting was a “New Member” on the forum, with only a handful of posts, which made me uneasy. Anyone can rip you off, but my thinking was that someone with an established reputation on the forum would be less likely to do so. We ultimately ended up not needing to rent because we bought into Disney Vacation Club ourselves.
For what it’s worth, in my time researching rentals, I heard of very few instances of people being ripped off by individuals on the forums. It does happen, but it seems to be very, very infrequent. When we rent in the future, I’m not sure how we’ll do it. It largely depends upon prices. If it’s a short weekend trip and the DVC Rental Store is charging $13/point versus $11/point on the forums, I can’t see using the forums to say what will amount to $30 or less. The possibility that we could be scrambling at the last minute to find an alternate hotel room for such a short trip wouldn’t be worth it. I’d prefer to just pay the bit extra for the peace of mind. If it were a 10-day trip in a Grand Villa, I’d probably be more likely to go through an individual because the savings are greater, but then I’d be concerned that such a big purchase were risky. I really don’t know what I’d do, it’s a tough call.
If we did end up going through an individual, I would do a few things to protect myself as best I could. First, I wouldn’t rent from any new members or individuals with only a handful of posts. I’d want someone with an established reputation on the forums. Second, I’d ask for references. Third, I’d pay with an American Express credit card rather than any other form of payment.
Ultimately, Disney Vacation Club point rentals is a great way to save tons of money without making the long term commitment to joining. If you’re currently booking Moderate or Deluxe Resorts directly from Disney, it’s definitely something to consider. Most of the time, renting Disney Vacation Club points will be cheaper than booking a Moderate, and it will ALWAYS be cheaper than booking a Deluxe (even with the best discounts!). Renting from individuals is the best way to maximize your savings, and renting from the DVC Rental Store or David’s Vacation Club Rentals is the safest way to rent–plus they’re full service companies with great customer service that can help you through the process and answer all of your questions!
If you’re trying to figure out where you should rent points, make sure to read our DVC Resort Rankings!
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If you’ve rented Disney Vacation Club points, we’d love to hear how you rented them, and what you thought of the process? If you do rent, how are you likely to do it? If you have any other questions or comments, please share them below!