Best Uses of Disney Vacation Club Points
This post covers the best (and WORST!) ways to use DVC points to stretch them as far as you can. In order to save money, you have to use your Disney Vacation Club points wisely, efficiently, and not “spend” them on low-value experiences. If you truly want to get bang for your buck out of Disney Vacation Club (and who doesn’t?!) this is how you need to use your points.
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, 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!
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know. If you’re considering joining DVC, first be sure to read our Ultimate Guide to Disney Vacation Club. If you still can’t decide whether membership is right for you, “try before you buy” and rent points from DVC Rental Store. If you are convinced a membership is for you, check out the discounted options at DVC Resale Market.
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!
Trying to figure out if it makes sense to buy at least expensive property and use points even it means booking +11 months in advance vs 7 months home more expensive report as in case of Grand California or Hawaii ??
Have a bunch of RCI points that we are trying to use this summer/fall and are interested in taking a group to a lake/fishing vacation in the midwest somewhere. Anyone have any suggestions on a nice and fun place? Some of the folks might not be interested in too rustic an experience so some urban amenities might be a plus!
If I bought through Disney and I want to upgrade am I able to purchase extra points through resale and then transfer them to my original account?
As far as DVC point rentals go, I have come across a site called Griswolds Magical Memories. Does anyone know anything about this business and if they are legit and okay to rent points from?
We are debating buying direct into the DVC or buying resale. I know the perks are different and discounts are nonexistent, but would we still have access to the same customer service? Would we have access to any of the member lounges, specifically the one in Bay lake? Thanks!
You do not have access to any of the member lounges if you do not buy direct.
Buy resale. Then buy 25 points (the minimum) add on through Disney. This gets you all the DVC member perks at the lowest cost.
Hi. I would like to stay for 1 night Tuesday January 26, 2016 At The Grand California to celebrate my son’s birthday ( turning 4) Can someone help me by letting me know how to rent/buy point? I’m new to this, but sounds like a fun experience 🙂
It’s way too last minute for a reservation at the Grand Californian on DVC points this month. Hope you have a great trip, anyway! 🙂
my daughter really wants to go on a Disney Cruise n 2017… I planned to use bank, borrow and existing of 750 points to pay for most of if it (7 of us total) after reading your post wondering if I am making a mistake? If it is approx. 11-12 dollars a point rental… not seeing how that would make up the difference?
We are looking into buying a DVC resale at either Bay Lake Towers or Animal Kingdom. My only question is: how hard is it to get a room (such as a one bedroom villa sleeping up to 5) if the resort is not your home resort? The price per point is much lower at Animal Kingdom, but I don’t know if I would want to always stay there. We would probably stay at Bay Lake Towers more. And, because I have children, we would need to schedule trips around the school year. So, given the fact that we would be going during the busiest times, would it be hard to book a one bedroom (theme park view) villa at Bay Lake Tower if my home resort is Animal Kingdom?
It’s easier to book Animal Kingdom Villas at the 7 month window than it is Bay Lake Tower at the 7 month window.
Remember to factor annual dues into your calculations. With those in the math, BLT typically becomes a *much* better deal over time.
My husband and I are newlyweds who absolutely love Disney. We were looking into getting a Disney timeshare but we were also thinking of using the points at non-Disney resorts-aka vegas, traveling abroad,etc. is it worth using the Disney points for it? Or are Disney points only best used towards Disney?
No, Disney Vacation Club points are best used at Disney. If you will want to take a lot of vacations to other destinations, you’re better off purchasing a non-Disney timeshare. MUCH better off.
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We use our points a the wilderness campground. We retired last year and we motorhome. Now we get season passes with dvc discount an instead of once a year visits we can come several times. We have a dog and she is quite content in her own digs in the rv while we wonder the world…
Granted, there are better uses than others and better “value” than others as far as usage goes. But, in my humble opinion, a use of the points in a way that brings you happiness, isn’t a “waste” at all. In any way. UNless of course, they just go unused period. That’s the only real “waste” I can think of.
I absolutely agree with you! We purchased in 1995 and on top of visiting WDW almost every year since, we are getting ready for our 8th DCL cruise all using our points. It was the best thing we ever did buying DVC.
I agree that using points for a cruise is not cost effective however, if I have the pints why not. I don’t have the hassle of trying to sell and it’s only costly me $95 for the Alaskan cruise. I think it’s an individual decision based on your point needs and what you are willing to go through to aell
Great advice! It’s true. Like a bottle of wine, people ask what is the best wine for a meal…the real answer is whatever you like! We use our points for cruises, RCI, and DVC. It is all grat and no matter where we have been, it is worth every point!
I agree. I also think sometimes people don’t use the right numbers when calculating whether a DVC cruise is worth it. I agree that the math on the value per point is correct based on the ticket price, but I think a better comparator is the cost of the vacation. For my family of 5, the cost of the tickets and food in that week of WDW that I otherwise would have done with my points isn’t cheap. It’s true there are some add-on costs with a Cruise as well, but the food and a quite reasonable amount of entertainment are all included, and if you compare the cost of the whole vacation then your value / point goes up quite a bit. Yes, it’s true that you could take the same cruise vacation with for the cash by renting the points, but if you don’t feel like dealing with the hassle, it’s not necessarily the case that you “didn’t get full value” for your points.
I am looking to buy resale and we have two small children. We have other family in the Orlando area and will come down every year at least. For that reason, I have been focusing on Orlando DVCs. However, Vero Beach and HHI are much less. My question is whether it is best to have more points or be in orlando. We can get lots of points if we buy at Vero Beach or HHI (although I have read the fees are higher) but I worry I will have trouble booking in an orlando resort. Is that a valid concern. If so, we could buy at OKW but again I would want to be able to stay at BLT or Boardwalk sometimes. Is it hard?
Is it hard, it ABSOLUTELY can be. It depends on what kinds of rooms, what time of year, etc… Be prepared for disappointment if you want a BLT studio, for instance, at the 7 month mark in Dec.. You’ll almost certainly be out of luck. Things happen, but IMO, buy where you want to stay the majority of the time, and you’ll be happy, almost always! We bought at AKV and we stay there sometimes. Sometimes not. But we love it, so having to stay there would never be a hardship. 🙂 That, and that’s the only resort that has club level DVC and I LOVED getting that last visit. Do a LOT of research as to what is available when you typically like to go. That will help. Anything around Epcot during Food and WIne will be next to impossible w/o owning there and w/ the point exchange in Dec. being the best use of points time to book, it’ll be harder to get the most desired rooms.
Tom, OT but just FYI, Buzzfeed has a new article today about Disney parks and it includes a few of your (credited) photos.
All your DVC tips got me to really think about my next few vacations, and now I am seriously considering purchasing a resale. Do you have anymore DVC articles on the horizon that might have info that would be useful? I’m already in touch with how many points I want and my price range. Do you know anything about how much DVC members at old key west were charged to extend to 2057? Thanks
Tom, I’ve been looking for a way to say thank you for all of the DVC tips you post without pestering you with an email, so I’m going to take this opportunity. My husband and I have read your DVC guides multiple times as we weighed the decision to buy or not. My in-laws helped us pulled the plug at Christmas when they (gasp!) gave us our buy-in as a gift. Now we’re in ROFR waiting period, but we really couldn’t have done all this without your helpful information!!
Also I’m on four different kinds of medication/antibiotics at the moment, so please forgive any typos or lack of sense making. I can’t brain. 🙂
My wife and I got married September 10th, so we get to travel to Disney for our Anniversary at one of the best times of year to go, when it comes to point values. We got in for just 60 points at SSR during that Disney Honeymoon, and we’re stretching those points as far as we can. We’ve done 5 nights at Aulani, four nights at the Grand Californian, and we’ll be at SSR (hopefully the Beach Club if we can switch in February) for a week this September!
My advice for someone looking to get the most from their DVC membership is to buy where you can get the most points with the cash you have, buy as few points as you can get away with (you can always add more later), and then plan out how to use them. So far, we haven’t had trouble getting a studio at any of the places we’ve wanted to go, so just plan it out in advance and you can really spread a handful of points far!
This is a great advice and very comforting…. And totally gives me another reason to up my desire to get married at the beginning of a December: 1) To save money on wedding decorations by utilizing the decorations in a hotel already and 2) To go to Disney for my anniversaries during Christmas décor/early Dec slow time!
Yes, it’s a great time to get married, we just honeymooned in Disney the first 2 weeks of December, all the decorations plus light crowds, the timing worked out perfectly.
Of course being there put the idea of buying DVC in our heads and are seriously considering it, so these tips really help.
My wife and I bought in May and than got married in December. We honeymooned at Aulani for 2 weeks.
When we bought in 160 points we recieved a free 160 points extra.
We than also borrowed from the following year.
I wish I could think of more tips, but as usual, you’ve got it covered! I couldn’t agree more with your position that using the points for Concierge Collection, etc. is a poor value.
We found ourselves with some excess points last year and I did investigate renting them via one of the sites you mentioned. However, before I began that process officially, we discovered that good friends of ours were planning a trip to WDW, and I offered them the option of renting points from us instead. No trust issues with payment from these friends, and the biggest hassle I faced was making the reservation for them. (This, of course, was no hassle at all.) They ended up spending 5 nights at Bay Lake Tower for an incredible price, stayed in a resort far nicer than they would have otherwise, and are very thankful. I in turn have cash-in-hand that will cover my annual dues, and feel great for doing something nice for our friends.