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Travel How to save money by renting Disney Vacation Club points

22:20  22 june  2020
22:20  22 june  2020 Source:   thepointsguy.com

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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information and offers.

During normal times, there are many different ways to tackle selecting lodging for a Disney World vacation, including Disney’s value and moderate resort categories. Those looking for the ultimate in convenience might enjoy a deluxe resort on the monorail, such as The Contemporary Resort or Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. And families working on a budget might redeem their hotel points to stay at a non-Disney hotel or off-property hotel instead. There are plenty of suitable options around Disney World.

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Yet, even with all those options, one of the most intriguing options remains renting points from a Disney Vacation Club member to book a true Walt Disney World property for less.

And while renting DVC points is always a good option to consider, it is an especially relevant option right now as the only new on-property hotel bookings Disney World is accepting at the moment are those booked with Disney Vacation Club points.

Related: Guide to visiting Walt Disney World

Timeshare, Mickey-Style

You may be familiar with Disney Vacation Club, or you might have at least seen the kiosks sprinkled throughout the parks on your last Disney World vacation. Plunking down a bunch of money to buy Disney’s version of a timeshare is a big commitment, but don’t worry, that’s not what we’re recommending (though I am a proud and happy owner).

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Unless you want to go all-in on owning a Mickey timeshare, instead of buying, you can simply rent points from a Disney Vacation Club member. DVC members buy a bank of points that they can use every year. Some members don’t use all their points themselves and look to rent them out to vacationers on their way to the Magic Kingdom.

I’ve been a DVC owner for eight years now, and have plenty of experience both staying in DVC properties and renting out points to vacationers. Our home resort is Bay Lake Towers at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, but more on what a home resort is and why that matters later.

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a living room filled with furniture and a large window: Use rented Disney Vacation Club points at Bay Lake Tower at Disney World (Summer Hull / The Points Guy) © The Points Guy Use rented Disney Vacation Club points at Bay Lake Tower at Disney World (Summer Hull / The Points Guy)

Why Rent DVC Points?

Renting DVC points is like eating filet mignon when you paid for a steak sandwich.

You can generally rent DVC points to stay in a deluxe Disney resort for roughly the same price as booking a Disney World moderate resort. Disney Vacation Club rooms are usually referred to as villas, which means you’ll have more room and amenities such as a full kitchen and a washer/dryer. You’ll also still get all the normal perks of staying in a true Disney resort — because you are in a true Disney resort. The perks and space of a Disney Vacation Club rental can make your trip much more enjoyable (and affordable).

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a bedroom with a bed and a couch in a living room: Disney Vacation Club Villa at Disney’s Polynesian Village. (Photo by Summer Hull.) © The Points Guy Disney Vacation Club Villa at Disney’s Polynesian Village. (Photo by Summer Hull.)

During normal times when these perks are all available, Disney Vacation Club villas give families traveling on a budget a way to access all of the great Disney World perks, such as Extra Magic Hours, Disney’s Magical Express Bus to and from the airport and a 60-day FastPass+ booking window. Many of the Disney Vacation Club properties are well located, such as the monorail properties at Bay Lake Towers, Polynesian Village and the Grand Floridian Resort.

Since Disney World has parking fees at all the resorts, an additional benefit for renting DVC points is free resort parking for owners and their guests who stay using DVC points.

A potential downside to a DVC rental is that you won’t get daily housekeeping services. However, that’s less of a downside these days as Disney has announced that it will modify all of its housekeeping services due to coronavirus. But, during normal times, on stays of seven days or shorter, Disney will perform a light housekeeping service on the fourth day of your stay if you are staying on DVC points. That includes fresh towels, bath amenities and in-room coffee but doesn’t include items like changing bedsheets. Normally, you can pay extra for daily housekeeping visits, if that’s something important to you. Disney World does provide daily trash service.

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a bedroom with a bed and a chair in a room: Disney Bay Lake Tower (Summer Hull / The Points Guy) © The Points Guy Disney Bay Lake Tower (Summer Hull / The Points Guy)

How Much Can You Save Renting DVC Points?

If you’re wondering how much you can save renting DVC points, we crunched the numbers for a three-night stay in April 2019. We compared rooms at three great resorts: Polynesian Village, Animal Kingdom Lodge and Bay Lake Towers. As you can see, the savings are substantial, and the savings only increase with a longer stay.

Note: We couldn’t update these numbers with 2020 stats at the moment due to the normal reservation system being suspended, so just use this as a general guide to potential savings.

4/8 – 4/11/19 Polynesian Village Animal Kingdom Lodge Bay Lake Towers
Studio Room via Disney $2,122.98 $2,109.39 $2,588.64
DVC studio at (old) David’s Disney Vacation Club rental prices $1,173.00 $969.00 $1,071.00
DVC Studio at average prices when renting via an individual owner $1,035.00 $855.00 $945.00

For these calculations, we used the rate of $17 per point for renting from a large service like David’s Disney Vacation Club Rentals. You can get points from large sites for as little as $16 if you’re reserving for travel within seven months. For point rentals from individual owners, we used a benchmark of $15 per rented point, since that’s a good average for the current market. But we’ve seen rentals as low as $10 a point when an owner is in danger of the points expiring.

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Update: When we update these stats, we will utilize the new common prices of $19 – $21 per rented point when renting from a large site.

How to Rent DVC Points

Now that you’ve seen how significant the savings can be, let’s see if renting DVC points is right for you.

You can rent points from one of the professional services such as David’s Disney Vacation Club Rental. David has been around for as long as I’ve owned DVC, and I’ve heard good things about his service. You’ll pay a premium over renting from an individual but still usually much less on the whole than if you tried to rent a DVC villa directly from Disney World.

Related: Our experience renting DVC points via David’s Vacation Club.

Or you can rent directly from a DVC owner. The prices an individual Disney Vacation Club owner will charge are generally less than a shop like David’s and likely go down the closer the points are to expiring. For larger rooms and villas, that can be hundreds or even thousands of dollars in savings.

You might wonder why anyone would choose to rent from a professional service like David’s if you can save money going directly to a DVC owner. The trade-off is that there are risks and potentially extra hassles renting directly from an owner versus going with a big, slick service, especially in these uncertain times when plans can change. You’re dealing with an individual who has control of your reservation, and they can make changes to it without your permission or even cancel it.

To be clear, I’ve actually never spoken with anyone who’s been the victim of a scam involving a DVC rental. But there is a risk, and you should consider how you can protect yourself. Here are a few tips to give you peace of mind when booking directly with a DVC owner:

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  • Searching for individual DVC owners can be a bit of a bear. You can search for point owners at Disboards, the popular Disney message board. They have a forum specifically just for folks looking to rent out their points. There are only two ways to list points for rent on Disboards as an individual: You must either be an active member of the Disboards community or you can pay a fee to list points a limited number of times per year. These requirements help weed out folks looking to scam you out of your hard-earned Mickey dollars.
  • Do your research. Again, the internet is your friend. If you’ve identified a potential person you want to rent points from, Google their name. See if you can track them down on social media. Ask them for references from past renters. Virtually everyone I’ve ever rented DVC points to has asked for a reference. Many have offered to be a reference after a positive experience.
  • Pay for your DVC rental with a credit card that offers some level of protection.
  • Consider purchasing a travel insurance policy that covers a potential cancellation outside of your control, such as a medical issue. Some DVC rental sites offer a paid insurance plan, as well.

Related: How to save money on a Disney World vacation

a group of people swimming in a pool of water: Pools of Disney’s Bay Lake Tower, bookable with DVC points (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy) © The Points Guy Pools of Disney’s Bay Lake Tower, bookable with DVC points (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Tips for Your DVC Rental

If you have your heart set on a specific resort and room type, book as early as possible. In Disney World parlance, that means you’re looking for someone who has your specific resort as their home resort.

For example, an owner at Bay Lake Towers at Contemporary Resort can book reservations at that property before an owner who purchased at Saratoga Springs. That Bay Lake owner can book at their home resort 11 months ahead of time, versus seven months for owners at other properties.

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Virtually all owners who rent points, whether directly or through a broker, charge a home-resort premium (usually about $1 extra per rented point). This means you’ll pay extra to book further than seven months out. If you have flexibility in your dates or desired room types, don’t pay this premium. Wait until seven months before arrival to find a slightly more affordable rate.

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If you’re planning to rent directly with an individual, connect with them early. Start your research a month or more ahead of time. For busier dates (spring break, the week between Christmas and New Year’s), you’ll need to have someone with their finger on the trigger right when the booking window opens.

One of the most time-consuming parts of the rental process is checking availability. Disney has no publicly available database to search for room availability, but there is an online resource that allows you to search for inventory on your own without being an owner. Familiarize yourself with the room types and available inventory before you reach out to rent from someone.

The Disney Vacation Club has several different room types, including everything from a studio to a three-bedroom villa. Disney maintains a website that can fill in a ton of blanks on what the different offerings are at the various properties.

Related: The best credit cards to use at Disney

a large white building: Disney’s Bay Lake Tower (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy) © The Points Guy Disney’s Bay Lake Tower (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Should You Rent Disney Vacation Club Points?

Every family’s decision will be as unique as their Disney World vacation. If someone tells you that you absolutely should (or shouldn’t) rent DVC points, go find another source of information. As with many things in life, it all depends. I’ve outlined the main pros and cons above, but there are plenty of other considerations.

Related: How to use points for Disney tickets

It’s always best to check the prices Disney World is charging for their moderate resorts before you consider alternatives. We’ve seen surprisingly low prices, albeit during quieter times of the year, but as a general rule, Disney Vacation Club rentals will save you money over paying retail Disney prices.

That said, booking directly with Disney typically gives you more flexibility if you need to change or cancel your booking. All things being equal, in the time of COVID-19, that can be very valuable. However, while Disney isn’t accepting new reservations directly at the moment, renting DVC points is short-term your only option for staying at a true Disney resort. The other option for an on property stay is booking at the Disney Swan or Dolphin. These aren’t true Disney resorts but are in an on-property location that is an easy walk over to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

While there’s always risk when renting from individuals, the vast majority of people who own Disney Vacation Club points are Disney fans themselves. This group of folks is generally honest and well-intentioned. You’ll need to do your own research to make sure you’re comfortable with the process, whether you choose a rental broker or an individual.

Related: How to choose the best Disney World hotel for you

a garden in front of a house: Disney Treehouse Villa (Photo courtesy of Disney, by Kent Phillips) © The Points Guy Disney Treehouse Villa (Photo courtesy of Disney, by Kent Phillips)

There’s one part of the equation I can assure you of: The Disney Vacation Club villas are some of the best rooms at Disney World. Our kids still recall visits to the Treehouse Villas and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge as some of their fondest hotel memories.

The fact that our kids remember details of Disney resorts better than some of our Disney trips themselves should give you an idea of the value of staying on-site at Disney World. Disney Vacation Club rentals should be seen as a potential way to make a magical on-site Disney Resort stay fit within your Disney Vacation budget.

Additional reporting by Summer Hull

Featured photo courtesy of Disney Polynesian Villas and Bungalows by Disney Parks. Some photos in this piece were used under a Creative Commons license.

Want to read more about Disney parks around the world? Check out our other Disney guides…

  • TPG’s ultimate guide to Disney World
  • Review of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
  • 9 things families should know before visiting Disneyland
  • The 10 best Disney thrill rides around the world
  • How to use points for Disney tickets
  • Disney World without kids: 10 ways to enjoy an adult trip to Disney
  • 10 things kids will love at the Disney Aulani Resort in Hawaii
  • How to ride every Disney World ride in one day
  • How to eat healthy at Disney World

SPONSORED: While travel is limited right now due to COVID-19, you need your everyday purchases to give you flexible, forever useful cash. In general, TPG gives preference to transferable points and using your points to travel, but on some days, cash is king.

These are the top cash-back cards, and a few others that award transferable points that can be used as cash.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Should Disney World even be open? .
What it’s really like in the park right now, according to a theme park expert.It’s a common saying at Walt Disney World, one you’ll hear upon arriving at a seaside boardwalk hotel, telling a Grand Floridian Cafe server where you’re from, or scanning a MagicBand to board Disney’s Magical Express airport bus. It reinforces everything about Disney’s trademark wonder and nostalgia, not to mention the distinctly American sentimentality of saving hard-earned money and spending it on the same vacation you may have experienced as a child.

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