Here is the latest addition to my Saving at Disney Parks Series! Let’s continue today with topic #4: how to RENT points from Disney Vacation Club members to save insanely large sums of money on your Disney Resort stay.
Prior to this year, we have made two trips to Disney World. Both times we spent our week at a non-Disney condo. It’s no surprise – we saved a lot of money by doing so. Of course, each time we wondered what the big deal was about staying on a Disney property. We figured that if we could ever find a budget-friendly way to stay with Disney, we’d give it a try.
For the past three years in a row, my cousin and his family have gone to Disney. And each of those three years they have stayed on Disney property. They kept telling me that they had “rented DVC points” and saved so much money on their room. I’ll admit – I was skeptical. So skeptical that it took me more than 3 years to do the research and give it a try.
As with any Disney stay, the more you research and the earlier you book, generally the better availability you’ll find. Most of the time!
I will try to break it down for you as best I can:
Disney Vacation Club (DVC for short) is Disney’s very own timeshare program. You might even have friends who are DVC members (we definitely do)! In its most basic sense, DVC members make payments towards a vacation at Disney each year. Everything is done on a points system. Certain accommodations cost more points than others. Point levels are determined by location, resort, size of room, time of year, view from room window/balcony, etc. So as you can imagine, a stay in a 3 bedroom villa at the Grand Floridian in May is going to cost you substantially more points than a February stay at Old Key West Villas in a studio standard view.
A stay in one of the DVC Villas (located at Deluxe Disney resorts) carries most of the perks that a regular old Disney Resort room includes. You can take advantage of extra magic hours, use park transportation, send gift shop purchases made in the parks back to your room for free, etc. The biggest difference that I noticed is that if there is a free dining plan promotion, the offer is not extended to DVC villa rentals. Also, the villas do not provide daily housekeeping service (though you do have the option to pay for the service if you want it). On the 4th day of your stay you get basic trash and towel service (we got a new supply of shampoo and soap as well) and on the 7th day your room receives a full cleaning.
It’s probably a given that if you make the commitment to joining DVC, you most likely really love Disney and visit fairly often. But like anything else in life, there are times when members aren’t going to or can’t use their points for a given year. Rather than eat the loss by not using their points or giving them away for free, members can rent their points to others. Rentals can typically be booked starting at 9-11 months out and the more popular times of year (ie Christmas) will book extremely fast.
Renting points from a DVC member is a one-time deal. You rent enough points to stay where you’d like, when you’d like. The DVC member makes the reservation FOR YOU. The reservation is made IN YOUR NAME but as the DVC MEMBER’S GUESTS. It does not take rocket science to deduce that there is a big amount of trust required from both parties in a transaction like this. The DVC member trusts that you will behave during your stay and not act in any manner that would jeopardize their membership standing. Likewise, you trust that the DVC member will not only make the reservation but stay up-to-date with their payments, etc and keep their membership in good standing to ensure you have a seamless stay.
Because of the high level of trust required from both parties, there are companies that act as a point-renting-facilitator.
Two of the most popular, BBB accredited DVC point renting companies are David’s Vacation Club Rentals and The DVC Rental Store. My cousin has used David’s several times with no issues while we used The DVC Rental Store and had a fantastic experience.
Please understand – using a point-renting company still does not eliminate the need for trust that I described above. But it does provide a real sense of legitimacy and gives you some recourse should things turn sour. The point-renting company works as a facilitaor between you and the DVC member. You each sign a contract stating that you will uphold your end of the bargain.
The rental company makes their money by charging a few dollars more per point then they are currently valued at. In my humble opinion, I was happy and willing to pay this fee in return for having help with the booking and rental process. I still saved a substantial amount of money versus rack rate for our room, so in the end I was thrilled with the discount. (Yes, Disney does offer various room discounts throughout the year. Of course you should always compare these to the point rental prices to make sure you’re going with the cheaper option.)
The Point Renting Process in Real Numbers
Several months before our trip, I contacted DVC Rental Store by filling out a quote form on their website. Within several hours, I received a response and had several options to choose from regarding different resorts and which exact week to stay. I have only ever been in contact with one employee from DVC Rental Store – she literally walked me through every step. She provided timely responses to every question I had and was such a great resource!
Once I settled on a week and the location (Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani Village, Deluxe Studio with Savanna View), I was required to put down a $100 deposit. At this point, DVC Rental Store put my request out to their pool of DVC members who were looking to rent out their points.
Within 24 hours I received confirmation that they had a DVC member ready to make my reservation. I signed my rental agreement contract and shortly thereafter I received another email confirmation that the reservation had been made with our reservation number and booking details. (I was able to link this reservation to the My Disney Experience site and app without issue.)
I believe a payment plan is available from DVC Rental Store, though we were pretty close to our trip at the time of booking, so we had to pay in full.
Here are the actual numbers that we ended up with –
Rack rate for Deluxe Studio Villa at Kidani Village for 4 nights in early March 2014 – $571/night or $2284 plus 11.5% room tax = $2547
DVC points required for this stay – 76 points
Both of the rental companies mentioned above charge $14/point (this includes their fee).
Price we paid with rented points (including tax) – $1064
We saved $1483!
We had a wonderful first experience renting DVC points and plan to do it again in the future. We loved staying at a Disney resort and will try a different one next time. Of course you will have to weigh the pros and cons, the benefits and the risks to decide if this option is a good one for your family. (Update: We rented points again in ’15 for our stay at Bay Lake Tower. Another great experience!)
Check out our in-depth review of Kidani Village!