For years I’ve been hearing about the magic of renting Disney Vacation Club points to save money on your Disney stays. I finally got the chance to rent DVC points which helped me save some money on our family’s recent trip to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Hawaii, so I thought I’d write up the experience. In this post I’ll outline how to rent DVC points and discuss how much money you can save by doing so. We actually also discussed this on our Disney podcast, Disney Deciphered, which you can listen to here.
Let’s get this out of the way first – you’re never gonna stay on a Disney property for “cheap” unless it’s a very off peak time. In fact, Disney Vacation Club properties are all Deluxe properties, so when people (and Disney) say you can save 50% don’t expect to save 50% off of Value rates. That being said, you can stay at Deluxe properties for much less than they normally would cost. The way I think about it, renting DVC points often subtracts off the “Disney premium” from hotel room costs. This definitely was the case for our trip to Aulani. Let’s get into it.
What is Disney Vacation Club?
Disney runs a timeshare type operation called Disney Vacation Club (DVC). The main thing people need to know about DVC is that instead of getting a certain number of days to stay at certain properties, DVC owners receive a bank of DVC points every year. These DVC points can be used to book Disney properties (and cruises though that’s bad value).
The Disney Vacation Club properties are:
- Aulani (Hawaii)
- Bay Lake Tower (Contemporary Resort)
- Boulder Ridge Villas (Wilderness Lodge)
- Copper Creek Villas (Wilderness Lodge)
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (Jambo House and Kidani Village)
- Disney’s Beach Club Villas
- Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
- Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort
- Disney’s Old Key West Resort
- Disney’s Polynesian Villa & Bungalows
- Disney’s Riviera Resort (Opening Dec 2019)
- Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa
- Disney’s Vero Beach Resort
- The Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel (Disneyland)
- The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
As you can see, all the resorts are pretty nice properties which is why they’re all deluxe. Note that Aulani, Hilton Head, and Vero Beach aren’t near a Disney park. Of the three, I’d say only Aulani is worth it, Hilton Head and Vero Beach are kind of the black sheep in the DVC family.
Pros and cons of renting DVC points to stay at Disney Vacation Club Properties
Obviously, I’m not encouraging people to buy into Disney’s timeshare system (though I’m often tempted myself!). But what often happens is a DVC member won’t be able to use their points in a given year, so they will “rent” them out. What that means is they’ll book a stay for another person (the “renter”) using their points so their points don’t go wasted. The renter gets a discounted rate while staying at a Deluxe Disney property while the DVC member doesn’t waste his or her points.
Each Disney property has different rates depending on the room type and season. DVC rates are set for a given calendar year and will not change. As a renter, you only need to rent as many points as you need for a given stay. I’ve seen people save up to 50% on their Disney stays, so it can be a pretty great deal. Of course, there’s always a catch. Here the catch is what I said before, that DVC rentals only happen at the nicest Disney properties. Just remind yourself it’s more like you’re getting a deluxe resort for the price of a moderate. And of course, you could save way more money (or just use hotel points) by staying off site, so this is really only for if you want that Disney experience.
Here’s what I see as the benefits and drawbacks of renting DVC points:
Benefits of renting DVC points
- Save money on deluxe Disney resorts
- No parking fees
- Get more of the Disney magic
- Magic bands (Walt Disney World)
Drawbacks of renting DVC points:
- Strict cancellation policy
- Limited availability, can be difficult to find space that lines up, especially in high season
- No housekeeping (they change trash and towels every 4th day)
- If booking close in, you’re probably going to have to resort hop (a non-starter for my family, we won’t do it)
How to easily search for DVC availability
I’ve found it helpful to check for DVC availability before I go out renting DVC points (remember, DVC rooms are capacity limited). To do so, use this website: DVC Availability Tool. It’s amazing!
You can input your dates and it will show you the availability and the full cost in points for the entire stay. For a rough estimate of how much the stay will cost, multiply by $17 (more on that later).
If you click on the price of the room type you want, it’ll also give you a breakdown of which days are available and which aren’t (hence the resort hopping comment in drawbacks).
If you see rooms you like available, you can rent in one of two ways.
Renting from a private party (normally a friend)
To rent from a private party, it’s fairly simple. Make sure they have enough points to cover your stay and that they’re willing to rent you the points. Agree on a rate to pay for the points (you typically want to make sure it’s less than $17/point).
Since you checked availability for your dates, just feed them your dates, property, and room type. They’ll also need the names of everyone in your party. They can book online on their DVC website or they can call.
They’ll receive the confirmation e-mail but since your names are on the reservation you just need to show up when it’s time to have fuuuuuuun! (Don’t worry, this is a normal thing, and Disney is very used to it).
A couple of caveats. Obviously your friend is going to have to book for you so there will be some friction there (if they don’t follow up). Also, some people book with total strangers on forums like DISboards, but I am not trusting enough to do that, personally.
(Update: Commenter Disney fan notes that prices on the DISboards are often very good, as low as $10 because people are trying to jettison their points. Still a bit out of my comfort zone but the risk may certainly be worth the reward. Thanks, Disneyfan!)
Renting from a DVC rental company
The two main DVC rental stores are DVC Rental Store and David’s Vacation Club Rentals. You’ll see the latter talked about more online because they offer an affiliate program (that’s a clean link up there, though).
Both are reputable and have been used by lots of people. The benefit of DVC Rental Store is you don’t have to pay a deposit to request a quote or search. With David’s, you pay a deposit of $119. If availability is found to fulfill your request then that money goes to your final bill. Of course, since you’re using the calculator above, you don’t really need to pay a deposit to search, just look for availability yourself. DVC Rental Store also offers a form of insurance in case you need to cancel.
Price-wise, David’s is a little cheaper. 11 months out, Disney opens up its DVC rentals to DVC members but they can only book at their “home” resort (where they own). 7 months out all DVC members can book all properties (with some new exceptions that doesn’t matter for the purposes of renting from a rental company).
DVC Rental Store prices vary depending on how many points you are renting and how early you are renting them. So for the most part, if you’ve found your own availability, David’s probably will be cheaper.
Like I said above, availability really gets tough close in. The reality is it starts drying up at around 7 months out, since all DVC members can book. If you have your heart set on a certain property and know when you’ll be traveling, I’d suggest paying the extra $1/point to book at greater than seven months out.
Since this all got kicked off with a discussion about Aulani, I thought I’d take a look at some comparisons. I’ll assume $17/point for reference in this example. I cherry picked some dates with good availability to make things easier.
For three nights checking in November 5th, a studio costs 63 points (no standard view available), a 1 bedroom villa costs 111 points, and a 2 bedroom villa costs 153. The hotel room doesn’t have availability but note that would cost 17 points per night. The villas have the benefit of having a full kitchen and laundry – a real life and money saver!
So translated to dollars, the studio costs $1,071 or $357/night, 1BR $1,887 or $629/night, and the 2BR $2601 or $867/night.
On the Aulani site, standard hotel rooms and the DVC studios cost $494/night, the cheapest 1 bedroom villa (suite) is $849/night, and the cheapest 2 bedroom villa is $1,164/night. Tax is about 15% so it’s more like $568/$976/$1338 for studio/1BR/2BR. So not quite 50%, but pretty good savings. You can also often do better at other Disney properties. (When renting DVC at Aulani you’ll also have to pay a small tax on site, it was less than $20/night when I went).
Alright, that’s should serve you well as a primer for renting DVC points. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me on Twitter or e-mail me asthejoeflies AT gmail DOT com. I’d also love to hear your experiences if you’ve rented DVC, I know some people swear by it. What’s the best value you’ve ever gotten? Let me know in the comments!
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