Most die-hard Disney fans are aware of the Disney Vacation Club (“DVC”), a timeshare program operated by Disney at eight resorts at Walt Disney World plus three locations outside of the World. DVC owners enter long term contracts to buy “points” that they use to book stays at these resorts. However, many people do not know that renting DVC points can be a cost-effective way to stay at a Deluxe resort. There have been a lot of questions recently about renting DVC points in the WDW Chat area at TouringPlans.com, so I decided to compile a few tips to help out first time renters.
Do Your Research
The most important thing is to do your research – most rental problems are caused by a misunderstanding of the process. Don’t rely on the other party to know everything or provide you with correct information. Read Renting Disney Vacation Club Points at MouseSavers.com and the documents in the DVC Program Information – Renting Points area at MouseOwners.com. These sites will tell you almost all you need to know. Additionally, David’s Vacation Club Rentals has charts for figuring out how many points you will need, and the DVC Resorts section at DVCNews.com has lots of information on the resorts themselves. And, lest we forget, The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2014 and the Disney World Hotels section at TouringPlans.com have information on the DVC resorts as well.
Know The Dates
Like most aspects of booking a Walt Disney World vacation, timing is of the essence. There are two important dates to be aware of for DVC stays – 11 months and 7 months. DVC owners can make reservations for the resort they own points at starting 11 months before the desired stay. This is the best time to try to rent if you want a specific resort, but there may not be many points available to rent at that time. DVC owners can make reservations for any resort starting 7 months before the desired stay. There are potentially more points available to rent at this time, but there are not as many rooms available. For a general idea of what may be available at various booking dates, check the How Soon Should I Reserve section at David’s Vacation Club Rentals.
OK, I Know When I Want To Go – How Do I Do This?
Although you can book stays at DVC properties through Walt Disney World Reservations and travel agents (at rack rates), in order to rent points you must either rent directly from a DVC owner or go through a points broker. In either case, a DVC owner will be making a room reservation using their points, and then “renting” that reservation to you.
Direct Renting A good place to start looking into renting directly from a DVC owner is the Rent/Trade/Transfer Board at MouseOwners.com, which has separate areas for posting rental requests or viewing posts about available points/reservations. Another good site for renting is the DVC-Rent/Trade Board at DISBoards.com. Although I have only rented directly through MouseOwners.com, I have heard good things about both boards. Be sure to read each board’s rules/guidelines before posting or replying to posts.
Points Brokers There are plenty of online DVC points brokers out there, like David’s Vacation Club Rentals, The DVC Rental Store, and DVC-Rental. They do a lot of the work for you, but this often comes at an additional cost. Although their specific policies may vary, the general procedure is that you submit a request to them, and they try to match you up with one of their client DVC owners who has points to rent out.
Note that with either method advance planning is key. If you want to hit the 11-month or 7-month dates you should either have a notional agreement with an owner in place or have your application submitted to a broker in advance so that everything is set on the first day that your desired stay can be booked. Allow for more lead time when doing direct rentals than when using a broker, as you will have to do the leg work of finding an owner with available points.
What Method Should I Use?
The main advantage of direct renting is price and flexibility – you can often get better deals and payment terms, as they are all subject to negotiation. Also, there can be many last minute deals for points or confirmed reservations. The main advantage of a broker is that you are dealing with a known, reputable company as opposed to a complete stranger. If you are going to rent direct from an owner, BE SURE to take the steps listed in Renting Disney Vacation Club Points at MouseSavers.com in order to reduce your risks.
What’s the Catch?
This major drawback of renting DVC points is cancellation. Because of the byzantine rules surrounding the use of DVC points, most DVC rental agreement do not have any cancellation provisions. Essentially, if you have to cancel, you lose your money. You may be lucky and the owner you are renting from may be willing (and able) to work with you on this, but you should not rely on it. Therefore, it is very important to think about Travel Insurance if you are going to rent DVC.
Also, when you rent points, you are the “guest” of the owner. Walt Disney World Reservations will not talk to you about the reservation, so add-ons/requests like Disney Dining Plans, Disney Magical Express, and room preferences must be done for you by the owner through DVC Member Services. However, your name is on the reservation, so once the owner gives you the reservation number you can link it to your My Disney Experience account so that you can make 180+10 Advance Dining Reservations, get Magic Bands and FastPass+ reservations (when they go live), and do on-line check-in yourself.
This Sounds Complicated – Why Would I Want to Do This?
Either way you book, you can get significant savings – you can usually get a DVC villa for about half of the Disney rack rate. This means that you can often get a Deluxe studio for around the cost of a Standard Moderate room. As a quick comparison, renting through a broker you could stay in a Standard View Studio villa at BoardWalk Villas or Old Key West for a week in early December 2013 for $1,064, assuming $14 per point. For those same dates a Standard View room at Caribbean Beach or Port Orleans would cost you $993.83, and this is assuming you got a top discount of 30%. So, for less than $100 more you get a larger room with a kitchenette in a Deluxe resort.
Any Other Tricks I Should Know About?
The more flexible you are, the easier it will be to get a DVC rental. You are more likely to be successful if you are open to several resorts and you can move your dates around a bit than if you have to stay at the Villas at Wilderness Lodge and your dates are set in stone. For the truly flexible there are often great last-minute deals for confirmed reservations that the owner cannot use or for points that are about to expire.
Also, if you are friends with a DVC owner, you can reduce your risk by having the person that you are renting points from transfer the points to your friend. Your friend then makes the DVC reservation for you, so your reservation is “owned” by someone you know. Note that transferred points retain their home resort and expiration date, so if your friend owns at Old Key West and the transferred points are from Villas at Wilderness Lodge, they can use those points at 11 months for Villas at Wilderness Lodge and at 7 months for all other resorts, including Old Key West.
Renting DVC points is not for everyone – if your travel plans may be subject to change or you are uncomfortable dealing with anyone other than Walt Disney World or your travel agent, then it is probably not for you. However, if you are willing to do a little work and are comfortable with the risks involved, then it is a great way to get one of the best deals on Deluxe accommodations.