The Highs and Lows of Renting Disney Vacation Club Points.

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You’ve probably seen the kiosks for Disney Vacation Club (DVC) sales in the parks and at Downtown Disney. While Disney doesn’t like the word “timeshare,” that’s essentially what these properties are. Most are attached to deluxe resorts although there are also stand-alone properties like Saratoga Springs and Old Key West.  These resorts have the same superior theming and amenities as other deluxe resorts, but in addition to studios, which closely resemble standard hotel rooms, they also come with one, two, and three-bedroom units with full kitchens, multiple bathrooms and washer and driers.

Staying in a DVC villa is a great way to have all the comforts of home while on your Disney vacation, but it also comes with a hefty price tag. You can rent these villas from Disney, but there’s a less expensive option available: Renting points from a DVC owner.  This comes with some risks, but if you’re willing to take the chance, you can save a lot of money. Here’s how.

Unlike most timeshares, DVC owners purchase points at a home resort and may use those points throughout the year any way they please as long as there’s availability and they’re within the booking window.  So say for example you buy at Bay Lake Tower.  At the 11-month window, you can make reservations at that resort because it’s your “home” resort. At the 7-month window, you can book at any DVC resort. But what if you can’t travel that year? Disney makes that easy. You’re allowed to save those points for another year or you can give them away to a (very) lucky friend. Or, you can rent those points. This is where you potentially enter the picture.

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DVC owners who want to rent usually do so in one of two ways:  1)  Make their points available through a points broker; or 2)  Make them directly available to renters through Disney message boards or by other means, such as through a network of friends or neighbors. Most Disney message boards will have “vetted” the owners to a certain extent, but the real detective work is up to you (I’ll get to that in a minute). Brokers will do that work for you, but they usually charge several dollars more per point to do so.  You may see owners renting points on sites like eBay and Craigslist as well, but I don’t recommend it since there have so many negative stories about points rentals coming from these sites.

Let’s look at renting directly from an owner first.  Once you meet an owner you’re comfortable with and you’ve agreed on a price, you’ll want to make sure this owner is as legitimate as possible. Ask for references from previous renters. You’ll also want to check out the Orange County website to ensure that he actually owns DVC.  Getting a work phone number in addition to a home number is also nice. And if you’re meeting this owner on a Disney message board, check out his previous post count. Is he a frequent poster or does he just pop in from time to time to rent points? How long has he been a member of this community?  None of this is foolproof, but if you get satisfactory questions to these answers, you’ve done everything that a broker can do.

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Most private owners rent for $10 to $12 per point, depending on the resort and time of year.  They’ll make the reservation for you and deal directly with DVC, so your entire reservation is in their hands. If they answer questions quickly, you’re in luck. But if they don’t, you could find yourself dealing with a lot of frustration. For example, say you want to add the dining plan.  You’ll need to ask the owner to call DVC and add it. You’ll also have to give that owner your credit card. DVC will only talk to the owner since you don’t technical exist except as a name on the reservation, so you’re going to be dependent on him and you should be comfortable with how he does business.

Points brokers exist in a gray area. Well, perhaps that’s not even the correct way to put it. Points brokers don’t exist at all according to Disney. In the above scenario, the renter is dealing directly with the owner. He’s dependent on the owner for all things DVC. The situation is slightly different with a points broker in the sense that the points broker will be dealing with the owner and the owner will contact DVC for your requests. Disney will not talk to the points broker, so he is essentially a go-between.

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It’s important to understand that a points broker doesn’t have access to more inventory than the average owner. The broker’s advantage is that he has a lot of experience vetting owners and if he’s been in business for a while, probably has a number of loyal owners he can call upon when it comes to renting.  Further, he keeps you from having to deal with an owner who drags his feet when it comes to ordering Magical Express or whatever else you need.  And finally, if something goes wrong with the owner you’ve rented from, he’s not leaving town with your money. So there’s an element of safety when it comes to using a reputable broker.

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There are two real advantages to renting DVC points. The first was mentioned above: Price. Expect to pay 1/2 to 1/3 less for a DVC rental, depending on the price per point.  The other advantage is one that most guests don’t often consider: The ability to access hard-to-get DVC villas months before they’re available to anyone else. Disney holds back most of these villas for DVC owners, allowing them to get their first choice, and then slowly makes them available to the general public. Usually you’ll see a small amount made available at the 10-month mark and then more again at the 6-month mark. This makes sense given how DVC owners are allowed to make reservations.  You might not see a two-bedroom villa with a Magic Kingdom view available on the Disney website for Christmas week and if you do see it, you’re most likely not going to get a discount. So renting points can make this happen.

So why doesn’t everyone rent points? Well, there are a couple of major reasons why renting points is not for everyone. The first one is security. What if you get a flakey owner? In this economy, people lose luxury items like DVC all the time. If your owner didn’t pay his yearly dues, you can’t check in. Worse, if he went bankrupt, those points are no longer his to rent but it might take a while for that to be reflected in any official documents. Most rental transactions go seamlessly, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t those that fall apart.

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On your part, if you need to cancel a trip, you may be out of luck.  DVC points essentially lose value the closer they are to travel. If an owner cancels a reservation, his points go into holding and have to be used in ways that are somewhat complicated and do not lend itself to renting again. So instead of $10 per point his points are worth $7 or worse, nothing at all.  You’ll want to make sure that there are alternatives available to you in the event you need to cancel. Some owners and brokers will work with you, but make sure you verify this in writing before you rent.

If you do rent, and I’ve done it many times without any issues, the one thing I would suggest is that you purchase travel insurance. You can use a company like Allianz or TravelGuard, which is the company that Disney uses. Make sure you discuss with the agent exactly what’s covered in the event you need to cancel or you encounter difficulties with your DVC owner.  A good policy should cost around $250 for a small family, but keep in  mind that this takes away from your overall savings.

Renting DVC points is a great way to save money and get some extra space, something that’s at a premium at Disney resorts.  And I’ll be honest, even if you’re not a DVC owner, there’s something appealing about a big “Welcome Home” when you check into your resort.  Have you rented? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments.

24 thoughts on “The Highs and Lows of Renting Disney Vacation Club Points.”

  1. We used a broker when we went to Aulani kast year and all worked out well. I did the math on joining DVC, and given the way we travel it just made no sense for our family. So, renting/buying points from someone else is a perfect option.

  2. Thanks for sharing. As a DVC owner, we’ve never rented out points because we typically use all of them. However, our oldest will be starting school this year, so that might change. This is good to know for both the owner and the renter.

  3. We’ve done this for the past 4 trips. For the most part, we’ve used the same owner but our next time is through a co-worker of my husband’s (Thanks, Steve!). So far, we’ve had no bad experiences. We have only stayed at Old Key West and we kinda like it. ;) We did once stay at OKW directly through Disney – without using DVC – when they ran a special. We’re used to the layout and the distance from each park. We’ve considered others, but for a family of 6 + 1 (my mom always goes along – built-in babysitter!) the 2-bedroom villa is worth its weight in gold! We always have breakfast in the room (saves $) and usually once or twice we’ll cook up something or have pizza (Pizza Hut is the same, country-wide!). We also make good use of the washer/dryer – saves in packing. Also comes in handy if someone (or everyone) gets sick. Any other place would require two rooms and our kids just aren’t old enough for that yet. Maybe when they’re teens (*shudder*). Just so folks understand DVC properties ARE Disney properties, so you get the same perks – early Magic hours, delivery to your room for purchases, free parking, etc.

  4. I rented dvc points through a broker for my honeymoon. i think it was $13/point (on the high end) but i was fine with it because staying 3 nights/4 days at the Beach Club in a studio was well worth the savings. would i do it again? maybe. the broker made it easy, but then again – there’s the cost…

    1. I’m really on the fence with brokers. I think on the one hand, they overstate what they can do for you and they charge a lot more. On the other, they can make it easier for a visitor who wants to be completely hands off in the process since they handle everything. I think most Disney fans can handle going with a private renter just fine, as long as they’re willing to put in a tiny amount of leg work, usually not much more than they would do for a typical reservation.

  5. I’ve heard of DVC owners renting out points, but I’ve also heard of DVC owners booking a DVC Villa for a popular time of year (Bay Lake Tower at Christmas, Boardwalk or Beach Club during the Food & Wine Festival, etc.), and then renting the “booking” (rather than the points). I’ve heard that bookings at popular times of year can fetch much larger rental fees.

    Does anyone know about this? We’ve never rented out our points, as we use them all every year, but we’ve often wondered about it.

    1. Yes, there are DVC owners who will book a reservation and then rent out the reservations for popular weeks, like Christmas. Most message boards will not allow them to post these listings because the board administrators (and me too!) think it’s unfair to other potential renters and certainly to DVC owners.

  6. Great article! I have rented numerous times (probably at least 10 times) and ever since that first DVC rental, that is what I usually do when visiting Disney. I mostly use a different owner each time. Yes, there is risk but I never had any problems at all in any of my transactions. If you do use a Disney message board/forum to find a DVC owner, look for those owners that have many posts to their name and also ask for references from previous renters. And, yes, brokers are worth the extra money if you want to spend it as they do give you more peace of mind. I am too cheap and have only used a broker for their distressed points (usually in the $8 per point range).

  7. We were gifted points for our honeymoon. Somehow ended up in a 2BR Old Key West villa. Beautiful and loved it. (Way way too big for honeymooners!)

  8. I am seriously considering renting points for my trip next year. My sister, niece and I will be traveling to WDW for my 50th birthday and staying in a two bedroom with two baths and washer/drier would be ideal. I was able to stay in one a couple of years ago when my husband and I got upgraded from a one bedroom to a two bedroom at OKW and we loved it. I have heard that David’s rentals is a very good place to rent points from. This trip would be from May 23, 2014 through at least June 1, 2014.

  9. Thanks so much for this info- I believe that this will be the way to go for our next family WDW trip. We are a family of 5 . Ive been trying to read up on renting DVC points over the last couple of years , so this information really helps! One thing I was confused on though was – is the Magical Express available for people who use DVC points, Im seeing here that you mentioned the Magical Express, so Im assuming that this perk is available? Thankyou!

  10. There are so many WDW experiences I would love to give to my children. One of them was waking up and seeing the castle from our room. Since the yearly dues with DVC seem too much for us right now, we decided to rent points last year. I did my research and I felt comfortable renting from one of the more popular and experienced brokers. I booked 11 months before our travel date and they were able to secure Bay Lake Tower for us within a week. I requested a north side suite and luckily it was granted, so we had a beautiful park and lake view. Everything went seamlessly, we felt like members, and the extra space (kitchen, washer/dryer) were priceless. Though it was still quite expensive, it was a perfect week! I would certainly rent points again and because I fear the risk with renting with strangers on my own, I prefer going through a reputable broker. For our next trip, I want to stay at the Animal Kingdom Resort, any suggestion on were to stay there as a DVC renter (Jambo vs. Kindani)? Also, what is your favorite DVC property and why? Thanks, great article!

  11. Hi have rented for years and enjoy renting one night BEFORE my week long stay at YC. This year we rented points for 4 nights before transferring to YC. I was disappointed. No towels – 3 for a family of 3 and if you want more it is 6.00 for 3 towels. We took them from the pool! One tiny bottle of shampoo….I have always said WDW treats their guests better than their members. Old Key WEst was nice but looks tired even after refurb. I will stick to renting points one night and use it as a cheaper alternative to a Marriott etc. prior to checking in and letting the real vacation begin.

  12. I rented points for one of my past trips and it worked out well when I wanted to plan ahead. For a more last minute trip, I find that it is best to just use Disney.

    One of the big pros to renting is that you can add the dining plan without needing to buy park tickets. This allows us some added flexibility you can’t get elsewhere.

    The big disadvantage was that they don’t clean your room as often and generally their transportation is sort of added on to others (meaning you sometimes have a walk to get to the busses/monorail).

    Overall though it is worth it and a good way to save a dime!

  13. So where do I find these blogs to possibly rent points from a DVC owner. I am trying to take the family over christmas break and would like to inquire about renting points.

  14. Do you know how easy it is to find DVC rentals at the last minute? Since our plans often change I would be afraid to book something too far ahead of time. We are trying the DVC rental store for the first time, but just for one night, to kind of see how it goes.

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