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Welcome to Disney Week at The Points Guy! All week we’ll be covering everything there is to know about Disney parks all around the world. After you’ve read this guide to “How to Save Money by Renting Disney Vacation Club Points,” make sure to check out our other Disney stories — the list is at the bottom of this page.

There are so many different ways to tackle lodging for a Disney World vacation, including Disney’s value and moderate resort categories for families who don’t want to break the bank. Those looking for 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 instead. There are plenty of suitable options around Disney World.

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

Timeshare, Mickey-Style

You may be familiar with Disney Vacation Club, or you might have 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).

Unless you really want to go all-in on owning a Mickey timeshare, instead of buying, you can rent points from a Disney Vacation Club member. DVC members buy a bank of points that they can use on a yearly basis. Some members don’t use all their points 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 points out to vacationers. Our home resort is Bay Lake Towers at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, but more on what a home resort is later.

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 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. The perks of a Disney Vacation Club rental can make your trip much more enjoyable (and affordable).

Disney Vacation Club Villa at Disney’s Polynesian Village. (Photo by Summer Hull.)

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+ 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 instituted 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.

The only potential downside to a DVC rental is that you won’t get daily housekeeping service. On stays of seven days or shorter, Disney will perform a light housekeeping service on the fourth day of your stay. That includes fresh towels, bath amenities and in-room coffee but doesn’t include items like changing bedsheets. You can pay extra for daily housekeeping visits, if that’s something important to you. Disney World does provide daily trash service.

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.

4/8-4/11/19 Polynesian Village Animal Kingdom Lodge Bay Lake Towers
Standard room via Disney $2,122.89 $2,109.39 $2,588.64
DVC studio at 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.

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 always heard good things about his service. You’ll pay a premium, but still much less on the whole than if you tried to rent a DVC villa directly from Disney World.

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. For larger rooms, 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. 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:

    1. Searching for individual owners can be a bit of a bear. Start any search 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.
    2. 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.
    3. Pay for your DVC rental with a credit card that offers some level of protection.
    4. Consider purchasing a travel insurance policy that covers a potential cancellation outside of your control, such as a medical issue.
Disney
Disney’s Beach Club Resort in Walt Disney World. (Photo by Scott Smith/Flickr.)

Tips for Your DVC Rental

If you’ve 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 is able to 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 outside owners.

Virtually all owners who rent points, whether directly or through a broker, charge a home-resort premium. 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 prior to arrival to find a slightly more affordable rate.

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 I just discovered a resource that allows you to search inventory on your own without being an owner. I’ve only been testing it for a few days, but it seems to match the inventory I can see when I log in as a DVC member. (Kudos to the Disney Tourist Blog for discovering that little gem.) Familiarize yourself with the room types and available inventory before you reach out to rent from someone.

The Disney Vacation Club has a number of 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.

Bay Lake Towers in Walt Disney World. Photo by CL Photographs/Flickr
Bay Lake Towers in Walt Disney World. (Photo by CL Photographs/Flickr.)

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. It’s always best to check the prices Disney World is charging for their moderate resorts before you consider alternatives. We’ve see 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.

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.

Disney Treehouse Villa (Photo courtesy of Disney, by Kent Phillips)
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.

Featured photo courtesy of Disney Polynesian Villas and Bungalows. 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…

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