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Is DVC worth the money?

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The Disney Vacation Club is very popular, but is the ever-popular DVC worth the money?

You have probably caught on – the Disney Park Nerds love everything Disney. We have high expectations, that are often met, at Disney theme parks around the world. We are fans of staying on-property whenever possible in every location (and we have stayed “on property” at every Disney theme park resort on the planet) because we believe it extends the magic of your trip by staying inside the Disney bubble.

So, naturally, we have explored the DVC program. In fact, every 2.73 years – like clockwork – we run the math! We get to thinking about our next Disney vacation and how amazing it would be to know we could stay in accommodations that, otherwise, we skip due to costs. Generally, on a sleepless night, the Disney Park Nerd gets up in the wee hours of the morning and begins a cost-benefit analysis.

First, We Need a Few DVC Facts

With the DVC program, a member is essentially buying an annual allotment of points that can be used toward a variety of properties including Disney DVC properties, Disney Resort properties, Disney’s Hawaiian Resort – Aulani, Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort, Disney Cruise Line and more. For the purposes of this comparison, we are focusing on Disney DVC properties as these tend to be the best value when using DVC points. Plus, this post might be 37 pages long, otherwise.

Disney makes pricing out a new DVC purchase pretty straight-forward; in fact, they even have a calculator that will ask you some questions and make recommendations. Part of making this calculation is personal and depends on how you travel and how you intend to travel in the future. In the Disney Park Nerds’ case, we have three kids (triplets actually…I know!!). When they were very young, we traveled in one room – they were small and could all three easily fit in a queen bed.

By the time they were six or seven, it became clear that we needed two rooms otherwise Daddy Nerd became very cranky waiting for a turn to use the bathroom! So, how we traveled initially morphed into how we intended to travel in the future.

For new DVC memberships, prices start at $195 per point (excluding any promotions).

DVC Calculator

Using Disney’s handy-dandy calculator for 7 days of travel per year, the tool recommended that we purchase somewhere between 250-275 points. As for how we intend to travel, we would either need two studios or a 1-bedroom villa (assuming we plan to stay at a DVC property) at a minimum. Disney has gotten creative with space and there are sometimes two bathrooms in a studio and/or a 1-bedroom, though not always.

After messing around with the points a bit, we settled on 200 points:

Disney DVC
DVC Calculator Example

This would allow for +/- 6-7 nights in a 1-bedroom villa or more than 11 night in a studio and meets our goal of about one week-long trip per year. We are going to assume we can squeeze seven nights out of these points.

New Disney DVC property deeds expire about 50 years after the resort is completed. Current DVC properties have an “expiration date” between 2042 and 2070.

The cost for our 200 points at the Riviera with a deed expiration of 2070 is $36,000 reflecting a $3,600 discount for the current promotion PLUS $1,662 in annual dues.

When our family travels to Disney World, we have traditionally stayed in a Moderate Resort Hotel (though as we discuss, we are big fans of the remodeled Disney Pop Century Resort). Our Nerd family tends to travel in the off-season and with a decent package, we figure we are paying roughly $220 per night (including tax) at a Moderate Resort like Port Orleans or Caribbean Beach per room. Sometimes we squeeze into one room, but let’s price it out with two rooms or $440 per night. If we stay at one of the nicer (in our opinion) Value Resorts like Pop Century, let’s assume $180 per night or $360 for both rooms. This excludes more heavily discounted promotions.

So is Disney Vacation Club worth it?

Well…as we would “normally” travel, we would spend anywhere between $2,520 and $3,080 per year. DVC would cost us $1,662 in annual dues plus – and I am being generous here – $720 for 1/50th of the DVC cost for a total of $2,382. BUT WAIT – THERE’S MORE! In order to get this discount, you must pay for 50 years of vacations up front.

NOTE: Now, we Disney Park Nerds are no financial geniuses, but we understand that paying for something today that we intend to use in 45 years comes at a cost since we can assume $1 today is worth a whole lot less in the future. For example, if you spent $1 in 1975 (45 years ago), it would take $4.95 to get the same purchasing power in 2020.

Disney DVC points are no stranger to inflation. The points required for a night do vary – generally they go up and the annual dues vary – again, generally they go up.

Given the assumption that prices will increase, we feel it’s prudent to think to look at the cost of the vacation over a 25-year period (this may even be longer than would make sense given historic price increases). In this scenario, DVC will cost $1,662 in annual dues and $1,440 for 1/25th of the DVC cost for a total of $3,102.

Yeah, but is DVC still worth it?

This is a very subjective question for a lot of reasons. Our Nerdy father-in-law would probably never take a vacation without a timeshare. The idea that it’s “paid for” helps him mentally get through the hurdle of “cost” when traveling. For him, he now feels he must go on a vacation or he will lose the money he spent. And this alone makes it “worth it”.

There are a lot of other factors to consider with DVC – including limitations on availability, when/where you can make reservations, inability to secure dates you want, etc. When you are paying as you go, you have tremendous flexibility but you are missing things like a kitchen or a nicer room int he form of a 1-bedroom villa than your might otherwise book.

For us Nerds, we could never quite get it to pencil out especially with the annual dues. We know many people who are DVC members and they love it! In the end, the “worth it” analysis comes down to the intangibles more than the cost. The cost – the actual cash expenditure – seems to make this a conversation worth having. Those intangibles become the deal-maker or deal-breaker depending on your personal preferences.

What About DVC Resale?

There is an entire market out there with people selling their DVC timeshares and we don’t have enough room to cover the ins and outs of this. However, we definitely encourage anyone considering a resale to do their research thoroughly. There are properties for sale in the +/- $50 per point range though you will want to check when the points are available as members can borrow into future years. The expiration of the deeds will vary as will the dues per point. Undoubtedly, there are good values to be had if you decide that DVC is for you and your family.

The DVC Experience without the Commitment

We Disney Park Nerds like a lot of the aspects of DVC, but the lack of flexibility and our ever-evolving travel habits have prevented us from pulling the trigger. A terrific alternative is renting points. We have rented points from friends who are DVC members and we’ve had great experiences with David’s Vacation Club Rentals; a reputable firm that purchases points from DVC members and manages the reservation for the general public. Renting through David’s has allowed us to experience the fun and variety of a number of properties while not committing to a 50-year membership. Standard rates are $19 per point, though there are often pre-booked deals that can bring the cost down substantially. Check it out!

Don’t Stress…it’s Disney!

No matter what you decide, remember this is not a calculus exercise and there is not right or wrong answer. Enjoy the journey, enjoy the trip and enjoy the memories. After all, that’s what this is all about!

A DVC Rental – it’s a way to get the experience without the commitment for around $19 per point!

Whether you are looking for an upgraded room at a discounted price or are interested in becoming a DVC member, renting points can be a great option.

As discussed in the Disney Park Nerds’ DVC analysis, we are not sure the money pencils out for purchasing a membership though there are a lot of non-financial factors. The same, however, cannot be said for renting points.

A Quick Run of the DVC Rental Numbers

When buying DVC points and becoming a member, you are paying for an allotment of points each year and committing to annual maintenance dues.

Regardless of what you pay for the DVC points (it’s not cheap), the maintenance dues are generally in the $10 per point range and can go as high as $14 per point or more. Given that you can rent points at places like Dave’s DVC Rental – a popular broker who the Nerds have used on multiple occasions – at a standard rate of $19 per point, this is a great starting point to gauge your interest or upgrade on a vacation by vacation case.

There are a couple of notable benefits to renting:

  • You can rent just the points you need for the trip vs guessing how you want to travel years in advance
  • There are bargains to be had, even at the last minute, when DVC members are trying to use up unexpired points to help offset their maintenance fees
  • You are only paying a slight premium on the points, especially considering:
  • You are paying $19 (standard)
  • The DVC member is likely paying $10-$14+ just in annual maintenance dues on those same points
  • You didn’t have to make a $15k or $30k or $50k up-front investment
DVC rental
Animal Kingdom Lodge with a Savannah View – DVC.

Buying DVC vs Renting DVC

The buying versus renting conundrum comes up constantly in life. We make this decision with our homes, with our cars, and now with DVC. Two main factors are generally considered with this analysis – cost and flexibility. In most cases, it is more expensive to rent because you have more flexibility. Said another way, it is cheaper to buy because you have fewer options.

We don’t find the DVC rental analysis to be the same. As a general view, we see renting points as financially superior because of the flexibility. Rent when you want to rent and if you have year where you don’t go to Disney at all, you’ve just saved the money from that year plus you’ve saved on maintenance fees.

Perhaps one year you need a 3-bedroom villa to accommodate a family reunion and the next year, it’s just two of you and you want to stay at the Disney Pop Century…you may have just saved a bundle. PLUS, you’re not locked into recurring maintenance fees year after year.

The renting DVC is the same Experience

In addition to looking at the numbers, it’s important to note that you will effectively receive the same DVC experience as the “renter’ of points as you might as the “owner” of points. Like any Walt Disney World resort, once room reservations are secured, advanced dining reservations and FastPass+ reservations may be made ahead of time on the same schedule as everyone else.

As you enjoy the property amenities, swim in the pools, dine in the restaurants, you will quickly realize the experience is the same for everyone there. Generally speaking, folks who are Disney Vacation Club members joined because they wanted access to larger rooms and villas that can accommodate the entire family. Guess what? You’ll have the exact same thing!

Want to stay in a studio on the Savannah with a kitchenette? DVC rental can get your there.

Want to spoil yourself at the Polynesian with a great pool and easy access to the monorail for the short trip the Magic Kingdom? DVC rental can help.

You think you want to commit to the next 43 years of a Disney World vacation every year but not sure you want to spend the money? DVC rental is a break-even way to find out.

Final thoughts on DVC

Give DVC Rental a Shot!

A DVC rental is a low risk way to experience membership or to secure a 2-bedroom unit with a kitchen at a fraction of the cost of paying cash to Disney. So, what have you got to lose (well…I guess $19 per point, but it’s worth it!!).

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