DVC FAQ, Part 5: Should You Buy DVC Points New or 'Used'?

July 26, 2015, 6:51 PM · One question folks run into a lot when considering a DVC purchase is, "do I buy direct from Disney, or go to the huge resale market where prices are lower?"

In the past, this question had a pretty simple answer: go resale, unless you want your home resort to be one of the newer properties for which only Disney has points.

Nowadays, it's a more complex discussion. Yes, if you want your home resort, and its extra booking window, to be at one of the newer resorts, then the resale market isn't usually an option, and so you'll buy right from Disney. But these days, resale points come with some caveats.

You see, your DVC points can be used to rent more than just rooms at DVC resorts. Disney divides the options into a set of "collections," including the "Concierge Collection," the "Disney Collection," and the "Adventurer Collection." Points bought from someone other than DVC after March 2011, can't be used at any of those collections. Resale points are, primarily, only good at DVC resorts.

Now, whether or not this restriction matters to you depends a bit on what you want from your DVC membership. Many people buy into DVC to go to Walt Disney World and stay in the larger-than-a-hotel-room DVC properties. In that case, go resale - it's cheaper in some cases by 40% or so.

The "Concierge Collection" includes high-end hotels and timeshare properties outside Walt Disney World, and the "Adventurer Collection" includes vacations with Adventures by Disney. If none of that sounds appealing, then not being able to use them isn't a restriction. I'll point out, too, that using your DVC points on those locations doesn't always make good financial sense.

The "Disney Collection" creates the most argument amongst the DVC owners I know. This collection includes the non-DVC hotels at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, as well as the non-US Disneyland parks in Paris, Tokyo, and Hong Kong. I, for example, own contracts at BoardWalk and Old Key West - but I live just four hours from Disneyland. Disneyland's only DVC, at the Grand Californian, is pretty small and hard to book in the window I'm allotted, and so I tend to use my points to stay in normal hotel rooms at Disneyland Hotel or Grand Californian. This happens a lot in years when I can't get to Walt Disney World, giving me a quickie vacation at Disneyland with points I've already paid for. This doesn't mean I'm making a smart financial decision, though.

Disneyland Hotel

The financial value of these collections varies based on what kind of person you are. Take me as an example. Let's say I pay about $2,000 in maintenance fees for my points every year, and that, all told, they'll get me 11 nights at the Disneyland Hotel during the season I want to go. For me, that's a room rate of about $180/night - which isn't bad. I'm not necessarily getting a huge savings, but my goal wasn't all about savings. For me, it's about getting value from my points in years when I'm not using them to go to Walt Disney World, so "spending my maintenance fee" at Disneyland in a more-or-less break-even fashion works out.

Of course, I'm not factoring in the initial purchase cost of my points - but I'm OK with that. I'm also not factoring in the "opportunity cost," meaning the money I could get by renting my DVC points to someone else. In most cases, DVC members can make more renting their points than the value they'd get by using the points to book a hotel room. That is, my points would earn me enough to book my Disneyland hotel room in cash, with money left over. The thing is, I'm not going to rent my points. I find it a hassle that I just don't want to deal with, and it's a sketchy practice (technically not permitted by Disney) with which I just don't want to trouble myself.

But that illustrates the different sides of the "resale or direct" argument. With resale, you lose flexibility - that some would argue you don't need, and others would argue is financially nonsensical. Put next to the 30-40% savings resale offers, and that flexibility starts to look less financially attractive. For what it's worth, I bought resale pre-2011, meaning I got the best of both worlds - cheaper points and no restrictions. That said... I've never done anything with my points other than stay at Disneyland or Walt Disney World, so I barely use the flexibility I've got. We bought with the intent of going to Walt Disney World most years, and for the most part we've done so.

What will work for you?

Theme Park Insider's Disney Vacation Club FAQ:

Replies (7)

July 26, 2015 at 11:36 PM

Renting points in NOT a "sketchy practice" and it is explicitly allowed by DVC.
What is forbidden in so to make a "commercial activity" out of it: i.e. buying points for the sole purpose of renting them. At the moment, the line is drawn at 20 rentals per year, which is really a lot, requiring thousands of points rented every year.
Members who want to rent their points to offset the maintenance fees when they don't use them themselves are very welcome to do so.
Advertising on a board may take some time and effort, but using a broker is really no hassle at all.

So my opinion is that a direct purchase is better only when:
- you really want the Polinesian points to always stay there
- you want to do a small addon (25-50 points): these are difficult to find with the right Use Year and higher closing costs offset most of the saving of going resale
- you are impatient and cannot wait 3 months to get the points and you are ready to pay thousands more for this

July 27, 2015 at 8:23 AM

We too bought with the express reason to go to WDW. We often get criticized for staying at a non DVC hotel (who can get into Grand Californian unless it is the middle of January, midweek and a studio?)but we know the financial cost but choose the ease of not having to lay down any cash when things can't line up. Just this year we used our DVC for gifts. A wedding gift and an RCI exchange for a dear friend. I love how flexible our membership is and are looking for more points in the future. We may buy resale as we have other points to use elsewhere. Anyone looking to sell Grand Californian points????

July 27, 2015 at 9:42 AM

These pieces are very informative, but I wish they included much more about the financial specifics. Some actual numbers about the current resale market and current cost from Disney would lend some real weight to this article. This series may be helpful to those that have absolutely no clue what DVC is, but those that have more than glancing knowledge about DVC would gain little from it.

I know you may not want to divulge your own personal finances, but this piece in particular is seriously lacking without some examples.

"For me, it's about getting value from my points in years when I'm not using them to go to Walt Disney World, so "spending my maintenance fee" at Disneyland in a more-or-less break-even fashion works out."

This statement had me scratching my head a bit, because you had mentioned previously that you can roll points ahead and behind so in essence, you only have to visit WDW every 2-3 years. Are you saying now that it's better to use points at essentially a loss than to shift current year's points to future/past years?

"I find it a hassle that I just don't want to deal with, and it's a sketchy practice (technically not permitted by Disney) with which I just don't want to trouble myself."

What's the hassle, and why is it not permitted to allow a "friend" (whether it be a relative, neighbor, or a complete stranger on the internet) to use your points in a year when you're unable? Is there something in the DVC contract that you haven't revealed? The single year resale market is pretty popular, and if Disney thought it was a problem, they would shut it down. In fact, I think Disney likes the marketplace, because it gets potential DVC customers on property for a "test drive" who might buy into the concept based on their experience from purchasing on the one-time secondary market. Is it really a hassle to sell points online? The process seems pretty easy and straight forward, and if you're just looking to break even on your maintenance fee (which you're essentially doing by forcing yourself to stay at Disneyland), then how difficult can it be?

July 27, 2015 at 11:29 AM

"Are you saying now that it's better to use points at essentially a loss than to shift current year's points to future/past years?"

I don't think he is saying that. He was offering a hypothetical and it is possible for him to stay at Disneyland Hotel if he wanted to stay in Anaheim especially since the DVC property at the Grand Californian is impossible to book with a small allotment of available rooms.

The best use of DVC points is stay at a DVC property, but he has options to stay at a Disney Collection hotel. I thought his exchange value was actually pretty good. I own a different timeshare resort and the timeshare/hotel exchange rate is 1 in 4 so I might get 1 night hotel for every 4 nights timeshare. That's a big loss.

He is actually getting 11 nights hotel for 14 nights for his 2 week DVC at BoardWalk and Old Key West, which was valued at $2000 maintenance fee. Of course, he doesn't mention the quality of his DVC points. That's another unknown. Most people just own one week of 7 nights. It is best to move your points to a future year instead of making the exchange.

July 27, 2015 at 5:13 PM

I really like these FAQs. It's great to hear the facts from someone who isn't trying to sell us anything. Unbiased, informative and has heavily influenced my decision regarding DVC. Keep them coming!

July 28, 2015 at 10:56 AM

So, if I bought DVC points from a resale then I couldn't use points for a Disney Cruise? Thanks
Very interesting.
Hard for me to justify giving Disney $20K-$30K for 25 years and never getting it back of course, when I can invest it and grow 5% in a dividend stock even if the stock itself doesn't increase in value. That's a lot of money to then put a $2K per year maintenance fee on top of per year.
I just can't seem to make this justify my $'s.
Resale has been something I thought might make financial sense to me though.

July 28, 2015 at 10:38 PM

To the user above, DVC is definitely not an investment vehicle. Your essentially locking in price for your biggest vacation expense, (luxury) lodging for the for seizable future.

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