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Welcome to the third in a series of articles introducing newbies to Disney Vacation Club. Many vacationers, especially Orlando vacationers, shudder at the mention of a timeshare. And while DVC is a timeshare, it’s unlike a traditional timeshare in almost every way. This series of articles will outline the basics of how Disney Vacation Club works, how to become a member, and how to book stays at a Disney Vacation Club resort. If you missed Volume 1: Timeshare Basics, we talked about timeshares in general and how Disney Vacation Club is a timeshare but is also very different from a typical timeshare. In Volume 2: DVC Basics – All About Points, we delved into the points system that DVC uses to book accommodations. If you haven’t read those articles yet, I’d recommend you go back and read those first and then come back here.
Now that you know all of the basics of the points system, the next step is to make sure you use your points effectively and don’t lose any of them.
Lose points, you ask? How is that possible? First, it’s important to understand that when you buy a DVC contract, for say 100 points, that means you get 100 points every year to use for accommodations. You’ll get 100 points deposited into your DVC account every year for the entire term of the contract. This is called an annual allotment, and you can’t “lose” this – it is contractually guaranteed that you’ll get your allotment every year. But that means you have 100 points to use, and if you don’t use them to book DVC rooms, you may in fact lose them. You actually have two years to use your annual allotment of points, and if you don’t use them within that time period, you will indeed lose them. They effectively “expire” two years after they are allotted to you.
I’ve simplified things a bit to get us this far, so now let’s fill out the details of how and when points are allotted to you. When you purchase your contract, whether directly from Disney or via resale, the contract has an assigned “Use Year.” The concept of a Use Year is important to understand because it underpins the expiry timing of your points.
We’ll start with an example to show how Use Years work. Let’s imagine you bought a 100-point contract with a June Use Year (sometimes abbreviated UY). This means that every year, on June 1, you receive your annual allotment of 100 points. So on June 1, 2023, you receive 100 points. You can use these points to book any DVC accommodations with a check-in date of June 1, 2023 or later, and a check-out date of June 1, 2024 or earlier. This is your Use Year, and the points can be used any time during this Use Year.
On June 1, 2024, you’ll receive another allotment of 100 points which can be used for accommodations between June 1, 2024 and June 1, 2025. And this will continue every year until your contract expires. (Note that contract expiry dates can vary, but the earliest possible contract expiry date is 2040, so you don’t have to worry too much about it right now.)
As we saw last month in Volume 2, you can use these points to book any combination of rooms and room types that you need, within the use year in which the points were allocated.
But wait, you say, what happened to the 2 year expiry you talked about earlier? This is where the concept of banking comes into play. If you don’t plan to use all of your 100 points by the end of their Use Year, you can “bank” them, which means you save them and can use them in the next Use Year. So if you don’t plan to use those 100 points that you got on June 1, 2023, you can bank them into your 2024 Use Year. That means you now have 200 points available to book DVC rooms between June 1, 2024 and June 1, 2025.
You can bank any amount of points from the current Use Year into the next Use Year. So if you used 81 points out of your 2023 Use Year, you can bank the remaining 19 points into the 2024 Use Year, and you’d have 119 points to use next year. This allows for significant flexibility since the vacation you’re going to book is hardly ever going to add up to exactly 100 points. Whatever points are left over can be used the next year.
I’ll stop here to say that there are certain restrictions and deadlines regarding banking points, and I’ll talk about them a bit later. DVC has to keep the points available somewhat balanced throughout the year so that accommodations are utilized to their fullest extent and to make sure that rooms are available when members want to book. It’s a delicate balance and sometimes gets out of whack, but the rules for banking aim to make the system fair while still working well for members.
So let’s take your example 100 points you received in your 2023 Use Year, and look at what happens when you actually book a DVC room for your trip. We’ll say you want to book a studio for 5 nights, and the cost of that room is 22 points per night. That totals 110 points. But you don’t have 110 points, you only have 100 points! There are two options available to you. Option 1 is to book only 4 nights and use 88 of your 100 points. You can then bank the 12 points to next year, so you’ll have 112 points and can book those 5 nights next year. That’s great, but what if you really wanted to go for 5 nights this year? Well, you can, by borrowing 10 point from next year to book that trip.
Borrowing points essentially works like the reverse of banking. Instead of pushing points from this Use Year into next Use Year, you are instead pulling points from next Use Year into this Use Year. So in our example above, you can borrow 10 points from your 2024 Use Year to book that reservation that requires 110 points. Now you get your 5 nights, but next year you’ll only have 90 points to use instead of 100.
With the ability to both bank and borrow points, the DVC points system allows for a lot of flexibility in how you use your membership. With your 100 point contract, you could theoretically bank 100 points to 2024 and then borrow 100 points from 2025 and have 300 points to spend on a huge family reunion in 2024 where you could book multiple DVC rooms for your family members. Or you could spend those 300 points and get one of the ultra-cool (but ultra-expensive) Polynesian Bungalows. It’s totally flexible, and totally up to you!
Just like there are restrictions for banking points, there are also restrictions for borrowing points. The main thing to know is that banking or borrowing is an irreversible process. In other words, it’s final. There’s no undoing it once it’s done. You can, of course, cancel your reservation within the cancellation windows, and you’ll get back all of your points, but any points that you’ve banked or borrowed will stay in the use year of that cancelled reservation. They do not go back to their original use year.
The second restriction to be aware of is the deadline for banking. Points can be banked only during the first 8 months of their Use Year. For our example contract above with a June Use Year, points must be banked by January 31. Come February 1, those points are locked into their Use Year and will expire at the end of that Use Year if not used. So the banking process does take a bit of advanced planning. If you do forget, and aren’t going to be able to use those points, one way to recover their value is to rent them via DVC Rental Store where you can receive up to $19.00 per point. You can also make reservations for friends or family to use your points, or if all else fails, you can give them to me!
Now that we’ve introduced you to the Disney Vacation Club concept, are you excited to learn more? If you’re interested but not ready to buy into DVC just yet, I recommend trying out the DVC resorts and see if they’re for you. If you’ve always stayed at the All-Stars, a DVC resort can make a big difference in your vacation. To find out just how big of a difference, and whether you think it’s worth it, you can rent DVC points for your next Disney trip. This gives you the opportunity to stay at a DVC resort just like a DVC member, but without buying into the system just yet. If this sounds like a great idea, contact our friends at DVC Rental Store to book your next resort stay in one of the many DVC resorts at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, or Hilton Head Island, Vero Beach, or even Hawaii! If you’re in love with this idea and think you’re ready to buy in, get the best deal on a DVC contract from DVC Resale Market, which is staffed by many former DVC cast members who know the ins and outs of buying into DVC.