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The Disney Vacation Club (DVC) is a type of timeshare program run by The Walt Disney Co. that lets members exchange Vacation Points — which they purchase — for hotel rooms, villas and suites at Disney resorts.
Some of the biggest Disney fanatics love it, as there can be outsized value for those who maximize redemptions at official DVC resorts every year of their contract. That said, it’s far from a good deal for most people. For instance, members have been caught off guard by annual dues increases that aren’t exactly well-advertised.
But it’s not all about money, and by providing opportunities and experiences that you otherwise can’t get anywhere else, DVC can offer benefits beyond just financial savings. So with that, here are the pros and cons of Disney Vacation Club.
Pros of Disney Vacation Club
The upfront costs (at least $32,550 in 2023) and risks are high, but even those who either breakeven or lose money might still come out “ahead” given the other DVC benefits, many of which are pretty underrated.
Rentals are large and luxurious
Rooms, suites and villas are generally more spacious and have more amenities than standard hotel rooms.
Discounts and freebies on other Disney lodging
While NerdWallet doesn’t recommend redeeming points for Disney trips outside the official DVC portfolio, DVC members can find steep discounts if they book such trips in cash.
Discounts on dining, shopping, tickets and tours
DVC members get discounts at hundreds of restaurants and shops. Discounts are usually 10%, but they're occasionally higher. DVC members can also find discounts at after-hours theme park parties, backstage tours, and on activities like golf and dessert cruises.
See the entire list of current DVC discounts.
Disney occasionally surprises members with small gifts, like pins, buttons and beignets.
Access to DVC member lounges
DVC has a few members-only lounges sprinkled throughout Disneyland and Disney World. Perks vary by lounge, but you might find free refreshments, premiere views and rare Disney memorabilia.
Members-only events and trips
You might snag a reservation to Moonlight Magic, an after-hours party limited to DVC members. There are also paid DVC-only trips including cruises, which often sell out.
» Learn more: How to save on your first — or next — Disney vacation
Cons of Disney Vacation Club
Aside from the huge upfront cost, these other pitfalls don’t necessarily have a dollar figure associated with them.
DVC is way more expensive than most other timeshares
According to the American Resort Development Association, which is a trade association representing over 350 companies within the timeshare industry the average price of a timeshare transaction is $23,940. Considering Disney's minimum upfront cost to buy is well over $30,000, other timeshare companies out there look like a deal. Of course, you might argue that Disney's quality and service is far superior. But just realize that the Disney surcharge is real.
Redeeming beyond DVC properties is a terrible deal
Since the non-DVC resort redemptions end up devaluing your points, such redemptions should be limited. If you love Disney but would rather get your fix at an international park, skip DVC.
While you can bank and borrow points from either last year or next year, the process comes with its own rules and limitations. Generally speaking, plan on using your allotment of Vacation Points each year — as points otherwise expire.
You’re committed for decades
DVC contracts are long. You could give your contract to friends or family later in life, but it can be a hassle and warrant additional financial concerns.
Selling your contract typically comes at a loss
If no one wants your DVC contract “gift,” then you may be able to sell your DVC points. That’s also complicated. DVC reseller website DVC Resale Market has nearly 800 resale listings available, where many properties sell for discounts of 50% or more. Reselling also involves other selling costs (e.g., a licensed real estate broker).
Further, anyone who's on the financing deal can only transfer ownership once their mortgage loan is paid in full.
Renting Disney Vacation Club points can be complicated
Perhaps you’re not vacationing this year. If so, you can rent out unused Vacation Points to someone else, as long as it’s not for commercial purposes (Disney has a policy against a “pattern of rental activity,” though rentals every once in a while are OK). There are plenty of third-party DVC rental websites, but while you’ll recoup some costs of unused points, you’ll still usually come out in the red.
After all, buyers expect to snag Vacation Points at a discount and these websites take a cut of profits. The going rate that major DVC rental websites pay owners tends to be about $18 per point.
Your heirs are likely saddled with paperwork when you die
What happens to your DVC contract if you die? While no one has to inherit an unwanted timeshare, it’s not as simple as yours heirs simply ignoring its existence.
If you want someone to inherit it (and they want it too), add that person as a joint owner. But adding their name after the initial contract was set up requires paying a title company or attorney to assist with recording a new deed.
If you die before adding someone to your contract, then your family will need a probate attorney.
Multiple people per contract can get messy
Multiple families might also share one contract to reduce upfront overhead costs and alleviate pressure to take every vacation at Disney (one family could use the points one year, while another family claims them the next).
But contracts binding multiple people can get messy.
Splitting up points in divorces or friend splits can be painful. Disney won’t let you divide your Vacation Points. Though you might divide points and payments in your own, separate agreement, it might be better to use an attorney if you can’t agree.
Have a contingency plan if one party stops paying their share, as you’ll still be on the hook for unpaid dues (Disney doesn’t care who flaked). If your contract’s balance is unpaid for long enough, Disney can foreclose on the deed, which can negatively impact your credit scores.
You might just remove their name from the deed, but that saddles you with their portion of the costs — and it also incurs a fee to change the name on the deed. Even if it doesn’t get to foreclosure levels, one party refusing to pay their share can bring interpersonal fallout, which might be the biggest cost of them all.
The bottom line
DVC is certainly for some people, but it’s not for everyone. NerdWallet got pretty, well, nerdy, with its calculations to understand how much a DVC point actually costs if you join today. Check out those figures over at NerdWallet’s guide to whether DVC is worth it to assess if you’ll find financial savings in joining DVC versus just booking future Disney vacations in cash.
But not every benefit of DVC is purely financial. So despite carrying its fair share of cons, the pros of joining DVC can alone be worth it for some Disney fans.
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