As you look at purchasing a Disney Vacation Club contract, you’ll have to make quite a few decisions. Which resort should be your home resort? Is there a use year that will work better with your vacationing patterns? How many points do you estimate needing? However, the most important question you may face is whether to buy direct or resale.
Depending on whom you ask, you will get very passionate and very different answers to this question. A DVC sales guide is going to stress that resale contracts are subject to certain restrictions that were put in place in March of 2011. Many seasoned members will stress that the restrictions don’t really matter while others may disagree- claiming that their unrestricted membership is preferable for the way they vacation.
While I tend to fall in the camp that believes resale restrictions don’t matter when compared to the money saved, I don’t expect you to take my word for it- nor should you. The best thing you can do as a potential buyer is arm yourself with solid knowledge of what the restrictions are and how they might affect you. Only then can you determine for yourself which path is best.
So what then are these certain restrictions? Contracts purchased on the resale market are not eligible to be used when booking reservations in the Concierge Collection, the Disney Collection or the Adventurer Collection. Yikes, right?! Maybe not… This can sound pretty restrictive if you don’t know what each of these collections actually is and how points are used to reserve them. So let’s examine them one by one.
The Concierge Collection refers to a group of resorts (currently 16) located throughout the country (and one beyond). Resorts include The Fairmont in San Francisco, The Manhattan Club in New York City and the lone international offering, The Royal Garden Hotel in London, England. Sales guides wave the Concierge Collection under the noses of potential buyers with promises of being able to use their points for more than just Disney World. While this sounds tempting, there are a few things to consider that your guide may not share. First and foremost, reservations are subject to availability and black-out dates may apply when using your points. Some hotels carry their own restrictions and require a 7-day stay. Each reservation made with points requires a non-refundable $95 transaction fee. To top it all off, there’s this little rule on the DVC member website: “You cannot book and travel on Concierge Collection reservations within the last 4 months of your use year.” In other words, actually using your points on the Concierge Collection is considerably more difficult than using them at the World.
And how does this add up financially? Well- I decided to see. I picked out a hotel at random and priced out a short stay. My scenario included traveling to the Whitehall Hotel in Chicago on November 11th for a three night stay in a Superior Category room. Looking at the points requirement I saw that I’d need to use 180 of them along with paying the $95 fee. Looking only at the yearly maintenance fees of my points (which for this situation we’ll say are $5.70- a rough average of all resorts’ dues) I calculated a cost of $1121.00 for the three night stay. This doesn’t even include the initial buy in cost of my contract. Next I checked out the rack rate for the same room on the same dates. According the Whitehall Hotel website , I can book that room today for my November stay at a total cost of $569.19, taxes included! That’s not even considering the sale rates I might find on other websites or the flexibility I have in booking by using cash. So yes, resale contracts lose the right to use points for The Concierge Collection. But what have you really lost? The right to pay more for the same room doesn’t seem like something I’ll miss.
Looking at The Disney Collection, you’re apt to find a similar situation. The Disney Collection includes cabins on Disney Cruises and standard hotel rooms (in other words- not DVC villas) throughout the Disney properties, including Tokyo Disney Resort, Disneyland Paris, Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and more. Are these locations to which I may want to travel? Absolutely! Am I going to use points for them? Not if I’ve done my homework. While the margin of savings may be smaller since these are Disney owned properties, it seems that once again booking these destinations with cash is more financially sound than using points. In addition, most members have realized that their points are worth even more than the cost of dues I used in my example before. Points can be rented out easily through reputable brokers like David’s Vacation Club Rentals, earning members $11.00 per point. Many members, even those who bought their contracts direct and have no restrictions have found that it makes much more sense financially to rent out their points and use the profits to book rooms in The Disney Collection with cash.
And now we check out the final collection that’s restricted- The Adventurer’s Collection. This collection refers to the very pricey Adventures by Disney experiences around the world. As with the previous two collections, using points comes with a $95 transaction fee and restrictions around the last four months of your use year. Whether you book these trips by cash or points, they don’t come cheap. Many (including myself) may argue that you’d be better off arranging your international travel outside of Disney, period. But for the sake of argument, we’ll compare apples to apples again. My husband and I want to take the Australia trip in late October. To use cash, we’ll pay $16,438 for the two of us. Considering only the annual dues on the 2152 points we’d need to book this trip, we’ll be paying around $12,266. Wait- what? This time it’s cheaper to use points, right? Well… no. Because remember, we didn’t include the original cost of our buy in and we ignored the true value of our points on the rental market. Let’s take the same 2152 points we need for this trip and rent them out. After we take that revenue, pay off our our dues and apply the profit to our trip, we’re paying closer to $5033 total out of pocket. It seems we’d be much better off renting our points and booking this trip in cash! On top of all of that, you’d have to purchase a mighty large contract to even have enough points to book an Adventurer’s Club destination for your family. And that large contract comes with a hefty set of dues each year. Unless you plan on utilizing the Adventurer’s Club regularly (in which case, I’m available for adoption) it’s a no-brainer to book these trips with cash.
Hopefully this English major hasn’t thoroughly confused you with her mathematical calculations. If so, please take a moment to run the figures yourself. While it’s clear that a resale DVC contract can save you loads of money when booking at the World, my experience says that booking rooms in the Concierge Collection, Adventurer Collection and Disney Collection on points is rarely a good deal. When you consider the healthy rental market, the fee attached to using points in these collections and the rack rates for the rooms, you’re apt to find that the only thing a resale contract really restricts you from is using your points unwisely. Considering the fact that your buy-in cost for a direct contract may be double the cost of a resale one, you can see why resale restrictions didn’t scare me away at all.
*The opinions expressed here (while very sound, I think) are my own and should not be construed as financial advice. I was an English major, people.