In discussing the pros and cons of the Disney Vacation Club, the obvious issue everyone latches on is the sticker shock. Ostensibly, a minimum of $13,000 is required to purchase directly from Disney. Even in an era of economic recovery, a lot of people will see that price tag and drop the subject completely. Make no mistake on the point. To most people, $13,000 is a lot of money.
When I wrote the initial trio of columns about joining DVC, I requested that readers keep an open mind. Today’s article should be the one where you make a final determination on DVC membership. The benefits of direct purchase through Disney as opposed to re-sale purchase via an online broker will be evaluated over the next two columns. And the short answer for the difference is that consumers get more when they buy directly through Disney while they pay much (much, much) less for a re-sale purchase. Let’s evaluate the direct purchase side of the equation in depth.
1. Understand your minimum points needs when you purchase
As I mentioned above and in a previous column, the cheapest way to join DVC through Disney is to buy 100 points, which each cost at least $130 for a Magic Kingdom or Disneyland property. The expense can be as high as $16,500 if you select one of the newer properties, which come with a heftier price tag of $165 a point.
I have noticed a couple of people on social media and in the comments point out that they can purchase as few as 25 points. Alas, that option is only available for current DVC members. Here is an updated list of current promotions that confirms the difference in minimum points purchase for new owners as opposed to existing ones. Since this conversation is focused toward people considering joining rather than current members seeking to upgrade, the fact remains that 100 points is the minimum to join, at least through direct Disney purchase.
What you must determine is the fewest number of points that you will need to enjoy DVC membership. I am firmly of the opinion that you should purchase the fewest possible, at least until you fully understand the program. After all, once you have joined, it’s easy to upgrade in 25 point increments afterward. Your mileage may, can and should vary on the points splurge, though. Pertinent questions to ask yourself prior to purchase are how often you plan to visit the park, your age, whether you have members of your immediate family who can make use of it if you do not, and how comfortable you are paying annual maintenance fees.
2. Know that you can try before you buy
If you plan to visit more often, you probably need more points. You are probably surprised that I did not add “definitely” as the qualifier. The reason why is that there are services on the web that will “rent” points to non-DVC members as well as DVC members. Dave’s DVC is such a business (editor's note: at the time of publication of this article, we have no affiliation with Dave's DVC). For $14 a point, you can have a current member make a reservation in your name, and the transaction will be protected by its facilitator (someone named Dave, in this example). I actually suggest this methodology for people who want to sample DVC membership before joining, as there is effectively no difference during your stay save for the fact that you do not receive any of the DVC membership discounts at the various stores and restaurants. A DVC membership card is required for them.
3. Learn the advantages to a direct DVC purchase
Prior to 2011, people who bought resold DVC membership were entitled to virtually identical advantages than those who purchased directly from Disney. Obviously, the company was not crazy about the way that such behavior ate into their bottom line. Since real estate laws govern over all timeshare transactions, Disney could only alter so many aspects of membership. Currently, there is one massive advantage for direct purchase owners...