How DVC Points Work: Everything You Need to Know

Jill Robbins Avatar
image of the pool in front of the grand floridian resort at walt disney world blue water with palm trees and a red roof topped white building
The pool at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. Photo credit: Gwen Kleist

Whether you’re new to the Disney Vacation Club world or you’re a long-time Disney Vacation Club member it’s always good to do a quick review of how it works. While the main need-to-knows don’t change drastically, there are annual changes (price increases) and new property openings as well as returning favorite perks (Moonlight Magic!) that you’ll want to stay on top of. Read on for what we like to call our “How DVC Points Work 101”. We’ll help you understand the ins and outs of using DVC points for your Disney trip.

I’ve been a DVC member since 2018 and I’ve stayed at DVC villas at the following resorts:

  • Disney’s Old Key West Resort
  • Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (both Jambo House and Kidani Village)
  • Disney’s Beach Club Villas
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

The following resorts are still on my bucket list:

  • Disney’s Grand Floridian
  • Bay Lake Tower (Disney’s Contemporary Resort)
  • Disney’s Riviera Resort

So far, Kidani Village and Wilderness Lodge tie for the top spot.

Read More: Disney Saratoga Springs Review

How DVC Points Work: The Basics

Before we dive in let’s review some of the basics of how DVC points work.

The Disney Vacation Club is a flexible timeshare program operated by Disney and designed for people who take frequent Disney vacations (not just to Walt Disney World). This points-based program gives you a very tiny slice, or stake, in Disney real estate.

One of the most frequently asked questions I get when I tell people I’m a DVC member is “How much does it cost?” The answer is “it depends”. Pricing changes based on when you buy and how many points you buy. The initial fee cost our family about $35,000. Then we pay annual dues, which are around $1,000. That entitles us to 175 points to use each year.

SheBuysTravel Tip: It should seem fairly obvious but if you’re not super interested in taking regular Disney theme park vacations then DVC membership probably isn’t right for you. If you want the perks of the Disney Vacation Club without the long-term commitment you may want to try renting DVC points.

view of from hotel  room at Animal Kingdom Lodge walt disney world resort with exotic animals in foreground
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is a deluxe resort hotel where you can literally view an African savanna from your room’s balcony. David’s Vacation Club Rentals offers villa rentals at AKL. Photo credit: Gwen Kleist.

What are the Perks of DVC membership?

Obviously membership has its perks. Many families find DVC villas to be more comfortable than a standard hotel room. Most villas have kitchens and an in-room washer and dryer. The DVC Deluxe Villas are at Disney’s most upscale resorts so if top-tier accommodations are a must-have vacation experience, membership is one way to get it at a better price.

Don’t forget when you’re budgeting, DVC membership just gets you the accommodations. You’ll still need to buy park tickets!

Read More: Walt Disney World Resorts- Value vs. Moderate vs. Deluxe

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How Many Disney Vacation Club Points Do I Need?

The answer to this is also “it depends.” It helps to have a vision of how you want your future Disney vacations to look. How many days do you want to vacation per year? How large is your family? Do you plan to invite others to vacation with you regularly?

Knowing the answer to these questions before you buy is important because it helps determine what you’ll need to aim for. DVC looks different for a couple that vacations one week per year than it does for a family of six who vacations two weeks per year and wants to bring the grandparents.

The person who sells you your initial points and the representative you’ll be assigned once you’re a member will help you decide the number of points you’ll need.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Remember that the DVC rep’s goal is to sell DVC memberships! DVC presentations are friendly and low-pressure but it remains a sales pitch. Do your own research so you’re prepared to share your vacation style.

How We Use Our DVC Points

Our family of four has 175 points to use in our “use year.” That gets us a week – give or take – in a one-bedroom Deluxe Villa at a DVC resort each year. I say “give or take” because points have different values at different times of the year. A room might be 16 points a night during non-busy periods but that same room might be 40 points a night during peak season.

You can flip through the 2024 DVC points chart and the 2025 DVC points chart. If you know exactly what resort you’re looking for it may be easier to pick the specific PDF on this page.

Read More: Is the Disney Vacation Club Worth It?

Is Buying DVC Resale Points Safe?

You can buy points from members who want to unload their membership. You can get some decent deals from motivated sellers, but don’t forget to read all of the fine print before you write a check.

When you buy resale points directly from Disney, you should get full member benefits. Buying them from a third party could leave you without some member benefits, such as merchandise discounts and the ability to use those points to make reservations at new resorts.

In 2021, a new requirement was instituted to be eligible to receive a Disney Vacation Club Membership Card. In order to be eligible DVC membership had to be purchased directly from Disney Vacation Development Inc. The DVC Membership Card gives access to Membership Extras like hotel exchanges, discounts, offers, and special events.

SheBuysTravel Tip: You can also rent DVC points from members directly. We recommend using a reputable third-party service, such as David’s Vacation Rentals.

Read More: How to Rent DVC Points

a serene view of a waterfall at Wilderness Lodge Walt Disney World resort
My home resort is Copper Creek at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, although we’ve stayed at numerous other resorts, too. Photo credit: Matt Stroshane/Disney Photographer

Establishing your Home Resort for Disney Vacation Club

You will be assigned a home resort based on availability when you first buy into DVC membership. When we bought our membership, we were offered Copper Creek Cabins and Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge or Aulani in Hawaii. We chose the former. Your home resort does not change. This is the Disney property that you have a real estate interest in. Your annual dues go towards the upkeep and real estate taxes of this resort.

You can’t pick Animal Kingdom Lodge as your home resort just because you like it. But you can still use your points to stay at the Animal Kingdom Villas or other resorts. DVC members are not locked into staying at their home resort. However, if you do stay there, you get perks, like getting first dibs on reservations.

Read More: Is David’s Vacation Club Rentals Legit?

When Can You Make DVC Reservations?

This question could also be called “How Does the Home Resort Priority Period Work?” Remember how we said you get first dibs on reservations at your home resort? You can book at your home resort 11 months ahead of your desired reservation. Knowing when you can book is a big part of how DVC points work. I recommend marking your calendar or setting a reminder so you do this at exactly 11 months out because this ups your chances of getting what you want.

But what if you don’t want to stay at your home resort? You can book other resorts seven months out.

No matter what your strategy is, I recommend booking as soon as your window opens. My home resort is Copper Creek but my family enjoys staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Instead of waiting until seven months out to book that, I book Copper Creek at 11 months and adjust at the seven-month mark, if another resort is available. I never wait until seven months out. It could mean no room at all for the week we want to visit Walt Disney World!

It is possible to make last-minute plans using DVC points but you might not get the resort or room you want. We once took a deluxe studio room versus a one-bedroom villa because that was what was available. Aside from the busiest periods, your odds of finding something are decent. You can also do split stays, which means dividing your time between two different resorts. Disney will even move your bags.

Read More: Disney Vacation Club Secrets

Understanding Your DVC ‘Use Year’

Your use year refers to the time each year when you receive a new allotment of vacation points. For example, we receive our allotment of points each September, as defined by our contract. Your use year might begin in a different month. Understanding the importance of your use year is a big part of how to use DVC points

Your use year determines when you can bank and borrow points. If you add on to your initial allotment of points, I recommend you align your use years. You don’t have to but it will make it much easier to keep track of your DVC contracts.

interior room view of Polynesian villa overwater bungalow at Walt Disney World Resort with aqua couches and teak colored wood walls
These over-water bungalows at the Polynesian use more points than my family is allocated in a year but they’re great for anyone considering banking and borrowing points to take a larger group. Photo credit: Matt Stroshane/Disney Photographer

Banking and Borrowing DVC Points

Life happens and some years you may not make it to Disney. This is where banking points comes in. Banking your points means rolling them over to the next use year. If you don’t use the points during your use year and don’t bank them by the deadline, you’ll lose those points.

If you find yourself short on points, you can borrow from the next use year. Reasons for borrowing include things such as deciding to take an extra vacation or a longer one. Or you want to take friends or relatives and get a larger villa. You can do that by borrowing points from your next year’s allotment.

If you’re planning a bigger or special trip (hello grand villas and overwater bungalows at the Polynesian!) you could do that by:

  • banking this year’s points to next year,
  • using your “use year” allotment of points, and
  • borrowing points from the following year.

That’s three years’ worth of points to use on one mega vacation. You can also purchase one-time use points if what you’ve got on hand won’t quite cover what you want to do.

One-time use points are not refundable and you cannot bank them for a later year. DVC members can purchase up to 24 one-time use points annually at the currently published member price. They will only be valid for the use year they are purchased in.

You might not bank or borrow every year but it’s important to understand options and deadlines. This is a big part of understanding how DVC points work.

Keeping Track of Everything with Your DVC Membership

Monitoring your points and making sure you understand what you have and what dates are important is on you. Member services are great at breaking things down if you’re unclear. But if you don’t understand the system, you need to ask for help on how to use DVC points.

Here’s a snapshot of my DVC dashboard during 2023:

screenshot of DVC dashboard showing how points are laid out per year

As you can see, I used all my points from use year 2022 and I’ve already used some of the points from 2023. You can’t tell from this, but 14 of my points showing up in use year 2023 are banked from 2022. I can move my 2023 points into the following year, except those 14 that have to be used in use year 2023.

Understanding the points system and how DVC points work can seem complicated. But, it’s not impossible to learn.

What if You Can’t Use Your DVC Points?

One of the big components of how to use DVC points is having a “what if” plan. Banking points will only get you so far down the road. If you don’t use your points, you will eventually lose them.

One option is to gift a stay to someone else. As the DVC owner you can make reservations for family or friends. You can also offer your unused DVC points for someone else to “rent.” There are third-party DVC rental companies that will handle this for you and you’ll be able to recoup your investment versus watching your points go to waste. Just be sure you’re using a reputable company, such as David’s Vacation Rentals.

If you’re not yet a member, you can rent points to check out a DVC property and live in the villas to see if it’s right for you.

Booking Your DVC Vacation is Easy

Making your reservation and “obligating your points” — that’s DVC speak for booking the room with points — is simple. The DVC website has a “book my vacation” calendar that’s similar to the main Walt Disney World or Disneyland reservation sites.

The booking system will know if you don’t have any points available. Make sure you borrow or top up any points before you try to book. The system won’t let you continue through the booking if you don’t have the points available.

Once you make your reservation, your points will go into holding. You won’t be able to obligate them against another reservation or bank them while they are in holding.

Your DVC Resort Experience

You can easily add your DVC reservation number into the Disney World app, My Disney Experience, to manage your plans and link up park tickets you may have purchased.

You can associate a MagicBand or MagicBand+ with the reservation and link a credit card at check-in if you choose. Your room is covered by whatever accounting you used to buy your points. Any credit card you link to your reservation is a convenience for incidentals.

Read More: Everything You Need to Know About MagicBands

How to Use DVC Points Outside Walt Disney World

Up to now, I’ve only discussed using points at Disney World because that’s all I’ve used mine for to date. However, I know I can use these points at other places.

Other Disney Resorts

Eligible members can use points at all resorts affiliated with Disney parks worldwide (including Disneyland Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, and Tokyo Disney Resort; Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort and Disney’s Aulani Resort in Hawaii.

Using DVC Points for Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney, and National Geographic Exploration

You can use points on Disney cruises and other epic adventures. Points don’t go as far and it is unlikely you’ll have enough points in your allotment (even with banking and borrowing) to cover an entire cruise or an Adventures by Disney trip. Compare the cost of a hotel suite for a family of four versus a 10-day international trip with activities and food included and it’s easy to get your head around the difference.

I am currently looking at an 11-night Antarctica and Patagonia exploration cruise with Adventures by Disney (swoon!) that costs 1364 points per person. My family’s entire allotment for points for three years is 525 points so obviously, our points would only cover a small portion of this trip. If we decide to go, we can buy additional points or book with points and cash.

Read More: Complete Disney Cruise Packing List

Interval International

If you want to use points at non-Disney resorts, there’s a selection of Interval International resorts on the DVC website you can book. You’ll find them under Vacation Exchange.

Disney has established strict vetting procedures to ensure you’re getting comparable quality accommodations to what you’d get if you used the points at Disney. The current selection of resorts includes properties such as The Fairmont in San Francisco and the Hyatt Regency Maui, so I’d personally have no qualms about the level of property as compared to Disney.

an overhead shot of bay lake tower at disney's contemporary resort at twilight
If the idea of a Disney vacation of some sort every year, year after year, appeals to you, the Disney Vacation Club is one way to financially plan for your trips in advance and get some great deals. Pictured here, Bay Lake Tower, next to Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Photo credit: Disney World
Jill Robbins is a freelance writer covering lifestyle, travel, health, and commerce. Her writing has appeared in SheKnows, HuffPost, Tripsavvy, Insider, AARP, and other publications. Jill lives in San Antonio with her husband and two youngest kids, although she’s usually somewhere else. You can find out what Jill is up to by reading her blog, Ripped Jeans and Bifocals.
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