It’s the age old question of anyone looking into DVC:
Do I buy a direct contract from Disney, or buy a resale contract through an agent?
The benefits of buying resale are obvious – saving money. Often a substantial amount on the initial purchase price. With these savings come some sacrifices though. There are several member benefits (more on these later) which Disney provides to DVC members who bought a contract directly with them. If you buy a resale contract now you won’t get these benefits with it.
The decision we came to was that buying a small contract direct with Disney before buying a larger resale contact was the right choice. Here are a few of the things that helped us make our decision:
How many points did we need and what was the extra cost?
To become a direct member we needed to buy a minimum of 75 points from Disney. Saratoga Springs was our chosen home resort and the difference in price was about $50 per point. So in total, we’d need to pay $3,750 extra for a direct contract. With this amount in mind, we decided to look at whether we’d make this back over the life of the contract.
By showing your blue DVC member card you can currently get 20% off merchandise and 10% off in many restaurants. It’s pretty much the same as the Annual Pass discount, but without always needing to fork out the cost of an Annual Pass.
On our last trip, we saved around $200 on merchandise, and another $200 on food. That could be a saving of $400 on each trip we take without an Annual Pass. This would mean if the discount continues, then in 10 trips time, we would have made back the difference between our direct contract and a resale one.
Discount on Annual Pass prices
If we were to buy an Annual Pass being a direct DVC member would help us here as well. There’s no denying that Annual Passes are expensive, especially since the price increase a few months ago. Despite this, we do like to get one whenever possible so we can squeeze in two (or more) trips in a year. As a family of four, we could save $880 on our Platinum Passes if we used the DVC discount. Or we could save even more…
As we don’t live in Florida a Gold Pass has never been an option for us (this pass is only for Florida residents and DVC members) but being a direct DVC member would make it an option. Being able to buy this pass would save our family a total of $1,680 each year. If this benefit continues it would only take us three years to have made back the difference in price between a direct and resale contract.
These are only available if you bought a direct contract and include access to the DVC lounge in EPCOT, the ability to go to exclusive member events, and have more options for your points, for example using them for a cruise. Top of the World lounge is currently available to both direct and resale members, but who knows what will happen in the future.
I find these benefits are more difficult to quantify as you can’t put a $ amount on them and they’re probably not something that on their own would have made me buy direct. Having said that, we still loved the idea of being able to use the DVC lounge in Epcot, and on our last trip, we must have gone in at least five times.
Member benefits could get better, or harder to get
This isn’t a point I’ve ever really heard mentioned. I know the consensus is that the benefits could get taken away, and yes they could. But Disney could also add new ones. I know it’s less likely, but if new member benefits were added we’d like to at least have the option to use them.
Likewise, it seems to be getting more and more difficult to become a direct member. You used to get all the benefits whether you bought your contract direct or resale. Then Disney decided for anyone new signing up they’d need at least 25 direct points to be classed as a full member. Now that’s gone up to 75 points bought direct. What next? 100 points? 200 points? All your points? I don’t know what their next change will be, but I do know I’d rather not chance it. By buying 75 points direct now, I know I have my blue member card and can make use of any DVC benefits I choose.
Buying a bigger contract
75 points aren’t enough for us to go to Disney as much as we want to, so we need a bigger contract to. To have all our points direct the difference in price would be much greater. For 300 points you’d be looking at $15,000 extra to buy direct. That’s going to take a long time to make back the difference.
There would be some benefits to buying all our points direct from Disney. We’d never have any restrictions on which resorts we can use them in. Any resale points bought after January 2019 can’t be used in newly built resorts, such as Riviera or Reflections. But for us, this isn’t worth the extra cost. We can always bank and borrow our direct points if we want to stay there and by having a lot of our points from resale we get to benefit from the massive savings to be had there.
So was it worth it?
Only time will tell. But for our family, this has been the best way to get exactly what we wanted out of DVC membership. We get all the DVC member benefits we want from our 75 point direct contract, and we can still save a huge amount of money buying a bigger resale contract.
I know the benefits I’ve looked at could be taken away tomorrow, in which case we’ve paid more than we needed to. But I think that’s very unlikely. We’re only talking about three years’ worth of Annual Passes to have broken even. Not to mention that I can’t put a price on how much I love having my blue member card, so I think it’s going to work out ok.