I will start out with a pre-warning; this article is going to be very dry. It’s all numbers, money, points and maths. In an effort to convince you to keep reading and to soften the blow of all the numbers, I have littered the article with cats in DVC inspired situations. Perhaps you can guess which resort each picture relates to, ya know, to make it more fun? Anyhow, with that out of the way…
When we first become members of Disney Vacation Club, we all know that we are making an investment for the future. In reality, you are pre-paying your Disney vacation accommodations for the years to come. With that, there is always a consideration of when you ‘break-even’ as it were — that point where you have taken enough vacations for your investment to pay off. I distinctly remember the conversation with our DVC rep back when we purchased in 2007. We were staying at Disney’s All-Star Music Resort at the time. Based on how much we had spent, if we were to repeat that trip eight times, we would have paid the same as the investment into DVC we were considering. We both knew that we would be visiting more than eight times in the next fifty years. At that point, DVC was already looking positive.
An extension of that ‘break-even’ moment also comes when we consider how much we would have spent on each vacation. In some ways, it is very complicated to make an accurate comparison. In some respects, it is like comparing apples and oranges. I am sure (in fact I KNOW) that there are many of us that do like to do a little comparing. Whether it is just to see how our investment is paying off or even to be a bit smug about the price you didn’t pay, it can be an interesting investigation. I was particularly interested to see what our recent 14-night vacation in a 1-Bedroom Villa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge ‘cost’. That, along with how it compared to the same vacation if we were paying cash outright.
I am often guilty of ‘forgetting’ how much we pay for our DVC Membership. When it comes to making a reservation, it all comes down to the number of points you are using. Psychologically, it doesn’t feel like you are spending money (at least it doesn’t for me). I’d be interested to know if anyone else feels like that. They are just vacation points. It is quite easy to feel like it is free, but of course, it isn’t. In part, that was why I wanted to write this article. Another reason would be because we are often asked how much DVC actually costs. This way, I thought I could break it down. Buckle up boys and girls; it’s gonna be a long one!
At this point, I do want to say a massive thank you to many of the members of the DVC Fan Facebook Group. Many members shared their expertise and experience. Without their help, hints, and tips, I don’t think I would have been able to put together this article accurately. I am sure that there are a few readers who will point out something else to consider. I welcome that because I am fond of being as accurate as possible. Let me know in the comment section below. Essentially, I pulled together a lot of that advice to do the calculations, to share my results and how I got there. I have tried to lay it out in a way that you could follow along and do the same for yourself.
Our initial investment was $15,840.00, and our contract would be for the full 50 years. So that investment is ‘worth’ $316.80 per year. Effectively the first step is to divide your initial investment by the number of years on the contract. $15,840/50 = $316.80
If a year’s ‘worth’ of our investment is $316.80, with 160 points per year, each point would be $1.98. $316.80/160 = $1.98. Effectively, this means that over the lifetime of our DVC contract, every single point that we receive is worth, or in fact, cost us $1.98.
For our vacation, we used 328 points. 60 were leftover and banked from 2018; 160 came from our 2019 allocation, and 108 were borrowed from our 2020 allocation. This means that from our initial investment, those points cost us $649.44.
Broken down by year:
60 x $1.98 = $118.80
160 x $1.98 = $316.80
108 x $1.98 = $213.84
At this point, you could also argue that the cost may be higher. That is if you consider any interest rates on the initial investment. If you took out a loan to purchase DVC, there is also interest. Adding in any interest that was also paid will add in another layer of complexity to the calculations. If you have accurate records for how much interest was paid, you can also factor that into your calculations.
Of course, along with receiving our yearly amount of points, there is also the annual dues to consider as another cost.
In 2018 our annual dues were calculated as $6.7565 per point. ($1,081.04 in total). As we used 60 points from that year, that means $405.39 of our 2018 annual dues were ‘used’ on this vacation. 60 x $6.7565 = $405.39
The 2019 annual dues were $7.4355 per point, which was $1,189.68 in total, and as we used the full allocation of points (160), the full amount was ‘used’ for the vacation.
We borrowed 108 points from our 2020 allocation, and naturally, we have not received the cost of the annual dues (at the time of writing of course). This part is very much a personal judgment call. In order to make a reasonable estimate of what those points would cost, I took a look at the historical annual dues increases since the opening of the resort.
The rate at which the annual dues increase each year fluctuates a lot, from a +1.3% increase in 2011 right through to a +10.0% increase in 2019. The average increase per year based on the entire history is +4.1%, so it is reasonable to suggest that we could see that sort of increase for 2020. That reasonable estimate would mean that the cost of the annual dues will be $7.7390 per point. We used 108 of those vacation points, which means $835.81 of the 2020 annual dues were used on this vacation.
The Grand Total
Therefore, the total amount of the annual dues which contributed towards this vacation comes to $2,430.88. ($405.39 + $1,189.68 + $835.81 = $2,430.88). If we then add in the ‘cost’ from our initial investment of $649.44, it brings us to a total of $3,080.32. Effectively, this means that our most recent vacation has had a real cost of $3,080.32 in terms of the money we paid in our initial investment and the subsequent Annual Dues.
For The Brits
As we are Brits and for the benefit of our fellow British readers, I have put together a short paragraph to show those numbers reflective of the historical exchange rates. This will also be helpful when looking at how much the vacation would cost us if paying cash, as we would be booking from the UK:
Initial Investment – $15,840.00 with an exchange rate (Sept 2007) of $2.0471 to £1 = £7,737.78. Making the yearly ‘worth’ £154.76 making each point worth £0.97. We used 328 points, which is £317.25 of our initial investment.
Annual Dues –
2018: $6.7565 per point with an exchange rate (Jan 2018) of $1.42 to £1 = £4.76 per point. 60 points used = £285.65
2019: $7.4355 per point with an exchange rate (Jan 2019) of $1.31 to £1 = £5.68 per point. 160 points used = £908.01
2020: $7.7390 per point (based upon a reasonable estimate of dues) with an exchange rate (November 2019) of $1.29 to £1 = £6.00 per point. 108 points used = £647.91
Total cost from Annual Dues = £1,841.57
Cost from initial investment, £317.25 + cost from Annual Dues, £1,841.57 = £2,158.82
It also is worth noting here that this was our first time staying at the 1-Bedroom Villa. Our previous stays had all been in a Deluxe Studio at various resorts. If we had taken this vacation in a Deluxe Studio, we would have used 162 points. Applying the same maths, this would have been $1,484.57 or £1,021.20. I mentioned that because it is worth bearing in mind when looking at that ‘break-even’ moment.
To me, it is fascinating to look at how much each vacation costs us in terms of the money we spend on DVC each year. I was interested in looking at a similar vacation as non-DVC members. Again, I hasten to add that it can be a little bit like comparing apples to oranges when you consider the 1-Bedroom suites at non-DVC resorts are often club level. You also have to consider that these are at full price ‘rack-rates.’ There are so many discounts and offers out there that you could probably find a cheaper example. For the purposes of direct comparison, I will be looking at those ‘rack-rates.’
I do not have a cost of a vacation for the dates we traveled as they have now passed. I am not entirely sure if it is possible to get historical data easily. For the purposes of comparison, I will be looking at booking another 1-Bed accommodation for 2 adults and 1 infant, also for the same dates but in 2020. We arrived on August 31st and stayed 14 nights…
Based upon the current availability, if I were to go and book a 1-Bedroom Suite at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge right now, it would cost us £12,612.00 ($16,269.48 based on current exchange rates). What is really interesting here is that this is actually even more than our total initial DVC investment. In fact, it is whopping 47.9% difference in £! In $ the difference between our initial investment and this single vacation (if we paid in dollars based on the exchange rate and the cost to Brits) is far less shocking, but that comes from the incredibly favorable exchange rate we had back when we purchased.
Comparing our DVC vacation ‘cost’ of £2,158.82 or $3,080.32 to the British ‘rack-rate’ is actually quite alarming. Again, I must stress that it is based on a full price, 1-Bedroom Club level suite. In the interest of fairness, I thought I would look at what our actual ‘cost’ would buy us. The cheapest availability I found was Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort at £1,561.00 ($2,013.69). It was closely followed by Disney’s Art of Animation Resort at £2,076.00 ($2,678.04) and Disney’s Pop Century Resort at £2,226.00 ($2,871.54).
I will be the first to say we benefitted tremendously from investing precisely when we did. If we were looking at investing now, it would be a massively different set of numbers for sure! That may even be an article for another day. Seeing the most recent costs of a Disney vacation (i.e., searching the Disney site as I write) really does drive it home just how valuable DVC is to us and just how lucky we are in that we invested when we did.
Of course, you could argue that there is nothing wrong with Disney’s All-Star Resorts and that it would be cheaper than our DVC vacation ‘cost.’ I think we can all agree that there is a whole world of difference between what the All-Star Resorts and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge offers. I’m not trying to be horrible about All-Star Resorts either. I absolutely loved staying there when we did. They are just very different resorts and experiences. I favour the experience over at Kidani Village.
Phew! That was a lot of numbers and calculations (again). My interest was piqued, so I wanted to share that with you all. I hope it was at least mildly entertaining. What about you? Do you like to calculate how much each DVC stay costs you? Do you compare it to that of the non-DVC stays? Let us know in the comments below!
As always, thank you for reading. If you have enjoyed this, why not come check out the vlog series for our most recent trip:
And you can also find us on our other social media: