Most of the time, Use Year doesn’t matter much. It doesn’t affect when you can book your trips. No matter which Use Year you have, you can still book a trip for any time of the year as long as you have points for your vacation dates and of course an available room. Typically, DVC members tend to pay attention to Use Year when it comes to banking deadlines or perhaps managing multiple contracts.
However, there are times that you do need to pay closer attention to your Use Year when booking a trip.
Booking at the End of a Use Year
Booking a trip in the last four months of your Use Year can get a little dicey. By this point in your Use Year, you are past your banking deadline. Should you need to cancel your trip, your points are stuck in the current Use Year because you cannot bank them. Since you are already in the last few months of your Use Year, this also doesn’t leave you much time to use those points.
Matters are even worse if you need to cancel your trip under 31 days out from your check-in date. By then, any points from a canceled trip would go into a holding account. Points in a holding account can only be used to book trips that are 60 days out or less from your new check-in date. With room availability being so tight lately, holding account points can be very difficult to use.
Booking a Trip that Crosses Over Your Use Year
Another scenario where Use Year can matter in booking a trip is when you schedule a stay that crosses over your Use Year. For example, if you have a February Use Year, your Use Year starts February 1 each year and ends on January 30. If you were to book a stay from January 28 through February 2, 2024, your trip spans two Use Years (the end of your 2023 Use Year and the start of your 2024 Use Year).
This means that you would need to book the trip as two separate reservations: one with a check-in date of January 28, 2024 and check-out date of February 1, 2024 and another with a check-in date of February 1, 2024 and check-out date of February 2, 2024. This way, you would use your 2023 Use Year points for the first part of the trip and your 2024 Use Year points for the second part of the trip.
You could also call Member Services for assistance in booking a trip like this. The cast members can help link the reservations, so you do not have to change rooms in the middle of your trip.
Bottom line: Most of the time, Use Year doesn’t impact booking a trip unless you need to cancel one that is after your banking deadline, or you need to book a reservation that spans two Use Years.