Point management and understanding Use Year is one of the most complicated aspects of being a DVC Member. Every week we see DVC community members asking questions about Use Year. We think the topic is so essential that we highly recommend you, new members, fully understand this concept before they buy into DVC. If you don't understand Use Year and how it sets up the rules for point management and flexible booking, do yourself a huge favor and listen to the show and ask questions in the My DVC Points Community group on Facebook.
Thus far, in our New Member Education Series, we’ve talked about many topics that can confuse veterans and new members alike. Some of these topics include: Picking a Home Resort, How Many Points to Purchase, and The Pros and Cons of Buying Points Direct from DVC vs. Buying Points Resale. Adding to these crucial topics, we’re giving a crash course in USE YEARS on today's show. So what is a DVC Use Year? In a nutshell: it’s the 365 Days (a full year) that you get to use your flexible points. A Use Year is a full 365 days; however, they do not line up with calendar years. Every Use Year has a month that it begins. So a February Use Year starts on February 1st and ends on the following January 31st. However, to understand DVC Use Year and the flexible point systems, you must understand the rules for: making reservations, canceling reservations, banking points, and borrowing points.
Brief History of Fixed Week – Fixed Unit Timeshares
To better understand DVC Use Year, you need to understand the legacy timeshare history and problems. You would buy a fixed week in a fixed unit. The system went by numbered weeks, starting with the 1st Saturday of the year. Consumers had ZERO flexibility. Every single aspect of their vacation stays at their home resort was fixed. Possibility to trade weeks with another member, but before the internet age, finding somebody else and making an equitable trade was difficult.
Owners would stay at the same time every year and often in the same unit at the resort. Your deed would stipulate that you had week 36 in Room 102 on the 4th floor. Same room. Same location. Same week. The developer sold a week for every single unit in the timeshare resort. This system was incredibly inflexible, and consumers hated that. Often contracts were in perpetuity which is a headache in and of itself for succession planning. It led to a network called Interval International so that you could trade intervals with other members.
DVC Revolutionizes the Timeshare Industry with Flexible Points-Based System
Enter into the timeshare market, Disney – with their Disney Vacation Club Membership. This product catered to everything consumers hated about the fixed week – fixed unit timeshare system. DVC reimagined the timeshare by looking at inventory differently. They realized that consumers wanted flexibility in how they could use their timeshares. With DVC, consumers are now afforded the flexibility to change their room sizes, change their dates, change the seasons they travel, and change the length of the vacation stay they require from one trip to the next. DVC affords its members the option to stay at different resorts within the system. The Disney timeshare model even has the option to skip a year here and there, rolling those skipped vacation accommodations into another Use Year altogether.
The flexibility in the DVC system is made possible not by selling a fixed week and fixed unit in a resort – but by using a flexible points system. Each resort has a total number of points that can be sold. Rather than divide the year into weeks, DVC divides the year into seasons and accommodation types. The points needed to stay in a given accommodation type fluctuate with the seasons. Even within these seasons, any given resort can require more or fewer vacation points than other resorts – allowing members to choose to splurge or save points for any given stay. For example, staying over the Christmas break will require more points than the second week of January because it is a more popular season. Staying at the Grand Floridian will require more points than staying at Saratoga Springs for the same period and accommodation type.
Lastly, DVC did away with the timeshare perpetuity problem, setting its contracts to expire after 50 years. Knowing that their contract has a lifespan leaves many members with an odd sense of security, that they won't be trapped in a timeshare forever.
What is a Use Year?
Let’s start our discussion with the official DVC Definition that can be found at https://disneyvacationclub.disney.go.com/faq/use-year/definition/. “Your Use Year is determined at the time you purchase your Ownership Interest in a Disney Vacation Club Resort and marks the time each year when you receive a new allotment of Vacation Points. It affects when you can bank and borrow Vacation Points and sets the deadline for certain vacation decisions”.
Our Definition of Use Year: The 365 days you get to USE your annual allocation of flexible points to make a reservation. However, the concept of Use Year cannot stand alone. You also have to understand the relationship between Making Reservations, Banking Points, Borrowing Points, and Cancelling a reservation fully comprehend the flexible nature of a Use Year.Chad Pennycuff – Curator of Magical Stories at My DVC Points
The very nature of the use year is best explained in terms of the flexible nature of points. We want it to be flexible, but we have to limit how you use your membership. You have 365 nights – a whole year during which you can USE your points to make a reservation. Let’s go through a quick example of how this works by describing what happens when you become a DVC member by buying a contract.
Use Year User Story – Example 1:
You bought 100 points at Riviera. Use Year of February 1st, 2020. Once the contract is loaded into the system, you will get 100 points to USE every 365 Days until the contract expires on January 31st, 2070. Furthermore, our fictional Riviera owners DO NOT get 2070 points – 2069 is their last year of points. The same holds for BoardWalk, Vero, Hilton Head, Boulder Ridge, and Beach Club owners – they do not get 2042 points. Their last year of points is 2041. Your contract loaded into the system shows that you have 100 points allocated for USE every YEAR until 2069. Your last year of points will be issued in 2069 and must be used by January 31st, 2070.
Use Year IS NOT when you receive your points. It’s simply the date you will receive your Disney Vacation Points each year. Your Use Year is determined when you purchase your Ownership Interest in a Disney Vacation Club Resort and marks the time each year when you receive a new allotment of Vacation Points. Use Year affects when you can bank and borrow Vacation Points and sets the deadline for certain vacation decisions.
If you own a 100 point membership contract with a February Use Year, those 100 points will renew on the first day of February, every year, for the remainder of the contract. When you can use these points, is determined by when you want to travel, not necessarily by when the points are annually allotted.
There are only 8 different Use Years in Disney Vacation Club, and they are:
If you are buying your DVC membership directly from Disney, there are usually options of Use Years from which you can pick. If you purchase your DVC contract on the resale market, the Use Year is the existing Use Year of the contract you are buying.
With this, members have 365 days to USE OR LOSE their points before they expire. However, bringing us back to how flexible a product DVC is, you can bank and/or borrow your points to deal with any unused points you may have in a given year. Banking and Borrowing are incredibly convenient when planning for extended vacations or larger accommodation types. You can borrow points from one Use Year to the immediately preceding one, and you can bank points from one Use Year to the next. Use Year affects when you can bank and borrow vacation points and sets the deadline for certain vacation decisions. Don’t worry – we’ll cover this soon.
How does Use Year affect making a reservation?
When, how, and with which points can often be confusing for new DVC members and old DVC members alike! Let’s walk through some tips for trying to book your vacation using your points for the first or the 30th time…
Use Year month has ZERO to do with when you can travel or even make a reservation at a DVC resort. Your booking window gives you the ability to make reservations up to 11 months in advance of your Check-In date at your Home Resort and 7 months in advance of your Check-In date at all other Disney Vacation Club Resorts. It’s the reservation date that determines the Use Year from which the points are deducted.
Looking at our February Use Year again, If checking in on February 15, 2021, for 5 nights – the Points from Use year February 2021 would be used to book the stay. If checking in on January 15, 2021, for a 5-night stay, you would use the points from the February 2020 Use Year to book your stay.
All of your points are actually in your account – they become active on an annual basis as the Use Year begins. There’s no need for you to wait until your Use Year begins to make a reservation! Your reservation dates need to match the Use Year the reservation falls within, provided you have enough points in that Use Year to reserve the desired resort and length of stay.
How Does Use Year Affect Banking Points?
To prevent unused Vacation Points from expiring, you can bank them from the current Use Year to the next. Banked points may not be returned to their original Use Year and cannot be borrowed or transferred. All banking transactions are final and irreversible. Members can bank up to 100% of their vacation points during the first 8 months of their Use Year and 0% of their vacation points during the last 4 months of their Use Year.
How Does Use Year Affect Borrowing Points?
Borrowing is the term used for moving Vacation Points into the previous Use Year to apply towards a vacation in the previous Use Year. As mentioned, Members often bank or borrow points to enjoy larger accommodations, an extended stay, or more than one vacation in a given Use Year. Members can borrow Vacation Points when booking their vacation, whether booking online or by calling Member Services. You can only borrow the exact number of points needed to make the reservation, and all borrowing transactions are final. It cannot be undone. Lastly, borrowed vacation points may not be banked, transferred, or returned to their original Use Year.
How does a Use Year Affect Canceling a Reservation?
The one instance when Use Year does matter is when canceling a reservation scheduled for the last 4 months of the Use Year. Use Year when borrowing points is vital for several reasons. First, the banking of vacation points is not allowed during the last four months of your Use Year. Consequently, there’s less time to reschedule your trip before your points would expire. Also, there may be less availability of resorts and room types to book for the dates you need before the points expire. Second, for canceled reservations within 30 days of the check-in date, points are put in a Holding Account, and expiry coincides with the Use Year of the points used to book the reservation.
Hopefully, this episode has left our members with a more solid understanding of what a Use Year is and how it influences how we can use our DVC points. Next show in the new member series, we’ll be discussing the pros and cons of multiple-use years.
Audio Editing: David Kluver. Producer and Show Notes: Sandy Symianick
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