How We’re Staying at Disney’s Polynesian Resort For Free!
Featured photo credit: Csaribay at English Wikipedia
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I have been SO anxious to make this post! I can hardly believe it still, that we are really going to stay at The Polynesian for free! On our last trip (which I posted a little about here), we did the character breakfast at Ohana on our last day before flying out. We were blown away by the property of The Polynesian, which is a deluxe Disney resort right on the Monorail in the Magic Kingdom area. The lush tropical landscaping truly made you feel like you were walking into paradise. My husband said we could go back to Disney whenever we could afford to stay there. HA! Surely he knows how competitive I am and I took that as a challenge. I already knew about renting DVC points. But as I learned more about leveraging credit card loyalties for travel, I realized I could really make this happen!
So how is this happening? How are we going to stay at the Polynesian with NO out of pocket cost? Here’s exactly what we did, step by step. If you haven’t read this post yet on travel hacking for beginners, you may want to check that out first. We started pursuing this about 18 months prior to our trip. If you aren’t familiar with what “renting DVC points” means, let me explain. DVC stands for Disney Vacation Club, which is Disney’s timeshare program. When members are not going to use all their points in the allotted time frame, they will “rent” them out to people like you & me. You can use those points to stay at Deluxe Disney resorts for a considerably lower price than booking direct through Disney. After some quick customer support, I found out that DVC Rental Store codes as “travel” to credit card companies. Meaning any fixed value card that gives rewards in the form of erasing travel purchases would work. They also informed me that I could use multiple cards to make payments on our room. BINGO! That meant I could not only get a discount on our room with points but ACTUALLY pay for the whole thing! Is this real life?! DVC Rental Store is a very reputable 3rd party to rent points through rather than taking a risk of finding someone independently online and hoping they are honest. Another important point is that all taxes and fees are included in the price. You can use their DVC Points & Cost Calculator to find out exactly how many points you’ll need to rent, how many points are needed for various resorts, and the exact price for it! If you have more questions about renting DVC points, their FAQ page will answer everything.
We used the Capital One Venture credit card reward bonus under my name and another under my husband’s name. At the time, the bonus was 40,000 miles for meeting the minimum spend of $3,000 in 3 months. Add on 2 miles per $1 and this minimum spend gave us over 46,000 miles each. To be specific we redeemed 46,938 & 46,361 points by making a payment to DVC Rental Store for the exact amount that those miles would erase on each card.
We also used Chase Ultimate Rewards points to complete payment of our resort. The Chase Sapphire Preferred card was the first card we got when starting this journey to pay for Disney on points & miles. Chase UR are so valuable in that they can be redeemed for travel through their website (which makes your points worth 25% more by the way), transferred to one of their many travel partners, or used as cash back. Gabe & I had both received the bonus which at the time was 50,000 UR points for meeting the minimum spend of $4,000 in the first 3 months. Because of Chase’s “5/24” rule (will only approve if you have no more than 5 cards opened in last 24 months) we also pursued the Chase Business Ink Preferred to accumulate as many UR as possible. Not all card issuers have this rule so going through Chase cards first is a common strategy! At the time the offer was (and currently still is) 80,000 UR points for meeting the minimum spend of $5,000 in the first 3 months. We have a direct sales distributorship that we are both on, so this enabled both of us to get this business card & bonus. Basically, we earned LOTS of Chase points up front, and used the cash back option to cover the remaining cost of DVC rental. We still had lots of Chase UR points left after this and used some of them to take this trip to Niagara Falls and Ann Arbor! As of this posting we still have tons of UR points in our account for future trips! *MY PRECIOUS*
Let’s recap. Our DVC Rental for a standard deluxe studio villa (which sleeps 5) at the Polynesian required 118 rental points. The Polynesian is a very popular resort and if you want to find availability, it’s best to be ready to book when their 11 month booking window opens. September is the cheapest month to rent DVC. When booking 7-11 months out at a Premium Deluxe resort, the cost is $18 per point. Some quick math will tell you that the cash price for our rental came to $2,124 for 7 nights. (For your reference, a quick search on Disney’s direct site shows a rate of $544/night plus taxes/fees for a regular standard room at the Poly in Sept, daggum!) We elected to add the optional points protection as our trip is smack in the middle of hurricane season, which came to an additional $207. Another great perk to add about DVC Rental Store is that they don’t require full payment up front but rather a deposit of $11 per point rented, and the remainder is due 45 days prior to arrival. On the morning of the 11 month window I did an availability request for the Polynesian and within 2 hours I had a reservation secured. I used points from our 2 Capital One Venture cards and cash back from our bank of Chase UR points to completely pay for this rental. This was done by putting the exact amount on each card I had the points for on that card to cover, then erasing once the charge posted. Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo it was done! Our agent Lindsay at DVC Rental Store was exceptional, she was very patient and answered every question I had in a timely manner. The whole process may sound complicated but it really was easy to go through!
That’s it! We leave very soon for this free 7 night stay at The Polynesian Deluxe Villas! It’s our bucket list resort, it’s still surreal that we are pulling this off so cheaply. I can’t wait to update you all on the rest of our trip details! When I get home I will outline all our out of pocket costs for room, flights, park tickets, stroller rental, and food. I’m shooting to keep this trip under $1k total out of pocket! I can tell you that our room, flights, and park tickets cost LESS THAN $300 TOTAL! What?! I’ll have all those details once we return from our magical trip! Like my Facebook page, follow me on Pinterest, and stay tuned to the blog for more! Also be sure to sign up for my email list on the left hand side of your screen!