Do you own a timeshare but aren’t traveling? Or maybe you’re still not sure how to use your new timeshare. Did you bank your timeshare week with an exchange company for the first time and don’t know what to do? Here’s advice on how to make the most of your timeshare from a veteran timeshare owner.
“Owning a timeshare and traveling the world this way is beautiful, but it’s also complicated. As a timeshare owner of 17 years, I know that the learning curve is steep. Add into the mix travel complications and flight disruptions, and traveling can be difficult right now,” said Monica Fish.
“Over the years, I’ve seen first-hand people struggle to understand timesharing and how to make the most of a timeshare ownership. I see the same handful of questions asked over and over again in online owners groups,” Monica said. “Now, more than ever, owners need help navigating the timeshare world without being asked to pay for another service or product.”
Ways to Maximize Your Timeshare
Even though timeshare owners are historically the first to return to vacationing after travel disruptions, the pandemic has created a unique set of challenges for these 9 million U.S. travelers. According to the timeshare industry group American Resort Development Association (ARDA), timeshare owners live an average of 1,000 miles from their home resort.
In a pre-pandemic world that most likely meant a plane ride to their timeshare, but with airlines battling staff shortages, and rising airfares even timeshare travel is looking different now. So if you’re a timeshare owner looking to make the most of your timeshare here’s my best tips.
1. Rent Out Your Unused Timeshare
Timeshare ownership can be boiled down to pre-paying for your vacation accommodations. So when you don’t use it, you’re throwing your money away. But what can you do when you can’t travel or don’t feel comfortable flying to your resort? Renting out your timeshare is an opportunity that many owners don’t know about.
“Just like the timeshare resale market, a huge secret not shared with the vast majority of owners is the option to rent their timeshare out to other travelers,” says Brian Rodgers, who runs Timeshare User Group (TUG), the oldest and largest timeshare owners group and advocacy organization.
“For those who haven’t used their timeshare in ages and don’t want to pay for a membership to a timeshare exchange company to deposit to their week, renting it out is an outstanding alternative to cover some or all of your annual maintenance fees,” Brian continued.
If you know that you’re not going to use your timeshare this year or next, list your week for rent with your home resort, or one of the most popular and trusted timeshare rental sites like Timeshare Users Group, Redweek or Go-Koala. TUG offers a comprehensive, free guide on the ins and outs of successfully renting out your timeshare for people looking to rent theirs out for the first time.
2. Salvage Value for You Week Even With a Last-Minute Change of Plans
Whether you need to cancel your vacation or your renter does, there are still ways to get value for your week, even at the last minute. There are more vehicles than ever to get another renter, and the largest timeshare exchange company, RCI, allows you to deposit your week as late as 24 hours before your check-in date. Even at this late hour, you’ll receive some credit for it to apply to a future vacation.
That’s why it is more prudent than ever to join the timeshare exchange company affiliated with your home resort so that it’s all set up and in place if you need to change your vacation plans at the last minute.
3. Join a Timeshare Exchange Company
In the world of complicated travel, joining a timeshare exchange company acts as another form of travel insurance for timeshare owners. For a small annual fee, this membership allows you to save your already paid for vacation week in their system and exchange it for another vacation at thousands of resorts in their network up to two years from your deposit.
Also, suppose you’re not comfortable flying and want to plan your vacation at a resort closer to home. In that case, a timeshare exchange company like RCI, Interval International, 7Across, Trading Places, Platinum Interchange and RTX, facilitates those swaps for timeshare owners.
Free tutorials about RCI, owners Facebook groups, or Timeshare User Group’s discussion boards can speed up your learning curve if you’ve never used a timeshare exchange company before. You can learn about timeshare exchange company from fellow timeshare owners who have been using these systems for years or even decades.
If you rented your owned week out, there are still ways to leverage your timeshare ownership for affordable vacations, especially if you decide to travel at the last minute. Ask your home resort about space available programs at their sister properties and make the most of your exchange company membership by booking their last-minute vacancy deals. For example, you can secure a room at a timeshare resort for as low as $300 a week with no need to use your deposit credits with these 45-day out deals.
4. Consider Other Destinations for Your Trip
If your pre-paid timeshare vacation is going unused and you’re spending money on other vacation accommodations, it’s like you’re double spending on vacations. Owners might be surprised with all the destinations and resorts in America and around the globe that you can travel to by exchanging their timeshares.
While the two largest timeshare exchange companies in the world don’t have an affiliated resort in every single country or city in the world, they offer a wide variety of options for vacations. RCI has 4,200 affiliated resorts in over 110 countries and Interval International’s network consists of more than 3,200 resorts in over 80 nations.
With most timeshare resorts outside of urban destinations, timesharing remains a match for the millions of Americans who are still favoring nature destinations with outdoor, social-distance friendly activities.
For example, members can visit 70% of America’s National Parks by exchanging their timeshare with RCI. There are 277 total RCI affiliated resorts near 44 U.S. National Parks such as Shenandoah National Park, Florida Everglades, and America’s most popular National Park, Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee.
You’ll also find timeshares in some of the most popular U.S. urban vacation destinations like Nashville, New York City, New Orleans, Waikiki, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Austin.
Suppose you’re looking to plan an international trip for future travel. In that case, timeshare exchanges can also take you around the world, such as Banff National Park in Canada, the Caribbean, Mexico, Japan, Greece, Spain, and even to the European filming locations of Outlander and Harry Potter.
If You Need To Exit Your Timeshare, DIY It!
Your timeshare blues may have turned into financial hardship during these difficult times. In that case, there are proven ways to end your timeshare ownership yourself without paying high fees.
“Consumers should exercise extreme caution when doing business with third-party companies who guarantee they can get you out of your timeshare because their promises are often too good to be true,” said Robert Clements, vice president of regulatory affairs at ARDA-ROC, the legislative arm of timeshare industry group ARDA.
“It’s best to avoid these ‘timeshare exit companies,’ which require large upfront fees and most likely will not be able to deliver on their promise of getting owners out of their timeshare. Instead, always go to your timeshare developer, resort management company, or homeowners’ association first to discuss what kind of programs they have in place for owners who want to exit,” he continued.
If your timeshare has a low resale value, turning it back to your home resort is often the cheapest and fastest way to end your ownership. If your timeshare resort doesn’t have deedback programs, you can easily list your paid-off timeshare on the active timeshare resale market yourself.
For example, Timeshare Users Group has completed over $34 million in completed sales connecting buyers and sellers in their marketplace. If you’d like to list your timeshare for sale, it is included in their reasonably priced $15 annual membership.