It’s annual timeshare maintenance fee season. If you’ve got your bill in the mail and your finances are tight, timeshare rentals can be a great temporary solution to get you through a tough time.
For over 25 years timeshare owners have been renting out theirs and using the money to help cover their annual maintenance fees. If you haven’t looked into timeshare rentals before, today’s options can seem overwhelming. Add into the mix uncertainty around which sites to trust and how to protect yourself, and you might be thinking about staying away from timeshare rentals altogether!
But what if I told you that timeshare rentals are a $2 billion+ annual business in the United States alone? With 92% of timeshare resorts offering some type of rental program, most timeshare owners today have real options to generate real money to cover their timeshare bills.
Timeshare Rentals: An Often Untapped Opportunity for Owners
But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what timeshare industry leaders and real timeshare owners say about the opportunity that timeshare rentals bring.
“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 like RCI to deposit to their week, renting it out is an outstanding alternative to cover some or all of your annual maintenance fees,” Brian continued.
“You get far more freedom with the cash you earn through a timeshare rental than you would with an exchange deposit. If the options don’t suit me, I’m either skipping a vacation or heading off the beaten path; I want to have the cold, hard cash in my hands rather than points to use elsewhere,” said timeshare owner and renter Anthony Martin.
“Rental is a great option for owners who are unable to use their timeshare for whatever purposes. It’s also a great way for the traveling public to be able to experience a timeshare and understand all of the value it brings to their vacation experience,” said Jason Gamel, President, and CEO of the American Resort Development Association (ARDA).
“If owners choose to rent their timeshare, we suggest they do their homework and make sure they’re working with a reputable and effective company. One place they can find such a list is on our website, which includes ARDA member companies who provide those services.”
Timeshare Rentals: By an Owner for Other Owners
Together with my husband, we’ve owned a timeshare in New York for over 15 years. We have partial ownership, which means we own one week a month or 12 weeks a year. That is more weeks that we can use, and our hectic schedules allow, even though we live less than two hours from the resort.
When we bought it, we knew that timeshare rentals would be a big piece of making it work for us. But, heeding my own advice I give to others, this long-term financial commitment is one that our budget could comfortably cover even if we got zero timeshare rentals in a year. And that scenario came true during the global pandemic and put a lot of people in a very rough financial spot.
5 Places to List Your Timeshare Rentals
As Jason Gamel mentioned, it is important to pick wisely from the options today for timeshare rentals! They vary on the amount of effort required from you and the amount of the commission taken. And just like most things in life, there are pros and cons to each one.
Seriously, some options require very little effort on your end at all! So let’s take a look at a short list of the best timeshare rental options.
1. Your Home Resort
We felt comfortable buying a quarter ownership timeshare that came with 12 weeks a year because our resort had a rental program. Have you asked your resort if they have one? While this is one of the easiest ways to secure timeshare rentals, it comes with trade-offs.
- Set it and forget it – Sign paperwork for the year, and they handle literally everything else!
- Resort sources renters, handles payment and cancellations
- The rental amount is usually high as it is priced at “resort-direct” pricing
- High Commission Percentage – Our home resort takes 45% of the total rental amount, meaning we receive only 55%
- Exclusive Rental Agreement – Often, you have to sign a yearly rental agreement saying that you won’t list your place for rent with other companies.
2. Friends and Family
You might have shared stories of your wonderful vacations or even taken friends and family with you to timeshare resorts. You never know who may be looking for a holiday in your social circle or who has been searching for a hotel but is coming up empty-handed. Sharing your opportunity can help someone you know. It’s a win-win, so don’t be shy.
We have rented to family and friends for as long as we’ve owned our timeshare. We have a friend who regularly brings their family every ski season. They love the significant discount they receive by booking through us, and we love that we get more money than renting through the resort’s rental program.
With social media, it’s easier than ever to get the word out about your available rental. Use a visual “ad” in your post to grab people’s attention when they’re scrolling, give them a glimpse of the beautiful resort and highlight exactly how timeshare rentals from an owner save them money.
- Renting to a person you know
- Building a relationship for repeat rentals
- Need to handle payment yourself
- Last-minute cancellations can be awkward with family and friends
Twenty years Randy Conrads loved vacationing in upscale timeshare resorts but didn’t want the long-term commitment of owning one. He saw an opportunity to bring these two groups of travelers together, so he started Redweek.
Now Redweek is an A+ Better Business Bureau rated company with an audience of almost 3 million people listing and booking timeshare rentals. It is the largest online marketplace for “by-owner” timeshare rentals and a favorite of timeshare owners.
They have three different timeshare rentals options, ranging from DIY to full-service, all reasonably priced. There are various options depending on the time you have and your comfort level managing payments.
- Do It Yourself Basic ($30) – for six months, your timeshare rental listing will be advertised on their site. You’ll have to finalize the rental contract and payment details yourself. No commission is taken out of your rental.
- Do It Yourself Verified and Protected ($45) for 6 months, your listing is presented to people as a vacation that Redweek has verified. Additionally, owners can use Redweek’s online booking system to handle the rental agreement, credit card processing, and fund disbursement (For an additional $15). No commission is taken out of your rental amount.
- Full Service ($80 to list; $99 flat commission when rented) Redweek handles everything from advertising to rental agreement and payment. Listing is live until ten days before the check-in date, no matter how long that is.
What do Owners Think of Using Redweek for Timeshare Rentals?
“Though I know many people that use Facebook or Craigslist to rent out their unused timeshare successfully, I prefer to use Redweek because it gives me far more security as my money and my property are protected by the platform,” said Anthony Martin.
“If I have the spare time to set up the rental, I use their DIY verified and protected option, but it’s nice to use the Full-Service option when I’m too busy to organize everything. Their team sets the rental up from start to finish for about $120 more than you’d pay if you did it yourself, but the ease of maintenance and security is well worth it in the end.”
Koala is a new timeshare rental marketplace created by a timeshare industry veteran. According to their website, in the first half of 2022, they’ve “booked millions of dollars in vacations,” completing a lot of timeshare rentals for owners. They have a similar listing marketplace to Redweek, and they took a lot of the ‘cons’ of other timeshare rentals platforms and built a new option for owners.
One of the most significant differences is that they find renters first and then offer those opportunities up to specific owners who have unused timeshare points. If you’re a Club Wyndham or Hilton Grand Vacations timeshare owner. In that case, you’ll definitely want to check out their new, innovative program that lists Koala booked resorts, allowing you to almost instantly turn your unused points into timeshare rentals!
On their two chain-specific booking hubs, you can select a booking to fulfill, secure a resort reservation using your points, and forward the confirmation to the Koala team. Once that person checks in at the resort, your payment will be sent through. They guarantee payouts as high as 22 cents an HGV point (plus $59) and $9.50/1,000 points for Club Wyndham timeshare rentals. It has to be one of the easiest timeshare rentals path out there!
- Free listings; no upfront listing fee
- Koala handles contracts, payments, and escrow of payment securely
- They provide free $1 million insurance protection for owners
- Full-service concierge program
- Instant bookings for Hilton and Wyndham owners
- Not a lot of travelers know about them yet, and demand is lower vs. other options
- 8% percent commission
5. Timeshare Users Group
The first and largest website for timeshare owners, Timeshare Users Group (TUG), also has a marketplace with timeshare rentals. Since 1993, they’ve rented more than $21 million worth of timeshares from verified owners. With a complete do-it-yourself option, you also receive unlimited rental ads for an annual TUG $15 membership fee.
- Your listing will be in front of a lot of people
- No Commission
- Low Listing Fee
- It’s completely DIY – listing, communication, contract, payment, etc.
4 Tips for Successful Timeshare Rentals from Fellow Owners
Now that you’ve gotten a short list of places to list your timeshare, here are some tips for wading into the timeshare rental space.
- “Read the fine print on your timeshare agreement. Even if you’re allowed to rent your timeshare out now, stay up-to-date with your timeshare company as they change their rules and policies often,” said Anthony Martin.
- “Do your research! Go on Redweek and search for your timeshare and see the rented ones,” said owner Alexia Kaz. “What was the cost of the rental? What dates did it rent for? Was it a Friday to Friday or Saturday to Saturday that was rented? Do seven days seem to rent more or five days?”
- According to Koala’s research, travelers are up to three times more likely to book a listing that offers a flexible cancellation policy. Redweek recently added this option for renters, but read their fine print to ensure you’re picking a rental listing that qualifies for this program.
- There are three sample rental agreements in the TUG Advice on Timeshare Rental Articles if you’re managing the contract yourself. They are posted there for anyone to download and modify to suit their needs!
Timeshare Rentals: A Very Importance Disclaimer
Before this guide comes to a close, I’d be remiss if I didn’t address the “vacation rental business” question people ask me on occasion. Meaning, is it possible to purchase in-demand timeshares in popular destinations (like Hawaii) or a deeded week during peak travel (say Aruba over Christmas) and do timeshare rentals as a way to make money?
Yes, you could rent timeshares for more than your annual maintenance fees and buy-in price. But the thing is that you’re not in complete control of a property like you are with, say, a vacation house in Orlando. Timeshare companies like Wyndham have restricted rentals during peak travel times at the most in-demand locations. How much your fees increase each year are also out of your control.
During the pandemic, mega-timeshare owners were left holding massive amounts of bills for their 20 timeshares with no renters or travelers in sight.
And lastly, timeshares, 99% of the time, are depreciating assets and should not be thought of as a vacation rental business at scale. But there is a real opportunity to rent out your timeshare and receive money to put towards your bills.
This article was produced by Planner at Heart