Have you already done a search for an RCI exchange vacation and are slightly panicking because you don’t see what you are looking for vs what you say in the RCI Resort Directory? Say, you want to go to Yellowstone in August for a family vacation. You go to the RCI homepage and type in Yellowstone, and you can’t even check for a month because it says no inventory.
You feel your blood starting to boil, think you’ve made a bad decision getting an RCI Membership, and threw money down the toilet. Breathe, and then keep on reading! I’ll share with you what I’ve learned about the RCI timeshare exchange and how the savvy timeshare owners are getting the RCI properties they want when they first took a look through the RCI Resort Directory.
Before we go on – – have you read my 101 article and gotten all the information from your resort on your vacation ownership? This will play into the next couple of sections and allow you to start planning exchange vacations with your deposited week.
This 201 article about the RCI Resort Directory is the second in a series of posts designed by an owner for owners to get the most for their timeshare vacations! If you want to browse them feel free:
- Timeshare Vacations 101: Introduction to RCI Exchanges
- Timeshare Vacations 301: Scoring the Resorts You Want in the RCI Resort Directory
- Timeshare Vacations Master Class: See 70% of U.S. National Parks with RCI Exchanges
- Timeshare Vacations Master Class: Timeshare Deals with RCI Last Call
Step One: Ignore RCI’s Homepage Search
Pretend that that giant search bar on RCI’s homepage isn’t even there. This is where you find the Leftover properties from the RCI resort directory. Yes, I just said The Leftovers.
This is what is available at the exact moment that you are doing a search on the site. Yes, you may get lucky once in a while, or if you are traveling off-season to a city or resort with tons of timeshares, like Las Vegas or Myrtle Beach you could find what you are looking for right off the bat. BUT, if you feel like you are striking out or not getting the places from the RCI Resort Directory that you want– keep on reading. I’m sure you are thinking, well how do I get first dibs, too, not just leftovers?
What if I told you that there is a waiting list for RCI Properties? THIS is where your planning and research gets you what you want!
Step Two: Go Explore The RCI Resort Directory
Planning a vacation with RCI timeshare exchange can sometimes be like going to a restaurant that has no menus, but trying to figure out what to order. That’s why I recommend that you first make your way to The RCI Resort Directory under Vacation Ideas. The site makes it hard to find and a lot of people don’t even know it is there. On the HomePage go under Vacation Ideas and options will drop down on the left. You’ll find the link to the RCI Resort Directory there.
Grab a coffee, tea, tub of Ben & Jerry’s, whole box of Girl Scout cookies (you know), and spend time looking around the RCI Resort Directory, browsing regions, states, cities. Holy Moly there is a wide range resorts to look at around the world!
I personally like to use the RCI Resort Directory map feature because when browsing I find things like – Oh hey, RCI has tons of places in Sedona, Arizona and I wouldn’t have necessarily thought Sedona for Christmas break off the top of my head. One day I randomly discovered that RCI has a group of resorts in Norfolk, UK close to The Queen of England’s country estate Sandringham (For you The Crown, and the British Royal Family fans). Can you imagine the experience at these properties? I got my fascinator hat all ready to go!
Step Three: Make Lists of Dream RCI Properties, but Don’t Spend too Much Time
So the first time I planned a trip to Orlando (Land of theme parks and attractions!) I figured out later I kind of researched backward and wasted a lot of time. I made a wish list and spent a lot of time looking at RCI resorts, room unit types, location, start dates in the RCI resort directory.
I made a top 5 list from the places in the RCI Resort Directory and then didn’t choose any of them in the end. That’s because I did all that work before I knew that my own week gave me 23 deposit credits (TPU points in RCI Weeks Program) in the RCI exchange system.
If you don’t know what your RCI deposit trading power is stop here and go back and ask your home resort. I’ve written a template email asking for all the details you need from your vacation ownership resort in my 101 post here. Or if you’re super confused about the heck I’m talking about check out the 101 post too!
Are you not sure why this is such a big driving factor? Well, you might make different decisions based on your exchange trading power vs. the places from the RCI Resort directory you are looking at. For example, do you want to spend a portion and save the rest for a future trip? Need to combine more than one week of RCI points together to get a unit in the summer at RCI Properties in Banff, Canada?
That’s one of the frustrating things about the RCI Resort Directory feature on the website – it doesn’t list the trading power to determine if you have enough points for resort.
In my Orlando planning I only initially looked at Disney Vacation Club (DVC) resorts. But once I was assigned a trading power of 23 points and knew that DVC 1 bedrooms are 40+ points, I totally went back to the drawing board for my exchange holiday as i didn’t want to burn 2 of my weeks for one week at a DVC property. (Note: as of 1/1/2022 Disney Timeshares are no longer in the RCI Directory as they have changed their affiliation and no longer available for exchanges via RCI. You can snag cancellations or previously deposited weeks for the first half of 2022, but new deposits are only being made in Interval International)
I needed a 2 bedroom and didn’t particularly place a high value on staying on property so I decided to do an RCI exchange into Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Orange Lake Resort for a 2 bedroom at 17 points. The resort is so big– they are four different properties in one, so many pools and a lazy river. The experience at these properties is amazing and I didn’t feel like I gave anything up for this RCI timeshare exchange.
Step Four: Refine Your RCI Properties Wish List from Research
So, maybe you’re looking for more information to see how many points/TPUs you would need for a trip to Banff National Park/Canmore, Canada. I know, it is totally high on our wish list too! I’ve bookmarked Jody Robbins’ Banff Winter Travel Guide for our future trips because we’ll definitely be going there in the next 5 years.
Where in the heck is that information on the RCI site???? Like how are you supposed to know if you need to deposit one or two weeks into the system for a Banff RCI Exchange? Well, boy do I have some presents for you! Unless you knew these things were buried in the site, you would never find this information browsing.
RCI Points Members
RCI has two resources that list out average points needed for resorts based on the season or unit size.
A very nice person in a Facebook RCI Members Group shared The Directory of Affiliated RCI Resorts with RCI Points Values with me from 2015. I downloaded it onto my computer because you never know when they might take it down from their site. They have a similar listing on their website, RCI Points Value Chart, that lists resorts by ID number and does include the details by unit types.
It’s super long and hard to locate resorts so I recommend using the “Find Feature” via the “F3” button on your keyboard above the numbers. Both of these aren’t all encompassing though.
For example, if you are planning a National Parks trip and want to look at Worldmark Yosemite it isn’t in any of these (Come on, RCI!). When that happens, you can reach out to a couple of different RCI community groups listed below for details and experience with that resort.
RCI Weeks Members
RCI does offer an Exchange Planner on their website that has historical data on the deposit trading power needed for week exchange. There is no easy way to get here, and without the step-by-step Navigation Instructions who would find this? BUT, once you get there the information is gold!
- Log into your account on RCI.com.
- Click on the “Vacation Search & Deposits” tab
- Select the “Manage My Deposits” option
- Go to your Deposited Weeks Tab
- Click “View Other Weeks” in the bottom right corner
- Select “Exchange Planner” on the right side of the page
- Follow the steps below to view the average historical exchange Trading Power needed for each month of the year
- Type in the World Region, Region, Sub- Region (if applicable), & Destination
- Click on “Show Results” to see the average historical exchange Trading Power needed for each month of the year
- From here you can choose a month to see average unit counts and average Exchange Trading Power value range
So if you’re looking to do an RCI timeshare exchange to Banff National Park, the below information is really helpful! For example, if you’re aren’t restricted to traveling only during school breaks, planning a trip in September might be more in range of the exchange trading power you receive from your home resort week for an RCI Exchange.
Timeshare Owners Online Communities
If you still can’t find the information you are looking for you can reach out to a couple of different vacation ownership community groups listed below.
Outside of RCI, there are some great Facebook groups and message boards of Timeshare Owners and RCI members who are very experienced and generous with their knowledge. I have learned so much from them. Personally, I really like:
- TUG ( Timeshare Users Group) It was founded in 1993 as a forum/online bulletin board by a group of timeshare owners looking for information and resources. In a world before Facebook, this was one of the very few places for timeshare owners to talk to each other, get advice and unbiased resort reviews. There is a $15 fee to access the marketplace and detailed reviews of every timeshare. However, you can review forums and brief resort reviews (called Overviews) for free.
- Facebook: Two of the largest Facebook groups for RCI members are:
- RCI Members for Members Facebook Group was founded in 2015 and now has over 14,000 members. You can learn a lot from the existing posts and reading the conversations. It is a mix of veteran RCI members and newbies looking to learn
- RCI Timeshare Owners Group was formed in 2017 and currently has over 4,000 members
Just use the search feature to find out answers to popular questions:
- Has anyone gotten a trade to Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki ? Answer yes, but waited for 2 years
- How much deposit trading power is needed for a New York City timeshare weekly trade? Typically 50-60 TPUs
- What resort in Orlando is most likely to have 3+ units available during the same week through RCI so you can take your extended family to Disney? Some examples are Vacation Village at Parkway or Holiday Inn Club Vacations Orange Lake.
Have fun exploring and dreaming of all your potential timeshare vacations. The fun part of RCI is that the vacation options really are endless. I have a Dream List in our house that I love to look at. Until we go, I have pretend vacations in my mind to Sedona, Banff, The Berkshires, Smoky Mountains, Smugglers Notch, Aruba, West Palm Beach…..
Have you made some decisions and are ready to get the process going for an RCI Exchange vacation?? Check out my 301 post that explains getting on the Waiting List for Resorts AKA An Ongoing Search Request.
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Monica Fish helps her fellow adventurers live a financially savvy life so they can travel and explore our beautiful world no matter their budget. She writes about smart timeshare ownership, vacation tips and tricks, NYC Metro Area trips and activities, and frugal, yet rich, living at PlannerAtHeart.com.