Hi there! I’m Monica, AKA Your Timeshare Fairy Godmother, and a happy timeshare owner of 15 years. I’ve never worked in the timeshare industry and I’m not being compensated by any of the parties I talk about in this article. I’m on a mission to help the 20 million people (9 million in the U.S. alone!) who own a timeshare or vacation club membership make the most of it!
Before this frugal fannie dives into my tips, some of you may be thinking, “What is a Timeshare Exactly?!?”
Check out my previous article in this series that gives a quick overview of buying a timeshare property, costs of owning this type of real estate, and financially savvy ways to buy timeshare properties with ‘Dollars and Sense.’
A Timeshare IS Flexi
You’ve joined the timeshare or vacation ownership club, now it’s time to take advantage of all the perks and vacation deals that come with it. Many of you may be frustrated with your vacation ownership and looking for a timeshare exit. Before you hire a very expensive timeshare exit company, have you taken advantage of all these hacks to make the most of your timeshare?
One of the things we love about our timeshare is how flexible it can be. With timeshare ownership, you have financial commitments to your resort, but that doesn’t mean you always have to stay at your resort. Whether you have a fixed week, floating week, or points system timeshare these hacks are for you!
- Are you looking to cut expenses from your budget? You can offer a timeshare rental to help pay your maintenance fees AND still score amazing timeshare vacation deals.
- Is your timeshare unit sitting vacant and you are renting a vacation home elsewhere? Don’t double spend! Instead, trade your week for a vacation in one of 4,000 resorts in destinations around the world
- Does your timeshare ownership give you one week of vacation every year, but you want to go on more trips? I’ll teach you how to economically stretch your one week into many weeks of vacation.
Tip #1: Return to Your Resort for $10 a Night
It’s not a typo, it’s true! When our resort is under 80% capacity, they open up the available rooms to owners 3 days in advance — for only the cost of housekeeping. They make the same perk available at a close-by, highly rated sister vacation property in the mountains of Vermont. We take advantage of this offer to secure practically free long weekends in shoulder season even when it is not our vacation ownership week! Call your resort to see if they have a similar ‘space available’ program.
Tip #2: Save 84% on Timeshare Resort Rooms
One place to score additional vacations for pennies on the dollar is from the Timeshare Exchange Companies. These companies provide a way for owners to trade their timeshare for a vacation at another timeshare ownership resort. When units are still available companies put them on major clearance 30-45 days before the check-in date. There’s no limit to how many of these Last Minute timeshare vacation deals you can purchase at worldwide vacation clubs— AND there is no high-pressure timeshare sales presentation required!
These timeshare exchange companies range from very large to small independent ones.
- Resorts Community International (RCI), Interval International (II), and Expectations Interchange are timeshare exchanges that require a paid membership.
- DAE and RTX are free to join, but you do need to own a timeshare to sign up.
- Platinum interchange, Trading Places International, and Trading Places Maui are not only free to join, but you don’t even have to own a timeshare to become a member and take advantage of their last-minute timeshare rental deals.
Last Minute Deal Resorts
Are you thinking, well that is nice and all, but I bet those are all the older ownership resorts that I’m not interested in anyway. Honestly, there is a little bit of that BUT, there are also lots of great timeshare vacation deals at resorts that just happen to have rooms available. What you’ll find in these last-minute timeshare rental deals typically falls into 3 categories:
- Top destinations with tons of timeshare resorts such as Orlando, Las Vegas, Branson, Poconos, etc
- Huge Timeshare Resorts. For example, Vacation Village Parkway in Orlando with 4,200 units, The Grandview Las Vegas with 2,250 units, and Massanutten in Shenandoah Valley, VA with 2,300 units
- Off-Season and Shoulder Season Places like ski resorts in the spring, summer, and fall. Whether it’s the Berkshires or Park City these mountain destinations are great in all seasons for hiking, ziplining, fishing, rafting, biking, golf, etc. For more benefits of shoulder season travel check out Jackie at EnjoyTravelLife’s Article on 3 Reasons to Travel During Shoulder Season. We recently took an end-of-summer trip to the Berkshires, and it was a huge hit with my family!
Example of a Last-Minute Timeshare Rental Deal
Let’s take a look below at the recent RCI Last Call deals at a highly rated Las Vegas resort from one of the exchange companies. If you booked a 2 bedroom timeshare rental on Hotels.com for the same time period, you’d pay $1,847 for the week. That means you are saving up to 84% of the price by booking it through a timeshare exchange company.
If you like to vacation for pennies on the dollar renting timeshares vs hotel rooms is a travel hack that not many know about!
Tip #3: Don’t Waste It, Exchange It!
The exchange companies are a key ingredient to make your ownership work for you and your budget. I hear from a lot of frustrated timeshare owners who aren’t using their timeshare ownership at all, still paying their maintenance fees every year and purchasing hotel rooms or Airbnb’s instead. Talk about a budget buster!
If you aren’t going to your resort anymore or are looking for more vacation variety, the timeshare exchange companies are THE tool to take the dollars you are already spending and transform them into fantastic trips! I have a series of tutorials outlining the below steps in much more detail. You can get started with the 101 article or I’ve summarized the basics of getting started below:
- Step #1: Deposit your timeshare week early enough with an exchange company to get all of your trading currency (Points or Trading Power Units aka TPUs). If I wait too long to deposit my week, I only get 10 TPUs vs the 23 TPUs possible. Call your timeshare resort to understand the ins and outs of depositing your week with an exchange company. Remember, these timeshare points represent the dollars spent on your timeshare so manage it like real money.
- Step #2: Plan In Advance. Timeshare exchange traveling favors those who plan in advance. If you are exchanging your vacation for peak travel, complete your exchange 1-2 years before your trip. Start your planning by browsing the exchange company’s resort directory, not by looking through their current inventory.
- Step #3: Get In the Priority Line. Prepay your exchange fee to place yourself on a resort/destination waitlist up to two years in advance. You’ll now be in the front of the line for exchange vacations as they are deposited by other owners. If you don’t make an exchange match this fee is refundable.
- Step #4: Calculate the ROI of your vacation exchange and celebrate the value you’ve created! I keep a spreadsheet of exchanges to track all the timeshare vacation deals we’ve scored. By using the below steps, I calculated that we got a $1,300 Wyndham vacation for $479 from a timeshare exchange.
Tip #4: Exchange Your One Week For Four (or More!) Weeks of Vacation
Did I leave the biggest timeshare hack for last? Perhaps, I did! Are looking to stretch your one week of ownership into more timeshare vacations? There are a lot of timeshare owners who use the exchange system to book month-long vacations. There is even a retired couple who timeshare full time and share how they do it on their blog.
To stretch your one week of vacation into many more, follow the below steps.
- Step #1: Deposit your timeshare early to get 100% of the points possible for your week. Getting 23 TPUs for exchanges vs 10 TPU’s is a big factor in stretching your weeks.
- Step #2: Identify resorts/destinations that exchange for a small number of points. When you’re on the exchange company website, you can sort search results by the number of points needed. They are often hidden in the advanced filters section, but they are there!
- For example, Florida has more timeshare units than any other state in America with Orlando having 87 timeshare resorts. Those supply and demand dynamics mean you can score a vacation for 3 TPUs a week. We could exchange one week from our ski resort (23 TPUs) and get 7 weeks (at 3 TPUs each) in an Orlando resort without having to downgrade our accommodations.
- Step #3: Calculate the ROI of your vacation exchange to confirm your timeshare vacation deal! Using the above infographic, I compared the costs of these 7 weeks of accommodations. If I booked them at a bargain hotel booking site it would be $5,172.86. If I stretched our timeshare ownership and exchanged for those 7 weeks it would be $2,248.68. That bargain hotel website no longer looks like the bargain!
Thanks for joining me today! I hope this article provided some inspiration on how you can hack your timeshare ownership to vacation more, explore top destinations and make memories for pennies on the dollar! As my young kids have taught me, it doesn’t have to be a trip to the trendiest place of the year to be an amazing, dare I say, a Bucket List worthy vacation.
To receive more travel tips, activity inspirations, and some personal finance tips to fund those bucket list vacations subscribe below for monthly emails.
Are you one of the 20 million timeshare or vacation club owners worldwide who are looking for more trips and you want to buy timeshare properties with the most bang for your buck? Check out this article on how to buy timeshare properties that provide the most value for yearly Maintenance Fee.
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.