There are a lot of negativity around timeshare right now. If you follow Dave Ramsey, you probably heard him rip timeshares to shreds. Or watched John Oliver’s segment on how timeshare exit companies take advantage of people who want to sell theirs. Or you might have heard a bad story or two from someone who bought a timeshare and feels like it’s a scam.
So What Is A Timeshare Really and Why Does It Seem Like People Don’t Like Them?
It may leave you wondering why there is so much negative noise about something that people continue to buy year after year? To the tune of $15 billion annually! While there are a couple of bad actors and awful experiences, there’s a science as to why we hear more negative comments than positives.
With a wide range of places to post a negative experience online, published research shows that angry customers “tell” 3,000 people about their horrible time. In contrast, happy people only reach three others. This can help understand why the narrative around owning and using a timeshare seems to be dominated by negative stories.
Add into the mix companies looking to profit from the 22 million timeshare owners worldwide, and you’ve got a story out there that doesn’t reflect the full picture of timeshare ownership.
Here are the cliff notes: There are tons and tons of timeshare owners out there who are happy – in fact more than 3/4 of owners are. And there are many owners who feel like they found one of the best travel hacks of all time, as long as you buy one smartly and not on a whim.
I wish that John Oliver would have told people that they can buy a timeshare on the resale market from owners for a fraction of the price of buying one from the hotel brands direct. Or that as long as you do your research before buying you can travel in upscale condo resorts for less than a hotel room.
There’s lot of know about this part of the travel world. More than one segment or advertisement can tell. That’s why I wrote this piece from a timeshare owner perspective explaining all there is to know about timeshares.
It’s Straight Talk From Me – A Timeshare Owner of 15 Years
Well, what if you could learn about timeshares from someone who isn’t trying to sell you anything. From someone who has owned one for more than 15 years. I’ll give you real talk on What is a Timeshare, How to Buy One With Dollars and Sense, How to Hack the Daylights Out of It, and How to Get Rid of One Without Getting Scammed when you no longer want to own it.
If you want to know why I believe the world is my travel oyster and how we vacation multiple times a year in upscale resort condos (like the Barbados one I’m enjoying in the above picture) for Motel 6 prices, this article is for you!
This article will briefly touch on the major topics that people ask about repeatedly in my timeshare owners’ Facebook groups. Certain areas may interest you more than others, so feel free to jump around to different timeshare topics and learn more about what interests you via the linked articles in each section.
Start Here if You’re Thinking About Timeshares
So, where to start with timeshares?! That’s the thing about timeshares today. Not only are they not your grandma’s timeshare, but they no longer are just one thing. As people’s vacation preferences evolved over the generations and decades, the timeshare industry evolved and offered different types of timeshares. So, What Is a Timeshare? It’s Actually Many Things
When you boil down owning a timeshare today, it’s, in essence, a long-term commitment to pre-pay for your vacations. What you get in return for that pre-payment depends on the type of timeshare that you purchase.
- A Deeded Week – The original type of timeshare and the most well-known is a particular week at a specific resort every year. So if you own the first week of July at Cape Cod Beachside Resort Unit #321, you are guaranteed usage of the room that week every single year.
- A Floating Week – This means can use one week a year at the resort, but the week is not set. Some of these ownerships are for certain times of year (like high-season or low season), while some can be one week a year any time of year. For example, suppose you’re looking at a timeshare that has a wide range of seasonality (a beachfront resort in Cape Cod). In that case, high-season ownership will be very different from low-season (aka winter) ownership.
- Points Based System – As people increasingly prefer to explore the world during vacations, travelers became less interested in vacationing in the same place at the same resort every year. And so timeshares changed. Now the most common form of timeshare ownership is a currency-based system. You buy a certain number of points and can exchange those points for reservations at your chain of resorts ( Hilton Grand Vacations Club or Disney Vacation Club, for example).
- A Fractional Ownership – This is the rarest form of timeshare ownership today and also happens to be what we own. This means you own a portion of a certain room at a certain resort. For example, we own ¼ ownership of a two-bedroom condo at a Vail Resorts property in New York. We get one week every single month in our specific unit. This type of timeshare is often a deeded ownership and is more similar to owning a vacation condo, except that the resort fully manages it, and you own it with three other people who you don’t know
What is a Timeshare Resort Like?
If you love the space and home-like conveniences of an Airbnb, but their ever-increasing fees and lack of on-site amenities are driving you back to hotels, a timeshare is really the best of both worlds. If you’ve ever stayed in a condo-style unit inside a major hotel chain property, odds are that you’ve stayed in a timeshare.
And we’re not talking about your grandma’s timeshares. We’re talking about some of the most popular global resort chains and beloved upscale resorts like Marriott Ko Olina, Wyndham Bonnet Creek, Disney Resorts, The Atlantis in the Bahamas, and Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki, to name just a few.
There are 4,500+ timeshare resorts all around the world! While they are primarily outside of cities and in major beach or mountain destinations, timeshares are beginning to be built more and more in urban destinations like Nashville, New Orleans, New York City, San Fransico, Sydney, London.
Thinking About Renting a Timeshare from An Owner To Save Money?
If you’re not interested in a legally-binding long-term commitment at this time, there is no need to rush. No matter what a timeshare salesperson at a resort tells you, those timeshare weeks and offers will still be there next month or next year.
And with 9 million timeshare owners in the US alone, the odds are that some of those people aren’t able to use their timeshare this year and are looking to rent it out. If you’re looking to get a room at a sold-out resort or want to save serious money on vacation accommodations, give timeshare rentals a look.
How much can you save? Well, according to Redweek.com, you can save 25% off or more, as the owners set their own price. Long gone are minimum rates that hotels have to meet to match their overhead costs. Additionally, as the check-in date gets closer and closer, owners often lower their prices to get some money for their week vs. getting nothing. That’s when you can score some really amazing deals on vacations.
Here’s a selection of deals I’ve collected to share with my readers over the years. So if $75 nights at Virginia’s premier four-season family resort or $1,000 for an entire week in a two-bedroom condo at one of Kauai’s most loved resorts sounds up your alley, then add these 16 websites into your hotel shopping when price comparing hotels.
And no, timeshare presentations aren’t required when you rent timeshares! I can say that I have rented a timeshare before to get a room at the sold-out Marriott Beachplace Towers in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and wasn’t asked once about going to any kind of meeting.
Thinking About Going to a Timeshare Presentation to Get Free Hotel Rooms? You Must Read This First!
Have you seen hotel promotions where the price seems too good to be true? Well, those are timeshare promotion deals. In exchange for 2-3 hours of your time to learn about timeshare ownership, you can secure free hotel nights at resorts across the country.
Is this a real thing? Yes, you really can “pay” for hotel rooms with a couple of hours of your time! But is this travel hack for everyone? Definitely not! These can be very high-pressure and ruin the vibe of being on vacation for some.
That’s why I wrote this guide, 5 Timeshare Presentation Tips to Be Empowered, Not Pressured to make sure that people interested have all the facts and give the time they have agreed and nothing more because a free room is very expensive if you get talked into buying a timeshare at full retail price, especially when it is something you don’t want and can’t afford.
One of the most critical pieces of information to arm yourself with is that you can buy that exact same timeshare they are trying to sell you on the resale market from a current owner – for pennies on the dollar. Maybe even FREE!
Thinking About Buying a Timeshare? Start Here to Save 75 to 99% Off
While there are some perks to buying a timeshare direct from the developer, if you save $10,000 or $20,000 or more on the price of your timeshare, do those small perks make it worth it? Unfortunately, for a vast majority of people, the answer is no. And that’s why there is a decades-long flourishing resale market for timeshares.
You see, there are a couple of factors at play when it comes to timeshare prices. First, one of the reasons a timeshare is so expensive if you buy it from the resort is that they have to cover the costs of marketing and advertising campaigns and the salaries of the sales team.
That’s why Timeshare Users Group (TUG), the oldest and largest timeshare owners group and advocacy organization, estimates that 40% – 60% of a resort’s direct retail price is money baked into the purchase price to cover these costs.
Secondly, there are currently more people looking to sell their timeshare than there are people looking to buy. Applying supply and demand dynamics, anytime there are more sellers than buyers, the price of something drops.
Finally, Baby Boomers make up a majority of timeshare owners. As their lifestyle, mobility, and financial situations change, they are looking to sell their timeshares and end their yearly maintenance fee commitments.
If you are serious about buying a timeshare, the overall purchase landscape is in your favor. If you’ve thought about it, perhaps renting one or two, and reviewed your finances to make sure that the yearly maintenance fee commitment is comfortable even in the instance of a job loss, financial hardship, or retirement, then the next step is looking into what to buy based on your travel lifestyle.
While there were myths about what timeshare purchase is the savviest and gives you the biggest bang for your buck, there was never a formal evaluation. So that’s why I did one. To answer once and for all – Is the Grandview Resort in Las Vegas the Granddaddy of Timeshare Purchase Value for those who want an RCI Membership?
See the results of my analysis completed with input from veteran timeshare owners on TUG: Timeshares for Sale: How to Get the Best Bang for Your Buck.
Lastly, if you’re thinking about a timeshare purchase, you mustn’t buy it for more than it’s worth. And what are timeshares worth on the retail market? Well, the answer may be hard to hear. Most timeshares are worth $2,000 or much less.
In fact, a lot are worth nothing. The only exceptions are Disney Timeshares, higher-end brands like Marriott and Westin, and select resorts and locations like Aruba. Besides Disney timeshares, almost every single timeshare will be worth less than you bought it for when you’re looking to see it.
So if you needed another reason to buy a timeshare of the resale market, the last one really brings it home.
Start Here If You Own a Timeshare But Don’t Belong to An Exchange Company
One of the things that I loved about my timeshare is that through an exchange company, I can take my Catskills timeshare and magically move it around the world for amazing vacations at fantastic resorts – Like the Bougainvillea Barbados, Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort, The Cliffs at Princeville, and Marriott Beachplace Towers to name just a few.
While there are a handful of timeshare exchange companies, the largest and most widely used ones are RCI and Interval International (II). While some timeshare resorts allow you to join either, some only allow you to join one and trade through one.
For example, Wyndham owners can only exchange through RCI, Marriott can only exchange through II, and starting in 2022, Disney Vacation Club owners can only deposit their weeks into Interval International. If you have certain hope and dreams for vacation ownership and exchanges, doing research in this area is critical, so you aren’t left surprised after you’ve already purchased.
Lastly, timeshare exchange companies act as another form of travel insurance for timeshare owners who need to cancel their vacations plans at the last minute. That’s why I recommend that timeshare owners join an exchange company. It’s worth the $89 a year to help make the most of your timeshare ownership.
Start Here If You Already Own a Timeshare and Want to Hack It!
If you have a timeshare and feel like you aren’t getting the most of it that you possibly could, then this section is for you! Over 15+ years of owning a timeshare, I’ve learned a lot of things that I wished I knew a heck of a lot earlier.
For example, did you know that you could rent out your timeshare week, still get weeks that aren’t yours for practically free at your home resort, and get last-minute deals from the timeshare exchange companies and secure rooms for $300 for the week! It’s all very, very possible!
Start Here if You’re Ready to Get Rid of Your Timeshare Ownership
If your social media feed looks anything like mine, it’s full of advertisements from companies telling you that they can get you out of your timeshare… For a full upfront fee of $5,000 or more. If you Google a lot of these companies, you’ll see that their Business Bureau Rankings are horrible – even Timeshare Exit Team, who Dave Ramsey endorsed after a lawsuit from the State of Washington and recently closed their doors. (And took everyone’s upfront fees with them)
If a company’s offer or solution seems too good to be true, then it probably is. If a company tells you that they can sell your timeshare even though it’s not paid off, it’s a scam. Timeshares can only be sold if they are fully owned. It’s a hard truth that many people don’t like to hear, but that is how the industry works.
This article was produced by Planner at Heart.