Every now and again, Interval International provides its members with an Accomodations Certificate. I have written about these before in this post.
The accomodations certificate provides you with a one week stay in various locations around the world. Sometimes the accomodations certificate is restricted to certain size units and is always restricted by geographic areas.
Many times, these accomodations certificates are less than exciting as they mainly offer accomodations in low demand, off peak season destinations. However, other times, some exciting opportunities come up and there are some fantastic deals.
Each accomodations certificate is different but most offer one week accomodations for a studio, one bedroom, two bedroom or three bedroom units. While it is not truly free since there is an exchange fee, it is a highly discounted week stay.
The exchange fee is $274 plus some taxes. Generally, you are looking at a fee of approximately $300 for seven nights. This works out to approximately $43.00 per night. That is a hard value to beat especially when competing hotels can charge over $300 per night!
In order to see if you have received a new accomodations certificate, you need to login to your Interval International account.
You click the "Exchange" button found below on the top navigation bar.
Click on "My Units" and if you are lucky enough to get a certificate, they will be showing on the right hand side under "My Certificates".
As you can see, I currently have two certificates available - one that expires on March 31 and one that expires on July 9th.
Unfortunately, the time and destinations do not appear to work out for one of my certificates. The second certificate is currently available through July 9th and actually has a decent amount of good/great inventory.
A couple of great finds so far is as follows:
1. Ski week in Vail for February
2. Multiple units at the Grand Bliss in Riviera Maya, Mexico for almost every month offered including summer weeks and Memorial Day weekend.
3. Spring/Early Summer weeks in Mountain destinations (Vail, Breckenridge, Park City, etc.)
Inventory with these accomodation certificates vary widely and change by the minute. If you are lucky enough to get one, it pays to search often and constantly. There are been some recent gems that pop up where $300 for a week is an absolute steal!
If you have one and reserve a great week, please post below so others can see!
While it may sound counterintuitive, as a timeshare owner, hotel points can be extremely valuable. Hotel points can be an extremely valuable currency for free vacations but their use for timeshare owners is absolutely instrumental in providing certainty to a particular destination.
I use hotel points for plenty of free or quasi free vacations. Hotel points are fantastic for traveling in high demand time periods and for stays of less than 7 nights.
For timeshare owners, the importance of hotel points is that they allow you to book a hotel room in your desired travel destination while trying to exchange into the desired timeshare. Once you have a confirmed hotel room in your desired location, you can confirm your airline flights and continue the search for a desired timeshare.
Timeshare exchanges can be difficult and many exchanges may be filled close to date of travel which usually corresponds into ridiculously priced airline tickets.
Hotels have very generous cancellation policies where they allow you to cancel your reservation as little as 24 hours prior to arrival. These flexible cancellation policies are vastly different than timeshares which generally do not allow any changes at all.
The strategy the I generally use is to use my hotel points to book a hotel as far in advance as possible for the desired week and location. At the same time, I will put in my exchange request with the timeshare company (i.e. Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, etc.) or put in a request for my desired exchange through Interval International or RCI.
Once I know that I have a week at the hotel, I feel confident that I can book my non-refundable airfare or use my frequent flyer miles. Booking far in advance is necessary to ensure that flight prices are reasonable, in either cash or miles.
Using this strategy, the worse case scenario is that we end up staying in the hotel for free using points. The best case scenario is that you were able to book your airfare far in advance for a good rate and your timeshare exchange comes through at the desired resort.
In either case, it is really a win-win.
I have stated before that the easiest way to quickly accumulate miles is through credit card sign-up bonuses. These bonuses fluctuate all the time but there are always some great opportunities.
One of my favorite points currency is Chase Ultimate Reward Points. These can be transferred into many different programs including Hyatt and Marriott.
Transfers to Hyatt are much more valuable since Hyatt's program has wonderful redemption options for much lower cost than Marriott. However, at certain times, Marriott has some great options and with Marriott and SPG now merged, I anticipate that there will be some wonderful opportunities going forward.
Here are two current options that I recommend which provide an immediately influx of Chase Ultimate Reward Points:
Credit cards are a phenomenal way to earn tons of travel related points. Sign up bonuses can be a fast and easy way to secure tons of points in order to travel for free, supplement timeshare stays or receive free flights.
There are a lot of popular credit cards that offer various perks, points and benefits. Today, I wanted to look at the Interval International Visa Credit Card. This is one of the few credit cards that seem to target the timeshare industry.
This card is issued by Bank of America and comes with 5,000 Bonus Points after you make $500 in purchases. There is NO ANNUAL FEE for this card.
You earn points with this card at a rate of 1 point for every $1 in purchases. The standard redemption option is that each point converts into $.01 for cash, travel or gift cards. Rewards start at 2,500 for $25 worth of credit, travel or gift cards.
This essentially equates in a 1% cash back card.
The other option for the redemption of points is tied to Interval International.
Here are the following redemption options for Interval International:
1. 7,500 Points - one year of Interval Gold Membership
2. 10,000 - one year Interval International Membership, renewal or extension
3. 15,000 - one year Interval International Platinum Membership, renewal or extension
4. 20,000 - three year Interval International membership renewal or extension
5. 30,000 - one week resort accommodations certificate for travel within 59 days of booking.
While I can into detail on the "value" of the Interval International redemption options, the redemption options are simply poor.
Many timeshares come with Interval International membership included so the general membership options are poor value. The upgrade to Interval Platinum generally costs $99 per year so paying 15,000 points or $150 worth of credit is obviously a bad deal.
The 30,000 points for an accommodation certificate may be advantageous but inventory is generally lacking and you only have 59 days to review available inventory. Finding decent airfare for any worthwhile destinations will likely be challenging.
Accommodation certificates are generally provided as part of a promotion or simply as a Thank You. Unfortunately, the options are generally so limited that I have let many of them simply go to waste.
Overall, this is a horrible credit card to get. The 5,000 bonus points is only worth $50 and the potential redemption options for Interval International simply do not make much economic sense.
There are tons of much better and more lucrative credit card opportunities out there. Other points including membership reward points from American Express and Ultimate Rewards Points from Chase are much more valuable.
My recommendation is to avoid this card completely! I have posted some other popular credit cards so if interested, you can check out those posts.