Maximize Timeshare Ownership
The ultimate resource to understand, maximize and leverage timeshare ownership to travel in luxury accommodations on a reasonable budget.
Timeshare Strategy: Interval Getaways and Interval Exchanges - a pricing discrepancy to be aware of.
For those of you who are new to the site or to timeshares in general, Interval International has two options to reserve timeshare weeks. Interval Getaways are weeks which you rent for cash and Interval Exchanges are those weeks where you trade your week or points in exchange for the week.
Interval Exchanges have exchange fees on top of whatever week or points that you use and currently run $209 per week. E-Plus (the ability to retrade your exchange for 3 times for no additional fee) is in addition to that fee for $59 but as discussed many times before, I highly recommend adding that to almost any exchange simply to give you added flexibility for your plans.
Here are some good posts to review on these subjects:
Most times, my preferred timeshare strategy is to use the points allocated to me via my Hyatt Residence Club weeks and use it to exchange for highly desirable weeks using Interval International. I find that it is a great way to maximize value out of your week and get outsized value for your timeshare.
While that strategy is my go to strategy, a recent week that I confirmed questioned this strategy. I booked a ski week at Sheraton Mountain Villas in Avon / Beaver Creek, Colorado for December 13-20, 2019 using points. I used 870 Hyatt Residence Club points to exchange for the a 1 bedroom suite.
While it is the week before Christmas, it is still a very good ski week.
I was very happy with this trade as I looked up retail pricing for this particular week and if I booked with a third party travel agent, the week would have cost me over $3800. Outrageously expensive in my opinion considering the out of pocket cost to me for an exchange.
As a reminder, I now pay about $1300 per Hyatt Residence Club week which provides me with 2,000 Hyatt Residence Club points. Just taking into account my maintenance fees, I pay about $0.65 per point. Since this reservation cost 870 points, the true cost to me would be $565.50 ($0.65 x 870 points) PLUS the exchange fee of $209 and my obligatory e-plus add on for $59.00.
Therefore, taking all the numbers into the cost for this one week rental would be $833.50.
When you compare the retail price disclosed above, $833.50 for a prime ski week in Avon / Beaver Creek, Colorado is an absolute bargain. It is roughly 78% off the retail price of the ski week.
As I stated, I thought I did very well with this trade and was happy with it. I have not been to a Sheraton property before but many of them get very good reviews and this one has been on my radar for a while.
I have discussed the benefit of using the Interval International iPhone app in the past. They recently updated it to provide more functionality but my general use is to provide the Getaway alerts.
In that post, I gave a better overview Getaway alerts but generally, you can set up alerts on the app so that you will get notified when certain resorts and weeks become available to book with cash. I always have plenty of ongoing alerts for high desirable properties as if they ever become available, they can disappear quite quickly. If you see a week that you want, book it immediately as it will likely disappear within minutes.
I ALWAYS have an alert set up for ski season to see if there are any deals to be had. The other day, my phone buzzed for an alert for Ski Season 2019. I quickly opened the app and looked at what one of my chosen resorts matched. It was a match for the same week which I confirmed at the Sheraton Mountain Villas.
To my amazement, the cash price of the week was ONLY $372!
As you can see, I could book the same exact week that I confirmed with points for $372 for the week or only $53 per night.
As you can see, even if I went forward with my exchanged week, I still came out materially better than if I simply booked directly with the resort or with a third party travel agent. $833 for a prime ski week in a spacious 1 bedroom condo in a top notch ski destination is hard to find and even if I didn't stumble upon the crazy deal above, I would have felt good about this exchange.
However, the point of this post is that you need to look / monitor multiple avenues to get the most value out of your timeshare. In this example, I purchased e-plus for this week for an extra $59. By paying this additional fee, I am able to re-trade the exchanged week for up to 3 times with no additional fee by Interval.
Since I had e-plus associated with this week, the best option to maximize my use of points would be to book the week using cash for $372 per week and use my exchanged week / already allocated points for a much higher and better use. By paying $59, I was able to save $461.50 (833.50 - $372) and get a great ski week for an extremely nominal amount of money.
However, just so you are aware, booking Getways are completely non-refundable. Once you book it, you cannot re-trade a Getaway booking so you need to be absolutely sure that you can make the trip.
Finally, always make sure to check exchanges and getaways to determine the best pricing. Even great exchanges could be available for less money using Interval Getaways. It can definitely pay to do you research.
A good tip would be to set up an alert on the Interval app following an exchange so that you can monitor whether that week becomes available for paying cash. If it does, you can do a similar calculation and see if you wanted to keep you exchanged week or pay cash and use the exchanged week for something more valuable.
Have you discovered any similar pricing discrepancies? Make sure to comment below.
Last week was spring break for many schools around the nation. It is a very hectic time to travel. Unfortunately, when you have children in school, if you want to travel, you are forced to travel on their schedule.
We usually take a ski trip during spring break and this year was no exception. As you may know, we are very fond of Park City.
The issue with this year was that our school district changed the standard week of spring break. Instead of it occurring during the 2nd week of March, they changed it to the 3rd week of March.
As an avid planner, this thoroughly disrupted my timeshare strategy of booking 2+ years in advance. I had various weeks and resorts selected for the second week of March and was patiently waiting for a match. Once the school schedule came out about a year ago, I had to revise the request first and only had one year to make a match.
Since this was almost the end of ski season, I wasn't extremely worried as I did not think that it would be very desirable week. We generally go to Park City for various reasons (easy travel, great skiing, good restaurants, and plenty of timeshare options) and we made the trip last year for the second week of March. Last years ski season was horrible and we skied on slush while it was 70 degree weather.
Fortunately, this year was much, much better but didn't think that getting a desirable timeshare would be an issue.
Unfortunately, I was wrong and nothing came through. I was quite surprised with that but I only put in requests for the top resorts in Interval International, which for Park City are the Marriott Summit Watch, Marriott Mountainside and the Westgate Park City. There are some nice properties with RCI including the Wyndham Park City, Sundial Lodge and Hilton Grand Vacations but do not exchange my week with RCI and only use RCI for Extra Vacation (cash bookings).
If I chose lesser desired properties, I may have had better luck.
In any event, this was a timeshare fail for this year. For those of you that need to travel during peak times such as Christmas and Spring Break, this is a good example of why timeshares may not be ideal. Getting top quality resorts during these peak time periods can be difficult, if not impossible, so if you have to travel during these time periods, you may be disappointed with timeshare ownership.
If you are flexible and can travel during cusp seasons or off-peak times, timeshare ownership can be very worthwhile.
As I have explained before, timeshare availability can be difficult which is why you need to always have a "plan B". Many times, my plan B entails making a reservation using hotel points so that in the event that my timeshare does not get confirmed, I still have a hotel reservation to use and can therefore buy my non-refundable airfare or use frequent flyer miles without worrying about accommodations.
Generally, hotel points have flexible cancellation policies so you can reserve a week using points and once you get confirmed into a timeshare, you can cancel the week and get your points back. If nothing gets confirmed, the worst case is that you use your points for a "free" vacation.
Here is a post I have done on the topic.
Here is also another one of my "timeshare fails" which actually worked out extremely well. This is a great strategy and definitely encourage you to use this strategy.
For this week, while a timeshare did not come through, I had booked a week at the Hyatt Place in Park City. The hotel is located on the main road and about a 2 minute drive to the base of the Canyons, 5 minutes to the base of Park City and about 10 minutes to Deer Valley. The location is ideal.
The hotel use to have a complimentary shuttle that would bring you to any of the above resorts but apparently discontinued it. Without the shuttle, you generally need a car or you can use the free bus system. While the bus system is free and convenient, a car is generally easier to go around the area when and where you desire.
The hotel is fairly new but without the shuttle, it is hard to recommend.
Regardless, the hotel is a category 4 hotel (will likely decrease if there don't reinstate the shuttle) which requires 15,000 points per night. During ski season, rates can be $300-$400 per night so it is a decent return on points.
Since I needed to buy non-refundable flights, I used my strategy and booked a week on points waiting for the timeshare to get confirmed. As months went by without any activity, I started to get a bit nervous and was thinking about alternatives. While doing so, I came across rates at the Hyatt Place for $132 per night for my needed week.
Hyatt points are very valuable to me and have been lucky enough to get almost 8 cents per point on some hotel redemptions. You can read about our recent stay in Maui at the Andaz Maui where we had $28,000 vacation for about $1,200 out of pocket.
Getting less than 1 cent per point is awful so I cancelled my points stay and booked using cash. I'll save my points for a better redemption value.
While I still wanted to get a timeshare, the "plan B" was to stay at the Hyatt Place for $132 per night. Not a bad alternative even though I really wanted a timeshare.
As you can see, you need to use a strategy to ensure no issues. If I didn't have this as a back up plan, I would have either lost my non-refundable tickets and not went on vacation or would be forced to book last minute rates during ski season which likely would have been astronomical in price.
Timeshare availability can be unpredictable so you need to have good backup plans in place to avoid an undesirable expensive vacation or be stuck at home.
Despite not getting a timeshare, we had a great week in Park City. The conditions were great and the weather was perfect. It was ideal spring skiing.
We headed to the airport on Saturday, checked in and patiently waited for our flight. The airport was extremely chaotic as there were a lot of people traveling. It was spring break in a lot of destinations. The customer service representatives indicated that the flight was oversold and they were looking for volunteers. I immediately sprang up and ran to the desk and put our family of four on the list.
The entire day of flights back home were full so they offered to book us on the next flight or would give us additional compensation if we wanted to fly out the next morning. Being a Sunday and flexible, we took them up on their offer. We got a decent amount of compensation, gave each of us $15.00 per meal voucher (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and put us up in a hotel for the night. We were very happy with the deal.
In the past, the airlines generally offered vouchers to be used for future flights. After the United incident where they dragged a passenger off the plane, the airlines re-thought their compensation offers and now offer about a dozen options for gift cards. This includes retailers such as Amazon, Best Buy, Gap and others. They also allow you to receive an Amex prepaid card which is basically good as cash.
We all chose an Amex gift card for our "troubles" and had an enjoyable day exploring Salt Lake City.
The next day we returned to the airport and found the same chaotic airport. We again headed to the gate and were again greeted by customers service representatives requesting volunteers. Again, I sprang up and volunteered again. Unbelievably, they needed our seats again and offered us even more compensation. We again got Amex gift cards, meal vouchers and another hotel stay. We headed back to Salt Lake City for another enjoyable day of sightseeing.
As you know, we fly a lot and travel a lot and if we are flexible, I am always looking to get bumped and receive some compensation. I have probably volunteered about 3-4 times in the past year and they never seem to need me. Getting bumped 2 days in row was lucky and extremely beneficial and extended our fantastic spring break without too much inconvenience.
The next day we went to the airport again and were met with the same situation. I couldn't even believe that they still needed volunteers but they did and we volunteered again and they gave us even more compensation. 3 in a row. We got our hotel, meal vouchers and compensation and went on our merry way yet again.
By day 4, we were a little tired of this routine and our kids were missing school so we were prepared to get on the plane and finally make it home. It was unbelievable but they still needed volunteers. My wife and I looked at each other and said why not. We put our name on the list and went for 4 bumps in a row. Instead of offering overnight accommodations, they put 2 of us on the next flight and 2 of us on standby with us confirmed for an evening flight.
I didn't think it was possible and was prepared to go home. However, they needed our sits again and we received even more compensation and more meal vouchers. WE GOT BUMPED 4 TIMES IN A ROW!
We all proceeded to the next flight and it was truly unbelievable but they were still asking for volunteers. We were on a roll and put our name on the list again. Unfortunately, another family beat us to the list and we didn't get bumped again. However, 4 bumps in a row was great and we were nicely compensated for our troubles and enjoyed our added time in Salt Lake City.
The craziest thing about all of this was that our original flights were FREE! I booked us all using frequent flyer points so they essentially paid us to get back their free seats! Crazy!
I hate traveling during the busy time periods as everything is more of challenge. Getting timeshares, getting to your destination, getting rental cars, getting restaurant reservations and just getting around is more difficult. However, when you have school age children, we don't have much choice if you want to travel.
For those of you that need to travel during this time, plan as far in advance as possible and use my timeshare / hotel point strategy. It has saved me multiple times and highly recommend it. Take a look at this post for some good ways to get a bunch of points quickly.
While I hate traveling during these peak times, this ended up working in our favor. I won't give you the final tally of our compensation but we arrived home with large smiles on our face having had our entire week paid for by Delta plus much more! This was definitely a very memorable spring break! I'm not sure whether we will ever experience a similar windfall but it was fun while it lasted.
Have you been bumped multiple times before? Share your story below!
Timeshare Deal: Week in a 1 bedroom unit in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico at the Grand Solmar for $289 - June 2019
I have talked about Accommodations Certificates before and while the choices can have a lot to be desired, there have been some significant "diamonds in the rough".
I was recently targeted again for 2 additional Accommodations Certificates from Interval International which allow you to receive up to a 3 bedroom unit for $289 exchange fee for an entire week.
The destinations or available timeshares for these weeks are generally not prime weeks or prime resorts but if you are diligent, there can be some amazing deals.
I was searching for some opportunities using my certificates and came across the Grand Solmar at Rancho San Lucas which had almost every single week of June available in a one bedroom unit.
Cabo in June should be a decent time of year and while it will be hot, it is prime vacation time.
Here is the current availability that I am seeing:
This resort has been on my radar for a while and it looks like a great property. Here are the reviews from Tripadvisor where it gets almost a 5 star rating.
As you can see, the TOTAL COST of this entire week in a 1 bedroom unit is ONLY $289 for 7 nights or about $41 per night. This property DOES NOT require an all inclusive meal plan but per the terms and conditions, it is available for a supplemental fee.
You need to be very careful when you book these accommodations certificates as some properties have MANDATORY all inclusive fees which can easily add $1,000's to your reservation.
This is a stellar deal to travel well, in luxury and cheap! Timeshares definitely have their issues but deals like this continue to show me (and hope you too) that timeshares are not all that bad.
I have made this offer before but haven't actually had success but I generally don't use these accommodation certificates since I plan our travel so far in advance that these "last minute" items don't work for our travel plans. However, if any of my readers would like one of these units or others, I would just have them pay the $289 fee plus the $69 guest certificate and you can book one of these weeks.
Make sure to leave your comments below and if you are interested in one of these weeks, please indicate what week and I will respond. Alternatively, you can e-mail me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading and let me know your thoughts on this deal!
Top Timeshare Locations In Europe
Given that the continent attracts a steady stream of visitors from all over the globe, it’s no surprise that Europe is home to some incredibly desirable timeshares. In virtually every country and every major city across the country, there are places that people invest in as homes away from home, giving them the chance to spend regular time at a desired destination, and possibly even use said destination as a base from which to wander around Europe.
To narrow down all of the potential options is quite a task, and naturally there are dozens of excellent ones that won’t appear here. The following, however, should certainly be counted among the most desirable timeshare locations in Europe.
St. Christopher Club - Hamburg, Germany
When you imagine tourism or even long-term vacations in Germany, there are other cities that will come to mind first. Berlin and Munich in particular are far and away the country’s most famous destinations, and naturally draw significant crowds of foreign visitors. Both can be lovely to see and explore, but some ultimately find that Hamburg is the more appealing city. Located on the Elbe River to the north, it’s grown trendy enough in recent years that one of the web’s most visible travel sites even wrote specifically about reasons to visit this city instead of Berlin. These reasons included fresh food, excellent shopping, a beautiful city centre, and vibrant culture, among other things, ultimately painting the picture of a wonderful place for an extended foreign stay.
There are multiple options for timeshares here, not the least of which is the fact that Hamburg has developed a very active home rental market. That’s not a traditional timeshare, naturally, but in a way it’s a means of enjoying the same benefits of a timeshare without the organizational hassle. The Renaissance Hamburg Hotel also comes up as a nice professional venue for this sort of residence, and possibly even use said destination as a base from which to wander around Europe.
Aeolos Beach Club - Corfu, Greece
If your goal in seeking a European timeshare if to find a beautiful place to relax a few weeks out of the year, or your own personal paradise in general, you really can’t do much better than the Greek Isles. Famously beautiful and situated on just about everybody’s travel bucket list, these islands exemplify what’s so special about the Mediterranean region and offer unparalleled views, quiet accommodations, and a sense of peace and contentment that’s impossible to put into words. Corfu is an island that represents all of this, and is the home of the Aeolos Beach Club, which may be the most recommended timeshare option in Greece. It’s a fairly affordable resort despite its hillside location overlooking the sea, its lovely rooms and individual units, and amenities like an in-house restaurant and spa.
47 Park Street - London, United Kingdom
It’s important to remember that there are timeshare options in some of Europe’s most famous capitals as well, including London. Now, Park Street may not itself be one of the city’s more renowned spots, but it’s right in the thick of the action. The street is adjacent to the magnificent Hyde Park, and a walkable distance (albeit a rather long walk) from Buckingham Palace. And if your taste for London comes partially from the innumerable works of fiction focused there, you might also be intrigued to know that Park is one over from Baker Street. This is the famed home of Sherlock Holmes, in everything from the modern series Sherlock, in which it’s presented in a fairly realistic manner, to a Holmes-based online game, which specifically asserts that "the action unfolds" at 221B Baker Street, Holmes’s famous apartment. Not a bad neighborhood for those who want to step into their own fantastical versions of London!
As for the residence itself, 47 Park Street is thought by some to be one of the nicer timeshare options in all of Europe. Also known as the Grand Residences by Marriott in the Mayfair area, 47 Park Street is effectively a beautiful corner hotel full of townhouses and suites, with 24-hour service and timeshare arrangements in place. It’s high-class city living in a city of royals.
Ca De Venezia - Venice, Italy
Like London, Venice is one of Europe’s truly remarkable cities that attracts visitors of all kinds, from all over, all year round. It’s a stunning and unique destination, truly unlike any other place in the world, and packed with enough sights, activities, and pure visual appeal to keep anyone busy for weeks on end. So, naturally, it’s a popular place for extended stays as well! Ca De Venezia is actually a more casual option as compared to some of the home-away-from-home options discussed above, but it’s still a highly recommended, hostel-style timeshare option for those who just want regular access to the city. It’s a homey, apartment-style mini-resort, located east of the city centre and Grand Canal, where you’ll have some peace and quiet without sacrificing quick access to the main attractions.
Pestana Grand Hotel - Madeira, Portugal
Madeira may be the most obscure location listed here, but once you get to know it, it’s hard to resist it as a potentially regular vacation destination. A small island, and actually an autonomous one off the coast of Portugal, it’s a dreamy island unlike most others in Europe. It has its nice beaches and tourist spots, certainly, but also outstanding local food, high mountainous hiking trails, lush greenery, and bustling, authentic little towns. It’s a place you can fall in love with in a day, and then envision enjoying for a great deal longer. Somewhat ironically, the Pestana Grand Hotel is perhaps the most traditional luxury resort of the timeshare options mentioned here, almost clashing with the island’s image as a whole. That’s not a bad thing, however. All it means is that you can stay in luxury and comfort while enjoying everything else the island has to offer.
Timeshares can be a great way to travel but as I have stated many times before, you also need to have points. Points can come in many flavors but I am talking about credit card transferable points, hotel points and frequent flyer miles.
In my previous post found here, I explained a fairly simple strategy on how to obtain tons of credit card, hotel and frequent flyer points by applying for credit cards. It is one of the easiest ways to amass tons of points which can be a great tool in connection with your timeshare travels.
Between my wife and I, we have about 30+ credit cards and both maintain a 800+ credit score. The key is to pay off the bills each month and not maintain any balances. Believe it or not, having a lot of credit cards means having a lot of credit so when you use credit cards, your utilization percent will be lower which will actually increase your score.
However, there are many people out there that simply do not want to manage that many credit cards or have the desire to constantly apply, cancel and re-apply for cards. It is definitely a time consuming hobby so I understand that it is not for everything.
However, there are still some great way to get tons of points through various activities that can easily be done. Here are some of my favorites.
Many of us online shop on mostly a daily basis. The key to amassing a lot of points through this activity is to go through various online portals. Some provide cash back and some provide points. There are tons of these portals that are run by almost all hotels and airline partners as well as Chase Bank, Discover and a few others.
The key idea is that when you start a shopping trip, you need to start through one of these online portals. Once you click their link, it will bring you to the shop of your choice and through cookies, will track you purchases and award you miles. Many times, this can boost your earning ratio by A LOT as they have various offers that sometimes can reward you anywhere from 1x to 20x per dollar spent.
Each shopping portal has different earning rates which can be time consuming to figure out the best place to start. The goal is to maximize every dollar spent.
My favorite starting place to find which portal offers the best value is www.evreward.com
It is extremely simple to use and you simple type in the name of the store and it provides you a listing of all available portals and their earning ratio.
For example, if I wanted to shop at Macys.com, I simply type in Macy's to their tool bar and here are the results.
As you can see, there are tons of portal options and you can earn anywhere between 1.5 points per $ to 7 points per $. It pays to use this tool. You can also see that there are some cash back options which can be valuable too. It just depends on what goal you desire: cash or points.
Also, the earning ratio's provided above are just for shopping through the portal. Any points or cash back that you earn from your credit card will be in addition. Therefore, it also pays to use the right credit card for the purchases.
Another one of my favorite tools is signing up through various dining programs. Most hotels and airlines also having dining programs.
Basically, you register with the dining portal, provide one or more credit cards to register and if and when you dine with a particular restaurant that is a member, you can earn a lot of additional points.
Instead of re-creating the wheel, The Points Guy, has done a good job outlining these programs.
One thing to take notice of with these programs is that you can only register one credit card per program. You cannot earn multiple points through different programs with the same credit card. Therefore, for this program, it probably makes sense to pick one dining partner to try to maximize your points.
Again, these points are in addition to any points that you earn with your credit cards. For example, the Citi Prestige card now offers 5x points for dining so you can easily increase your earning potential by registering that card and dining out at those partner restaurants.
Office Supply Stores
This tactic is one of my absolute favorites. While this requires slightly more work, the payback is absolutely fantastic.
Chase Bank originally offering the Ink Plus credit card which offers 5x points on office supply purchases. They have since discontinued that card but continue to offer the Chase Ink Business Cash Card.
While the card is advertised as a cash back card, it essentially earns Chase Ultimate Reward Points which can be redeemed for $0.01 per points or, if you have another ultimate rewards earning card (Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, etc.), these points become transferable and you can use the Chase Ink Business Cash Card to earn ultimate reward points and transfer them to their travel partners.
Here, the simply strategy is to maximize your spend at office supply stores to get 5x points. While most people will not be spending $1,000's of dollars per year on office supply stores, the "trick" here is that most office supply stores (Staples, Office Depot, Office Max) also sell gift cards to various stores.
You can easily buy gift cards to Amazon, Delta, Southwest, Whole Foods, Home Depot, Lowes, etc. You can obtain 5x points for those purchases and then spend those gift cards at those merchants.
The other fairly easy win with this strategy is to buy Visa or Mastercard gift cards. These will normally come with an activation fee but even with such fee, getting 5x points is almost always a win especially if you maximize those points.
Also, all of these stores regularly offer promotions on Visa and Mastercard purchases which either waive the activation fee or even give you a discount off the price of the Visa gift cards. You can essentially earn free money and get 5x points for the purchase.
Once you have the Visa or Mastercard gift cards, you can use them just like any other Visa or Mastercard. They can be a little difficult to keep track of as some retailers will deny the purchase if there is not enough funds on the card, many retailers will simply approve the purchase for whatever was on the card and you can use another card to pay the balance. This is generally the case at Costco, Whole Foods and most supermarkets.
While no one likes spam, the points issuers have creative a very lucrative currency that is sold to credit cards, retailers, and other third parties in order to attract customers and regularly send out e-mails advertising these offers. As a result, there are always tons of promotions that are ongoing which attempts to encourage certain behavior and it can actually be worthwhile to sign up for their promotional e-mails.
It can be tough to weed through the various programs so I tend to rely on blogs to help direct me to great deals. Here are a few of my favorites and definitely encourage you to read and sign up for their updates. They have a lot of great information that has saved me $1,000's over the years.
Every now and again crazy promotions come out where you simply need to take advantage of what they are offering. In case you are interested, one of the most interesting stories is concerning pudding and miles. This is a great story and the point issuers definitely learned from this experience. Read about it here.
Here are my favorite two promotions that I took part of that was very lucrative.
Lasik: While I definitely am a candidate for Lasik, they had a promotion in the past where if you get screened for it, they would give you 25,000 Delta Skymiles (enough for a domestic round trip or more). There was no purchase involved and simply required an appointment and about 30 minutes of my time. This was a great simple win.
Bosley: Bosley is one of the most preeminent hair transplant systems. Unfortunately, I am also a candidate for Bosley and they also offered 25,000 Delta Skymiles for an appointment. Again, 30 minutes of my time, I became 25,000 Delta Skymiles richer. A simple win.
These types of crazy opportunities come up fairly regularly so it pays to review those emails from the airlines, hotels and credit cards. Fairly often, they provide you with some great offers which are easy to do and can earn you tons of points.
Points are a great way to travel for "free" but are an essential tool to use with timeshares. My strategy has been and will continue to be to use points as backups when trying to get a timeshare so that you can book flights without worrying about whether your timeshare will come through. Here is an overview of that strategy.
Points have become a very lucrative industry for the issuers but also are can be very lucrative for the traveler. Despite constant devaluations of their programs, it is an essential tool to maintain to be able to travel for significantly less than retail. Credit cards are a simple way to amass tons of points but that avenue is dying quickly as credit cards issuers get stricter on enforcing their bonus offers. Take a look at my take on that here.
What other strategies to you use to get points? Make sure to leave your comments below!
I have done a couple of previous posts on purchasing timeshares on eBay and explained whether auctions offering timeshares for $1.00 are legitimate. You can read about them here and here.
The general consensus is that they are legitimate offers for timeshares but there are details that you need to read to make sure that all fees are disclosed and there are no surprises that could occur where there are outstanding loans, past due maintenance fees or other non-disclosed fees associated with the purchase.
In writing those posts, I realized that I am consistently giving the message that timeshares are worthless. While I do believe that a vast amount of timeshares are essentially worthless in terms of resale value, there are actually a lot of timeshares that retain and even arguably appreciate in value.
Appreciation in timeshares is almost a complete fallacy but there are definitely times where you may purchase a week inexpensively and end up selling it for a profit. These types of weeks do exist but you need to know what to look for or get lucky.
My Lucky Week
As you may know, I own week 47 at the Hyatt Beach House in Key West, Florida, I have never been to that resort and will likely never go. When I purchased my first week in 2008, I paid $6500 for that week which was allocated 1300 points. Compared to prices today, I paid an exorbitant amount but still don't regret it as I have received a lot of value throughout the years.
Recently, Hyatt redid it exchange chart and week 47, instead of being allocated 1300 points, was reallocated 2000 points. This provided me an almost immediate 50% in value for my week although I still am not sure whether I would be able to recoup my initial investment. You can read about that here.
However, this reallocation definitely increased the value of this week.
As I have shown in other examples, eBay is a good source to see how much timeshares are worth. For this, instead of looking for $1.00 timeshares, I thought I would see how much the most expensive timeshares have sold for in the recent few weeks. Here is the list of some recently sold auctions. I think these prices will surprise some of you.
As you can see in the attached, most of the timeshares listed above sold for $8,000+ dollars. While of few of them had only one bidder, many of them had multiple bids which indicates that there were multiple people willing to pay these prices.
eBay is not a perfect market but I tend to view eBay as a very good indicator of the true market value of items.
As you see, there are many different brands of timeshares listed above that commanded such prices. There are Hiltons, Marriotts, Disney, Westins, and even Welk resorts (a timeshare only brand).
Most timeshares are worth a fraction of the developer pricing so buying resales is essential if you want maximize ownership. The economics of timeshare ownership buying from the developer "may" still make sense but the math gets very fuzzy and few people will actually be able to recoup the initial investment.
However, timeshares can still have value and as you can see from the above, they can have some real value associated with them. Not all timeshares are equal so do you research on what you want and what the going market price is for such week or system.
What did you pay for your timeshare? Can you sell it for what you paid?
In a previous post, I gave a broad overview of whether timeshare sales and subsequent purchases of timeshares selling for $1.00 on eBay were legitimate. You can read that post here.
Essentially, my conclusion and position is that these auctions are legitimate, you definitely can purchase a timeshare for $1.00 BUT there may be other factors that need to be assessed where the actual winning bid could be $1,000's of dollars.
I stand by that post but a lot of comments were given that I wish you would have given some examples of actual purchases and what to look for when purchasing them.
As a result of those comments, in this post, I will go through some examples of eBay sales to show you what you need to look out for when making these purchases.
Before we get started, I have done some other posts about determining what you timeshare is worth. One solid method that I actually use is eBay. In case you didn't know, you can actually search "completed listings" and "sold listings". There is a distinct difference between the two.
Completed listings have ended but may not have sold and sold listings actually sold. You can see the exact price which they sold for. Here is the post on that topic.
For the following examples, I have searched "sold listings" to see the actual selling price.
Additionally, before I go through the actual examples, I wanted to again point out an important item that you should consider. My view is that timeshares are great but I would only recommend buying "name brand" timeshares such as Marriott, Hilton, Wyndham, Hyatt, Westin, Sheraton, etc.
These timeshare brands have certain standards to adhere to, have regular brand recognition and have thousands of hotel counterparts which essentially markets the timeshares. Therefore, while not all of these name brand timeshares will have any value, the chances of being able to resale them for at least a $1.00 is much higher than a single destination timeshare.
Example 1: Hyatt Wild Oak Ranch in San Antonio, Texas
As you can see in the attached photo, a seller was selling an odd year, week 10 timeshare at the Hyatt Residence Club in San Antonio. The green price indicates that it sold for the whopping price of $0.01. If the price was grey, it would indicate that it was a completed but unsold auction.
Buying a Hyatt for one penny is quite the bargain. Generally, the "gotcha" could occur for the various closing costs, transfer fees, past due maintenance fees or outstanding loans.
Some, but not all of auctions, will list out the various fees and who will be responsible. Make sure that the auction clearly states the fees and responsible party.
For this auction, the SELLER will pay the closing costs of $650 and the required transfer fee of $650. Additionally, as you can see below, since this auction ended in December of 2018, it is likely that the maintenance fees were not paid for 2017 and the SELLER will actually pay those as well.
Once you read the description, you can also see that the ongoing maintenance fees are $1239 every year of use.
For years in which you do not have use which would be every even year, you still need to pay a fee which they do disclose of approximately $150-$180.
For this particular auction, it does not appear that there are any "gotchas" and the Buyer potentially purchased this particular timeshare for $0.01. The more difficult hurtle for the buyer will to pass Hyatt's Right of First Refusal. Hyatt has the right, but not the obligation to purchase the timeshare before the third party and I would be surprised if they wouldn't do so in this situation as they will likely be able to sell this unit through the developer for $10,000+ dollars.
That is why it pays to buy resale!
Example 2: Marriott Summit Watch in Park City Utah
If you read this blog, you know that I am a big fan of Park City, Utah and a fan of the Marriott Summit Watch. Looking through these eBay sold results, I came across this one. It appears that 2 bedroom week sold at the Marriott Summit Watch sold for $1.00.
Here are the details of the week:
Maintenance fees for this "floating" week are $1667 per year which the Seller has indicated has been paid for 2019. The closing costs are $99.
Looking through the other details of this auction, there are no further fees disclosed. Assuming that the facts put forth in the auction are accurate, this week likely sold for $1.00 PLUS $99 in closing costs. A pretty good bargain but the buyer will still need to get past Marriott's Right of First Refusal.
The details of this auction are fairly straightforward and it looks like the buyer did purchase the timeshare for $1.00 with the obligation to pay $99 for the closing costs. They are also now obligated to pay the maintenance fees each and every year of $1667 which is definitely on the high side of fees. But, their initial up front cost was very nominal.
However, upon looking closer at the Marriott timeshare, I would argue that this purchase is actually an awful deal for $1.00 plus $99.00.
The Marriott maintenance fee of $1667 is quite expensive especially if you actually wanted to use the Marriott Summit Watch unit during those floating weeks. Those floating weeks actually occur during mud season which is during November and April, the least desirable timeframe for a mountain destination.
I routinely see Interval International Getaways offering those types of weeks for approximately $400 per week even at the Marriott Summit Watch. If you actually wanted to use the "floating" week that you purchased, you would essentially be paying 4x what I can rent that same week for if not more.
Additionally, Interval International offers Accommodations Certificates which allows you to get certain weeks for an exchange fee of $239. I routinely see those types of weeks offered at the Marriott Summit Watch and other high quality timeshares during these off-seasons.
Overall, I think that purchasing the timeshare for $1.00 plus $99.00 of closing costs is a good deal but ONLY if you trade that Marriott for other weeks. Also, since you are essentially purchasing an extremely low demand week, you may not be able to trade it as freely as other properties to obtain the more desirable week.
The reason that I like Hyatt properties is that each week, even legacy weeks, convert into points and you can use those points for exchanges.
From interval's perspective, a point is a point regardless of the underlying week. Marriott's legacy program is different in that you trade a week for a week (or 3 studio weeks for a 2 bedroom week or 1 bedroom + a studio week for a 2 bedroom week) and when you do that, they assign a TDI or travel demand index to that week which could prevent you from getting a high demand week in exchange for your low demand week.
Overall, buying a timeshare off eBay is great way to save tons off the the initial developer pricing. The original sellers of both of the timeshares listed above likely paid $10,000 - $25,000 for those weeks so buying them for $1.00 is a fantastic deal as a comparison. The real gotcha that you need to be aware of with these types of purchases is to ensure that there are no loans, past due maintenance fees, or other fees associated with these purchases. This is why an Estoppel Certificate from the developer is absolutely necessary.
Here is a post I did on that topic.
Assuming that the buyers can overcome the right of first refusal from Hyatt, that buyer got a great deal PROVIDED that they use the timeshare and understand how to maximize their use.
I would argue that the Marriott timeshare is worthless and not even worth the $100.00.
As you can see, there are many nuances to look into when purchasing a timeshare. Despite the low fees being offered on eBay, you need to understand what you are buying and how to use it properly to maximize tis value.
Also, at some point of time in the future, you may be the one trying to sell the $1.00 timeshare that you purchased for $1.00. It is not always easy to find a buyer so you need to take that into consideration when you purchase that timeshare and make sure you understand exactly how they work and what you can trade.
Have you bought a timeshare off eBay? What was your experience?
In case you did not read my recent post concerning my 3 week trip to Hawaii (read about it here), while I did use a timeshare for one week of the trip, I failed to obtain a timeshare for the other two weeks and used A LOT of points in order to stay at the Andaz Maui.
I have written about the Andaz Maui before as it is a fantastic resort and a very worthwhile redemption for your Hyatt Points especially if you have Globalist / top tier status with Hyatt.
As you can see, I spent 315,000 World of Hyatt points for those stays and spent 22,500 United Mileage Plus frequent flyer miles per each family member for one way flights to Maui and 22,500 American Airlines miles per each family member for one way flights from Maui.
In total, I spent:
315,000 World of Hyatt Points
90,000 United Mileage Plus frequent flyer miles
90,000 American Advantage Miles
The total amount of miles spent for this trip was 495,000.
Doing the math, this is simply a ton of miles. While I did receive a $28,000 worth of hotel stays and probably $6,000 worth of airfare for this, it is simply a lot of points.
Accumulating Points / Frequent Flyer Miles
While we were at the Andaz Maui, I spoke to various people about their trip and inevitably a discussion would ensure about points. A lot of people were staying at the hotel on points and a decent amount were not. One question that kept coming up is how I accumulate my points / miles.
The easiest answer is generally credit cards. Credit card bonus have increased dramatically over the past few years as competition has significantly heated up in order to motivate credit card issuers to be at the top of your wallet. Credit cards get paid by the merchants every time you swipe the card and get paid for those who keep balances (NEVER KEEP A BALANCE!!!). The credit card issuers want you to use your card for every purchase.
Over the years, I have taken advantage of a lot of credit card sign up bonuses. It is generally the easiest and quickest way to accumulate a lot of miles. However, before you start applying for various cards, you need to have a strategy.
Credit Card Application Strategy
In this post, I took the position that the lucrative credit card sign up bonuses are on their way out and timeshares could potentially be the next frontier on cheap / luxurious travel.
The reason why I take this position was that in the past, you could simply apply for a credit card, get the bonus, cancel the card and reapply. It was a GREAT way to accumulate points. It wasn't too longer for credit card issuers to catch on this strategy and began making adjustments to their offers and limiting how many times you could get the bonus.
Before we get into the specific rules on various credit card issues, before you begin applying for cards, you need to know where you stand in terms of a credit score. I use CreditKarma which is a great FREE tool to receive your credit score. Take a look at your credit score so you know where you stand. 760 and above should put you in a good place to get almost any card you desire.
The other tool that I recommend is the Experian app. Here is the link for IOS. Experian also provides you with a score but also allows you to view your credit report and most importantly, what accounts you have opened and the when you opened them. This is important for the rules outlined below.
The reason that you need to know the amount of credit cards you have opened is because of a fairly new rule termed 5/24. This is Chase's rule where you will be automatically denied for any new application if you have opened up 5 new credit card accounts with ANY bank within the past 24 months / 2 years. When you apply for a Chase card, they will review your account and if you have more than 5 accounts opened, you will get denied regardless of your credit score, whether you a Chase Private Client Customer or whether you have millions of dollars in the bank with them. It is a hard rule.
The other important rule is from American Express. Instead of a 5/24 rule, they have a lifetime rule. If you have received the bonus offer for a particular credit card in the past, you are prohibited from receiving it again for your "lifetime". While I do not have any data points, a "lifetime" for American Express used to be considered 7 years but I do not know whether that is still accurate. Fortunately, American Express has rolled out a new tool so that when you apply for a credit card, if you are not eligible for the bonus offer, they will inform you BEFORE they run your credit.
Citibank has also implemented their own rules for their Thank You card. Basically, if you have received any sign up offer for their Premier Card, Thank You Reward Card or Prestige card within 24 months of opening OR closing an account, you are not eligible for the bonus. With Citibank, not only do you need to be aware of the opening date, but if you received a bonus offer 3 years ago, closed the account and attempted to reapply, you would be denied the bonus since you closed the account within 2 years.
The best strategy is to open an account, have it for 2 years, apply for a different variant of the card and close the previous card after you receive the new card. If you mess this up and close the card before you reapply, you will get denied the bonus.
There are other credit card issuers that all have similar rules. Barclays and Bank of America are others who have some type of similar restrictions. However, the vast amount of great credit card offers are generally offered by Chase, AMEX and Citibank. In order to try to keep this post readable, I am not listing the rules for Barclays and Bank of America.
Once you are aware of your score, how many accounts you have opened in the past 2 years and understand the restrictions in place, you should have a strategy in place to go forward and apply.
Since Chase has the most restrictive policy, I would generally start applying for Chase cards. This way you can avoid the automatic denial for having more than 5 cards. However, depending on how many you cards apply for, you will almost certainly be denied further cards for 5 years so you need to make the determination on how many to apply for as new offers constantly appear and you may be denied a stellar bonus if you have 5 or may applications.
An interested strategy that often seems overlooked at times is that if you are married, there are 2 people eligible for the bonus offer. It is not one per household but rather one per person. The best strategy for good offers is to apply for each spouse. You can accumulate double the amount of points. The other potential / questionable strategy that you can use is one spouse applies for the card and once approved, you can refer your spouse to apply for the same cards with additional bonus points. A simple but effective strategy to get even more points.
Personal and Business Cards
The credit card issuers make a lot of money off personal cards but they also want your business spend. There are personal and business versions of various cards. if you have a legitimate business with its own employer identification number, most business cards will not report to your personal credit report but if it is Chase, they will still review your report to determine if you have surpassed the 5/24. However, for future cards, the business card application will not count towards the 5/24 since it does not show up on your personal credit report.
If you do not have an EIN, you can still apply for a business card as a sole proprietor and use your social security number. You need to have a bonafide business but selling on eBay or doing some side gigs definitely qualifies. Business cards are a great way to add to your points / miles stash.
I have been doing the credit card application game for a while now which is why I have some many points accumulated. As a result, I am limited to the amount of American Express cards available to me and generally always have about 5 cards opened in the past 2 years which limits my ability to get new offers.
However, if I was to begin with a clean slate, here is what I would do. I would start by applying for Chase cards, both personal and business, and apply for up to 5 cards. I would then move on to American Express and Citibank.
Some links provided are my referral links. I would greatly appreciate you using those links to help support the blog!
Chase Personal Cards:
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card that generally offers 50,000 Ultimate Reward Points. This is a solid card to start.
The new Chase World of Hyatt card is a great card. While it was just offering 60,000 World of Hyatt points, it is now been reduced to 50,000. You may way to wait on this one. World of Hyatt points are great and this card gives you one free night in a category 1-4 hotel each year. This easily pays for the annual fee.
The Chase Southwest cards just came out with a great offer where you can get a companion pass after a $4,000 spend. There is a lot of buzz about this offer. A better strategy is to open a Chase Southwest Business Card where the introductory offer is 60,000 Rapid Reward Points and another personal card (in flight offers are currently 50,000 Rapid Reward Points) which would get you the 110,000 Rapid Rewards Points to obtain the companion pass for this year (2019) and NEXT YEAR (2020). However, I think that the companion pass offer is decent and had I not applied for the Priority card before the offer was extended, I would have taken advantage of it.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a good card but Chase restricts the bonus to either the Sapphire Reserve or the Sapphire Preferred. Either one is a good card but the Sapphire Reserve use to be offered with 100,000 Ultimate Reward Points and now just offers 50,000.
Chase Business Cards:
The Chase Business Southwest cards offers 60,000 Rapid Reward Points and is a great addition to a personal card if you want a 2 year companion pass.
TheChase Ink Preferred is a stellar card and offers 80,000 Ultimate Reward Points. This is a must get card for 80,000 Ultimate Reward Points.
Chase Ink Business Cash card is actually a great card. Even though it states that it is a cash back card, if you have another card that earns Ultimate Rewards points, you actually get Ultimate Reward Points instead of cash and while it can be redeemed for cash, you are much better using it for travel and particularly transferring those points to Chase partners.
American Express use to be my favorite card issuer but after a few denials for bonuses that was assured of receiving from multiple representatives and supervisors, I don't generally use them for much spend. However, they do have some great bonus offers.
The American Express Platinum Card is expensive but comes with various perks. Offers range from 25,000 - 100,000. 75,000 American Express Rewards Points or higher would be worth it for at least the first year.
The American Express Gold Card just went through some changes and can be a decent deal if you use the perks that come with it. A big plus is the 4x points on dining.
The American Express Everyday Card is not a great card but does not have an annual fee. It is one of the only cards that earns American Express Reward points without having a fee. The reason you want to have this card in your wallet is if you cancel some of the other American Express cards that have high annual fees, you will forfeit you points earned unless you transfer them out to another program or have another Amex reward point earning card. By having this no annual fee card, you can keep you Amex reward points even after you cancel other cards. It is great to have and could be useful for some spending.
American Express Business
The American Express Business Platinum card is another good card and while the fee is expensive, it could be worthwhile. Bonus offers vary for this card but it now currently 75,000.
The American Express Delta Skymiles Business Card has been offering some great signup offers between 50,000 and 75,000. Also, this card does come with one free companion airfare certificate which can easily make up for the $195 annual fee if used.
The Citi Premier Card is a good card that I keep in my wallet. 3x points on travel and gas makes it worthwhile. 50,000 sign up bonus is decent as the highest I have seen is 60,000.
The Citi Prestige Card is also a good card but it just got revamped. The fee went up and the perks went down. I do not recommend this card at the moment but if a worthwhile sign up offer comes along, it could be beneficial. There are no available applications at the moment.
The Citibank Aadvantage Business card currently offers 75,000 Aadvantage miles. I think that this one is worthwhile.
A lot of people will read this and be extremely worried that your credit score will be obliterated after applying for the amount of these cards. In actuality, you credit score will likely immediately decline but after a few months will actually go up. Your credit score depends on a number of factors but the two most important are paying on time and utilization.
Utilization refers to the amount of credit available and how much you use. If you have a $1000 credit limit and use $900 during a month, you are utilizating 90% of your credit which will cause your score to materially decline. If you have a $10,000 credit limit and use $900 during a month, you are using 9% of your credit which should positively impact you.
Essentially, having a lot of credit available to you through multiple credit cards but only using a small percentage will actually help your score. Between my wife and I, we have about 30 credit cards and both of us have an over 800+ credit score.
This post became a lot longer than anticipated as there is a lot of information to cover on this topic. While I attempted to be concise, there is a lot of knowledge to pass on in order to apply for credit cards with a good strategy. As you can see, the bonus offers of 50,000 to 100,000 per cards can be extremely worthwhile especially if both spouses apply for personal and business cards. It is not uncommon that you can easily accumulate 1,000,000 bonus points by simply applying for a combination of personal and business cards.
In some follow up posts, I will go into some more details on how I spend on my various credit cards and some additional beneficial ways to accumulate miles cheaply and easily.
The goal of the blog is to explain timeshares but if you want to truly maximize timeshare ownership, you should also have good strategies to obtain credit card points, hotel points and frequent flyer miles. Besides getting free flights to various destinations, many timeshare strategies involve using hotel points.
Make sure to comment below!
I have done a similar post on this type of timeshare strategy before but with new readers and a new example of why this could be a very smart and economically prudent strategy, I thought I would go into some additional details.
As I mentioned in my past article, I spent three weeks in Hawaii over Christmas break. It was a great holiday vacation. Almost immediately after I returned, I had an additional ski trip planned for Beaver Creek, Colorado.
Of course I used American AAdvantage miles for this trip as well as I flew in Eagle / Vail airport which makes it a very easy drive to Beaver Creek. I won't go into the savings for flights but flights into Eagle / Vail can be very expensive so it is generally a very good use of frequent flyer miles to fly into EGE.
While I normally exchange my Hyatt Residence Club points for other timeshare properties, for this particular ski trip, I actually used Hyatt’s internal trading options to secure a four night stay at the Hyatt Mountain Lodge in Beaver Creek.
4 night stays are the sweet spot in Hyatt Residence Club points redemption as it is a lot less points to stay 4 nights instead of a 3 over a weekend. While a 4 night stay does not include a Saturday night, these 4 nights stays can be a very good use of Hyatt Residence Club points. Take a look at this post on more details on the 4 night stay sweet spots.
In a separate post, I’ll do a review of this property but for this post, I’ll outline the economics of this stay and you can see why owning a timeshare can actually be economically advantageous.
I ended up needing two rooms for this vacation so I booked one room for myself using Hyatt Residence Club points and another room for my family members using cash. While I would have booked an extra room using points, an additional room was not available using points.
I used 280 Hyatt Residence Club points for a four night stay in a studio unit. The Studio unit was actually quite large and will post some photos of this unit and a review in a later post.
As discussed elsewhere, my points cost me $0.65 per point so this 4 night stay cost me $182 (in points) plus an exchange fee of $39 for a total cost of $221 or $55 per night. This stay is in the beginning of January – peak ski season.
For my family members who did not have access to timeshare points, they booked a cash reservation for $337 PER NIGHT plus taxes, resort fees and fees for a total cost of over $1600. Basically, my family members paid over 6 times the amount that I spent using Hyatt Residence Club points.
Also, for those of you wondering, even though the cash reservation was in my name and I am a Globalist, I did have to pay a resort fee for the cash room since Hyatt Residence Club properties do not offer almost any perks for World of Hyatt members.
Additionally, to further show you the value of a timeshare relating to this particular vacation, the total cost of their 4-night stay was $300 in excess of my annual maintenance fee of $1300. Essentially, if they had a Hyatt timeshare, instead of paying cash for 4 nights, they could have paid $1300 for maintenance fees and stayed 28 nights (if they are available) in a studio unit during ski season. Quite a remarkable difference.
Here is the math in case you are interested:
2000 points per week for $1300 maintenance fee / 280 points needed for a 4-night midweek stay = 7 vacations of 4 nights each or 28 total nights.
If you just elected to use your 2000 points for 7 vacations of 4 nights a piece, you would be paying about $46 per night for luxurious accommodations during peak ski season where room rates are easily $300+ per night if not significantly more.
Timeshares may not work for every type of travel or travel style but if you enjoy skiing, many top tier, name brand hotel and timeshare brands have very luxurious ski-in/ski-out properties at popular mountain resorts. Hyatt has a few properties that can offer tremendous value and as you can see from this example, it may only take one trip to more than make up for the maintenance fees for the year and still end up saving you money.
This example does not include my initial cost to buy the timeshare but if done right, they can be had for a reasonable up-front cost which will ultimately decrease each year in which you use it. As discussed here, my up front cost has been fairly reasonable and still believe that even if you factor in the initial cost, the savings are material.
Did you book a timeshare for ski season this year? Where are you going? Make sure to comment below.