Maximize Timeshare Ownership
The ultimate resource to understand, maximize and leverage timeshare ownership to travel in luxury accommodations on a reasonable budget.
The ultimate resource to understand, maximize and leverage timeshare ownership to travel in luxury accommodations on a reasonable budget.
Timeshare systems are very complicated but once you get a handle on the various in and outs of the programs, there are some clear strategies that you can use to maximize ownership.
EXCHANGING YOUR WEEK
The general strategy that I use is to exchange my weeks through the exchange companies. By doing so, my weeks turn into points and my points are worth more through the exchange companies then through many of the internal trading systems. This is not always the case but I can say that this is generally the case for my particular weeks that I own.
As I discussed on Doctor of Credit, one of my weeks is at the Hyatt Beach House in Key West, Florida. I have never been to this resort and will likely never go. While I would like to visit Key West at some point, my existing week is too valuable through my use of points to simply use my one deeded week. As a result, I will never use my deeded week
WHY I BOUGHT MY WEEK
I bought my Hyatt for a couple of key reasons.
1. I really enjoy Hyatt hotels and resorts. While their footprint is smaller than some of the other hotel chains, their properties are generally top notch.
2. Hyatt has a timeshare property close to where I live. We use it a few times a year and I wanted to be able to have a resort close to home for any years where we did not or could not travel by plane.
When I first bought this particular timeshare, I recognized that there was some value based on our travel and vacation style and the system but did not fully understand the ins and outs of the program. Most first time timeshare owners do not do a ton of research and end of purchasing a timeshare without a plan. I got lucky in that despite not knowing everything, this week continues to work out very well for my families use.
INTRICACIES OF THE HYATT SYSTEM
One of the interesting parts about the Hyatt program is that you can trade it through their interval exchange system or use Interval International for the external system. The interval system allows you to book 2, 3, 4 or 7 nights for various amounts of points.
Here is the overview of the Hyatt system:
There are some ways to maximize your points in the internal system but the amount of points required for the external exchange is generally much better. For example, you need 750 points to get a studio during the highest demand times through the internal system but you only need 430 points to get a studio during the highest demand times through Interval International.
The fees with Interval International are much higher but I still find this to be a better use of points despite the additional cash outlay.
THE HYATT INVENTORY BLOCK
The interesting thing about Hyatt and Interval International is that Hyatt owners cannot trade into Hyatt properties through Interval International. If a Hyatt owner wants to stay at a Hyatt property, you NEED to book through the internal system. Interval International blocks all inventory from Hyatt owners so you cannot see any available exchange weeks or any Hyatt getaways.
I find this a little frustrating as I really enjoy Hyatt properties. However, as a result of this, I actually stay in more Marriott properties than Hyatt properties despite being a Hyatt owner.
It is somewhat surprising than this is what occurs, but since the external exchanges are more advantageous and since Hyatt inventory is blocked through the external exchanges, I end up looking for other high quality resorts which many times are Marriott properties.
Marriott is obviously a large hotel chain but they are also one of the largest timeshare operators. All of the Marriott timeshare properties that I have been to have been high quality accommodations.
BUY A HYATT FOR TRADING TO MARRIOTT
Getting back to the point of my post, if you are interested in staying predominantly in Marriott properties, it may actually be advantageous to purchase a Hyatt timeshare rather than a Marriott property. This is completely counterintuitive but can be a fantastic strategy.
I am actually currently looking to buy a Marriott timeshare solely to be able to trade in Hyatt properties and to get access to Interval International's Hyatt getaway weeks. I'll post more about this process including what property I will choose, the cost and additional strategies resulting from this purchase.
You can definitely exchange into Marriott properties with other timeshare brands that trade through Interval International but I wanted to highlight this particular strategy of buying one brand of timeshare even though you actually prefer staying in an alternate brand of timeshare.
This particular strategy can work in various ways with various different brands but the point of this post was that you need to see what exchange company a timeshare trades through and if there could be some limitations. If there are, you need to fully understand them so you can figure out how to maximize it.
In other posts, I will go through other intricacies of particular programs and what other strategies may work to your advantage.
What strategies do you use? Did you ever consider a similar strategy before purchasing your timeshare?
Hyatt Residence Club owners have a variety of ways to exchange their week / points into various other properties. As mentioned in other posts, the Hyatt Residence Club is a hybrid system so you can either use your deeded week or convert your week into points.
When you have points, you can either exchange your points internally through the Hyatt Residence Club for other Hyatt Residence Club properties or exchange those points through its trading partner, Interval International, for other timeshares.
The one restriction to Hyatt owners is that you cannot use Interval International to exchange into other Hyatt properties. Interval International blocks that inventory so a Hyatt Residence Club owner wanted to use points to trade into other Hyatt properties, they must use the internal trading system.
While this isn't a huge deal, it is meaningful. This is because the point requirements to exchange through Interval can be much less than trading through Hyatt internal system.
For example, in Interval International, if you wanted to reserve a week in a studio during the highest demand travel season, this would require you to use 430 points. In the Hyatt Residence Club system, if you wanted to reserve a studio unit during the highest demand season, Diamond season, this would require 750 points.
This difference in points is almost double. Due to this difference, it can make sense to exchange through Interval instead of internally with Hyatt but the catch is that you cannot reserve Hyatt units through this method since Interval blocks this inventory.
As a result, I generally reserve Marriott units, Four Season Units or other high quality units through Interval using my Hyatt points instead of booking through the internal Hyatt system.
This provides me with a better use of my points but you cannot stay at Hyatt properties. I like Hyatt properties a lot and tend to gravitate to many of their hotel properties. I have stayed at plenty of the Hyatt Residence Club properties and they are all very luxurious and of high quality.
The blocking of Hyatt inventory for Hyatt owners is frustrating but understandable. However, a question came up on whether I could rent Hyatt weeks through Interval Getaways.
As I have discussed here, Interval Getaways allow you to book weeks using cash rather than points and do not have any requirements to sit through any timeshare presentations. The pricing for these weeks are generally fantastic and almost impossible to beat when comparing these prices to standard hotel rates.
Due to the favorable pricing, I wanted to see available inventory for Hyatt properties to rent instead of Hyatt. I tried to search using all of the resort codes for Hyatt (HRP, HNS, HWP, HYS, HSH, HYK, HYN, HBK, HMS, HSL, HYP, HYA, HCC, HYB, HYI, HRA) and nothing came up.
I wasn't sure whether this inventory was purposefully blocked or whether there was simply no availability. I called Interval to check and was told that there is no block on Interval Getaways for Hyatt owners since you are paying cash instead of exchanging your points.
However, upon further research, I found out that this was not in fact the case and Interval blocks ALL inventory, regardless of if it is exchange inventory or getaway inventory for Hyatt properties for Hyatt owners.
This is disappointing as Hyatt properties are some of the nicest but I guess the reason for blocking this inventory is that Hyatt provides the same functionality within their internal system albeit for higher points and cash requirements.
Overall, I think the Hyatt system is one of the best currently although the Hyatt Pure Points systems is on the verge of a complete roll out. Time will tell whether the new Hyatt Pure Points system will be as advantageous but I will be sure to provide a post concerning the new system once all the details are unveiled.
For those of you who want to book Hyatt properties through Interval, the only way to do so would be to be a non-Hyatt owner or have a second account for Interval that is not linked to your Hyatt account.
Can you see Hyatt inventory through Interval Getaways? If so, post the availability below so that everyone can see pricing and availability.
Signing up for an RCI Account without being a timeshare owner: Get access to cheap timeshare weeks without ownership!
While I am a big fan of timeshare ownership, owning a timeshare comes with various hassles and expenses. Timeshare ownership is definitely not for everyone but timeshare vacations can be a very economic way to travel in luxury accomodations.
Timeshares have a bad reputation but most of those complaints involve exchanging, fees, availability and various hidden costs that aren't disclosed at the purchase. Rarely do people complain about quality of the accomodations or amenities.
There are definitely timeshares that are not very nice so you should do you research but there are some great timeshares that easily surpass even some of the finest hotels.
I highly recommend staying in timeshares and reviewing the various systems before completing any timeshare purchase. One great way to do so is through Interval International Getaways which I have discussed here and RCI Extra Vacations.
In this post, we will explore RCI Extra Vacations. RCI Extra Vacations are week long rentals that you can purchase instead of exchanging your timeshare. You need to have an RCI account in order to review these opportunities.
If you do not own a timeshare, YOU CAN STILL GET AN RCI ACCOUNT. In order to do so, you can go to RCI's website and Join. You need to click the link that says you own a timeshare and the form will ask for details on the timeshare owned but there are no deeds to upload or checks confirming your ownership. You can put in any resort that you want provided that it is a RCI affiliated resort. You can search for resorts here:
I confirmed with RCI that anyone can have an RCI account even if you do not own a timeshare!
There are many benefits to depositing a timeshare but having an RCI account will allow you access to RCI Extra Vacations.
RCI Extra Vacations are exactly like Interval International Getaways where you reserve highly discounted weeks for a week long period. The size of the unit and destinations will vary but these Extra Vacations can be an extreme bargain.
There is currently a special where you can reserve a week for as little as $199 for the entire week.
Just an example, here are some current available weeks that I found that can be a great bargain.
In order to Join RCI, the initial cost for a one year membership is $99. In addition, they offer a Platinum Membership which comes with various perks, the most significant is a 10% automatic discount on RCI Extra Vacations.
A 10% discount on these highly discounted weeks can easily cover the cost of the platinum upgrade which is $69 for a year.
There are additional discounts for a longer term membership periods.
Overall, the ability to get access to RCI Extra Vacations for only $99 for a year is a complete bargain. RCI has some quality resorts in its portfolio including those from Hilton, Wyndham and Disney not to mention others.
RCI Extra Vacations is not only a great way to save money on a vacation but a great way to get introduced to the timeshare world without the upfront cost of purchasing a timeshare and the ongoing maintenance.
Maintenance fees vary across units and programs but most RCI Extra Vacation weeks are offered for less money than those units annual dues. While there are definitely perks to owning a timeshare including the ability to book in advance, RCI Extra Vacations are definitely a great deal.
I highly recommend getting a RCI account and spending some time searching the availability to get a better handle on what is offered. For only $99, it is definitely worth it!
Good luck searching!
In addition to being an avid timeshare owner, I also am very involved with various hotel points and frequent flyer miles. Hotel points and frequent flyer miles are essential to have in your travel arsenal if you want to travel for free or at least open up destinations that you would not travel to due to the exorbitant costs.
I have shared some basic strategies to get hotel and frequent flyer miles but there are plenty of other interesting and unique ways to get them and use them to travel for free or close to free.
Most of the major timeshare brands offer the ability to convert your timeshare points into their hotel loyalty points. Since the Hyatt Residence Club just came out with their 2017 chart, I thought I would start by assessing their conversions.
As shown in the chart above, Hyatt owners has the ability to convert their timeshare week into Hyatt Gold Passport points. These points can be used in various Hyatt hotels around the world. Hyatt has recently announced a material change to their loyalty program and it will now be called the World of Hyatt as of March 1, 2017.
There are some significant changes to the program but the redemption values has stayed the same for the time being.
Per the chart, owners of Fixed Weeks and owners of Floating Weeks have different values assessed. The amount of Hyatt Gold Passport Points given will depend on the season of ownership and the size of the unit.
For example, owners of a 2 bedroom unit in a Gold Season have the opportunity to exchange their 1,880 Hyatt Residence Club points to 77,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points.
I put together the chart below to access the various conversion rates from Hyatt Residence Club to Hyatt Gold Passport.
As you can see, the amounts vary but are generally around 1 Hyatt Residence Club point converts into 40 Hyatt Gold Passport Points.
Also, you should note that owners of Mountain weeks are not given the ability to convert. This is most likely due to the low values associated with those weeks.
Hyatt Gold Passport Points are fantastic! They can be extremely valuable if you know how to maximize their value.
In regards to the stated conversion rates, it is almost certainly a horrendous deal. For example, if you own a Studio unit in Diamond Season, you are able to reserve one week in a studio at various Hyatt Residence Clubs during prime seasons. If you convert to Hyatt Gold Passport Points, you are given 30,000 points which can give you six (6) nights in many category 1 Hyatt Place’s (lowest tier) or 1 night in a Category 7 hotel (highest tier). While some Hyatt Place's are nice, category 1 Hyatt Places are generally airport hotels, small towns or not in highly trafficed tourist destinations.
Additionally, back in September, Hyatt formalized the ability to redeem Hyatt Gold Passport Points into Hyatt Residence Club properties. If you converted your Diamond Studio week (7 nights) and wanted to convert back into a Hyatt Residence Club property using Hyatt Gold Passport Points, (not sure why you do this) you would only be able to stay 1 or 2 nights, depending on the property.
The nightly point requirements for Hyatt Residence Club properties are below.
Overall, converting you Hyatt Residence Club points to Hyatt Gold Passport points is a horrendous deal. It will generally make no sense to do if you wanted to maximize their value.
I think that the Hyatt Residence Club offers the conversion to provide more flexibility since it opens up a vast amount of additional properties and gives the allure of opening up more destinations. However, it does not make a lot of economic sense.
There are tons of additional ways to earn Hyatt Gold Passport Points. Hyatt is a transfer partner with Chase Ultimate Rewards so there are many ways to get Hyatt Gold Passport points through credit card signup bonuses, everyday spend with credit cards or various other offers. If you want a good review of how to earn tons of Hyatt Gold Passport Points, I would start here: upgradedpoints.com/how-to-earn-hyatt-gold-points/
I highly discourage any conversions from Hyatt Residence Club points to Hyatt Gold Passport points. There are much better ways to use your Hyatt Residence Club points.
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A common theme of this blog is that you need to be flexible and plan early in order to exchange into great timeshares. This general strategy is key to making great exchanges and truly maximizing timeshare ownership.
While I firmly stand by this general rule, there are times when some great exchanges or getaways become available at the last minute. Sometimes other travelers cancel at the last moment or the exchange company releases inventory at the last minute hoping that someone will fill an empty room.
I am sure that we all know that Christmas vacation is happening next week so most of the world will likely be traveling. Scoring a christmas week in a luxurious destination is generally difficult which is why you need to put in requests as soon as possible, generally at least one year in advance.
While planning in advance is absolutely key, one of my favorite timeshare strategies that I employ when I do not get a week through requesting early is through the use of booking a hotel and searching timeshares that get released at the last moment.
The general strategy is as follows when I do not get the desired resort or week:
1. Book a hotel at the destination that you desire to travel to. Try to get the best rate possible or ideally book with points. Make sure that the reservation can be cancelled 24 hours in advance. Booking with points is generally ideal as they can likely be cancelled 24 hours before check-in. Additionally, even if this strategy does not work, the vacation would be free!
2. Put in a Interval International Getaway alert for the desired timeshare week. If and when something becomes available, it will alert you. Book immediately if it is at a comfortable price book. Do not wait, as these will disappear in seconds!
3. Constantly search for exchanges up until the very last minute where you can cancel your hotel reservation.
As stated, Interval International and RCI will sometimes release very desireable resorts for key weeks at the the very last second. Here are a couple that I found this morning.
A prime ski week in Park City for less than $500 for the week!
While I strongly advocate planning far in advance, there are times that great weeks and destinations become available at the last minute. These last minute deals can be a fantastic value especially if you were prepared to book a hotel room.
I have personally used this strategy many times and have easily saved thousands of dollars for booking a getaway instead of a the hotel stay. In addition to saving money, we are generally happier with the additional space and cooking facilities.
Specifically, I was able to use this strategy in St. Kitts. The Marriott hotel and timeshare are part of the same complex. We booked hotel rooms for approximately $2500 per room but kept looking for availability through Interval International. We were able to book a 2 bedroom timeshare for approximately $1,000 for the week at the last minute, saving us $1500 and giving us a 2 bedroom units instead of a small hotel room.
In conclusion, BOOK EARLY but if that does not work out, have a plan to keep searching. You could be very surprised with some last minute availability!
As I stated over and over, there are tons of ways to maximize timeshare ownership to travel in luxury for significantly less than booking hotels, vacation rentals and even airbnb. Outside of complicated strategies, I have found that one of the easiest ways to maximize timeshare ownership is booking timeshares for a ski vacation.
If you ski, you know that accommodations during the ski season can be exorbitant in costs. The ski season generally lasts only about 4 months and most hotels will make the vast majority of their money during this season. Booking a week during this time can be prohibitive to most people including myself. It is not unheard of for a hotel to cost between $3,000 to $6,000 for a ski week. Booking a suite or two bedroom will likely increase this amount by even more.
Luckily, there are a lot of very high quality timeshares that are located in highly desirable ski locations. Park City, Beaver Creek, Vail, Aspen, Whistler, and others are just a few examples.
Generally, I would assume that most maintenance fees for timeshares run between $750 to $1500 for the year so if you can exchange your one timeshare and all of your points for a one week ski vacation that would normally cost over $3,000, you would come out significantly ahead.
I am a big fan of Park City, Utah and generally take a few ski trips per year. A couple of years ago, Canyons and Park City Mountain, the two main ski locations in Park City, were bought by Vail Resorts. Last year was the first season where both resorts became connected by a Gondola ride to create the largest ski area in North America.
Here is a good article on the development.
Park City has many things going for it but for timeshare owners, it is actually a great destination since there are multiple timeshare properties that are ski-in/ski-out or within easy access to the lift.
Interval International is one of the two large exchange companies where you can exchange your points or timeshare week for other weeks. Interval International (II) does offer various membership levels.
II recently offered a great deal for upgrading your membership level for 50% off. I discussed this offer here.
As a quick reminder, II offers three membership levels, General membership, Interval Gold and Interval Platinum.
Due the offer, I upgraded my membership and I am now a Platinum member. While platinum membership does not help you with giving you priority trades, there are some decent benefits that you should be aware of.
The first benefit is that each Interval Getaway is discounted $50. Interval Getaways allow you to book weeks with cash instead of using your points or weeks. There are often times some significant weeks that can be had for under $300 for the week. I have seen prime weeks in Cancun, ski weeks, Caribbean weeks and others. Now, in addition to those great prices, you will receive $50 off making it an even better deal.
The second benefit is the ability to issue guest certificates for free. These guest certificates usually cost $59 per reservation but it is now included as II platinum member. If you have friends or family, you can reserve getaways and issue a guest certificate for free. This can be a great way to give vacations to friends or bring friends with you on vacation. Getaways can make travel really affordable!
The third benefit is what II calls Platinum Escapes. Every now and again, II runs a promotion that offers significant discounts on available weeks. These are only offered to platinum members. I have seen entire weeks for under $150 for the week.
The fourth benefit is Priority Getaway Viewing. II claims that you can see different inventory than others for Getaways. I have not seen this benefit in action but it is an advertised benefit so I assume it must happen every so often.
The fifth benefit is shortstay exchange. Shortstay exchanges allow you to reserve rooms by night instead of by the week. If you do not normally travel by week, this may be a decent benefit but the exchange rates are generally higher than booking by the week. At times, this may come in handy but generally, I have not found this to be an exciting perk.
The sixth benefit is called Interval Options. This allows you to trade your week or points towards the purchase of a cruise, tour, golf or spa vacation. I will look into this benefit more closely in other posts. I personally have not used it since I value exchanges very highly.
The seventh benefit is a hotel discount of 10% for hotel stays booked with Orbitz. In other posts, we can look to see whether this is truly a perk.
The eight benefit is bonus points on Hertz rentals that are good for 2 free days. If you book through II, you will get 550 Hertz Gold Plus Rewards with your first rental and another 550 Hertz Gold Plus Rewards with your second rental. This can be redeemed for 2 free days or you can accrue your points for other rewards.
The ninth benefit is discounts through Saversguide. There are dining discounts such as 50% off or BOGO offers. We'll look into this benefit further but on a quick review, there does seem to be some decent offers.
The tenth benefit is Airport Lounge Membership. II includes a standard priority pass membership which can get you access to some lounges. This is decent but there are a lot of credit cards that offer better access but in any event, it is a good perk. We can discuss the Priority Club membership in other posts but lounge access can make traveling a lot easier.
The eleventh benefit is VIP concierge. The offer a personal assistance for dining, activities and others.
The twelfth is called the Golf Connection. As an II platinum member, you can get access to private golf courses. A 15% discount on golf equipment is also available.
The thirteen benefit is called Dining Connection. We can take a closer look at this benefit in other posts but they claim to offer you special amenities including tours, complimentary appetizers and desserts and other special items.
The fourteen benefit is called City Guides. II has compiled guides for you to review and use while you travel.
Overall, I think that there are some significant benefits to getting II's Platinum Membership. I generally use the $50 discount off Getaways and the free guest certificate. Using just these two perks can easily make up for the fee. The other perks can be beneficial at the right time.
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As I explained in my other post found here, there are multiple timeshare strategies to utilize in order to maximize ownership and get multiple weeks in very nice resorts. In this post, I want to explain why you can purchase a timeshare solely for exchange purposes and how the different programs compare.
For this post, we will compare a timeshare for the Marriott Vacation Club, the Hyatt Residence Club and Vistana Signature Experiences (Formerly Sheraton and Westin Vacation Club).
These three timeshare systems all trade through Interval International. In addition, all three of these programs have point components. Marriott is now an all point system whereas the Hyatt and Vistana systems are hybrid systems meaning that you own a specific week that can be converted to points.
In this analysis, I want to compare ownership of 2 bedroom units. These are by far the most common in most timeshare systems and provide the most flexibility. Owning a 2 bedroom unit allows you to reserve 2 bedroom units, 1 bedroom units or studios.
Planning far ahead is one of the best tools to use to grab high demand weeks in high demand resorts. It can be difficult to plan so far in advance but if you want the opportunity to grab prime Christmas weeks, you need to plan as far in advance as the system allows.
Interval International generally allows you to search 12 months in advance. You can search for available weeks 12 months from the date of search. You can also put in a Request First or Deposit First search 12 months in advance of the desired travel dates. This is great way to get in line to grab a prime week when it becomes available.
I recently discovered a new trick within Interval that will allow you to search for 2 years from the date of the search. This can be extremely helpful since you can now see weeks 2 years in advance.
In order to use this trick, you need to reserve a week as far in advance as possible. You should search for any weeks that are 12 months from the date of search. You go through the process of reserving that week and paying the exchange fee.
YOU MUST GET E-PLUS EXCHANGE. I have talked about the tremendous benefits of E-Plus and this is one additional perk that makes this a no-brainer to get!.
Once you reserve a week and you get E-Plus, you can then go through your history and do a E-Plus retrade. As discussed above, E-Plus allows you to retrade the reserved week up to three additional times. When you go to retrade using your E-Plus, the system defaults and allows you to search for an additional 12 months from the date of arrival.
For example, assume that I begin a search on October 1, 2016. Interval International's system will allow you to search for exchanges for check-in dates of October 1, 2017 or before. If I found a week for a check-in date of October 1, 2017, I can choose E-Plus as part of the exchange fee. When I confirm that week, I can use E-Plus to search for a re-trade of my October 1, 2017 week.
When I search using the E-Plus, the system allows me to re-trade my confirmed week for a check-in date of October 1, 2018 or before!
By choosing E-Plus and going through these steps, I have now increased my ability to see availability for 2 years from the date of search.
It can be hard to fathom on planning a vacation for 2 years in advance, but it is essential to do so to get these highly desirable weeks.
As discussed earlier, one of the best benefits of the E-Plus is the flexibility. While you can now reserve a week 2 years in advance, you have the option to re-trade that week up to three times without any additional fees. Even though you are potentially planning a trip 2 years in advance, you still have the flexibility to change the week, destination or resort.
Being able to search inventory for 2 years in advance is fantastic. Since most members do not have that capability, there could be some very desirable weeks that you can reserve before the general members.
The downside to this approach is that you lose the ability to do a Request First or Deposit First where you provide Interval with the desired resorts and weeks and they will reserve it for your prior to it becoming available to the general population.
This can be a downside but since you can now see inventory that most people cannot see or cannot even put in a request for, this method provides you with a distinct advantage in the system and sets you up to find those fantastic weeks at fantastic resorts.
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