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.
When you go to book various RCI resorts, there is a clickable link for some resorts reading "Urgent Information".
You should ALWAYS click that link before you book. Many times, there will be important information concerning the resort such as mandatory inclusive fees, additional fees for various services or policy restrictions such as the "1 in 4 rule".
For example, in my previous post, I explained how I stayed at the Breeze Residence Club in Guanacaste Costa Rica.
This particular resort abides by the 1 in 4 rule and has additional information that you need to review before you book. When you click on "Urgent Information", this is what shows up.
As you can see, in addition to the fee, there is a mandatory beach club fee of $70 per person as well as a charge for the Gym. This is not insignificant.
What is the 1 in 4 rule?
In addition to other important information, the Urgent Information disclosed whether the resort restricts members from trading or purchasing getaways. 1 in 4 rule is stating that a member may only book that particular resort one time in four years. You cannot reserve the particular resort more often than that.
I personally have not tried to reserve resorts that have this 1 in 4 rule more often than once every four years but the stated position is that they can cancel your reservation if you do not abide by this restriction.
Timeshares can be tricky and there can be tons of additional fees added to the cost of reserving a week. You NEED to review the "Urgent Information" before you book so that you can understand these fees and determine if it is still economically feasible.
Many times, it does not make sense to book all inclusive timeshares through RCI or Interval International since the added fees are extremely expensive. It can actually make more economic sense to book directly with these resorts.
The 1 in 4 rule is an important rule to review. The last thing that you want to happen is that RCI unilaterally cancels your reservation after flights or other plans are made that may not be changeable.
I personally dislike the 1 in 4 rule a lot. Interval International does not have a similar restriction. If they did, my view on timeshares could actually change. It is hard enough to find great resorts to trade into and with the 1 in 4 policy, it becomes even harder to obtain quality resorts year after year.
What do you think of the 1 in 4 rule?
Timeshare ownership may not be for everyone but renting timeshares can be a fantastic way to travel in much larger accommodations than hotels, with full kitchens and for exponentially less than the cost of nightly hotel rentals.
In this post, I wanted to give detailed instructions on how to join RCI in order to get access to Extra Vacations. Extra Vacations are available through RCI where you can rent weekly timeshares for cash instead of using your timeshare week or timeshare points. You can rent weeks in high quality timeshares for as little as $199 per week.
DISCLAIMER: Getting access to RCI through this method may be viewed as some as unethical since you need to fill in ownership details which are not accurate. This method does not get you free access as you still are required to pay for a membership but still, some may consider this unethical. I do not advocate one way or the other as it is up to each reader to determine whether they feel comfortable with getting access to RCI using this method.
Step 1: Go to the RCI homepage.
Step 2: Go to the register as shown in the upper right hand corner.
Step 3: Go to the Join Now button as shown below. Make sure that you are joining RCI Weeks and NOT RCI Points.
Step 4: Fill out the information required in the various fields as shown below.
Step 5: Got to RCI's Resort Directory. Take a look at their entire inventory and choose a resort. This is the potential unethical part. You need to choose a resort and provide the Resort Name; Resort ID, Unit Number, Unit Size, Max/Min. Occupancy and Interval Date / Week Number.
RCI previously indicated that they do not confirm timeshare ownership in order to register but they do indicate that timeshare ownership is required.
When choosing a resort, do not choose any Wyndham or Hilton resort or other large resorts. Pick a small independent timeshare, preferably internationally.
The actual resort that you choose will not be relevant for any search functions but this will be the technical resort that you "own". You may need to remember the information that you put down in case you need to call RCI for any customer service. I would highly recommend keeping this information available for future use!
Step 6: Choose the length of your RCI membership. RCI membership costs $99 per year with discounts for longer periods.
If you are new to timeshares, I would choose the 1 year option. Once you have access, you can browse the inventory and see the costs and availability and determine if this can be a good way to travel based on your travel style.
TIP: Once you join RCI and purchase an Extra Vacation, it is likely that you may get a call from RCI to extend your membership. The offers are generally better than what is offered on this page.
After booking my Extra Vacation, I was offered a 5 year package for $249 which is about a $150 discount on what is offered here. (I took it as I get tremendous value out of these Extra Vacations).
Step 7: Enter in your credit card details and submit the payment.
Step 8: Wait for the confirmation e-mail from RCI.
Once you submit payment, you should get registration details on your RCI membership number and how to register for access to the site.
You should receive a similar e-mail to the one below:
Welcome to RCI and to a world of vacation opportunities! Your RCI ID number is ___________________, and the subscription fee of $99.00 for a one -year membership was charged to the credit card provided. Please allow approximately 6-8 weeks to receive your membership materials by mail, which includes a Welcome letter, your RCI ID card, and a handbook with Quick Start Guide.
Since you have access to the Internet, you may wish to try our interactive website, which allows members to renew, deposit vacation time, and search/hold/confirm exchanges on line, as well as to enter exchange requests. Members may also check the status of their exchange requests online, as well as confirm or release units on hold. A particularly popular feature with our members is the ability to confirm Last Call and Extra Vacations.
We encourage you to get started online by accessing a special New Member portion of our website. This site provides information about RCI member benefits and how to manage your account and tutorials for navigating and transacting online. In addition, when you activate your account by registering and completing your new member profile, you will receive an exclusive offer just for new members. To Get Started, please go to rci.com/GetStarted or use this link:
If you wish to call our New Member Welcome line instead, please dial 800/724-1166 to speak with an RCI Vacation Guide.
RCI Guides are available:
• Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., local time
• Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. local time
The Call Center is closed on most major U.S. holidays.
Call Center hours are based on local times for RCI subscribing members in the Continental United States, Western Canada and Central Canada. For members in Hawaii and Alaska, Call Center hours are based on Pacific Time. For members in the Caribbean and Atlantic Canada, Call Center hours are based on Eastern time.
Once you receive a RCI member number, you should be able to register for an online account and search the Extra Vacations.
KEY POINT: By registering with RCI in this manner, RCI wants you to deposit your week and exchange it with their system. By registering in this fashion, the only types of weeks that you can search and use are Extra Vacations where you pay cash. You cannot search Exchange Vacations without a deposit.
Additional Disclaimer: There have been various reports that RCI is closing or limiting this loophole. The ability to register and use Extra Vacations may end at anytime. Previous reports from readers have indicated that if registration fails, you will be refunded in full so there should not be a tremendous amount of risk.
Alternatively, instead of going through this process above, if you know of someone who owns a RCI affiliated timeshare, you can potentially request access to their account and book Extra Vacations for yourself. Guest certificates are needed but there are not limits to the amount of Extra Vacations that you can book for yourself or your friends.
Please post your experiences below in order to help out readers. I have had multiple reports of success as well as failure. Please comment below to help out the readers!
A Month Excursion to Costa Rica - How I used timeshares, hotel points, frequent flyer miles and credit cards to create a luxury affordable trip!
My family took an extended trip to Costa Rica for the month of July. While I would have highly preferred to be able to stay in timeshares for the entire trip (mostly due to space and having a full kitchen), this was not doable for a few reasons.
Costa Rica is a wonderful destination but they simply do not have a ton of timeshare options. There are a few but not many high-quality timeshares which is an absolute must.
We did stay at the Breeze Private Residences for one week (review is here) which was a timeshare property but I simply could not find suitable timeshares in Costa Rica for the entire month.
Booking a month vacation has its various challenges but doing it in a very cost-effective manner is difficult. As I mentioned in other posts, I am a huge points and miles fanatic so I have plenty of points and miles available to use.
Using Citi Thank You Points
For this trip, my family of four flew American Airlines to Liberia. I used Citi Thank You points for our fights. As a Citibank Prestige Credit Card holder, I was able to redeem my points for 1.6 cents per point. This option just vanished on July 23, 2017 and points are now worth less.
Southwest Rapid Reward Points
For our return flight, we flew Southwest Airlines. I am a huge fan of Southwest as they are the last airline that offer customer friendly policies – free bags, free cancellations, free changes, etc. Additionally, their customer service agents are generally friendly and helpful which is very noticeable when comparing it to other airlines.
My wife and I both have a companion pass with Southwest so we are able to have our 2 kids fly with us for free. We were each able to score the companion pass through the option of exchanging our Marriott points to Southwest points with the available Marriott travel packages. Unfortunately, this option is now no longer available as of January 1, 2017.
With the above methods, my family of four was able to get free roundtrip flights to Costa Rica. A good start.
Week 1: Playas del Coco
I was able to grab a fantastic deal through RCI for staying at the Breezes Private Residence Club. I paid $278.99 for the entire week in a 2-bedroom unit. This was an absolute steal as nightly rentals for this particular property were approximately $450 per night.
The Breezes Private Residence Club is located in Playas del Coco and is a great area. There are tons of restaurants and activities right out the front door. I would highly recommend this destination and would definitely recommend the Breezes Private Residence Club.
Week 2: Arenal Volcano in La Fortuna
For week 2, we traveled to La Fortuna / Arenal which is located inland in the rainforest. La Fortuna / Arenal was a very cool destination with the volcano as the centerpiece.
For our trip to Arenal, we stayed at the highly rated Hotel El Silencio del Campo. We chose this based on the Tripadvisor reviews which were stellar.
The property generally lived up to those expectations but would say that the rooms, although spacious, needed a refresh. The décor and bedsheets were older than I would like. It was clean but definitely felt old and tired. However, breakfast was stellar, they had hot springs on the premise, fruit trees galore to pick throughout the property and had an awesome view of the volcano when the weather permitted.
Citibank Prestige 4th Night Free Benefit
For this stay, I again used our Citibank Prestige Credit Card in order to utilize our 4th night free benefit. If you are not familiar with this benefit, it can be extremely rewarding in that you will receive the 4th night free on any hotel booking made through the Citibank portal. This can literally save you thousands of dollars.
The Citibank Prestige Credit Card has done an overall of its card and has revised some of its offers but they have kept in the 4th night free benefit and made it easier to get by expanding the ability to book online.
For those of you interested, here is a link to the offer with 75,000 bonus points. A complete no-brainer to apply in my opinion.
For our stay in La Fortuna / Arenal, I paid about $200 per night for 4 nights and I will receive a $200 credit through Citibank’s 4th night free benefit. This effectively gave us 25% off our stay in Arenal which is decent considering that there are no timeshares or points based hotel chains in this area.
Week 3 and 4: Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort
For those of you in the miles and points world, there is a ton of buzz about the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort. The reason that there is so much buzz is because it is an extremely nice resort and is only a category 4 hotel in Hyatt’s World of Hyatt program.
This is significant in that the Chase Hyatt Credit Card gives you a free night stay in a category 1-4 hotel each year upon paying the annual fee of $75. Essentially, for $75, you can get a free night at the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort where nightly rates are generally somewhere between $250-$1200 where the $1200 a night has been seen over Christmas.
Also, since the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort is a category 4 hotel, you can use 15,000 Hyatt World of Hyatt points per night which is a very good deal. The cash plus points rate of 7,500 points per night plus a payment of $100 per night is also a stellar deal.
I will be posting a full review on our stay so stay tuned.
Using my Chase Hyatt Free Night Certificate
We ended up staying at the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort for a total of 16 nights. I used my free category 4 certificate from my Chase Hyatt Credit card for the 1st night.
Using Hyatt Points or Cash
For the remaining 15 nights, we actually paid cash (a rarity as I almost always use points for our hotel stays!). This was not expected as I had planned on using the points plus cash option for 15 nights. If I had done this option, I would have used 112,500 Hyatt World of Hyatt Points and paid approximately $1500 for 15 nights.
The cash plus points options is highly beneficial and would definitely recommend it. $100 per night for this resort is almost unheard of and I would pay that in a second.
Using Hyatt's Best Rate Guarantee
As I mentioned, I actually paid cash for the 15 night portion of our stay since I got a great rate with Hyatt. I was able to use Hyatt’s best rate guarantee.
Hyatt’s best rate guarantee provides that they will match any rate you find on other websites and give you an extra 20% off your entire stay. I was lucky enough to find a lower rate for this time period and was successfully approved for the best rate guarantee. As a result, my nightly rate for 15 nights was approximately $156 per night.
The Hyatt best rate guarantee has been revised as of July 31st where instead of giving you 20% off the matched rate, they will give you a $50 voucher for future travel. While they will still match the lower rate, they will not give you the extra 20% off.
Hyatt can make you jump through various hoops to get their Best Rate Guarantee but I have been successful in using it. This revision is really bad for the way that I use the Best Rate Guarantee.
I am not happy about this change as this will likely affect my hotel choices going forward. Marriott offers a 25% discount for its best rate guarantee and is much more accommodating than Hyatt but I definitely like Hyatt's properties.
We'll see how this plays out before I switch my loyalties. Despite preferring timeshares for our travels, I will actually be a Globalist (top tier elite status in Hyatt) this year so we'll see how Hyatt treats me going forward.
As stated, I was able to secure a rate of $156 per night. While higher than the per night cost of using the points plus cash rate of $100, I chose to pay cash instead of using 7,500 points per night. If I used points, I would be redeeming them a rate of less than 1 cent per point (0.007) which is a horrible deal. I generally get 2-3 cent per points and have received upwards of 6 cents per point for various redemptions.
Therefore, I elected to pay cash. The total bill was about $3,000 for 15 nights. Higher than I would normally like to pay but still a good deal. Rates for our room (the Andaz Suite) during our stay were approximately $600 per night so we did well.
Using Gift Cards for Further Discounts
In an effort to get even more of a discount for our stay, I ended up purchasing Hyatt gift cards through cardcash. Cardcash is a second-hand reseller of gift cards. They buy gift cards from people who do not want gift cards for a discount and resell them to people who can use them and make a profit of the difference.
Cardcash has mixed reviews and there are definitely times when gift cards arrive with zero balance or the balance disappears after purchasing. They offer a 45-day guarantee where they will refund your money if the cards value is not as described or disappears within 45 days.
I have had good experiences with Cardcash but I only purchase on the day that I will be using it. I purchase it and immediately apply it to my room. This limits the chance of getting a bad card or having your balance disappear. I did receive one bad card and my order was refunded within 48 hours of purchase.
For this stay, I was able to get Hyatt gift cards for a discount of 16% through Cardcash. Their discounts fluctuate but I was able to purchase $3,000 worth of Hyatt gift cards for about $2520.
Using the Chase Ink Card for 5x Points
One of the added benefits of using Cardcash is that purchases through Chase Ink Credit Card are coded as utilities which generate 5x Chase Ultimate Reward points. Therefore, by purchasing $2520 worth of Cardcash gift cards through my Chase Ink credit card, I received 12,600 Chase Ultimate Reward Points.
Chase Ultimate Reward Points are very valuable and can transfer into multiple travel partners including Hyatt or can be redeemed for about 1.25 cents per point or for 1.5 cents per point if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card.
Final Tally and Summary
As you can see, I used multiple different strategies to get a month of vacation in Costa Rica.
For our flights, these were completely free using Citibank Thank You Points and my Citibank Prestige Credit Card to redeem for American Airlines for our flight to Costa Rica and used Southwest Points for our return flights. Our kids fly free with us on Southwest since my wife and I both have the Companion Pass at the moment which we achieved by redeeming Marriott travel packages.
For the first week, we used a timeshare and rented it through RCI’s Extra Getaways for a purchase price of $278.99 for the week in a 2-bedroom. No timeshare presentation required even though I did attend one ( I am The Timeshare Guru so I kind of needed to do it).
For the next 4 nights, I used my Citibank Prestige Credit Card to take advantage of the 4th night free benefit. The total cost for these 4 nights was $800 minus the $200 credit for a total of $600.
For the following 16 nights, I used my annual free night certificate for my Chase Hyatt Credit Card and paid cash for the remaining 15 nights. I was able to get a great rate using Hyatt’s Best Rate Guarantee. I was able to purchase discounted Hyatt gift cards for a further discount of 16% off our entire stay so the total was $2520 for 15 nights which is $168 per night which includes the resort fee and taxes.
By purchasing the gift cards, I was also able to get 5x Chase Ultimate Reward Points by using my Chase Ink Credit Card for Cardcash. Therefore, even if I valued these points at only 1 cent per points, this equates to another discount of approximately $126.
Here are the total numbers for accommodations for our month of travel:
The above is an actual real world example of how I utilize timeshares, frequent flyer miles, hotel points, credit card points and perks, hotel best rate guarantees and gift cards to maximize my travel. This can be complicated but it is doable.
As you can see, we saved multiple thousands of dollars off of retail prices and traveled in luxurious accommodations for an entire month!
I will be doing a detailed review of the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo resort in an additional post as this is definitely a property to check out (even though it is not a timeshare).
The intent of this blog is to explain timeshares and how they can be a great tool for your travel arsenal. As you can see in the above, it is not the only tool that I use but they can be very useful and affordable.
My goal is to show you how to incorporate timeshares in your travel plans and demystify timeshares, their costs and how they can work to your advantage. Timeshares are simply one tool among many to travel well and affordably.
What are your thoughts on the above? Did I miss any strategies that I could have implemented?
If you find this useful, please share this post across your social media channels! Your support is highly appreciated!
I continually say that timeshares are misunderstood. They definitely have plenty of negatives attributes but if you learn the systems, you can really maximize their value and ownership can actually be worthwhile.
If you are like most, you have preconceived notions that timeshares are almost certainly a scam and ownership is for suckers.
I got hooked on travel points and frequent flyer miles about 10 years ago when I signed up for a credit card, got tons of miles and then booked my first free flight. Since then, I changed my view on credit cards and now carry about 30 which constantly change. For some people, you would think that having 30 credits would cause me have a horrible credit score and have tons of debt.
This is simply not true as my score is in the 800's and I never carry a balance. I bring this up because I think that the best way to show my readership that timeshares could be actually be an affordable way to travel cheap in spacious and luxurious accommodations is to show you some of my own personal trips.
I am currently finishing a trip in Costa Rica where I spent the July 4th week. I booked a timeshare through RCI, the Breeze Private Residence Club, for $278.99 FOR THE WEEK in a 2 bedroom unit. This was an Extra Vacation meaning that I did not need to deposit on timeshare week or points to get this - I simply needed to be an RCI Member.
Here is my confirmation.
For $278.99 for the week, I was a little skeptical but the reviews of tripadvisor were good and the pictures of the unit and amenities were nice. Here are my actual pictures from the unit:
As you can see from the above photos, the unit was spacious, contemporary, and very well appointed. My family of 4 slept very comfortably in this unit and the grounds were well manicured. The units were part of large community where there were many fully time or vacation home owners. A few buildings were set aside as "timeshares".
I did do a timeshare presentation out of curiosity which I will post more about in another post.
The property was about a 10 minute to the beach of Playa del Coco which is a vibrant beach. The sand is black so it looks a lot like mud but it is soft and pleasant. The Breeze had a private beach club for use where they have shuttles to drive you to the beach club about 5 minutes away. The beach club was very nice with infinity edge pools overlooking the beach.
For $278.99 for a week in a 2 bedroom, this was an absolute steal and yet another reason why I actually love owning a timeshare.
These deals do not show up everyday and you need to constantly look but this property is impossible to beat at this price.
Costa Rica does not have a lot of timeshares and the few that they do have are not highly rated. This was is definitely well worth it and if you can book it at anything close to what I paid, I highly recommend it. I originally had booked a hotel for this week for approximately $200 per night. When this become available, I quickly cancelled that and booked this!
It was a fantastic move and saved us thousands!
What has your best bargain week been? Post in the comments below!
Doctor of Credit has been a very gracious supporter of The Timeshare Guru and has allowed me to post a number of articles on his site regarding timeshares.
I posted a complete guide to renting timeshares on his site which is a great resource for those looking to rent timeshares. I definitely encourage you to review the guide and to frequent the Doctor of Credit's website. His blog is the preeminent place to find bank account deals and has a lot of great travel deals as well as credit card deals.
Make sure to leave comments below if you have alternative sources or other tips and tricks to rent timeshares for cheap!
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!