Maximize Timeshare Ownership
The ultimate resource to understand, maximize and leverage timeshare ownership to travel in luxury accommodations on a reasonable budget.
There are some great bloggers and content providers out there that provide some interesting and useful information concerning travel, timeshares and related information.
I anticipate posting more of these links so that readers get get access to other perspectives on timeshares and travel from across the web.
For this particular post, I came across the following article:
The Case for Timeshares - Who Should Buy
Dr. Cory Fawcett has very similar views to my own. Timeshares are not for everyone but for those who can navigate the system and are flexible, it can be a fantastic travel too to take affordable vacations.
While I try never to spend that amount of money that he claims to spend on vacation, the truth is that airfare is expensive. That is why frequent flyer miles and credit card points are an excellent addition to timeshare ownership as it can make timeshares extremely affordable.
Another article that I came across was from Monkey Miles. I have not come across his blog before but I did come across his article on owning a Marriott Vacation Club timeshare.
While I have studied the Marriott system, I am not as versed in the Marriott system as I am with Hyatt as the ins and outs of each program require a log-in to get access to the reservation system and ancillary documents.
Here is his article on a potential rumor for the Marriott Vacation Club.
If you have not been following the news, there has been a lot of action concerning Marriott in the past couple of years. Not only did they buy Starwood to create the largest hotel chain in the world, but Marriott Vacation Club, a separate independent entity from Marriott, purchased Interval International and its portfolio of timeshare properties (Vistana, Hyatt and others).
This is creating a lot of change. Inevitably, some will be good and some will be bad but generally, there are opportunities to maximize the transition. It appears that Marriott Vacation Club owners will get a potential opportunity on August 1st.
I think that posting timeshare relating information from sources across the web can be a good way to get additional information on timeshares and travel. If you see any articles, blog posts or other information that you think it worthwhile, please send it to email@example.com.
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For those of you who do not know, travel hacking is the term given to obtaining hotel points, frequent flyer miles and credit cards points for little or no out of pocket expenses and being able to convert those travel currencies into luxurious vacations for free.
It seems difficult but it can be remarkably easy. The general idea is that you sign up for credit cards for their initial bonuses, use them in order to meet the minimum spend amounts and then cancel them. You basically do this over and over with various credit cards. If you are new to this, you can easily rack up 500,000 to 1,000,000 of these travel currencies with little effort and then use those miles to travel for "free" in many very luxurious destinations.
New Credit Card Rules
While travel hacking is still abundant and possible, the credit card issuers have gotten wiser about this and have made this hobby more and more difficult.
For example, American Express has many great welcome bonuses. You use to be able to get a card, get the bonus, cancel the card and reapply and get the bonus again. It wasn't too long for American Express to figure out that this was not profitable and that these were not the type of customers that they wanted.
American Express instituted a restriction where you can only get the bonus once in a lifetime for card. Therefore, if you received the welcome bonus on a specific variant of their card, you could no longer get the bonus again. (Based on my understanding, American Express considers a "lifetime" to be 7 years).
This dealt a blow to the travel hacking community as it severely limited the amount of bonus offers that you could receive through American Express.
American Express now just released a new rule where they can deny your bonus offer if they suspect that you are gaming the system.
Here is their new language:
Welcome offer not available to applicants who have or have had this Card. We may also consider the number of American Express Cards you have opened and closed as well as other factors in making a decision on your welcome offer eligibility.
Here is a good article from One Mile at a Time discussing this.
Chase is one of the biggest players in the travel credit card space. They offer some of the best cards with some of the best bonuses. A few years ago, they got wise to "travel hacking" and instituted an internal rule called 5/24. Basically, if you opened up 5 new accounts from any bank in the past 2 year period, they will deny your credit card application, NO MATTER WHAT!
I have been subject to this rule and despite having personal relationships with Chase, a stellar credit score, a good paying job and significant assets being held with Chase, I was denied their credit cards. The reason: too many inquiries in the past 2 years.
Despite pleading to the bank through multiple different avenues, they stuck with their position.
Here is a good overview of the Chase 5/24 rule.
As bonus offers have kept going up, the various banks have also increased the annual fees for these products . They provide additional perks and benefits in exchange for these higher annual fees, but you need to use them in order to get the value.
For example, the American Express Platinum card, can offer bonuses as high as 100,000 points. The annual fee use to be a whopping $450 per year which is almost never waived. American Express has been adding various perks in order to rationalize this annual fee but has recently now raised the annual fee to $550 per year.
I think that the annual fee can actually be worth it IF you take the time to understand the perks and USE the perks. In my case, I try very hard to maximize every perk in order to rationalize the annual fee but it takes time and diligence. I imagine that there are a significant number of American Express Platinum users who do not use a fraction of those perks.
The premium credit card market has been expanding quite a lot recently. Paying $550 for year for a credit card seemed ridiculous but these types of premium credit cards are being introduced over and over.
For example, you have the Chase Ritz Carlton Card which costs $450 per year, the Citi Prestige Card which costs $450 per year, United Mileage Plus Club card which is $450 per year, the Delta Reserve card which costs $450 per year and many others.
Here is a post from the Points Guy on these premium cards.
Using your Frequent Flyer Miles and Hotel Points
Once you accumulate the various travel currencies, you get to use those frequent flyer miles and hotel points to travel anywhere* in the world. However, "anywhere" in the world generally is subject to availability, price increases, poor routing choices and various other difficulties.
You use to be able to book 330 days in advance and generally get whatever route you wanted at the lowest mileage cost. It worked well for me over the years.
In the past 5 or so years, airlines and hotel chains have gone away from this approach and now use the historical data on capacity and demand and do not release availability or low reward available this far out if they are fairly certain that they can fill those planes and hotel rooms throughout the year.
The travel currency world is constantly being devalued. Every year, airlines and hotel chains release new charts, new programs and new ideas that all have the effect of devaluing your travel currencies. Many do so without warning. Delta has even go far as to not release award charts so you do not know what the awards should cost.
Hotel chains introduce new tier structures and constantly move hotels up and down, (mostly up) in their tier categories to require more and more points.
The general saying is to earn and burn your travel currencies as the next devaluation will shortly occur.
My Credit Card Portfolio
As I stated many times before, I am a HUGE fan of credit cards and credit card points. Between my wife and I, we probably have about 30 credit cards. I use specific cards for travel, specific cards for gas, specific cards for flights and generally make sure to get the most points per transaction possible.
However, I also pay A LOT in annual fees. I have the American Express Business Platinum Card ($450), the Citi Prestige Card ($450), the Chase Sapphire Preferred ($95), the Chase Ink Business Preferred ($95), the Chase Hyatt card ($75), the Delta Platinum card, ($195) etc. and many others.
Just based on the cards mentioned above, I spend OVER $1,360 on annual credit card fees.
This seems somewhat ridiculous but each card has certain perks and benefits and I think that I get enough value out of these cards to justify the cost. However, it is hard to do. It requires a lot of time and energy, research, reviewing points blogs, searching availability, figuring out the best use of miles and hotel points, comparing different programs, etc.
I have the mind set to do it and the desire to do it. However, as the credit card issuers are getting more strict about bonuses, as annual fees continue to rise and as redemptions for hotels and flights get more expensive, it is getting to be more difficult to justify the time and effort required in order to get your "free" trip.
Comparison to Timeshares
Just based on this general overview of travel hacking, you can see that it is complicated, the "free" trips that you take are really not free, and that the rules are changing and they are not in the customers favor.
The title of this post, "are timeshares the next frontier in travel hacking?" is meant as a legitimate question.
Timeshares are extremely similar to travel currencies. I would say that they fall under the same category as a travel currency.
Instead of applying for credit cards to get a travel currency, you pay an annual maintenance fee and you can get points to use for travel.
While there are many different types and qualities of timeshares, most programs are moving towards a point based programs so when you pay your annual fee, you will receive points which can then be used to exchange into quality accommodations.
As I stated many times before, I pay about $1,200 per year in maintenance fees for my Hyatt Residence Club timeshare. In exchange, I get 2,000 Hyatt Residence Club points. I then use those points to exchange into other timeshares where I can easily get 5 weeks of travel for my $1,200 per year plus exchange fees. I have broken down the economics of timeshare ownership here.
Compared to credit cards and travel hacking, I think that my timeshare is actually a much better deal. The exchange rates for timeshares do not change as frequently and some exchange rate changes are extremely rare.
One of the biggest difference between timeshares and credits cards is the repeatability. Each year, when I pay my maintenance fee, I receive my points which can be used for travel. While in the past, I used to be able to reapply for multiple cards and get bonuses, they systems have changed and it is become harder and hard to make travel hacking through credit card bonuses repeatable.
Credit card bonuses are a great way to accumulate a lot of points and travel for "free" for a year or two. However, with the once in a lifetime rule, Chase's 5/24 and the general adversity against people gaming these systems, it is becoming harder and harder to obtain travel currencies for "free" year after year. Therefore, travel hacking has become non-sustainable if you travel multiple times per year, year after year.
Some points programs such as Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt put out annual exchange charts for their properties. They cannot devalue existing owners weeks or points as this would create a huge backlash and many times, can be restricted in doing so since timeshare owners bought into a specific system and if they materially change the offerings, point structure or usability of their timeshare, they could be forced to rescind such purchases. Rescission would be extremely detrimental to the entire timeshare industry.
In contrast to other travel currencies, devaluation is rampant and if you do not like the revisions, you change systems and loyalties. There is no contract that you sign with the travel currency providers indicating that they cannot or will not change their systems.
While timeshare programs tend to rearrange some point requirements and modify rules, generally you do not see the tremendous changes in point requirements for timeshares as you do with hotel chains.
Additionally, the external exchanges (those through RCI and Interval International) generally stay the same. I have owned a Hyatt timeshare for over 10 years and the exchange rate from Hyatt to Interval International has stayed the same the entire time.
Furthermore, Interval International and RCI do not differentiate points based on quality. It costs the same amount of points for a Four Seasons exchange as it would be the equivalent of a Motel 6. Therefore, as the systems currently are, there are tremendous opportunities to get outsized value.
I consider myself to be very well versed in the "travel hacking" space and know the ins and outs of the programs. My family and I do extremely well navigating credit cards, points, and frequent flyer miles.
Also, you know that I do quite well with our timeshares as well. I talk to many people about timeshares and the reputation of timeshares is a material hurtle to overcome. The industry has such an awful reputation that it is hard to get people to look past the negative perception and dive into the actual programs to determine if there is value.
There are so many similarities between travel currencies and timeshares. Once you understand the inner workings of the programs, you will find that there are tons of "sweet spots" in these programs, strategies to maximize ownership and use and ways to get awesome vacations for less than even your "free" vacation.
My view is that timeshares will be the new frontier in the travel hacking space.
It is a bold statement to say but the credit card programs are changing, bonus points are becoming harder to get, hotel chains are constantly devaluing their points where it can require a ton of spending or stays to accrue a "free" week, frequent flyer points are being devalued so quickly that it hard to fathom, first class redemptions are prohibitively expensive after multiple rounds of devaluations, availability is sparse during peak times, airlines and hotel chains are increasingly playing more and more games with availability such as minimum stay nights, blocking availability for one night during a peak demand week, blocking award availability for key connections to hubs and various other games all to prevent you from getting the promised value of these travel currencies.
With all that being said, travel currencies are definitely needed and I get a tremendous value out of them. However, the constant changes, devaluations, and availability issues make it harder and harder to keep up with the systems and know the best way to maximize their use.
If you read my blog, I am not shy about discussing the negative attributes of timeshares. Some of the worst attributes are the prohibitively expensive upfront costs that the developer charges, the difficulty of selling or even giving away a timeshare and availability.
My view is that if you purchase a high quality, name brand timeshare on the resale market (Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton, Four Seasons, Vistana (Starwood) for a low upfront price, where the week or points for that timeshare carry a reasonable maintenance fee, you can get tremendous value out of timeshares. Not only get you get tremendous value, but you can easily sell the timeshare once you do not want to use it anymore. The key is to get in at a low price with a high quality timeshare.
While I still will accumulate and use travel currencies through credit cards and multiple other avenues, I think that timeshares are being overlooked as a viable strategy to travel well and potentially cheaper than using other travel currencies. I am sure that many people will disagree. I am interested to hear your thoughts!
I am proud to announce the creation of The Timeshare Guru Group on Facebook!
Here is the link to it in order to join!
A blog is a great place to share information but a Facebook is a great place for readers to interact and share real time information.
I say it all the time that timeshares are complicated so I thought it would make sense to have a group dedicated to sharing information, sharing tips, sharing real time availability and discussing timeshares in general.
I have made this a closed group so only members can see posts and contribute but anyone can find the group!
I am hopeful that this group can be a great resource to share information, ask questions and find incredible exchanges.
This type of group will only work when it is active and has numerous members so please share with others who are interested in travel and timeshares!
After much rumor and speculation, the deal terms are official. I discussed the potential rumor many months ago here and apparently got it partially right and partially wrong.
Instead of ILG acquiring Marriott Vacation Club, Marriott Vacation Club will be acquiring ILG. As the the title states, the total acquisition price is $4.7 Billion with a capital B.
It constantly amazes me that the timeshare industry is a gigantic as it is with the vast majority of the population thinking that timeshares are either a scam, ripoff or some type of pyramid scheme.
I say it over and over that the timeshare industry and systems have many negatives but once you learn the systems, implement various strategies and learn how to maximize ownership, timeshare ownership can be extremely economical and open up tons of destinations that are simply unattainable for most people, even those with hotel points.
Apparently, I am not the only one that feels like this as the industry is truly massive. Most owners actually love their timeshares despite the negative perception of timeshares.
This acquisition is not necessary a complete surprise as the rumors have been swirling for months but it is obviously very significant for the industry.
Now, under one company, the timeshare brands of Marriott Vacation Club, Hyatt Residence Club, and Vistana Signature Experiences (Westin and Sheraton timeshares) will all reside along with the major timeshare exchange company Interval International and its smaller brand, Ashton.
According to the press release, the combined company will have 100 resort properties and 650,000 owners.
What Does this Mean for Owners?
The acquisition does transform the timeshare landscape and theoretically lessens the competition. The biggest compensation now is Wyndham who owns RCI, the other largest vacation exchange company, and Club Wyndham, the largest timeshare company.
I truthfully have no idea whether there will be any practical effects to this acquisition. It has the potentially to complete transform the market. However, previous large acquisitions have shown that not much will change.
Interval Leisure Group, the parent of ILG, has acquired many timeshare brands over the years. They have acquired the Hyatt Residence Club as well of the Vistana Signature Experiences. Both of these brands still operate completely independently of one another. They are sold separately, have separate systems and from the outside point of view, are completely unrelated to one another despite being owned by the same company.
Marriott Vacation Club may have other ideas up its sleeve but it is entirely possible that all of these timeshare brands will continue to operate independently with no difference to the end consumer. If you want to purchase a Marriott timeshare, you purchase with Marriott whereas if you want to purchase a Hyatt timeshare, you purchase with Hyatt. The fact that they are now owned by the same company will likely be immaterial.
What I Would Love to See!
As I stated before, I generally prefer Interval International over RCI solely due to the quality of resorts that are available through Interval as opposed to RCI. RCI does have some very nice resorts but they do not have access to Marriott, Hyatt, Sheraton or Westin, some of the nicest timeshare properties.
Now, with all of these high quality resorts under one company, I would love to see them offer a combined timeshare program that offers all of these brands. Instead of owners having to choose what brand to purchase and learn the various systems, I would love to see an Interval International product that offers some type of points systems that gives you access to all of these resorts AND gives you the ability to convert those points into World of Hyatt points or the newly announced Marriott Rewards Program.
Unfortunately, I do not view my ideal program as becoming a reality but rather view all of these programs continuing to operate independently with cost savings coming from reduced administrative items from both companies and lower financing costs for new projects due to the large size of the combined company.
However, I sure hope to be wrong.
The timeshare industry continues to evolve and for better or worse, continues to change. This acquisition definitely has the potential to change the entire landscape of timeshare offerings and has the potential to create a truly revolutionary product that could potentially erase the negative perceptions of timeshares.
While there is that potential, the timeshare industry continues to make tons of money through its existing sales tactics and despite being consumer unfriendly, still seems to work. As long as it continues to work, change will happen slowly. Once the system becomes officially broken, change happens quickly.
As I stated before, my goal is to provide a fantastic educational resource for timeshare owners and to-be owners. The timeshare system has its issues and timeshare ownership is NOT for everyone but as the industry continues to evolve, it becomes more mainstream which has the potential to be available to more and more people.
This acquisition is interesting but it remains seen if this will change anything in the industry or whether this is simply a behinds the seen acquisition that will fade away with the existing brands remaining in the forefront of the consumers.
What do you think of this acquisition? In an ideal world, what would you like to see occur with this combined company? Make sure to leave your comments below!
Its not everyday that The Timeshare Guru gets recognized but I was just informed that The Timeshare Guru has been recognized as one of the top 30 timeshare blogs to follow in 2018!
Not only were we recognized, but we were placed in spot number 5!
According to Feedspot, here is criteria that were used to create these rankings.
The Best Timeshare Blogs from thousands of Timeshare blogs in our index using search and social metrics. We’ve carefully selected these websites because they are actively working to educate, inspire, and empower their readers with frequent updates and high-quality information.
These blogs are ranked based on following criteria
Top 30 Timeshare Blogs Winners
CONGRATULATIONS to every blogger that has made this Top Timeshare Blogs list! This is the most comprehensive list of best Timeshare blogs on the internet and I’m honoured to have you as part of this! I personally give you a high-five and want to thank you for your contribution to this world.
Note from The Timeshare Guru:
I started The Timeshare Guru because I wanted to try to change people's perception of timeshares. There are a lot of negative information about timeshares and while many of them are true, there are ways to own timeshares and use timeshares to get tremendous value.
The timeshare systems are complicated, the rules change and availability is sparse for highly desirable weeks. However, there are many strategies that you can use to get the highly coveted weeks. Make sure to read some of my posts so that you can maximize timeshare ownership!
Again, thank you to Feedspot for featuring our site! I'm glad that people are finding this site useful. We are growing but definitely need help in getting our site to the masses. Please make sure to share the site with your friends and subscribe to the website below!
As I have discussed before, I am an avid points and miles fan. I collect them any which way I can but predominantly through credit card sign up bonuses.
I have had this "hobby" for many years now and one of the predominant sources of information on credit cards has been The Points Guy.
His website is definitely worth a read.
In a recent article that The Points Guy posted, he explained that the Marriott is going to offer timeshares on the island of Dominica.
I have never been to Dominica but it has been on my radar.
I have been to many other Caribbean islands and a lot of them have various programs where if you purchase a certain amount of real property, it qualifies you for citizenship. These are interesting programs as you can live on a luxurious Caribbean island and receive the perks of citizenship.
What made this article interesting is that they are offering this type of program through the purchase of timeshares. It appears that pricing starts at $220,000 but it is an interesting take.
Take a look at this article here.
I'll have to do more recent into this program and this new timeshare but this is an interesting idea.
Would you ever participate in this program? Does citizenship provide enough value to purchase a $220,000 timeshare?
Unbelievable Information on Timeshares
Almost every article I write, I begin by saying how controversial timeshare ownership is and what a truly horrendous reputation that timeshares have. Most timeshare owners, including myself, The Timeshare Guru, always pause before I tell someone that I own a timeshare. Most people immediately think that I have been scammed and try not to make me feel bad that I fell for a timeshare purchase.
Before I started The Timeshare Guru, I attended plenty of timeshare presentations. The sales presentation rooms are almost always filled thanks to the very generous perks that they offer to attend. In case you missed it, check out this post on Getting Free Stuff from Timeshare Presentations. I also did some research on the overall timeshare market. I knew that I really enjoyed my timeshare so I figured that there must be others.
I truly could not believe the statistics on the timeshare industry. The timeshare industry has such a horrendous reputation that I couldn’t and still can’t believe these figures. Here are a few good ones that I thought I would share:
Who are Timeshare Buyers?
From my previous posts, you can see tons of negative comments on timeshares. Based on my informal review, many of these comments were from people who have a negative perception of timeshares or who had a bad experience with ownership or know someone who did. Timeshares are not perfect and many people have had unfortunate experiences in the harsh reality of some aspects of timeshare information. There are definitely a lot of negative attributes of timeshares but there are also a ton of great benefits provided that you know how to maximize them.
The vast majority of people think that timeshares are scams, for those people who can’t afford a true second/vacation home or those who get roped in to a purchase while on vacation. While there are plenty of disgruntled timeshare owners, there are actually a lot of timeshare owners who really enjoy their timeshare. I absolutely love our timeshares and I am currently in the process of buying even more.
Here are a few statistics on timeshare buyers that I thought I would share:
My true belief is that if you understand the timeshare systems, you can definitely maximize timeshare ownership and get outsized value. As I stated in my other post, Economics of Timeshare Ownership, I can get 4+ weeks out of one timeshare week which equates to under $500 per week for very high- quality resorts (Four Seasons, Hyatt, Marriott, etc.) in quality destinations (ski weeks, Hawaii, Caribbean, Mexico, etc.).
For those of your that are wondering, I did not make up these statistics on timeshares. The American Resort Development Association puts out various research and facts on timeshares. It is a trade association that represent developers and owners. Some statistics may be developer friendly, but ARDA is the ultimate resource for trade information on timeshares so there is little reason to doubt its accuracy or authenticity.
Timeshare ownership will likely always remain a controversial topic. My main complaint about timeshares is their sales practices. They are simply not transparent in the way that timeshare operates. They may educate owners on the general ways to use timeshares but they generally over promise on how easy it is to trade into desirable properties, the ability to travel at peak times, the requirement to plan, far, far in advance to get those prime weeks and the economic value of their timeshare.
I also despise that they try to get people to make a significant financial decision based on a 2-hour sales presentation. They do not give potential customers the time to think about their purchase or research a financial commitment that can last a lifetime.
I truly believe that if the sales process changed and full transparency was accomplished, the reputation of timeshares may actually change. However, based on the statistics above, it appears that these sales tactics work and I highly doubt that change will happen soon.
Despite these negatives, there are almost no complaints on the quality and spaciousness of the resorts. It is very hard to vacation in a hotel after getting use to the comforts of a timeshare resort.
What are your thoughts on these statistics? What is your perception of timeshares?
It appears that the world of timeshares may be getting smaller. As I previously reported here, there were some rumors concerning International Leisure Group (ILG) (the company that owns Interval International, Hyatt Residence Clubs and Vistana resorts) and Marriott Vacation Club.
At the time, the rumor was the ILG would potentially acquire Marriott Vacation Clubs. It appears that the roles have reversed and Marriott Vacation Club has apparently made an offer for ILG.
Here are more details of the story here.
What does this mean? I have no idea at the moment but it is definitely an interesting development. Stay tuned as more details emerge.
To most people, timeshares have a horrendous reputation and are only for "suckers" who purchase during vacation. This can be the case for many people but a vast amount of timeshare owners actually enjoy their timeshares and consider it a worthwhile "investment".
Timeshares are definitely not a financial investment but they can be a great investment in spending time with your family, traveling to destinations that may not have been obtainable or simply experiencing new things.
Regardless of your thought on timeshares, I came across some staggering facts about timeshares that I thought I should share.
ARDA, the American resort Development Association, is an association that promotes the growth and development of the timeshare industry. They provide multiple different functions to the timeshare industry including information and trade data for the industry.
In one of their latest polls, they provided the infographic below to show the state of the timeshare industry in 2016.
While I definitely enjoy our timeshares, these various numbers are staggering to fully understand the scope of the industry.
Here are some of the more interesting facts:
1. There are over 5,300 share vacation ownership resorts.
2. These resorts are located in 121 different countries.
3. There are 527,000 units.
4. Timeshare sales accounts for $19.7 billion in 2015.
5. 91 new properties will be added in 2017.
Timeshares are definitely a big business! Its hard to fathom that this industry can be as big as it is with the reputation that it has but there appears to be constant buyers and ongoing demand.
My view on timeshares is that they are great but the way that they are sold is the issue as many of the issues with timeshares are not divulged during the purchase process.
Hopefully, this can change so that more people can understand them and see if they can be right for your vacation style.
What are your thoughts? Did you realize the scope of the timeshare industry?