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.
In case you did not read my recent post concerning my 3 week trip to Hawaii (read about it here), while I did use a timeshare for one week of the trip, I failed to obtain a timeshare for the other two weeks and used A LOT of points in order to stay at the Andaz Maui.
I have written about the Andaz Maui before as it is a fantastic resort and a very worthwhile redemption for your Hyatt Points especially if you have Globalist / top tier status with Hyatt.
As you can see, I spent 315,000 World of Hyatt points for those stays and spent 22,500 United Mileage Plus frequent flyer miles per each family member for one way flights to Maui and 22,500 American Airlines miles per each family member for one way flights from Maui.
In total, I spent:
315,000 World of Hyatt Points
90,000 United Mileage Plus frequent flyer miles
90,000 American Advantage Miles
The total amount of miles spent for this trip was 495,000.
Doing the math, this is simply a ton of miles. While I did receive a $28,000 worth of hotel stays and probably $6,000 worth of airfare for this, it is simply a lot of points.
Accumulating Points / Frequent Flyer Miles
While we were at the Andaz Maui, I spoke to various people about their trip and inevitably a discussion would ensure about points. A lot of people were staying at the hotel on points and a decent amount were not. One question that kept coming up is how I accumulate my points / miles.
The easiest answer is generally credit cards. Credit card bonus have increased dramatically over the past few years as competition has significantly heated up in order to motivate credit card issuers to be at the top of your wallet. Credit cards get paid by the merchants every time you swipe the card and get paid for those who keep balances (NEVER KEEP A BALANCE!!!). The credit card issuers want you to use your card for every purchase.
Over the years, I have taken advantage of a lot of credit card sign up bonuses. It is generally the easiest and quickest way to accumulate a lot of miles. However, before you start applying for various cards, you need to have a strategy.
Credit Card Application Strategy
In this post, I took the position that the lucrative credit card sign up bonuses are on their way out and timeshares could potentially be the next frontier on cheap / luxurious travel.
The reason why I take this position was that in the past, you could simply apply for a credit card, get the bonus, cancel the card and reapply. It was a GREAT way to accumulate points. It wasn't too longer for credit card issuers to catch on this strategy and began making adjustments to their offers and limiting how many times you could get the bonus.
Before we get into the specific rules on various credit card issues, before you begin applying for cards, you need to know where you stand in terms of a credit score. I use CreditKarma which is a great FREE tool to receive your credit score. Take a look at your credit score so you know where you stand. 760 and above should put you in a good place to get almost any card you desire.
The other tool that I recommend is the Experian app. Here is the link for IOS. Experian also provides you with a score but also allows you to view your credit report and most importantly, what accounts you have opened and the when you opened them. This is important for the rules outlined below.
The reason that you need to know the amount of credit cards you have opened is because of a fairly new rule termed 5/24. This is Chase's rule where you will be automatically denied for any new application if you have opened up 5 new credit card accounts with ANY bank within the past 24 months / 2 years. When you apply for a Chase card, they will review your account and if you have more than 5 accounts opened, you will get denied regardless of your credit score, whether you a Chase Private Client Customer or whether you have millions of dollars in the bank with them. It is a hard rule.
The other important rule is from American Express. Instead of a 5/24 rule, they have a lifetime rule. If you have received the bonus offer for a particular credit card in the past, you are prohibited from receiving it again for your "lifetime". While I do not have any data points, a "lifetime" for American Express used to be considered 7 years but I do not know whether that is still accurate. Fortunately, American Express has rolled out a new tool so that when you apply for a credit card, if you are not eligible for the bonus offer, they will inform you BEFORE they run your credit.
Citibank has also implemented their own rules for their Thank You card. Basically, if you have received any sign up offer for their Premier Card, Thank You Reward Card or Prestige card within 24 months of opening OR closing an account, you are not eligible for the bonus. With Citibank, not only do you need to be aware of the opening date, but if you received a bonus offer 3 years ago, closed the account and attempted to reapply, you would be denied the bonus since you closed the account within 2 years.
The best strategy is to open an account, have it for 2 years, apply for a different variant of the card and close the previous card after you receive the new card. If you mess this up and close the card before you reapply, you will get denied the bonus.
There are other credit card issuers that all have similar rules. Barclays and Bank of America are others who have some type of similar restrictions. However, the vast amount of great credit card offers are generally offered by Chase, AMEX and Citibank. In order to try to keep this post readable, I am not listing the rules for Barclays and Bank of America.
Once you are aware of your score, how many accounts you have opened in the past 2 years and understand the restrictions in place, you should have a strategy in place to go forward and apply.
Since Chase has the most restrictive policy, I would generally start applying for Chase cards. This way you can avoid the automatic denial for having more than 5 cards. However, depending on how many you cards apply for, you will almost certainly be denied further cards for 5 years so you need to make the determination on how many to apply for as new offers constantly appear and you may be denied a stellar bonus if you have 5 or may applications.
An interested strategy that often seems overlooked at times is that if you are married, there are 2 people eligible for the bonus offer. It is not one per household but rather one per person. The best strategy for good offers is to apply for each spouse. You can accumulate double the amount of points. The other potential / questionable strategy that you can use is one spouse applies for the card and once approved, you can refer your spouse to apply for the same cards with additional bonus points. A simple but effective strategy to get even more points.
Personal and Business Cards
The credit card issuers make a lot of money off personal cards but they also want your business spend. There are personal and business versions of various cards. if you have a legitimate business with its own employer identification number, most business cards will not report to your personal credit report but if it is Chase, they will still review your report to determine if you have surpassed the 5/24. However, for future cards, the business card application will not count towards the 5/24 since it does not show up on your personal credit report.
If you do not have an EIN, you can still apply for a business card as a sole proprietor and use your social security number. You need to have a bonafide business but selling on eBay or doing some side gigs definitely qualifies. Business cards are a great way to add to your points / miles stash.
I have been doing the credit card application game for a while now which is why I have some many points accumulated. As a result, I am limited to the amount of American Express cards available to me and generally always have about 5 cards opened in the past 2 years which limits my ability to get new offers.
However, if I was to begin with a clean slate, here is what I would do. I would start by applying for Chase cards, both personal and business, and apply for up to 5 cards. I would then move on to American Express and Citibank.
Some links provided are my referral links. I would greatly appreciate you using those links to help support the blog!
Chase Personal Cards:
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card that generally offers 50,000 Ultimate Reward Points. This is a solid card to start.
The new Chase World of Hyatt card is a great card. While it was just offering 60,000 World of Hyatt points, it is now been reduced to 50,000. You may way to wait on this one. World of Hyatt points are great and this card gives you one free night in a category 1-4 hotel each year. This easily pays for the annual fee.
The Chase Southwest cards just came out with a great offer where you can get a companion pass after a $4,000 spend. There is a lot of buzz about this offer. A better strategy is to open a Chase Southwest Business Card where the introductory offer is 60,000 Rapid Reward Points and another personal card (in flight offers are currently 50,000 Rapid Reward Points) which would get you the 110,000 Rapid Rewards Points to obtain the companion pass for this year (2019) and NEXT YEAR (2020). However, I think that the companion pass offer is decent and had I not applied for the Priority card before the offer was extended, I would have taken advantage of it.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a good card but Chase restricts the bonus to either the Sapphire Reserve or the Sapphire Preferred. Either one is a good card but the Sapphire Reserve use to be offered with 100,000 Ultimate Reward Points and now just offers 50,000.
Chase Business Cards:
The Chase Business Southwest cards offers 60,000 Rapid Reward Points and is a great addition to a personal card if you want a 2 year companion pass.
TheChase Ink Preferred is a stellar card and offers 80,000 Ultimate Reward Points. This is a must get card for 80,000 Ultimate Reward Points.
Chase Ink Business Cash card is actually a great card. Even though it states that it is a cash back card, if you have another card that earns Ultimate Rewards points, you actually get Ultimate Reward Points instead of cash and while it can be redeemed for cash, you are much better using it for travel and particularly transferring those points to Chase partners.
American Express use to be my favorite card issuer but after a few denials for bonuses that was assured of receiving from multiple representatives and supervisors, I don't generally use them for much spend. However, they do have some great bonus offers.
The American Express Platinum Card is expensive but comes with various perks. Offers range from 25,000 - 100,000. 75,000 American Express Rewards Points or higher would be worth it for at least the first year.
The American Express Gold Card just went through some changes and can be a decent deal if you use the perks that come with it. A big plus is the 4x points on dining.
The American Express Everyday Card is not a great card but does not have an annual fee. It is one of the only cards that earns American Express Reward points without having a fee. The reason you want to have this card in your wallet is if you cancel some of the other American Express cards that have high annual fees, you will forfeit you points earned unless you transfer them out to another program or have another Amex reward point earning card. By having this no annual fee card, you can keep you Amex reward points even after you cancel other cards. It is great to have and could be useful for some spending.
American Express Business
The American Express Business Platinum card is another good card and while the fee is expensive, it could be worthwhile. Bonus offers vary for this card but it now currently 75,000.
The American Express Delta Skymiles Business Card has been offering some great signup offers between 50,000 and 75,000. Also, this card does come with one free companion airfare certificate which can easily make up for the $195 annual fee if used.
The Citi Premier Card is a good card that I keep in my wallet. 3x points on travel and gas makes it worthwhile. 50,000 sign up bonus is decent as the highest I have seen is 60,000.
The Citi Prestige Card is also a good card but it just got revamped. The fee went up and the perks went down. I do not recommend this card at the moment but if a worthwhile sign up offer comes along, it could be beneficial. There are no available applications at the moment.
The Citibank Aadvantage Business card currently offers 75,000 Aadvantage miles. I think that this one is worthwhile.
A lot of people will read this and be extremely worried that your credit score will be obliterated after applying for the amount of these cards. In actuality, you credit score will likely immediately decline but after a few months will actually go up. Your credit score depends on a number of factors but the two most important are paying on time and utilization.
Utilization refers to the amount of credit available and how much you use. If you have a $1000 credit limit and use $900 during a month, you are utilizating 90% of your credit which will cause your score to materially decline. If you have a $10,000 credit limit and use $900 during a month, you are using 9% of your credit which should positively impact you.
Essentially, having a lot of credit available to you through multiple credit cards but only using a small percentage will actually help your score. Between my wife and I, we have about 30 credit cards and both of us have an over 800+ credit score.
This post became a lot longer than anticipated as there is a lot of information to cover on this topic. While I attempted to be concise, there is a lot of knowledge to pass on in order to apply for credit cards with a good strategy. As you can see, the bonus offers of 50,000 to 100,000 per cards can be extremely worthwhile especially if both spouses apply for personal and business cards. It is not uncommon that you can easily accumulate 1,000,000 bonus points by simply applying for a combination of personal and business cards.
In some follow up posts, I will go into some more details on how I spend on my various credit cards and some additional beneficial ways to accumulate miles cheaply and easily.
The goal of the blog is to explain timeshares but if you want to truly maximize timeshare ownership, you should also have good strategies to obtain credit card points, hotel points and frequent flyer miles. Besides getting free flights to various destinations, many timeshare strategies involve using hotel points.
Make sure to comment below!
3 Week Christmas vacation in Hawaii: $28,000 value vacation for under $1200 out of pocket - How I did it
Last Christmas, in this post, I explained my “timeshare fail” where I stayed at the Andaz Maui resort using points instead of obtaining a timeshare for Christmas week.
Despite not getting a timeshare last year, we had planned on going back to Maui again for Christmas. The Andaz Maui was a great resort and while I hoped to get timeshare instead, I used my same strategy that I used last year and booked using points while waiting for a timeshare to match. Despite my efforts, I again failed to obtain the desired timeshare for Christmas week but was able to get a timeshare for the week before Christmas.
Christmas week is notoriously difficult so if you want to or must travel during Christmas, you always need a “Plan B” as getting a good timeshare will be difficult. DON’T BUY A TIMESHARE EXPECTING TO TRAVEL OVER CHRISTMAS. DISAPPOINTMENT IS LIKELY.
While I failed to obtain a desired timeshare for Christmas week, I was able to successfully plan a three-week vacation in Hawaii over Christmas break staying at extremely nice properties. While vacations like this typically cost at least $25,000, I was able to secure this trip for my family of four for approximately $1200 plus a decent amount of miles and points.
Here’s how I did it.
Before I get into the details on this trip planning, for any new readers, I wanted to direct you to review this post on my month-long trip to Costa Rica. In that post, I explained how I use multiple strategies, travel tools, multiple different points, credit card perks, and other “travel hacks” to create an incredibly affordable month-long vacation. This post is not that different but wanted to show my readers yet another successful trip that was planned using these strategies and resulting in a truly 5-star vacation for less most people spend on a long weekend.
While flights to Hawaii have been relatively inexpensive over the past year with some great deals (check out some of these), flights over the Christmas time period are always extremely expensive. Fortunately, by planning far in advance, I was able to secure flights using frequent flyer miles on both the outgoing and return. The key was diversification.
Diversification in points is extremely important. I’ll do a deeper dive into this concept in later posts but by having points spread throughout multiple programs and having transferrable points (Citi Thank You Points, Chase Ultimate Reward Points and American Express Membership Rewards Points), you have more options available to you.
For these flights, I could not locate 4 round trip tickets for the date and times desired at the lowest cost pricing. However, I did find 4 one-way tickets to Maui on United and did find 4 one-way tickets from Maui back home on American Airlines. I ended up booking one-way tickets using miles in order to further reduce out of pocket expenses. These tickets cost 22,500 each way for each passenger.
For the flights between Kauai and Maui, I booked them using United miles which was approximately 7,000 miles per ticket instead of paying about $140 per ticket. Not the best use of miles but decent.
Week 1: Kauai
As I explained in this post, I originally secured a timeshare property for the week before Christmas at the Marriott Ocean Club in Kaanapali Beach. The reviews of that property looked great and generally have a very high regard for Marriott Vacation Club properties. Despite being a Hyatt owner, I stay predominantly with Marriott properties since my Hyatt points trade favorable for Marriott’s. You can review some of these strategies here.
While I was looking forward to that stay, about a month before the trip, a 2-bedroom unit became available at the Marriott Waiohai Beach Club property in Kauai. The last time I was in Kauai was about ten years ago and I actually toured the property at that time. I remember it being a very high-class property located directly on Poipu beach which is a top beach on the island. Due to the fond memories and additional space for a 2 bedroom unit, I switched timeshares. Fortunately, I used e-plus for my Interval International Exchange (read about it here) and was able to exchange my week into the Marriott Waiohai Beach Club. Despite the extra fee, I always add E-Plus as it has saved me multiple times by allowing me to switch resorts, times or vacation spots.
I originally had a 1-bedroom unit in Maui but was very happy to have secured a 2 bedroom unit. Having the additional space for a family of four is essential since we all have beds and ample space to spread out. I will be doing a review of that property shortly with pictures so stay tuned. Overall, the property was fantastic but had higher expectations for the finish out of the units. While decently appointed and while having a nice ocean view, it appears that the units are getting close to their end of life and need of a significant refresh.
In order to secure a 2-bedroom unit, I needed to use 1300 Hyatt Residence Club Points. Based on my current maintenance fees of approximately $1300 per week for which I receive 2,000 points, the cost per this reservation was $835 ($1300 / 2000 = $0.65 per point - $0.65 * 1300 = $835). In addition to the exchange fee of $219 and the E-Plus fee of $59, the total cost for this week was approximately $1123. This is not exactly cheap but considering that going rates for this week at this property in a 2-bedroom unit was approximately $900 per night, the price per week looks like a tremendous bargain.
Take a look at this post for further information on the economics of timeshare ownership.
Week 2 – 3: Maui:
After having failed to obtain a timeshare during Christmas last year, I thought that I would have success this year. As explained in my original post, I put in my request a full year in advance and waited patiently for a match. I also consistently looked for available inventory as some units can come available via bulk deposits or simply by luck. As discussed here, as I did in the years past and as I try to do for each and every timeshare trip, I booked a hotel using points which would be cancelled in the event that my timeshare came through.
While I definitely wanted a timeshare for Christmas week, the Andaz Maui is a truly spectacular property and would not mind using points for this stay. While I had some opportunities to secure a timeshare for Christmas week, they were not the top resorts that I generally target (Westin, Hyatt, Marriott, etc.) and elected to use my points for the Andaz Maui.
The Andaz Maui does play a lot of games with their inventory for point redemptions so if you want Christmas week, you need to book as soon as it is available – generally in November the year before. I booked this year’s trip last year while I was at the property last year.
In case you’re interested, last year, I wrote this post about how my stay at the Andaz Maui broke my loyalty to Hyatt. This was somewhat true and despite not making a tremendous effort to hit Globalist tier, a few beneficial promotions and the World of Hyatt card made it possible to hit Globalist again. We’ll see if I achieve it for 2020. I’ll give you additional details on how to achieve Globalist in a few creative ways in a later post.
Having Globalist for this stay is extremely worthwhile and arguably some of the best use of Hyatt points. In this post, I explained the various perks received. I was easily receiving about $270 per day in real perks at the Andaz Maui (breakfast, parking, waived resort fees).
For this stay, I was finally able to use a suite upgrade and stayed in a suite for 7 nights. The going rate for a standard room was over $1600 per night and the going rate for the suite was in excess of $2500. Outrageous!
While we were originally planning on staying 9 nights, a fortuitous weather event occured through our stop over city and a travel waiver was issued for our day of travel. While we could have easily gone to the airport and take our chances, I elected to call American and see if they could re-accomodate us for other flights. While there were some real chances that our travel plans could have been significantly interrupted, if timing works and things align with hotel/timeshares, I tend to always reschedule our flights when these weather events occur. Getting stuck in an airport with young kids or having to stay at a less than ideal airport hotel is a poor way to end the trip and would rather “wait it out” on the beach for a few extra days.
As I mentioned, the cost for a standard room at the Andaz Maui was going for $1600 which is simply too expensive for me. Rooms were not available using points which was a disappointment but there were points at the Hyatt Regency at Kaanapali Beach. I had been wanting to check out the other Hyatt hotel on the island and was curious to see the Hyatt Residence Club next door and the Marriott Ocean Club (where we were originally scheduled to be) so this made a good option. The Hyatt Regency on Maui was 20,000 points per night as opposed to the Andaz Maui which costs 25,000.
The general perk of most Hyatt Regency’s is that they have a club lounge which offer food and snacks throughout the day. I have been to a few stellar lounges and you could easily eat there all day long for free. I had high hopes for this Hyatt Regency but ended up being extremely disappointed. A full review on this property will also be forthcoming.
While we were upgraded to an ocean front room with a spectacular view, the rooms are in dire need of refurbishment. I was not impressed and neither was my family. We checked out the club lounge the next morning for breakfast and it was in stark contrast to the unbelievable spread at the Andaz. They provided a fairly limited continental breakfast with no eggs and some frozen waffles.
After breakfast, I immediately began checking on using points to get back to the Andaz. If you have a choice between properties, don’t even think twice and stay at the Andaz.
One of the “perks” of achieving Globalist is to receive a dedicated concierge to assist with travel plans. I reached out to her for assistance in getting us back to the Andaz for the last 2 nights. After a few e-mails, she simply said that there was no availability and could not help. This was troubling as the Andaz had plenty of rooms available and plenty of standard rooms with a slightly elevated view. As I mentioned, they play games with their inventory so that only a select few rooms are available for award nights despite having plenty of standard rooms available for cash bookings. The only difference is the view which is arguably different than the room types allocated for award nights.
After several more e-mails, she reached out the hotel directly and they were able to open up a room using points. The concierge handled the adjustments and contacting both hotels. Overall, the concierge perk has not been that worthwhile for me as there are only a select few times that I need assistance in getting something accomplished. I was frustrated that this request was not simply handled but rather required multiple e-mails and arguments to get it done. At the end, it happened as desired but it was not as smooth as process as I would have expected considering that these agents are supposed to be at Globalist’s beckon call to assist with their travel plans.
We checked back into the Andaz Maui for an additional 2 nights, all using points. In the end, we stayed 11 nights at the Andaz Maui and 2 nights at the Hyatt Regency. The total amount of points used was 315,000 Hyatt points – a very large number and while we had an absolute spectacular time, I can say with certainty that I still would have preferred a timeshare.
I am not saying this simply because I am “The Timeshare Guru”, but rather because I value space and value the convenience of being able to cook some meals in the hotel. The Andaz Maui is absolutely fantastic but drinks are expensive ($19 cocktails and $10 beers) and the food is extremely expensive. Saving a few bucks on having a few meals would have been nice and not having to share a bed with small kids is a nice convenience and becoming more and more necessary.
In another post, I’ll explain how to obtain points quickly through credit card sign-ups and spend. If you do it strategically and intelligently, you can rack up a lot of points quickly and book a similar “expensive” vacation for cheap.
Despite my desire for a timeshare, spending 315,000 Hyatt points for the Andaz Maui was a fabulous use of points. If I was paying cash for this stay, here are the total potential out of pocket spend:
7 nights in a Suite: ($2500 per night): $17,500
4 nights in a standard room ($1600 per night): $6,400
11 nights of complimentary breakfast ($180 per day): $1,980
11 nights of waived parking ($45 per day): $495
11 nights of waived resort fees ($45 per day): $495
2 nights at Hyatt Regency ($450 per night): $900
2 nights of waived parking ($32 per day: $64
2 nights of waived resort fees ($32 per day): $64
Total cash value of the Andaz Maui portion of the vacation (11 nights): $26,870
Total cash value of the Hyatt Regency portion of the vacation (2 nights): $1,028
Total Points Used: 315,000
Value per point: 8.9 cents – not too shabby!
My family and I had another spectacular vacation using timeshares, frequent flyer miles and hotel points for a fraction of the retail cost. It was truly a vacation that would be out of our price range to mimic if we were paying cash. While my timeshare strategy failed, my plan B worked flawlessly in that we were able to enjoy the Andaz Maui for yet another Christmas.
Timeshares are great but they do not work for all travel plans so the ideal strategy is to have multiple travel tools at your disposal. Diversification is key, not only in points and programs but also having multiple avenues for finding reasonable accommodations.
Getting a $28,000 three week vacation in Hawaii over Christmas for about $1200 out of pocket seems ridiculous but I did it and you can to with various strategies.
What did you do Christmas week? Any stellar redemptions / exchanges? Make sure to comment below.
As you probably know, I a big proponent on using timeshares to exchange. As a Hyatt owner, I am given access to Interval International for exchanging. I find that I get tremendous value out of exchanges as oppose to using my timeshare week or even trading my Hyatt Residence Club points for other Hyatt properties.
A few years ago, Interval International implemented E-Plus. Here is a general overview of the E-Plus benefit. As a quick refresher, if you purchase E-Plus, which is $59, in addition to the exchange fee, Interval International lets you exchange your exchanged week for up to 3 times for no additional fee.
The availability of E-Plus significantly changed the ability to use exchanges. Previously, if you exchanged a week and your plans changed, you would cancel your week and be given a replacement week to use BUT you had to pay an additional exchange fee which is currently $219 per week (a sizable amount). Since you need to reserve so far in advance to get good weeks (2+ years), you were taking on a significant risk that you would need to cancel the exchanged week sometime in the future.
E-Plus solved these problems and created a great loophole to extend the use of your points and see inventory for over 2 years. You can read about that here.
For this post, I wanted to showcase my recent use of E-Plus and how I was able to score a fantastic week.
Hawaii for Christmas
If you read my blog, you should definitely read this post about my timeshare "fail". In that post, in addition to showing some unbelievable perks of hotel status, I explained that my plan to receive a timeshare for Christmas week failed and was "stuck" using my hotel points. While it was hardly a fail, I definitely did not receive a timeshare week in Maui during Christmas despite putting in a request a year in advance and searching constantly.
Hoping for a change of luck, I attempted to try to get a Christmas week in Hawaii for 2018. I used the same strategy and booked a hotel stay using points and put in a request first for Christmas week. I was hoping that this year was going to be different.
To my dismay, I DID NOT get a timeshare for Christmas week again. This goes to show you how hard it really is to get a great timeshare for Christmas week. If you are thinking of buying of timeshare with dreams of traveling anywhere you want during Christmas week, think again. The harsh reality is that even with advance planning, Christmas week in prime resorts is almost impossible.
Despite the odds being against me, I put in a request first and did not get Christmas week but did receive the week before Christmas in a one bedroom at the Maui Ocean Club. I have not been to the Marriott property but I have heard good things. There are newer properties that I attempted to get (Westin Nanea and Hyatt Kannapali) but was satisfied with the Marriott.
Despite being a Hyatt owner, I predominantly stay at Marriott properties and have yet to be disappointed.
While I was satisfied with my confirmed week in a one bedroom at the Marriott in Maui, I ALWAYS add E-Plus. While I hate the extra fees involved with exchanging, E-Plus has a lot of benefits with the most important being flexibility. Timeshares are well known for being not flexible and E-Plus has changed that. Despite having a confirmed exchange, you can still view available inventory and make exchanges for no fee.
I find that some prime weeks and resorts are available sporadically throughout the year but a lot of times, some truly spectacular weeks become available at the last minute. As you are aware, plans can change at the last minute and if they do, people have to cancel their confirmed weeks which they may have made 2+ years ago.
When this happens, since the check-in date is so near, these weeks usually get tossed into the general inventory. As a result, if you exchanged into one property but really want to stay at another, keep checking until the day before check-in. E-Plus allows you to exchange your week up to 24 hours before check-in. Some great weeks show up at that point and you can take advantage of it for no fee if you paid for E-Plus!
In my scenario, I had a great week at a very nice property but a one bedroom with a family of 4 is a little tight. I have altered my timeshare strategy to get more points / weeks because I find that for a family of 4, a 2 bedroom is ideal as everyone has their own bed, their own bedroom with TV and there is ample space for everyone to enjoy their vacation.
A studio or one bedroom just isn't big enough to fully stretch out without being on top of one another. While it is doable, a 2 bedroom is ideal and that is predominantly what I aim to get when traveling with a family of 4.
Since I had E-Plus on my confirmed reservation, I started searching periodically for other potential options. Since I know that a lot of good inventory gets deposited at last minute, I increased my searches about 30 days out and made sure to check for any other weeks that was superior to what I had already confirmed.
In another post, I can review Interval International's new app, but the gist is that they now allow you to exchange weeks on the app instead of just getaways. While we were out for dinner, I was playing with the app and saw that a 2 bedroom unit at Marriott Waiohai Beach Club became available for the same week that I had reserved in Maui.
I have never stayed at the Marriott Waiohai Beach Club but we did visit the property about 10 years ago on our first trip to Kauai. It appeared to be a stunning property and the reviews are phenomenal. Since the exact week that I needed came up, I quickly exchanged my week on the app and got confirmation of a 2 bedroom unit at the Marriott Waiohai Beach Club. SCORE!
It did not cost any extra in fees although I did have to "pay" the difference in points which was an extra 430 points.
Therefore, by having E-Plus, I was able to exchange 1 bedroom into a 2 bedroom unit at the last minute for no additional exchange fees and got the desired 2 bedroom at a very prime property in Kauai.
E-Plus is a fantastic addition to Interval International as it provides significant flexibility. Timeshares have never been very flexible but the timeshare companies realize the appeal of flexility which is why so many programs have gone to points instead of weeks and now allow single night stays instead of the historical minimum of 7 nights.
I use E-Plus for EVERY reservation that I do since I love having the extra flexibility. Even I end up getting a great week, I still add E-Plus as you never know when plans can change or life gets in the way of a vacation. Knowing that you have the option to exchange the week for something else in the future without added fees can be very valuable and find that the $59 for that peace of mind is well worth it.
Also, even if you are planning on using the confirmed week, spend some time searching close to check-in as something better could even come along!
Have you used E-Plus? Any wins that you want to share?
Timeshare Presentations and First Time Purchasers:
Timeshare presentations have become a finely tuned science. NO ONE ever goes into a timeshare presentation wanting to buy a timeshare. They have refined their sales process where they know exactly how many people will buy a timeshare based on the number of presentations.
I obviously advocate owning a timeshare as I think that they can be a great travel tool to travel well, affordably and comfortably.
However, timeshare ownership ONLY makes sense if the upfront cost is reasonable, maintenance fees are reasonable considering the amount of potential weeks you can receive, and you purchase with a reputable high quality brand (Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, Four Seasons, Wyndham, etc.) that give you a reasonable opportunity to sell your timeshare if you no longer want to and cannot use it.
Timeshare ownership also will ONLY make sense if you understand the systems and how to use them to maximize their value.
If you purchase a timeshare and use it for one week of travel during the year, it will rarely if ever make sense (with the potential exception of ski weeks). The key is to obtain more value from your week and transform that into multiple weeks of vacation. Then, the numbers make more sense and timeshare ownership can be very worthwhile.
The vast number of first time timeshare purchasers end up purchasing from the developer through these timeshare presentations. They have responses to every question you can throw at them and their pitch makes a lot of sense.
Even the main players like Hyatt and Marriott have fine tuned their presentations so it is no longer a high pressure environment but now they have transformed these pitches into a fear of losing out (FOMO). Buy now before you lose the opportunity or before the price goes up!
It is effective but it is not the best way to purchase a timeshare.
What the timeshare salespeople rarely disclose is the economic value of the timeshare. They sell timeshares for a lot of money and as soon as you purchase from the developer, the economic value of the timeshare just plummeted. Timeshares are sort of like cars. The moment you drive it off the lot, it loses value.
Some timeshares literally can lose 99% of its value after purchase and some can almost lose 100%. When you purchase some timeshares, there is literally no resale market for them so it is difficult if not impossible to sell. Even though you may have purchased it for $10,000 - $20,000, the value can be almost $0.00.
These facts continue to perpetuate the ideas that timeshares are scams and not worth purchasing. I agree that some timeshares are never worth purchasing even if they are selling for one dollar or someone is paying for you to own them.
However, there are plenty of other timeshares that are re-sellable and will retain "some" value. Again, if you stick with the main timeshare brands, you will likely have a much better experience.
In my opinion, buying a timeshare on the resale market is the most economical and can actually make timeshare ownership beneficial and can make tremendous economic sense.
As I mentioned, most timeshare owners purchase their first timeshare through a timeshare presentation. The pitch made economic sense and the ability to travel around the world was intriguing.
Many times, immediately after signing the purchase documents, these buyers will race to google and attempt to confirm that they received a great deal (as likely stated by the salespeople) and find glorious stories of many happy owners traveling around the world.
What they normally find is a bunch of information discussing how timeshares are awful investments, many disgruntle owners and sometimes, they even find their week that they just purchased selling for pennies on the dollar.
Unfortunately, this is common and people should do research on timeshares BEFORE going to these presentations. If you understand some of these simple facts concerning timeshares, you can go into these presentations with more information and ask tough questions concerning the program and their broad statements concerning usage.
For those people who made a purchase and immediately have buyers remorse, all is not lost.
Almost all timeshare purchase contracts have the right of rescission. The right of rescission gives the purchaser a set number of days to cancel the contract with no fees and receive their money back. It will essentially be like the agreement never occurred.
The time period for rescission varies from state to state but is generally around 3 to 15 days.
The Rescission Process
The terms of the rescission process will normally be buried in the fine print of the contract. They do not make it easy but you actually will need to read the fine print, find the rescission clause and FOLLOW THE STEPS PERFECTLY!
Unfortunately, it is never as easy as simply going back to the developer and requesting a refund. Even if you go back the next day, the sales people will tell you to read the contract and will likely not be much help.
The general process is that you need to send a written letter to the specific address in the contract with details of the specific timeshare that you purchased including the contract number with a clear and concise statement that you would like to cancel the contract pursuant to the right of rescission found in the contract. I would specify the exact clause as stated in the contract.
The letter should be signed by all people who signed the contract so if both spouses signed, both spouses should sign the rescission letter.
I would also include a copy of the timeshare agreement.
MAKE SURE TO SEND IT WITHIN THE REQUIRED TIMEFRAME AND MAKE SURE TO USE TRACKABLE MAIL WITH A SIGNATURE!
SEND IT VIA TRACKABLE MAIL WITH SIGNATURE, VIA REGULAR POSTAL SERVICE AND VIA CERTIFIED MAIL! MAKE SURE YOU HAVE PROOF THAT YOU SENT IT TO THE RIGHT ADDRESS WITHIN THE REQUIRED AMOUNT OF TIME!
It is extremely important to make sure that you abide by the rescission dates. If you miss it by one day, don't expect them to cancel it. The salespeople were likely very friendly and easy going during the sale. Expect the exact opposite in their assistance in cancelling their sale.
Despite their reputation, timeshares are not that bad provided that you understand what you are buying and how to maximize use. The vast majority of timeshare owners do not understand everything when they first buy and get roped into a purchase by smooth talking salespeople.
Too often, buyers only realize the mistake after the purchase and only do research on timeshares once they are owners.
The goal of the blog is to educate people BEFORE a purchase or help you maximize ownership after the purchase.
As I stated, most timeshare owners purchased a timeshare directly from the developer for their first timeshare purchase. They likely overpaid but hopefully they get enjoyment from it.
If you purchased a timeshare from the developer and you missed the rescission period, don't dwell on it. Try to understand the program and use strategies to maximize its use and have great vacations. Use this information to make a different decision for your next purchase.
Buying resale for a fraction of the price of the developer pricing makes a lot of sense and can make timeshare ownership very beneficial. The general idea is to rescind if you are within the applicable time period and search for another timeshare on the resale market.
You will always be able to find a timeshare to purchase so do not worry about FOMO! (Fear of Missing Out!)
Have you rescinded a timeshare purchase before? Share you story below!
While there are many things to consider if you actually want to own a timeshare, one easy question to ask yourself is whether you are a Christmas week traveler?
What I mean by this is whether you will want or need to travel over the standard Christmas break that generally occurs from December 21st through January 2nd of each year.
Prior to having kids, I HATED traveling this week and generally avoided it at all costs. Flights were expensive, hotels are overpriced, restaurants are booked and everywhere was busy.
Now that I have kids, we are somewhat forced to travel with these crowds as if we do not travel during Christmas break, there is very little time throughout the remainder of the year when there are any decent size breaks where it makes sense to travel far.
Christmas week is a tough week to travel as almost the entire world has off during this time or this is when most people take vacation time since you can use fewer vacation days and combine them with the national holidays to get a good chunk of time off.
Since most people travel during this time, most people will plan far in advance in order to get there desired resort. Additionally, many people who purchased Christmas week at whatever resort they own at will likely use that week. Therefore, the timeshare inventory during this time is sparse.
As I wrote about here, my particular strategy for Christmas break last year DID NOT work as I did not get Christmas week despite putting in a request a full year in advance.
Key Consideration Prior to Considering Timeshare Ownership:
I try to be very transparent and explain that timeshare ownership is NOT for everyone. Timeshares have significant issues and the systems are complicated. However, I think that a simply question to ask yourself on whether you are a Christmas week traveler is a solid question to consider prior to ever consider being a timeshare owner.
If you purchase a timeshare solely to exchange (my particular strategy) and you want to travel during Christmas week in popular destinations (Hawaii, Ski destinations, Disneyworld, etc.), you are likely to be disappointed with timeshare ownership.
Getting high quality resorts during Christmas week is incredibly difficult and even when I plan a year or two in advance, I rarely succeed in getting my top pick for this week.
Strategy for Hotel Points:
As I have explained in other posts, I think that it is extremely important to have hotel points in order to maximize timeshare ownership. The general strategy that I have discussed previously was to book a hotel using points (generally fully refundable) and then proceed to put in a request for a timeshare at that destination. If the timeshare does not get confirmed, you still have a hotel room for "free" since you used points.
Once easy way to get a ton of points is through credit card signup bonuses. I wrote about one particular offer here which is a very solid deal.
This particular strategy has been very useful to me but is EXTREMELY important for Christmas week travel. Getting rooms with hotel points can be difficult as well so you need to book far in advance for Christmas week but hotel rooms are generally available even in the most desirable locations if you plan far enough in advance. Since the rooms are generally refundable, you still have flexibility and you can attempt to receive a timeshare for Christmas week.
If you are a Christmas week traveler, meaning that you typically only travel during Christmas week or potentially one other week during the year, timeshare ownership is probably not the best for you. While I have had success in getting some great Christmas weeks through exchanges, these are not guaranteed and it is actually quite rare to get top quality resorts during this time.
However, if you are not just a Christmas week traveler, timeshare ownership can be a great tool to travel for cheap. The week before Christmas and the week after Christmas usually has tons of availability at high quality resorts. If you are flexible for your vacation time, you can do very well with timeshares.
My goal is to keep showing you how!
What are your thoughts on traveling during Christmas week?
As I mentioned in this recent post, I just purchased a second Hyatt timeshare at the Hyatt Beach House. In that post, I went through some details on what I own and why I made those choices.
As I mentioned in that post, the Hyatt timeshare that I purchased ended up being the second one that I tried to purchase since Hyatt exercised its right of first refusal.
What is a Right of First Refusal?
For those of you who don't know, a right of first refusal gives the timeshare company the right to purchase your timeshare before you can sell it to a third party. There are various reasons on why most timeshare include a right of first refusal but the one most generally used by salesmen are that it keeps resale prices up since anything that will potentially be sold for a significant discount will not pass the right of first refusal and the timeshare company will purchase it back.
There is some "truth" to that statement but I think that the general reason that most timeshares have the right of first refusal is so that the timeshare companies can essentially control the resale market. I can dig into this more in other posts but for this post, I wanted to explain what I learned during my process.
My Attempted Purchase
My strategy is to always make a low ball offer for any timeshare. You may lose some but you can end up purchasing one for a tremendous discount from "retail" pricing.
The first Hyatt timeshare that I attempted to purchase was listed on Discount Timeshares. I found a low priced week that equated into 2000 Hyatt Residence Club points and contacted them to make an offer.
I ended up making a low ball offer of $50.00 for this particular timeshare and after some back and forth, the seller agreed on this price. The going rate for a similar week on eBay was somewhere around $2,000-$4,000 so I thought I got a great deal.
In a separate post, I will put together a complete guide to purchasing a timeshare on the resale market. As part of the process, the seller or its broker, must submit paperwork to Hyatt which details the terms and conditions of the purchase and the price for the week.
Hyatt Resale / Transfer Procedures:
Once Hyatt receives this paperwork, they have 30 days (15 for the Grand Aspen and Kaanapali) to inform you of their decision.
Here are the specific transfer instruction provided by Hyatt:
If you decide to sell your interval on your own or through a resale company, please follow these three easy steps:
For this particular purchase, while the purchase price was $50.00, I was obligated to pay for the transfer fee and the closing costs. The total out of pocket cost for me was about $1,200. When Discount Timeshares submitted paperwork to Hyatt, they indicated that the purchase price was $50.00. This was accurate but as described below could have been structured in a more favorable way to benefit both the buyer and seller.
After around 30 days, I was informed that Hyatt DID exercise their right of first refusal and Hyatt succeeded in buying this timeshare out from under me for a purchase price of $50. Hyatt will likely now include this week in their new Portfolio Program.
The seller of the timeshare probably did not care either way as he or she was successful in selling the timeshare and getting out of the annual obligation to pay for the maintenance fees.
For me though, it was disappointing as $50.00 or $1,200 (when including the fees) for this week was a very good price. Once this occurred, I began my search for an alternative week.
As I mentioned in my other post, upon trying to make additional offers for similar timeshares, the representative from Discount Timeshares refused to remit my low offer to a seller despite being obligated to remit ALL offers.
Since Discount Timeshares receives a commission for their sales based on the purchase price, I believe that they refused to do so in an effort to increase their own commissions despite it not being in the best interest of the seller who can make their own decision on whether the offered price was satisfactory or whether they should hold out for better offers.
As a result of this experience with Discount Timeshares, I would NOT recommend them for future purchases.
What I Learned in this Process:
For Hyatt resales, my understanding is that they have some formula or metrics in which they determine what weeks / resorts to repurchase. They will not disclose these items.
For me, when I attempted to purchase an alternative Hyatt week (which I succeeded), my strategy was to attempt to increase the submitted purchase price as high as possible while still having a low purchase price.
For my second attempt, my offer of $2,000 was significantly higher than the original $50.00 attempted purchase but unlike my first offer, I had the seller be responsible for the transfer fee ($650) and the closing costs ($500). Additionally, as part of the offer, I indicated that I would pay for maintenance fees that had not been paid for the current year ($1250) and would be responsible for one additional year of maintenance fees ($1250).
Therefore, when they submitted the purchase price for this week, they indicated that the purchase price was approximately $4500 instead of the $2000 that I paid since I indicated that I would pay the current year and future year maintenance fees.
The reason to structure this in this manner was if Hyatt exercised their right of first refusal for this week, they would have to pay the seller $4500 as this was technically my offer even though it was somewhat disguised through transfer fees, closing costs, reimbursement of maintenance fees (past and future).
Therefore, to compare my first attempted purchase to the second attempted purchase, my original offer price was $50 versus about $850 - definitely higher but not transparent as offering a set amount and having the buyer be responsible for various fees.
From this experience, if you need to submit a purchase price where a timeshare company has a right of first refusal, I would try to have the purchase price be as high as possible by having the seller be responsible for all the various ancillary fees (transfer fees, closing costs, recording fees, existing maintenance fees, etc.).
By presenting the purchase price as high of possible by including the fees and by indicating the obligation to pay maintenance fees in advance, you can present a legitimate purchase price to the timeshare company at a price point where there is less risk to them exercising the right of first refusal.
In most resale transactions, the timeshare company probably does not have to pay itself any transfer fee and probably has little to no expenses for closing costs. If the buyer is responsible for these fees, they cannot include it in the purchase price.
The obligation to reimburse the seller or the obligation to submit the maintenance fees for the current or future years will be the buyers responsibility in almost all cases but you can include them in the purchase price submission so that the timeshare company would be obligated to remit them to the seller if they exercised their right of first refusal.
By structuring a purchase price in this fashion, there is less risk of the timeshare company from exercising their right of first refusal and this structure can even benefit the seller as if the timeshare company actually exercises their right of first refusal, they would receive more funds than if the right of first refusal was not exercised.
Overall, I think that this can be a win-win strategy for a buyer and seller and decreases the odds of the timeshare company from exercising their right of first refusal.
What do you think of this strategy? Have you lost any timeshare purchases to a right of first refusal? Leave your comments below!
Reader Questions: My Personal Timeshare Strategy for Purchasing Timeshares (Details, Pricing and Sources Disclosed)
As I have stated before, one of the reasons that I started this blog was that I get tremendous value out of our timeshare(s) and absolutely love and actually prefer staying in timeshares. Most people cringe at the word "timeshare" so I figured that I was doing something right with my ownership and thought that others can share in my knowledge and learn from the various strategies that I implement.
In this post, a reader, Jonathan, asked me the following:
Before I answer these questions, I wanted to thank my reader Jonathan for asking these questions. I think that it is important that I provide information that my readers actually want to read rather than what I "think" you want to read. If you have any questions, please reach out directly and I will do my best to answer them. A few other readers have reached out and I will be getting to their questions in time!
Let's take these one by one.
What timeshares do I own?
I currently own three timeshares. I own 2 weeks at the Hyatt Beach Club which is part of the Hyatt Residence Club. I own a third timeshare in Sedona, Arizona that I inherited through my grandfather. The Sedona, Arizona timeshare is a fairly recent acquisition as is the second week at the Hyatt Beach Club.
How much did I pay?
I own Week 47 at the Hyatt Beach House and just acquired Week 25 at the same property. My first purchase of week 47 was in 2006 (before the Great Recession) and I paid $6500.
The second week at the Hyatt Beach House, week 25, was just completed last week and I paid $2,000.
Why did I purchase these timeshares?
My First Hyatt Week:
In early 2000's, I became interested in the world of frequent flyer miles and hotel points. The easiest way to accumulate these points was through credit card offers. I took advantage of many of these offers and I was able to travel around the world for free in very nice hotels while I had a very limited income.
In 2006, I moved to Austin, Texas and received an timeshare solicitation offer for the Hyatt Wild Oak Ranch in San Antonio, Texas. My girlfriend, (now wife) and I ending up taking them up on their offer to spend a weekend at the Hyatt Wild Oak Ranch in exchange for the standard 90 minute presentation offered.
We had been to a few other timeshare presentations and while intriguing, they never seemed to make complete sense to me. Plus, we were broke and were both beginning careers where we had limited vacation time.
The Hyatt presentation was fine and they showed me the exchange chart. When I saw the exchange chart, I realized that, like frequent flyer miles and hotel points, there were opportunities to maximize your points in order to travel for multiple weeks while only owning one week. I studied the chart and saw that there was value to be had, if used properly.
The salesperson offered me a package somewhere between $20,000 and $30,000. Being broke, these numbers were simply out of reach but this was the beginning of my interests in timeshares.
I had been an active user on Ebay at this time and began looking at various auctions for timeshares. Similar Hyatt weeks that they were offering to me were selling for a fraction of the cost. I negotiated with several buyers and ended up contacting a real estate broker who was able to get me a "deal" on my first timeshare for $6500.
This was in 2006 while the economy was doing very well. I ending up purchasing that week which came with 1300 Hyatt Residence Club points. In 2008-2012 period, my timeshare week was easily selling for $1.00 on eBay as the timeshare market completely dried up.
The reason that I purchased a Hyatt was that I saw value in their exchange chart for those travelers who can travel during off peak times AND they had a stellar property about an hour away from me (Hyatt Wild Oak Ranch). I knew that in those years that we may not travel, at least I had an easy destination to go to where I could use my timeshare.
My Second Hyatt Week:
I just completed the purchase of my second Hyatt week at the Hyatt Beach House. The fact that this occurred at the Hyatt Beach Club was simply a coincidence. I have NEVER been to the Hyatt Beach House and probably will never go (well see...).
Unlike during my first purchase, I am definitely a lot more knowledgable about timeshares. I now have 2 small kids and I knew that I needed more points in order to travel in 1 or 2 bedroom units as often we do.
If you read this blog, I currently tend to maximize our travel by staying in studio units. While they are more spacious than hotels, the kids are getting bigger and we simply need / want more space. My current week does not give me enough points to travel as frequently as we do in larger units.
Hyatt's New Program
As you probably know, Hyatt recently released information on the Hyatt Portfolio Program which is a strictly points based system. I attended a presentation on this new program and it seemed to be similar to the existing program but cost A LOT more with only a few extra perks.
I have been extremely happy with my Hyatt purchase since Hyatt Residence Club points have a very favorable exchange rate through Interval International and can also have very favorable uses for 2 or 4 night stays within the Hyatt Residence Club properties. 3 night and 7 night stays are generally costly and tend to shy away from those exchanges if possible.
Since I was happy with Hyatt, I thought that I would purchase another Hyatt week. Also, with the new program being rolled out, the "legacy weeks" would start being diminished as Hyatt exercised their right of first refusal. I thought that while there were ample legacy weeks available, I would purchase another Hyatt week.
The specific property did not really matter as long as the purchase price was low, the maintenance fees were low and the week came with a decent amount of points.
New Hyatt Chart
A few months ago, Hyatt changed the exchange chart and increased the value of many Key West properties and a couple Florida properties.
In that post, I explained that my existing week, Week 47 at the Hyatt Beach House increased from 1300 points to 2000 points. This was a tremendous win for me as instead of being able to get about 3 weeks in a studio unit while only owning 1 week, this gave me the ability to get approximately 4 1/2 weeks in a studio unit with only owning 1 week.
Since the points valued changed for certain weeks, many existing owners or resellers did not immediately change their pricing. Hyatt weeks that equate into 1300 points do not sell for very much but Hyatt weeks that sell for 2,000 points generally have a decent resale value. The reason is that 2,000 points can get you into most Hyatt properties during peak times. 1300 points is somewhat restrictive in the internal Hyatt system but can be "enough" for those who want to trade exclusively through Interval International.
Due to this unique situation, I spent a decent amount of time looking for these Hyatt weeks that changed point values in the hope of getting a bargain. Many timeshare owners or resellers simply are not well versed in the intricacies of the programs and probably did not realize the overnight change in value.
I attempted to purchase one Hyatt week that equated into 2,000 Hyatt points for a purchase price of $50.00 plus transfer fees ($650) and closing costs which equated to a total purchase price of about $1200. Unfortunately, Hyatt exercised their right of first refusal and bought that unit out from under me.
In a separate post, I'll explain what I learned from this experience and how I altered my strategy for my other purchase which passed Hyatt's Right of First Refusal at a purchase price of $2,000.
How did I find these timeshares?
As I mentioned, I found my first timeshare on eBay. While I located the timeshare on eBay, the seller was a real estate broker and ended up completing the purchase outside of eBay as they found another available week for me that was not listed on the eBay platform.
For my second Hyatt purchase, I definitely looked around eBay and found a few timeshare brokers and decent weeks. I bid on a few but lost the bids. In case you may have missed it, here is a post on how to get a good approximate fair market value for timeshares.
I came across Discount Timeshares on eBay and reviewed their website which lists various weeks. This was the company that I used for my first attempted purchase that did not pass Hyatt's Right of First Refusal.
I constantly reviewed their inventory and attempted to make offers on a few other weeks. I was working with one agent at Discount Timeshares and attempted to make a low ball offer (ALWAYS MAKE A LOW BALL OFFER!). She indicated that she would NOT make an offer as it was too low despite being obligated to extend ALL offers for a property to the actual seller. After calling them out on this shady practice, I ceased doing business with this company and would NOT recommend them.
The other company that I used is Sumday Vacations. I ended up going through the entire purchase transaction with this Company and had a decent experience. Stay tuned for a full post on this as I owe everyone a full guide to purchasing a timeshare on the resale market. I was waiting for my purchase to go through completely so that I had a full guide and timeline of the process.
What arbitrage opportunities do you think exist?
While timeshares are complicated, there are a ton of arbitrage opportunities that currently exist and many more that will develop over time as these programs change. I touch on many of these in the various posts concerning timeshare strategies.
I will expand on some of these opportunities over time but the best resale arbitrage opportunity that occurred or may still be available is the purchase of re-priced Hyatt weeks. While exchange charts may be revised each year, it is unique for a timeshare company to re-allocate points to existing weeks which drastically increases their value and use.
I have owned Hyatt for 12 years and this is the first time that this has occurred that I am aware of.
Some very low value weeks (1300 or 1400 points) immediately changed to some of the highest point weeks (2000 or 2200 points).
With just dumb luck, my existing Hyatt week went from 1300 points to 2000.
Due to this change, I wanted to find similar opportunities and luckily succeeded in getting a second 2000 point Hyatt week for only $2,000 (all transfer and closing costs included).
What am I going to purchase next?
I do not anticipate purchasing another timeshare for a while as I should be able to travel well with a combined point balance of 4,000 Hyatt Residence Club points per year and by using my existing credit card strategy for additional frequent flyer points and hotel points.
If I use these points for exchanging solely through Interval International (likely strategy), I should get 4+ weeks in a 1 bedroom unit or about 3 weeks in a 2 bedroom unit. This should be sufficient for most years while supplementing our travel with excellent Interval Getaways (cash price for stay), RCI extra vacations (cash price for stay) or potentially using Accommodations Certificates ("free" weeks from Interval).
However, when the time comes, I will likely purchase a Marriott week. I do not think that I will purchase Marriott Destination Club Points since they can be pricey and resales can be difficult to find but will likely purchase a legacy week. The reason for this is so that I can exchange the Marriott week into Hyatt properties. This is a strategy that I touched on before but will go into further detail in other posts.
Essentially, there is a arbitrage opportunity where Marriott legacy week owners (and other non-Hyatt owners) are able to get favorable Hyatt properties for much less points / trading value than what Hyatt owners will have to use when trading through the internal system. More to come on this later.
A big thank you to Jonathan for posing these questions. I hope that my thought process and these answers are valuable to other readers to understand why I own what I do.
What are your questions? Ask below in the comment section.
Hyatt Elite Status: Perks of being a Globalist - A look at some very valuable perks on a upcoming stay to Andaz Maui
In my previous post, I explained what "perks" you would receive or rather, what "perks" you would not receive when having hotel status and staying at Marriott Vacation Club Properties.
As I stated in that post, while I do think that hotel status can be very worthwhile, you generally should not expect any such "perks" when staying at timeshare properties.
In this post, I wanted to share my details on an upcoming trip and explain how, by achieving Hyatt's Globalist status (top tier status), is going to save me a ton of money on an upcoming trip.
Before I get to the details, I wanted to take a moment to re-explain a timeshare strategy that everybody should use. In that post, I explained why hotel points are very valuable for timeshare planning.
Instead of going through all the details again, my point (no pun intended) was to explain that you need to have hotel points in order to book hotels very early, solidify your airfare so that you can reserve the cheapest flights and put in an ongoing search for a timeshare at that destination. By using this strategy, you can solidify your vacation plans while still being flexible for your accommodations.
Generally, I book a hotel using hotel points or at a reasonable rate with a generous cancellation policy, book non-refundable airfare or use frequent flyer miles and then put in a request for a timeshare at that destination.
If I get the timeshare, things work out great. If not, I hopefully either have a "free" hotel stay or at least a reasonable priced hotel stay while being able to to book cheap airfare or use frequent flyer miles.
With all that being said, I attempted to use this particular strategy this past year. This strategy FAILED ME!
It didn't work out exactly as planned but this is now the "worst case" scenario which is not bad at all!
As I discussed, last year around this time, I was able to book the Andaz Maui resort using points for ten nights over the Christmas holiday. This cost 25,000 points per night so this cost me 250,000 Hyatt points. This is a ton of points and truthfully did not want to spend this amount of points but was prepared to do so if needed. Hyatt points are very valuable and spending this much at one time was not that desirable.
By booking this early, I was able to reserve flights for my family of four using frequent flyer miles. In another post, I will explain the strategy that I used to get great flights to and from Hawaii and even used a great trick to get a free flight to Cancun!
Once I had this hotel reservation, I also put in a request first with Interval International to try to reserve Christmas week in Maui at either the Marriott or Westin property. Here is a recent post on how to use the Request First function.
There are other timeshare properties in Maui but I wanted to get the higher end properties. The Marriott Maui Ocean Club and the brand new Westin Nanea are two top tier properties.
As an aside, if you read this blog, you know that I am an avid Hyatt fan and own with the Hyatt Residence Club. Hyatt recently built the Hyatt Ka'anapali Beach club which is supposed to be spectacular and likely on par or better than the Marriott and Westin properties.
I can explain this in more detail in another post, but it is actually more expensive for me, points wise, as a Hyatt owner, to get into the Hyatt Ka'anapali Beach Club than getting into the Marriott or Westin properties. The reason for this is the amount of points required for Hyatt owners as opposed to the beneficial exchange rates in Interval International.
Stay tuned for a follow-up post on why, as a Hyatt owner, choosing the Marriott or Westin property could be more beneficial.
It ended up that my request first never came through. Getting Christmas week is generally very hard and getting a top tier property in Maui during Christmas week is extremely difficult. As you can see, even The Timeshare Guru does not always get the most desirable weeks despite planning far in advance.
My New Plan
Since I had a reservation at a very nice property and I was able to book early enough to use frequent flyer points for free flights, we decided to keep our plans for Maui and spend the 250,000 points for a 10 night stay. It is a ton of points but the room rates for this period of time are actually $1600 PER NIGHT - absolutely astronomical.
While I would never pay these types of rates, by using hotel points, I am getting just about 6.5 cents per point out of this redemption at a Hyatt property. While this was not exactly how I preferred to spend my points, this is still a great deal. Now, I need to explain some other strategies on how to refill these Hyatt points.
Going back to the original premise of this post, I wanted to explain how having hotel status can be extremely beneficial.
This year, we have been doing a lot of travel, in both timeshares and hotels. We specifically have tried to stay at Hyatt properties almost solely due to this upcoming stay at the Andaz Maui during Christmas. I like Hyatt properties a lot but they revised their program in 2017 and it now requires 60 nights at Hyatt properties to receive top tier status called "Globalist". It is a horrendous name.
Somehow, through all of our travels, we were able to achieve this status and have currently stayed 61 nights in Hyatt properties this year. This required a lot of effort and money but the reason that we did this was to make sure that we received the various perks at the Andaz Maui.
Globalist status with Hyatt comes with various perks. In other posts, I may go through all of them but in this post, I wanted to explain how we are maximizing the most valuable perks and how much this will essentially save us.
Resort Fees are absolutely horrendous and they should be illegal and never be charged. I hate them with a passion and it is the most infuriatingly thing to spend hundreds of dollars a night on a hotel, only then be charged a mandatory resort fee in order to use a pool or get a bottle of water.
I absolutely despise resort fees and I know that a lot of people feel the same way. Despite this, hotels continue to charge them and there are fewer and fewer ways to get around them. Like most hotels, Hyatt has jumped on board the resort fee train and charges $40 a night at the Andaz Maui. This is IN ADDITION to the going rates of $1,600 per night (RIDICULOUS).
Hyatt members (all tiers) do not pay resort fees on award nights but only Globalist members do not pay resort fees on paid nights. In this situation, since I used points, even if I was not a Globalist member, I would not have to pay their absurd $40 a night resort fee.
Savings: $400 ($40 x 10 nights).
You would think that $1,600 nightly room rates would get you free parking. However, you would be wrong. Despite crazy expensive nightly rates, the hotel charges a parking fee of $35 per night.
Fortunately, Globalists now receive free parking at hotels and resorts that can be charged to a guest's room. I am almost 100% sure that you can charge parking to your room at the Andaz Maui so this is a nice perk and significant savings. Having a car on Maui is essential if you want to be able to explore the island.
Savings: $350 ($35 x 10 nights).
When I travel with my family and with my two young children, breakfast is by far the most important meal of the day. They wake up hungry and getting food immediately is necessary. Some hotel breakfasts have a lot to be desired. We have stayed at the Andaz Maui once before and their breakfast is phenomenal.
As you may recall, we spent 16 nights at the Andaz Papagayo resort in Costa Rica this summer and their breakfast was excellent.
When we stayed there, we all compared the breakfast to the Andaz Maui and my family was unanimous in chosing the Andaz Maui breakfast as the winner (the Andaz Papagayo breakfast is still awesome though). The food is spectacular and they a fresh juice station where you can request anything you want. They also have a good selection of Asian breakfast cuisine which is different and enjoyable. Stay tuned for a detailed post on their breakfast spread!
The worst part about the Andaz Maui's breakfast is the cost. They charge $47 per person, per day. Globalist members get free breakfast! (up to 2 adults and 2 children staying in the same room).
Savings: $1,880 ($47 x 4 people = $188 per day, $188 x 10 nights)
I would never spend almost $2,000 on breakfast for ten nights but it is the going rate. Even if you only eat it once, I would recommend it as a splurge.
As a Globalist member, you do receive 4 suite upgrade awards. You can reserve a standard room and if there is a suite available, you can reserve it in advance by using one of your upgrade awards. Each suite upgrade certificate is valid for 7 nights.
The suite upgrade awards are only given when you achieve Globalist status so ours did not get into our account until mid November. By then, availability was slim for any suite upgrades during Christmas week. Like timeshares, if you want a suite upgrade, you need to book extremely early.
Despite this time limitation and despite the hotel and reservations telling me no, I found a suite available for booking with cash during a portion of our stay and was able to convince them to apply a suite upgrade to 5 out our 10 nights. We will have to change rooms which is a pain but we now are staying in an Ocean View Suite for the first portion of our trip.
Hopefully, we will be able to stay in the same room for the entire stay but they have already downplayed this option.
I'll post details on this once we are there but the Ocean View Suite is twice as large as a standard room and has a separate living room space.
The hotel is basically sold out for this time frame so I cannot see the difference in price but I think it is fair to say that this is at least a $200 per night perk.
Savings: $1,000 ($200 x 5 nights).
One of the main reasons that we tried and did achieve Globalist status this year was due to this upcoming stay at the the Andaz Maui. I knew that there would be some very valuable perks that would make our stay more enjoyable and save us a ton of money. Even though I still actually prefer to stay in a timeshare, we are all very exciting about this stay. A post will definitely follow that will review this property.
As you can see, we are saving a ton of money on resort fees, parking, suites and breakfast.
All in all, I would say that we are conservatively saving just over $3,600 for our ten night stay based on the perks of being a Globalist.
If we add up the going rate for the hotel, the cash cost for this upcoming stay is close to $20,000. By using 250,000 Hyatt points, we are getting it for FREE!
We still haven't decided whether we will try to achieve Globalist status again next year as it did take quite a bit of effort, money and travel to do so. However, a lot will likely depend on how we get treated during our stays at Hyatt properties during this upcoming year. I generally get treated well at Hyatt properties so I will see the "difference", if any, of now being a Globalist member.
Hyatt's loyalty program has significantly changed this year and they just replaced the main person that leads the loyalty program. During each stay, we will continually assess whether these benefits are truly worth it or whether to focus on simply trying to stay at timeshares or focus specifically on cost and quality of the resorts instead of brands.
However, as you can see, there are some significant and real benefits associated with achieving Hyatt's Globalist tier level so having hotel tier status is not insignificant if you stay at hotel properties.
While I still truthfully would have preferred to stay in a timeshare property, this should be a great trip and demonstrates why elite status can be very important and why you need multiple travel strategies to travel well, often and affordably.
My timeshare strategy failed for this trip but as you can see, I still ended up planning a spectacular trip that essentially is FREE!
Have you stayed at this property? What are some of your most spectacular hotel redemption?
Timeshare Strategy: Buy a Trader (high quality, low maintenance fee week to trade in RCI or Interval International)
here are a lot of timeshare strategies that you can implement in order to get great weeks for very reasonable cost.
One potential strategy is to acquire a "trader". By trader, I mean purchasing a timeshare solely to exchange with the large timeshare exchange companies (RCI and Interval International).
The general idea is to purchase a timeshare that has high trading power within the exchange companies but comes with a low maintenance fee.
The trick is to find such a timeshare. Fortunately, there are a few good ones that can be very worthwhile.
As you can probably see, I am a big fan of Hyatt timeshares. Their current system is very advantageous for trading within Interval International.
As you can see in the chart below, it takes 1,300 Hyatt Residence Club Points to trade into a 2 bedroom. 1,300 Hyatt Residence Club points rarely gets you the ability to exchange into a two bedroom Hyatt property but easily gets you the ability to trade into high quality resorts such as Marriott's, Four Season's and various high quality independent resorts..
My first Hyatt timeshare purchase was a 1,300 point week. I used this week solely to exchange through Interval International. While I could not exchange into Hyatt weeks (you cannot trade Hyatts within Interval International, only through their internal system),
I used my Hyatt week to exchange into Marriott properties, Four Seasons, and other high quality resorts.
The lowest maintenance fee for Hyatt properties is generally found at Hyatt Pinon Point in Sedona, Arizona.
A very good strategy would be to acquire a 1,300 point week at Hyatt Pinon Point and use that week to exchange through Interval International. You can likely find some weeks on the secondary market that are very reasonable and come with a maintenance fee of less than $1,000. You can then use those points to exchange into a 2 bedroom unit through Interval International or break out those points and get two weeks using a 1 bedroom and a studio week or even 3 weeks in a studio.
This is a personal strategy that I have used and received tons of great weeks.
Starwood / Vistana:
Starwood / Vistana has some very nice properties. Once of the best traders in the Starwood program is the Sheraton Desert Oasis in Scottsdale, Arizona.
The Sheraton Desert Oasis is a very nice resort that has reasonable maintenance fees. Starwood / Vistana properties trade very well through Interval International.
The one issue is that resales on Starwood / Vistana properties do not automatically come with Starpoints. Starpoints is the point currency that allows you to reserve internal or external exchanges.
If you purchase a week at the Sheraton Desert Oasis, it will not come with StarOptions so you will only be able to trade on a week basis - 1 week for 1 week.
Despite this limitation, you can easily use a 2 bedroom week with the Sheraton Desert Oasis and trade that for a 2 bedroom week in much more expensive or desirable locations.
Additionally, Interval International has a preference for Starwood / Vistana properties. If you own with Starwood / Vistana, you will be able to see other Starwood / Vistana properties before other Interval International members. By owning the Sheraton Desert Oasis, you would have the ability to get into higher quality Starwood / Vistana properites before others including the newest Westin Nanea in Maui, Westin St. John or the Westin Princeville Resort in Kauai, Hawaii. All top notch properties.
There are many timeshares that you can purchase and use solely as a trader. My favorite is Hyatt since you can reserve weeks within their internal program and also reserve weeks through Interval International. However, there are many timeshares than can qualify as a good trader depending on where and what resorts you desire to trade into.
What timeshares to you use as a trader? Please post below!