I have written a lot on how to exchange timeshares to get multiple weeks as well as how to use various tips and tricks to maximize ownership and travel for less. Exchanging timeshares is definitely one of the best ways to maximize ownership but you first need to have a timeshare in order to do so.
Most people do not go out and purchase a timeshare but rather attend a presentation while on vacation and end up purchasing a timeshare. The timeshare industry uses various incentives to get you to attend these presentations and entice you on purchasing a timeshare.
These timeshare presentations have definitely resulted in causing the industry to be viewed negatively due to high pressure sales tactics and broken promises by taking up your valuable vacation time. Despite these issues, my view is that timeshare ownership is definitely worthwhile BUT you need to understand what you are purchasing, how the internal programs work and how the external programs work.
Timeshares come in various types and it is very complicated. You need to understand the programs and understand the pros and cons of ownership before purchasing.
If you do want to purchase a timeshare, there is no shortage of available options. They are many options by various companies all over the world. In other posts, I will explain how to get really cheap vacations to attend timeshare presentation and how these actually can be great deals but for this post, I wanted to explain some preliminary considerations that you should consider on what to purchase.
There are tons of timeshares by many different developers. Some timeshares are single property timeshares when you can only purchase a week at one property, some are points based systems and some are hybrids. There are well known timeshare companies as well as many companies that you have never heard of that operate one or two properties.
In reviewing a timeshare purchase, I would recommend looking to the well-known companies. Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, Wyndham, Westgate or the Four Seasons. I recommend starting with these companies since they have a brand image to maintain and they tend to have a consistent product. Most timeshare properties using these names are high quality and well maintained.
Additionally, since they have valuable brand names to protect, they have greater motivation to make and keep you happy. While not impossible, they are less likely to abruptly change the system and cause havoc to their owners.
The home resort is where you will actually own the week. You need to decide whether you want to use the week where you own or if you will likely be exchanging the week for other destinations. Strict points based systems (Marriott) no longer have a home resort but most timeshare systems still sell weeks even though they can be converted into points and used in multiple different ways.
If you will be traveling for a specific week and a specific destination each year, you may want to purchase that desired week at the specific resort. In a hybrid system, you should consider whether you want to purchase a week that you may actually use some years while still having the option to convert that week into points for exchanges.
REVIEW WHAT IS CLOSE TO HOME:
There are timeshares all over the world and in many locations that you probably did not realize. When reviewing what to purchase, you should review all the locations of the company you are purchasing from. You should make sure that there are locations where you would like to visit.
Also, I would highly recommend purchasing a timeshare from a company that has a location close to home. Anything within driving distance can make sense.
Some years, flights may be cost prohibitive or there could be other reasons where you need to stay close to home. You will want the opportunity to use a property that is within driving distance. If not, it may be difficult to use your timeshare that year and the worst thing to do is to pay maintenance fees on a timeshare that you don’t use.
Exchanges can allow you to “trade-up” and get better weeks than you own. You should review what companies and what resorts trade through the exchange companies. Most timeshares can be exchanged through RCI or Interval International. You should review both companies and see what resorts are available through both companies.
If you are considering purchasing timeshare points or a week convertible into points, you need to review how many points it will take to exchange into various weeks. I will do a separate post on this issue but you should understand the amount of points necessary to get a comparable week within the programs.
SIZE OF UNIT:
This may be elementary but you need to consider how many people you will be traveling with. If you are a couple, a studio or 1 bedroom may be sufficient but as a family of four, a 2 bedroom quickly becomes mandatory.
2 bedroom units are very prevalent within the system so a 2 bedroom may make sense even if you will be traveling as a couple. As explained in other posts, a larger size unit does provide you with ability to take multiple week vacations in smaller units.
The maintenance fees are ongoing fees. They will almost definitely increase year over year so you need to make sure that you are comfortable with that expense. Different locations and different properties have different fees.
If you are purchasing into a program with multiple properties that are exchangeable into points, the best strategy is to purchase the week with the highest amount of allocated points with the lowest maintenance fees. You should also consider the location as destinations with a lot of natural disasters could have higher maintenance fees due to higher insurance costs. We can go over the “sweet spots” in various programs.
You need to determine the amount of money that you are comfortable spending on the initial purchase price. You should NEVER finance the purchase of a timeshare. If you need to finance the purchase, you should not purchase a timeshare as it is a poor financial decision.
I have also made the argument that the initial purchase price is a “sunk cost”, meaning that you will likely never recoup the initial purchase price when you go to sell the timeshare at a later date. When you purchase a timeshare, I think it is smart to go into the purchase with that assumption. However, I think that most of the well-known companies listed above can retain at least some value or at least can ease the sale process in the future.
However, in no event should the purchase be considered any type of financial investment!
Most timeshares are sold as week intervals so if you travel for less than a week, a timeshare may not be best. However, many timeshares are now convertible into points and with those points, you can reserve nights in various intervals starting with as a little as 1 night. Additionally, the exchange companies do also offer some type of exchanges where you can reserve units with less than 7 days.
However, most of the timeshare systems are structured for 1 week stays. If you never take 1 week vacations, timeshare ownership is probably not the best decision.
The timeshare universe is quite diverse and the quality of timeshares can vary widely. There are top of line timeshares like the Four Seasons or there are very low quality timeshares that are in serious need of renovation.
Generally, you cannot own a poorly rated timeshare and expect to trade into the Four Seasons. The exchange companies generally try to match exchanges so you can a similar quality unit that what you deposit.
If you like to travel in luxury (like I do), you should purchase a highly rated timeshare. You should review the rating provided by RCI and Interval International of the potential timeshare to ensure that it is designated well within their systems. This will allow you better opportunities to trade into top tier properties.
This is meant as a general overview of things to consider when purchasing a timeshare. There is a ton of information so in summary, I would recommend the following:
There is a ton of information here so I will break down these items in other posts. Please feel free to send questions on any potential purchases.
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