As I have discussed before, I have predominately used Interval International for my exchanges. The two Hyatt weeks which I own have very favorable exchange rates with Interval International which allows me to get almost 5 weeks of travel for my one week (albeit in a studio).
As I previously discussed, I now have control over another timeshare week that I own that trades through RCI. I have been reviewing and spending more time on RCI to determine how I can maximize the RCI week that I own.
The first impression is that it is significantly harder to maximize timeshare ownership through RCI. While this is my initial reaction, this may change but there are some key fundamental differences on the way that RCI works for its "weeks" program.
Exchange Trading Power
The key difference between Interval International and RCI is that RCI uses "Exchange Trading Power". RCI provides a value associated with the week that you deposit that is based on the desirability of the resort, desirability of the week, the amount of lead-time for the specific week that you deposited as well as various other factors.
Once you deposit your week, you are given a trading power. This trading power can be used to exchange into another comparable week provided that the exchanged week is equal to or less than the amount of trading power assigned to your week.
While there are various nuances and intricacies associated with this, this generally means that you cannot exchange a less desirable week for a very desirable week since the trading power will not allow you to do so.
For example, if you own a ski week during mud season, you will almost never be able to exchange that for a Christmas week at the beach.
Interval International Difference
As I stated, most of my direct experience has been with Interval International so I am keenly aware of how to maximize ownership with Interval International. With Interval International, my Hyatt weeks are given a point value and I can use those points to exchange into any other week provided that I have enough points.
While Interval International does have something similar to trading power which they call Travel Demand Index, the way that this is used for Hyatt properties is materially different in that the amount of points required for a specific size unit varies depending on three time periods where there is low, medium and high seasons.
For example, if I owned a 2 bedroom Hyatt week that was worth 1300 points, I can exchange that week for ANY 2 bedroom unit throughout Interval International (mud season week or Christmas week). I only would get restricted on my ability to exchange my 2 bedroom week if I my week was allocated less than 1300 points. At that period of time, the only 2 bedroom week that I would be able to obtain would be a 2 bedroom unit during low or medium seasons, which generally are very undesirable and don't really exist. However, I could use my low demand 2 bedroom unit and get a prime week in a studio or one bedroom.
While they both use something similar to determine "trading power", the material difference between Interval International and RCI is that RCI is vastly more restrictive in that there system uses a point system between approximately 1-35 where if you deposit a week that has exchange trading power of 10, you almost never can exchange into a similar week that has a trading power of 30. To do so, you would have to combine additional weeks and pay additional fees for the ability to do where you would exchange 3 weeks for 1.
For further clarification, Interval International, when trading Hyatt weeks, only have three distinct seasons where you may be limited on the ability to exchange. RCI, on the other hand, has significantly more restrictions where if you have a week that is only 1 trading power below a desired week, you are prohibited to exchange into it unless you combine it with another week and pay an additional fee.
Based on my initial review, this prohibits you from getting outsized value out of your RCI week as they attempt to level the playing field by forcing you to get an equal value week.
Trading power is one of the most confusing aspects of timeshare ownership. When you are sold on a timeshare, the general pitch is that you can exchange your weeks / points into any week / resort desired. The truth is that this does not occur and the quality of your owned week, as determined by Interval International or RCI, will significantly impact your ability to exchange your week for something desirable or to maximize ownership.
While this topic will likely need to be discussed in more detail, the general idea is that RCI is significantly more restrictive in allowing you to exchange a low demand week for a high demand week. Interval International allows you to do so which is how I am able to exchange into prime weeks while owning a less desirable week.
While there are significant more details to add to this post, the point was to give a general overview of trading power and to understand a key difference between Interval International and RCI.
One other material point is that RCI does have RCI Points and RCI Weeks and this is based on my comparison of owning a week with RCI Weeks. The RCI Points system is different and will review that during another post to determine if you can get outsized value from that program.
Please ask questions or add some details below!