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Interval International is one of the large exchange companies. Interval has approximately 2,500 resorts in their program.
Exchanging your timeshare can help you maximize timeshare ownership but either providing you with multiple weeks for your one owned week or allotment of points or allowing you to exchange into nicer resorts or high demand weeks than what can be had with internal exchanges. Exchanging is a very important tool for maximizing ownership but like the internal exchanges, you need to understand that process to allow you the best chances for getting desired weeks.
In order to use II, your owned timeshare week needs to be affiliated with II. If your timeshare is affiliated with II, II membership is either included by the timeshare company (i.e. Hyatt, Marriott, etc) or requires an additional fee to use II. Hyatt, Marriott and major timeshare developers provide membership with their timeshares so no additional fees are required for an II membership.
II does however have different levels of membership (Basic, Gold and Platinum). In later posts, we can go through the intricacies of each II membership level but generally Basic allows you to exchange within II, Gold provides you with $25 discount of each Interval Getaway and Platinum provides you with a $50 discount of each Interval Getaway and free guest certificates. There are other additional benefits but the ones mentioned here are the material ones for most people. Depending on your potential use of II (i.e. how often you travel), will likely depend on which membership level to choose.
The exchange availability will not be dependent on your membership level so signing up for Platinum membership will not give you access to extra inventory or special weeks.
Here are the current rates for II membership if it is not included in your owned week:
Basic Membership: 5 years $356 3 years $227 2 years $178 1 year $89
Gold membership (upgrade from Basic): 5 Year - $256 3 Year - $163 2 Year - $128 1 Year - $64
Platinum membership (upgrade from Gold): 5 Year - $556 3 Year - $354 2 Year - $278 1 Year - $139
Exchanging can unlock tremendous value for a timeshare owner since it provides access to so many locations around the world. However, it also brings about fees which do not get addressed as often as they should. To make exchanges online, the fee is $179. To make exchanges over the phone, the fee is $189.
Depending on your timeshare, II has specific charts for what is needed to exchange into the various size units. Hyatt’s chart is found here and Marriott’s is found here. Additional charts will be added.
MECHANICS OF EXCHANGES:
Once you become a II member, you can perform searches for their online inventory. You can perform a real time search for inventory by looking online through II’s search function. Inventory changes constantly so each search can yield different results. You can search by a specific location, a specific resort name or code or all destinations. You will also need to specify the earliest and latest travel dates.
When I perform searches, I generally do the search for all destinations and for the longest period of time available (usually one year). II’s search function is decent but there have been times that certain resorts and weeks do not show up even though they are available so do the broadest search possible and narrow it down with the desired time-frame and week.
If you are doing an exchange from a points based system, II requires you to choose the amount of points needed to exchange based on the desired size of unit (Studio, 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom, 3 bedroom and 4 bedroom). Again, it is recommended to do a broad search so that you can see availability for all unit types even if you do not have enough points for a specific type of unit. I will go through other ways to get the desired units in other posts.
REQUEST FIRST AND DEPOSIT FIRST:
Instead of doing a search for current inventory, II does allow to use a function called “Request First”. Request First is essential in order to give yourself the best opportunity to get fantastic resorts with high demand weeks. If you are on a points based program, “Request First” takes the desired number of points and does not take those points until a confirmed reservation. If you cancel the Request First, the points will be redeposited in your home system (i.e. Hyatt system, Marriott system, etc.).
In contrast, “Deposit First” takes the points and II is free to use the specific week or those amount of points deposited. Deposit first requires you to deposit your specific week or points to II in exchange for the ability to put on the ongoing request. If II does not find the desired week, you no longer have the ability to use your deposited week. If you used points, the points become available to use only within II.
When you use the Deposit First or Request First feature, II will perform ongoing searches based on your desired location, weeks, resorts and size. Once a match is made, you are automatically confirmed into that unit. You will only have 24 hours in order to cancel that trade. After the 24-hour window, you cannot cancel without incurring additional fees.
For points based systems, if you use Request First, II takes those points but if they cannot fulfill your request, those points or redeposited in your program. Request First and Deposit First both required you to prepay the exchange fee of $179. If II cannot fulfill your request, they will refund the exchange fee. Again, these programs are absolutely essential to use if you wanted the opportunity to get prime weeks. In other posts, I will explain this in further detail.
Depending on your specific timeshare program, II may either provide the timeshare owner with a “preference” on inventory or block inventory. Hyatt owners are not able to exchange into Hyatt units within interval. Hyatt owners must use the internal Hyatt system to trade. II provides Marriott, Vistana (formerly Starwood) and other programs with a preference on specific weeks so that Marriott owners may only see certain other Marriott inventory before other II members can see that inventory. This preference gives those owners the ability to exchange into other like properties before the general population can reserve them.
E-Plus is a fairly new feature added by II that allows a member to exchange their confirmed week up to three additional times. For a fee of $54, you can exchange a confirmed week for up to three times provided that it is the same size unit. Larger units may be confirmed but can require additional points if you are on a points based system.
E-Plus is a fantastic new tool and is highly recommended. Prior to E-Plus, once you confirmed a week, you could not change it except by paying a large cancellation fee. Now, you can pay the $54 and continue to search for other more preferential weeks. Dealing with airfare usually is an issue and E-Plus can be very helpful in changing weeks or changing destinations without having to incur the large cancellation fees and rebooking fees.
II members can also provide a guest certificate to others to use. This can be a great way to bring family and friends on a vacation. A guest certificate puts the reservation in another person’s name so that they can check in to the resort without the owner being present. The current fee for a guest certificate is $59 but is free for Platinum members. It is one perk of being a Platinum member that could justify the upgrade fee. Guest certificates can also be used for Interval Getaways.
SHORT STAY EXCHANGES:
II has also began offering ShortStay Exchanges. This program is only available to Platinum and Gold members and allows those members to exchange their week or points for 1 to 6 night stays instead of the standard 7 night stays. The ShortStay exchanges are generally available up to 30 days before check-in. The ShortStay Exchange fees per Confirmation are as follows:
Duration of Stay Call Center Transaction Online Transaction
1 night $149 $129
2 nights $159 $139
3-4 nights $169 $149
5-6 nights $179 $159
CHOOSE 2 PROGRAM:
II use to have program called XYZ which allowed members to receive an extra week of vacation by paying an additional exchange fee but without having to use additional points or deposit an extra unit. These were very valuable as they allowed you to extend the amount of use of out of your timeshare for a low fee. II has now formalized this program with the “Choose2” program.
Choose2 allows you to obtain an additional week of vacation after you exchange into a week. The Choose2 program has specific destinations and resorts available so after you make an exchange, you have to call II in order to find the available destinations and availability. The availability is usually limited and the extra weeks are usually confined to low season destinations.
In some situations, this can be very lucrative to get two weeks out of one exchange but you will need to be very flexible on times, dates and locations to fully take advantage of this program. Generally, the destinations will be similar or the same as those offered through the accommodation certificates.
The list of destinations for a recent accommodation certificate are found here. A downside is having to call into II to find availability and due to the scarce amount of weeks and destinations, it is harder than just searching online.
RENTING WEEKS EXCHANGED THROUGH INTERVAL INTERNATIONAL:
A common question that usually comes up is whether an owner can rent a week exchanged through interval. While some people have been known to do this on the side, it is strictly against II’s terms and conditions. If II becomes aware of members renting weeks, II has the ability to cancel those reserved weeks and terminate membership. It is not recommended to rent week. If you wanted to give a week to others, you can definitely do so through issuing a guest certificate.
All weeks exchanged through II generally have a check-in on Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday and with the exception of the ShortStay exchanges, are for seven nights. In other posts, I will provide some additional information on how to deal with arriving on days other than these as these specific check-in dates do not always work out according to your vacation schedules.
II recently instituted an upgrade fee that requires the payment of an upgrade fee to reserve a larger unit than what you deposited. If you deposit a studio unit but want to reserve a one-bedroom unit, you can do so but will have to pay the upgrade fee. The fee is $99 per upgrade step so going from a studio to one bedroom will be $99 and going from a studio to 2-bedroom will be $199. Platinum and Gold members have discounted upgraded fees of $59 and $79 respectively.