Timeshares are great but they definitely have their pitfalls. One major issue with timeshares is that they are generally only available for 7 night stays with arrivals typically on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday. For most travelers, this makes sense but for some travelers who prefer a Wednesday to a Wednesday stay, timeshares generally do not work out well.
While most travelers will generally arrive on a weekend day, the issue becomes with trying to align flights for a weekend arrival. Airlines generally have the highest prices for weekend departures and in some instances, changing the departure date or arrival date by a night or two can save hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
The obvious issue with arriving prior to your timeshare week or departing a couple days after your timeshare week is that you will need to incur the extra expense of nightly rentals. Sometimes, you can rent a timeshare in the same resort for a nightly rate but these can be very expensive. Alternatively, many timeshares are actually connected to hotels so you can rent a room in the hotel portion on a nightly basis. Again, this can get expensive fast and it could quickly erode any potential savings on the flights.
As discussed in other posts, credit cards can be a great way to get travel rewards and travel cheaply. Certain credits cards can be extremely helpful for extending a timeshare week. The following credit cards offer an annual free night benefit which can get you a free night in a hotel. Generally, the value of the free night easily surpasses the annual credit card fee.
The following are some of the various credit cards that offer a free night benefit:
The IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card, Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card and The Hyatt Credit Card each offer a free night at their respective hotel brands.
The IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card has an annual fee of $49 but can be used at any of the IHG brand of hotels. This is a fantastic deal as some hotels can cost hundreds of dollars per night. The Intercontinental in Cozumel, Mexico just got remodeled and I am looking to use my free night at this hotel sometime soon.
The Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card has an annual fee of $85 but offers a free night stay at a Category 1-5 hotel every year after your account anniversary. This is more restrictive but there are definitely great values to be had. I would recommend the Renaissance Curacao Resort and Casino.
The Hyatt Credit Card has an annual fee of $75 per year but offers one free night every year at any Category 1-4 hotel. There are some fantastic category 4 hotels including the Andaz Papagayo Resort in Costa Rica. Over Christmas, the rooms rates were over $1,000 per night and you could use the free night certificate at that hotel.
The Citi Hilton Hhonors reserve card has an annual fee of $95 but offers one weekend night certificate after you spend $10,000 in a calendar year. This is the most restrictive of the above but still be provide excellent value. The anniversary free night can be used at many hotels including the Grand Wailea in Maui, Hawaii. I personally used this free night there instead of paying over $500 per night.
The above credit cards are fantastic to have even if you do not want to use them for everyday spend. The free nights can easily surpass the annual fee.
My strategy is to get the above cards for myself AND my wife so that we can have 2 free nights at the various hotel chains.
Aligning reasonable fares for flights or using frequent flyer miles and trying to align a specific timeshare week at a hotel can be very difficult but it can be done! It takes a lot of time and commitment to make these type of systems work together. By having free nights at the various hotel chains, you can be more flexible in your travel plans and you can extend your vacation by a few extra days. This can save you tons of money on your airfare.
If you arrive during the week or leave on a Monday or Tuesday, the flight costs can be significantly less. Having free nights in hotels takes the complete sting out of having to pay exorbitant hotel prices for the extra nights, potentially eroding any savings.
Credit cards are an important tool in being able to travel affordably and can provide many benefits including hotel status, lounge access, free flights, free baggage, trip protection and many others. You should incorporate various credit cards in your timeshare strategy in order to travel well and inexpensively!
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