In addition to being an avid timeshare owner, I also am very involved with various hotel points and frequent flyer miles. Hotel points and frequent flyer miles are essential to have in your travel arsenal if you want to travel for free or at least open up destinations that you would not travel to due to the exorbitant costs.
I have shared some basic strategies to get hotel and frequent flyer miles but there are plenty of other interesting and unique ways to get them and use them to travel for free or close to free.
Most of the major timeshare brands offer the ability to convert your timeshare points into their hotel loyalty points. Since the Hyatt Residence Club just came out with their 2017 chart, I thought I would start by assessing their conversions.
As shown in the chart above, Hyatt owners has the ability to convert their timeshare week into Hyatt Gold Passport points. These points can be used in various Hyatt hotels around the world. Hyatt has recently announced a material change to their loyalty program and it will now be called the World of Hyatt as of March 1, 2017.
There are some significant changes to the program but the redemption values has stayed the same for the time being.
Per the chart, owners of Fixed Weeks and owners of Floating Weeks have different values assessed. The amount of Hyatt Gold Passport Points given will depend on the season of ownership and the size of the unit.
For example, owners of a 2 bedroom unit in a Gold Season have the opportunity to exchange their 1,880 Hyatt Residence Club points to 77,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points.
I put together the chart below to access the various conversion rates from Hyatt Residence Club to Hyatt Gold Passport.
As you can see, the amounts vary but are generally around 1 Hyatt Residence Club point converts into 40 Hyatt Gold Passport Points.
Also, you should note that owners of Mountain weeks are not given the ability to convert. This is most likely due to the low values associated with those weeks.
Hyatt Gold Passport Points are fantastic! They can be extremely valuable if you know how to maximize their value.
In regards to the stated conversion rates, it is almost certainly a horrendous deal. For example, if you own a Studio unit in Diamond Season, you are able to reserve one week in a studio at various Hyatt Residence Clubs during prime seasons. If you convert to Hyatt Gold Passport Points, you are given 30,000 points which can give you six (6) nights in many category 1 Hyatt Place’s (lowest tier) or 1 night in a Category 7 hotel (highest tier). While some Hyatt Place's are nice, category 1 Hyatt Places are generally airport hotels, small towns or not in highly trafficed tourist destinations.
Additionally, back in September, Hyatt formalized the ability to redeem Hyatt Gold Passport Points into Hyatt Residence Club properties. If you converted your Diamond Studio week (7 nights) and wanted to convert back into a Hyatt Residence Club property using Hyatt Gold Passport Points, (not sure why you do this) you would only be able to stay 1 or 2 nights, depending on the property.
The nightly point requirements for Hyatt Residence Club properties are below.
Overall, converting you Hyatt Residence Club points to Hyatt Gold Passport points is a horrendous deal. It will generally make no sense to do if you wanted to maximize their value.
I think that the Hyatt Residence Club offers the conversion to provide more flexibility since it opens up a vast amount of additional properties and gives the allure of opening up more destinations. However, it does not make a lot of economic sense.
There are tons of additional ways to earn Hyatt Gold Passport Points. Hyatt is a transfer partner with Chase Ultimate Rewards so there are many ways to get Hyatt Gold Passport points through credit card signup bonuses, everyday spend with credit cards or various other offers. If you want a good review of how to earn tons of Hyatt Gold Passport Points, I would start here: upgradedpoints.com/how-to-earn-hyatt-gold-points/
I highly discourage any conversions from Hyatt Residence Club points to Hyatt Gold Passport points. There are much better ways to use your Hyatt Residence Club points.
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Unfortunately, following on the footsteps of RCI's exchange fee increase discussed here, Interval International apparently wants in on the action and will be increasing its exchange fee. They has informed members in a somewhat cryptic message:
Effective February 15, 2017, the fee will be the same for all full-week exchanges, whether you exchange online on IntervalWorld.com or over the phone with an advisor. All other exchange fees — including those for cruise exchange and ShortStay Exchange® — will remain unchanged.
Essentially, this means that the online exchange fee is increasing in price by $10 to match their phone fee. Exchange fees will now be $189 for exchanging online or by the phone.
Increased fees are never desired but at least they gave us a little time to plan ahead in order to avoid the increased fee. In order to avoid the fee, you can put in a request first for your desired week and pay $179 for the exchange fee. If it matches after February 15th, you should be all set and do not think that you would be required to pay the increased rate.
Here is listing of all the current fees with Interval International including the updated exchange rates.
Unfortunately, the sad reality for many timeshare owners is that their timeshare is worth significantly less than what they originally paid. Timeshares simply do not hold their value or generally do not appreciate in value. Despite many timeshares being a real property interest, they are vastly different than owning a house or vacation property.
The fact that most if not all timeshares decrease in value scares away a lot of potential purchasers. My argument is that timeshares can be tremendously valuable for traveling even if the owner never recoups their initial investment.
In other posts, I argue that the purchase price for any timeshare should be looked at as an initiation fee for ownership. Like country club memberships, the initiation fee generally cannot be recouped. Despite this pitfall, timeshares are great for traveling and can easily make financial sense if you know how to maximize their value.
While timeshares may not be worth anything close to what you paid, the next logical question is finding out how much it is worth. Timeshare values can vary widely and there is not a good secondary market to access any value.
However, one of the most efficient marketplaces to access value of all sorts of things is actually Ebay. Ebay is one of the largest marketplaces that links buyers to sellers and the prices paid for items gives a fairly good indication of the fair market value. Prices can vary on ebay due to the quality of the listing, keywords, ratings of the sellers and so on but generally, this should give you a good indication of the current market value of your timeshare.
You should note that you should not just do a regular search on ebay for your timeshare. You can do so but just because someone is trying to sell their timeshare for $25,000 does not mean that it is actually worth $25,000. In order to access the current fair market value, you will need to do a search for “sold listings”. Here is a step by step process for you to review with associated pictures.
1. Sign in to your ebay account
2. Click on the “advanced” tab as shown below.
3. Enter the keyword – generally the name of your resort or name of the timeshare system (i.e. Hyatt, Marriott, Wyndham, etc. or Hyatt Wild Oak or Marriott Lakeshore Reserve)
4. Enter the category “Real Estate”
5. Click the “Sold Listings” box as shown above.
6. Click Search
As shown below, you can see what various resorts sold for. The amount can vary widely so just because one listing sold for a lot or a little does not mean that it is actually the fair market value.
I have done a search for "Hyatt" and "Marriott" just to give you an idea on how the results look.
I think that Ebay is a great way to access the fair market value of your timeshare but it is not the only way to get a good indication of the value of your timeshare on the secondary market. There are plenty of timeshare brokers or real estate agencies that may be able to give you a better indication on price.
However, be warned that many of these companies will give you a high value and try to entice you to pay an upfront fee for a listing. This is almost never a good idea.
In other posts, we can go through various methods to potentially sell your timeshare but I think Ebay is good starting point to get a better handle on your timeshares worth.
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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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The new year always gets you thinking about what happened last year and what you would want to do different in the following year. Although it is just a date, it gives you the ability to have a mentally clean slate and make new goals for the year ahead.
For me, each year brings different goals but one consistent goal is always to travel more. Material possessions only last so long but experiences of travel do last a lifetime. The economy continues to improve and as it does, hotels, flights, car rentals, activities, etc. continue to increase in price.
It gets harder and harder to plan vacations as everything becomes exhorbinantly expensive.
The goal of this blog is to show readers how timeshares work and how they can be used to travel around the world for relatively cheap. Timeshares have an awful reputation and while many of these negative attributes are true, timeshares can actually be extremely worthwhile if you understand them, know how to maximize their value, are flexible on your travel plans and like to or can plan far in advance.
In this post, I explained why timeshares became a four letter word.
I continually state that timeshares are not for everyone but for many, they are actually a great way to travel in luxury for much less than hotel.
This blog does not try to sell you any timeshares but rather is meant to educate you on timeshares so that you can determine whether timeshare ownership can be worthwhile for your vacation style. It is also meant to show readers how to use frequent flyer miles, hotel points, credit card points and other loyalty currencies to maximize traveling. My view is that timeshares are overlooked tools in this arena.
For years, I chased credit card sign up bonuses, banking bonuses and various other promotions in order to get hotel points. Many of these required some cash outlay but the vast majority were free. These allowed me to get many, many free or significantly subsidized trips.
My view is that people who enjoy traveling should not overlook timeshares as they can be an important resource for travel planning. The point/mile game has gone through many iterations and the programs continue to get devalued and make it harder and harder to use. They are still extremely valuable but at some point, the effort to get the points and the effort to use the points becomes just too much. I continue to partake in mutiple programs and I encourage you to do the same but using them for great vacations can be challenging.
With current pricing for hotels, it is difficult for most people to stomach paying these rates. Pricing for mediocre hotels are coming in at over $200 per night with luxury hotels coming in at ridiculous rates of over $500 per night if not more. I simply will not pay such rates.
Owning a timeshare is a significant financial commitment so you need to do research before committing to ownership. Renting timeshares can be a good introduction before committing to purchasing. Renting may actually be better than purchasing since there is no further financial commitment. There are various sites that offer timeshare rentals and in other posts, we can look into this in more detail.
I highly encourage readers to take advantage of the various timeshare offerings that are generally advertised by timeshare developers. They offer tremendous value and do not require any purchases. I do warn you that timeshare presentations can be brutal but can also be a good way to learn more about the systems. Many of these presentations are high pressure but many are low key.
Do you research before commiting and do not get caught up in the high pressure sales tactics. Most brand name presentations are decent (Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton, Four Seasons, etc.) but some of the smaller companies can be pressure filled.
I encourage you to look under the Guru Deals for new and existing promotions. It is also a good resource to see various deals and timeshare exchanges. I think that most people will be surprised on the cost of some vacations as well as the quality of some timeshare resorts.
The timeshare world is complex, difficult to understand, constantly changing and littered with a lot of false promises. However, for those people who understand it and know how to maximize ownership, it is a great way to travel in fantastic resorts with extremely reasonable rates.
If you are into the points games and frequent flyer miles and you love maximizing their value, timeshares are a very interesting off shoot of this hobby. I encourage you to subscribe below and learn more.
I also encourage you to ask questions. This resource is new so I want to give you the information that you desire. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook as well!
Looking forward to a vacation filled 2017!
The Hyatt Residence Club has just released a new version of its Points Chart. I have updated chart in the Hyatt Residence Club guide found here.
The charts are cumbersome to fully grasp but after some close review, there are some material changes in these charts.
The Hyatt Residence Club has added and subtracted some resorts on the chart. You can no longer book at the Blue: The Hyatt Residences located in Miami, Florida.
The chart now includes the Hyatt Escala Lodge at Park City and Hyatt's newest addition to the Hyatt Residence Club portfolio, the Hyatt Ka'anapali Beach in Maui, Hawaii. This is a stellar property and definitely worth a visit. Unfortunately, Hyatt has chosen that ALL 52 weeks of this property is considered Diamond season so all weeks will require a lot of points.
Since this is the newest property, there is limited availability since most owners are using their purchased weeks. I would anticipate that this will change over the years. If you are interested in exchanging into this property, I have seen a few weeks becomes available and have also seen a few Interval International Getaways show up.
The largest change to this award chart is actually found in the season designations for the properties in Key West, Florida and Bonita Springs, Florida. Hyatt has the ability to change designated weeks from season to season as well as change the number of points allocated per week. The rules allow them to manipulate these values at their discretion.
First, the three properties in Key West, Florida are as follows: Hyatt Beach House, Hyatt Sunset Harbor and Hyatt Windward Pointe.
Hyatt has vastly changed what weeks qualify as Diamond, Platinum, Gold and Silver and Bronze. As such, the point values associated with each week has increased.
The new charts show the following:
Weeks 1-17, 51, 52 are Diamond.
Weeks 18-21, 23-30, 44 and 47 are Platinum.
Weeks 22, 31, 40-43, 45-46, 47-50 are Gold
Weeks 32-35 and 39 are Silver
Weeks 36-38 are Bronze.
Based on this change, owners who own the following weeks have experienced a bump in the value of their week!
With the exception of week 7, owners who owned weeks 1-17 now are considered Diamond! As per the previous chart, these owners were previously considered Silver, Gold or Platinum.
For example, an owner who owned a 2 bedroom unit for week 4 at the Hyatt Beach House previously held a Gold week that was valued at 1,880 points. With the new chart, this owner is now a Diamond week owner and their week is valued at 2,200 points.
For a lot of Key West owners, previously owned Bronze weeks are now considered Platinum weeks.
Owners of the following weeks have experienced a tremendous jump in the allocated points:
Weeks, 5, 6, 8 and 9 have all gone from Platinum to Diamond. This means that previous allocated points for a 2 bedroom unit has went from 2,000 points to 2,200!
Weeks, 1, 2, 3, 4, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16 have all gone from Gold to Diamond. This means that previous allocated points for a 2 bedroom unit has went from 1,880 points to 2,200!
Weeks, 17 has all gone from Silver to Diamond. This means that previous allocated points for a 2 bedroom unit has went from 1400 points to 2,200!
Weeks, 21, 23, 24, 44 and 47 have all gone from Bronze to Platinum. This means that previous allocated points for a 2 bedroom unit has went from 1,300 points to 2,000!
This is a monumental switch in allocations. If you are lucky enough to own one of these changed weeks, this represents a tremendous bump in value and opens up exchanges to many resorts that were previously unattainable due to the number of points required for the week.
Additionally, there have been some changes to the Hyatt Cocunut Plantation in Bonita Springs, Florida.
The new charts show the following:
Weeks 5-12 and 51-52 are Diamond.
Weeks 3-4 and 13-14 are Platinum.
Weeks 1-2 and 15-17 are Gold
Weeks 18-20, 25-35 and 45-48 are Silver
Weeks 21-24, 36-44 and 49-50 are Bronze
.Weeks, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 have all gone from Platinum to Diamond. This means that previous allocated points for a 2 bedroom unit has went from 2,000 points to 2,200!
Here is the new chart for review:
Here is the old chart for reference:
The biggest win are those owners who owned weeks 17, 21, 23, 24, 44 and 47 at any of the Key West Properties. Owners of 2 bedroom units have seen their allocated values jump from 1,400 to 2,200 or 1,300 to 2,000!.
This is a tremendous change in value that actually immensely benefits the Hyatt Residence Club owner who owns these specific weeks. The Hyatt Residence Club owner now has enough points to book a 2 bedroom unit at most of the Hyatt Residence Club properties where they previously did not have enough points.
Additionally, these owners can still exchange through Interval International and can now book a minimum of 4 weeks in a studio unit as opposed to 3 previously.
This was definitely the luck of the draw but I actually own one of these weeks (week 47 at the Hyatt Beach House) which has tremendously increased in points. I am definitely a happy camper as I was just looking to expand my Hyatt ownership!
While these changes are great for owners of these weeks, these changes now require significantly more points to stay in Key West, Florida than originally required.
Please let me know if you have experienced any change in points. Comment below on whether you think this is a positive or negative change.
Also, since this is a very new change, this may present some very unique opportunitites to purchase some of these reslae weeks at a tremendous discount before the new point values are fully ascertained.
I have previously discussed Resort Accommodations Certificates before (click here) but wanted to alert you of some fabulous weeks and resorts being offered. There are some diamonds to be had.
The Resort Accommodations Certificate is given by Interval International usually after an exchange. They can be specifically offered for a exchange or deposit or simply show up in your account as a "Thank You".
The current Resort Accommodations Certificate that has been widely given out expired in January but Interval International recently extended this certificates to be used by April 7, 2017. They are valid for up to a 3 bedroom unit.
As discussed previously, most of the available weeks and units are less than desirable or are during very low seasons. Unfortunately, I have let many of these expire without use as it simply did not fit my travel plans.
This current Resort Accomodations Certificate has fluctuating locations that seem to vary per search. Normally, this would not be newsworthy but I have seen some ridiculously good weeks show up.
I have seen a couple of prime ski weeks in Vail, Colorado and Breckenridge as well as a week at the Marriott Kauai resort during January.
I currently see some great February weeks for Marriott's property in France by Disneyland, a nice 2 bedroom unit in Kauai and a top of the line property in Las Vegas.
As a reminder, if you are lucky enough to get a Resort Accommodations Certificate, you can book one of these weeks for $274 for the entire week.
Availability fluctuates by the minute but there are some incredible values to be had.
Make sure to continually search if you have an upcoming vacation as booking these weeks could be worth it even if you only have the need for a couple of days.
Good luck with the search!