Many people buy a timeshare because they fall in love with an area of the country or a particular resort. They go there every year and truly enjoy it. But sometimes they grow tired of going the same place every year and want to go somewhere else. This is where timeshare exchanging comes into play, and we thought it might be helpful to cover some of the issues involved in timeshare exchanging in this post.
When timesharing first got started, you had no choice but to go every year to your resort, at the same time, and in the same unit. Over the years, companies were started to give us some choice. You would pay a yearly fee to belong to that company and you could give them your week and then pick from other weeks that had been deposited by other people. They charged you a fee, but it gave you some flexibility.
As things developed, many timeshare resorts started into the point system where you purchased a number of points and then you could use your points to go to your resort when you wanted and in the size unit you wanted. Also, you could use those points to go for less than a week. You could also take your points and use them with these exchange companies to go to other resorts or other size units and at different times of the year.
Many people bought into larger timeshare resort companies like Hilton, Marriott, Wyndham, etc., and they then could use their week or points to go to other resorts in that system and not have to use any exchange companies. This does require you to stay in resorts within that system, and for some folks, that is too restrictive.
The largest exchange company is RCI (Resort Condominium International) and the other big one is II (Interval International). We are not overly familiar with II, so for the purposes of this post, we will mainly be referring to RCI. There are a few other minor players, but they are not really significant. A timeshare resort, or timeshare company, decides which exchange company that they will be associated with, and you need to exchange within that company if you wish to go to a different resort. The exchange companies only make money when you exchange and do not own any timeshares themselves.
Some folks have asked us if you should buy a timeshare just for exchange purposes. We have always been of the opinion that you should buy a timeshare where you would be happy to go every year. Over the years, the rules for exchanging have changed and have left many people high and dry when they went to exchange. For example, in the Wyndham system, you used to be able to exchange into some great resorts and/or a much larger unit with just a few Wyndham points– but they closed the loophole. Many people had bought just a few points to do this, and were left holding those points, unable to make any exchanges because they did not have enough points to do anything with.
Again, there are no guarantees that they will not change those rules down the road. You have no control over those rules or the cost they might charge to make your exchange. It is nice to have that flexibility if it exists, but keep in mind the game might change in the future.
Also, the cost of exchanging has gone up in recent years. In addition to your yearly fees to the exchange company, your yearly maintenance fees, and the fee for the exchange itself, many people have said that it makes it too expensive to exchange. The cost for most exchanges runs about $190.00 per exchange, and the yearly fee to the exchange company is around $90.00.
In spite of the high cost of exchanging, one of the real benefits comes into play if your points or weeks are about to expire. Perhaps you simply could not take a vacation this year, for various reasons, or maybe you did, but still have several points that you can’t use. As the expiration date looms close, you can deposit that week or those points into RCI, and they will be good for another 2 years.
We hope this provides a basic understanding of the exchange system, and its relevance to your timeshare. If you have questions or experiences you would like to share, let us know. Also, watch for a future post on “Some Hints and Helps with Timeshare Exchanging–our Experiences!” Keep using those timeshares for great vacations!