With $10 billion a year in timeshare purchases (yes, billions!) Americans are spending more money buying vacation ownerships than Major League Baseball’s total annual revenue! This article, by a timeshare owner for other potential owners, will help you make a purchase that’s a great value, and will help you save money on your timeshare purchase.
If you’re thinking to yourself, “What is a Timeshare Exactly?!?” Timeshares are partial vacation ownerships of condo-like units in resort developments. They are owned, operated, and maintained by independent resorts, small chains, and large timeshare companies like Hilton Grand Vacations Club, Workmark by Wyndham, Westin Vacation Ownership, Marriott Vacation Club, and Disney.
Don’t Purchase On a Whim
Buying a timeshare is not the type of real estate decision to make on a whim, three margaritas deep, while on vacation. Can your budget–and your emergency fund—comfortably cover all of the costs every year? Even during job loss, retirement, or a pandemic? For more introductory information on timeshare ownership and critical factors to consider before making this long-term commitment check out “Six Tips for Savvy Timeshare Purchases.”
There are a variety of factors in selecting a timeshare company or vacation club. For this article and analysis, I will focus on value for money as the purchase driver. Perhaps you are thinking about becoming a first-time timeshare owner and want to make a small and smart financial commitment. Or maybe you’re one of the 20 million timeshare or vacation club owners worldwide who are looking for more trips, and you want to buy in a resort development with the most bang for your buck.
Value for Money Starts in the Timeshare Resale Market
When buying timeshares, the path to a savvy purchase starts by getting a timeshare resale from an existing owner looking for a timeshare exit. According to Timeshare Users Group (TUG), the oldest and largest timeshare owners group and advocacy organization, timeshare resorts spend between 40% – 60% of the purchase price on marketing campaigns to sell timeshare properties.
Meaning, if you buy a vacation property directly from a timeshare resort, you’ll be paying much more than its market value. You can save 75 to 99% of the purchase price by buying in the resale market. TUG hits it right on the head when they say, “Why would anyone buy ‘new’ if they could get the same week, at the same resort property, for pennies on the dollar from an existing owner?”
What is the Best Timeshare to Buy?
If I had a dollar for every time people ask this question in the owners’ groups and forums, there would be two brand new Teslas parked in our driveway. There are folklores on top timeshare ownership resorts for value, but I’ve never seen a comparative analysis. One legend is that Grandview, a Vacation Village Resort in Las Vegas, is THE timeshare that gives you the most value for the money. This article will explore this hypothesis and answer whether the Grandview is the Granddaddy of Timeshare Value.
How to Evaluate Timeshares Across Companies: Apples & Oranges
The timeshare industry does not have an easy way to evaluate timeshares strictly based on value like the dollar per square foot metric when you’re looking to purchase real estate. To make matters more complicated, timeshare companies now offer a wide range of timeshare products (fixed week, points system, fractional ownership, deeded ownership, etc.) to meet people’s various vacation preferences.
So how do you figure out the best timeshare to buy for value if you’re trying to compare apples, to oranges, to pineapples to grapes? You compare the two common denominators for every single timeshare ownership resort: the trading power associated with what you’re buying and the maintenance fees you pay every year.
What about the purchase price when buying timeshare properties, you say? All the timeshare resale listings analyzed here are under $2,000. Over the course of 20-year ownership, it is not this small purchase price that drives your value for money, but the annual fees and the annual trading power currency you can receive in return. That’s why this article focuses on these two elements of timeshare ownership and not the small purchase price of a resale listing. It’s not how much you pay upfront (using the resale market of course), but how much you can hack your timeshare once you have it.
If you’ve never heard of timeshare exchanges before, one of the most exciting things about owning a timeshare (besides the fact that I have no chores to do at my vacation property) is that you can trade for other timeshare vacations at 4,000+ affiliated resorts across 100+ countries via timeshare exchange companies. It’s like picking up your vacation home or ski condo and magically moving it around the world for every vacation!
Where Can you Find Timeshare Resales?
Before we get into timeshare hacking, we first need to talk about where you can find these great resale deals.
One of the best places to find timeshare resale listings is TUG’s owner to owner marketplace. It is one of the largest and most visited timeshares classified ad sites on the internet with millions in timeshare sales, owner direct timeshare rentals, and one-week vacation exchanges between timeshare owners. Who needs an expensive timeshare exit company when there is TUG? If you’re looking for a timeshare exit or a place for a timeshare rental, you don’t need a real estate company with high fees.
For this analysis, I’m running real TUG resale listings through RCI (the world’s largest vacation exchange company) to see how many points of trading power they’d get for their associated annual maintenance fee. Since RCI divides timeshare owners into two separate programs (it’s a complicated story why, and it’s not really relevant for our analysis), I’ll identify the best buy for RCI Weeks owners and the best buy for RCI Points owners.
What is the Best Place to Buy a Timeshare: RCI Points Program
Depending on what resort, and type of timeshare you bought, you might join the RCI Points program. This means that instead of vacationing at your “home resort,” you can deposit your annual week with an exchange company and will receive 10,000’s of RCI points (your trading currency) to use for vacations all across the world. Pretty cool, right?!
When looking for a timeshare resale deal, a veteran of the RCI points program shared, “A good rule of thumb would be to aim for 100 RCI points per dollar of maintenance fee (MF).” Well, let’s take a look at some timeshare resort resale listings to see what purchases would be a good value for the money in the points system!
|Resort/Unit Size||Maintenance Fee (MF)||Total Points||Points per MF Dollar|
|Summer Bay 1 BR||$993||53,000||53 points|
|Silver Lake 2 BR||$1,021.58||86,000||84 points|
|Vacation Village 2 BR||$970||93,400||96 points|
|Massanutten Woodstone 2 BR||$470||55,250||117 points|
|Grandview 1 BR||$417.50||61,000||146 points|
Bullseye: Grandview High Season Purchase
So, the lore of Grandview Las Vegas is confirmed! If you’re looking to buy timeshare properties in the RCI Points system, buying a Grandview high season unit will give you the most value for money. In fact, one-week vacation ownership provides three times the value of a Summer Bay one-bedroom ownership.
Interestingly, at the Grandview resort, the maintenance fees for a high season or low season ownership are the same. So, the bullseye for securing years of future value for your dollar is to buy a timeshare resale listing in one of their nine high season weeks.
In the below chart, you can see that a one-bedroom high season fixed week option gets you the same RCI trading power points as a 2 bedroom low season fixed week for half the annual maintenance fees. That’s why high season resale listings are rare and really are worth the $2,000 one time purchase price vs. a free timeshare resale listing at Summer Bay Resort.
|1 Bedroom||2 Bedroom|
|Week||RCI Points Per Week||RCI Points Per Week|
Down the road, if you ever wanted to enter a timeshare rental program or even shed timeshare ownerships, purchasing something with resale value would allow you to sell without the need for an exit company.
Exchanging Grandview Timeshare Points
To give you a sense of what you can do with these 61,000 RCI timeshare points, you can exchange them for 4+ weeks of vacation every year. Whether it’s the mountains, beach, National Parks, or kid-friendly vacation clubs, you’ll be able to exchange your way to timeshare resort developments in top destinations. It will be hard to go back to the small hotel rooms again!
If you ask me, turning $415 into 4+ week-long vacations in amazing resorts is a total life hack! If you’re interested in more ways to stretch your timeshare ownership outside of timeshare rental programs, check out “How to Hack Your Timeshare Ownership for Vacation Deals.”
What is the Best Place to Buy a Timeshare: RCI Weeks Program
The RCI Weeks Program is the timeshare exchange I use when not renting or using my 2 bedroom unit. In this program, I receive 23 Trading Power Units (TPU’s) for each week deposited with RCI. When I bought these fixed weeks 15 years ago, I didn’t use value as the #1 purchase driver, but I’m pleased with the trading power we receive at $28.74 per TPU.
Let’s take a look at how that value compares to other resorts and answer: Is a Grandview Resale Purchase also the best value for money for the RCI Week option?
|Resort/Unit Size||Maintenance Fee (MF)||Total TPUs||Dollar-Cost per TPU|
|Greenspring Village 4BR Lockout||$1554||48 TPUs||$32.37|
|Anchorage Resort Key Largo 1BR Week51||$600||23 TPUs||$26.09|
|Vacation Village Weston 2BR Lockout||$947||37 TPUs||$25.59|
|Grandview Tri-Annual 1 BR||$417||17 TPUs||$24.53|
|Kahana Falls Floating Week Studio||$650||45 TPUs||$14.44|
Bullseye: Independent Maui Resort Purchase
While the Grandview tri-annual timeshare ownership is a super low-cost way to join the world of timesharing, a Kahana Falls floating week in Maui knocks the Grandview out of the top value spot in the RCI Weeks Program.
People love tri-annual vacation ownerships as the per-year financial commitment is minimal, and they have access to exchange company deals. The Grandview offers one of the lowest triannual offerings in the timeshare industry at $139 a year (or $417 every three years). One of the best bargains in the timeshare industry is Last Minute Deals. When these exchange companies have untraded rooms, they offer them for $299 a week, 45 days from check-in. If you’d like to read more about this frugal way to vacation at beautiful vacation club resorts, check out “Timeshare Vacation Master Class: RCI Last Calls.”
Exchanging Kahana Falls Trading Currency
This Kahana Falls floating week vacation ownership was advertised on TUG as a “Monster Trader,” and the owner wasn’t exaggerating! She wants to timeshare exit some of her real estate in cities with complicated Airbnb rental regulations, so she is giving this away. Even though I already own 13 timeshare weeks, I’m really interested in this free vacation club listing that provides 45 TPUs for $660 a year.
To give you an idea of how one could use 45 TPUs with the RCI Weeks Program, you could exchange for 15 timeshare weeks in a one-bedroom at Vacation Village Orlando. A timeshare rental of a one-bedroom at this kid-friendly resort on a bargain hotel website runs $738 a week. After including the exchange fees, you’d get it for 66% off the bargain travel site price. Who needs a vacation home in Florida with upkeep responsibilities when you could snowbird for the entire winter in a resort with 7 pools and loads of vacation club amenities at this price. You know where to find me in retirement!
Hawaii has always been a costly place to vacation, but staying in timeshares vs. hotels makes it much more accessible. The average Hawaii hotel room rate is $330 a night, making this week-long condo cost of $660 a real deal! Many timeshare exchange companies offer bonus weeks to sweeten the pot if you deposit your Hawaii timeshare week with them. This means I could transform my $660 Hawaii week into two weeks of Hawaii condo accommodations. That’s only $88 a night, taking into account exchange company fees. Aloha!
Thanks for joining me today! If you approach buying timeshare properties or vacation club ownerships with ‘dollars and sense,’ you will be setting yourself up to enjoy years of beautiful resorts for Motel 6 prices. Happy Timeshare Travels, ya’ll!
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks and has been republished with permission.
Tawnya is an elementary special education teacher by day and co-blogger at Money Saved is Money Earned by night.
She holds an Honors BS in Psychology from Oregon State University and an MS in Special Education from Portland State University. She has had a pretty successful writing career, first as a writing tutor at the Oregon State University Writing Center, and in recent years, as a freelance writer.
Tawnya and co-blogger Sebastian have a wealth of knowledge and information about personal finance, retirement, student loans, credit cards, and many other financial topics. They teach people how to save money, make money, and understand money.