Transferring Timeshare Points
Friday, January 20, 2006
Point systems can be great, but it is important to learn about the quirks of your particular points system before you enter the timeshare market.
The purpose of timeshare points is to make vacation options more flexible. Many folks buy into a points-based system for the purpose of enhancing the exchange value of their timeshares.
I have heard from owners who are ecstatic about their timeshare points systems. People enjoy being able to, in some systems, exchange these points for various vacation necessities like airfare, car rentals, and temporary lodging en route to their timeshare destination. When enough points are accrued, they can typically be exchanged for a higher demand property with upgraded amenities. Judging by the postcards we get from happy owners, the results are fantastic.
I have also heard from disappointed owners who complain of points devaluation, difficulties getting the resort company to acknowledge the ownership or transfer of these points, and hassles from timeshare exchange companies when it comes time to honor these points. Though these occurrences are by no means “business as usual” in the timeshare world, and considering that situations vary depending on resort, exchange company, location, and other factors, unfortunately these things do happen from time to time. Also, thanks to the current Royal Oasis scandal, many owners are now afraid to buy points in case a resort fails financially.
Naturally, everyone wants to maximize the benefits of a point system while at the same time minimizing the potential risks. Generally speaking, transferring the ownership of points is likely to be an affair requiring the utmost discretion on the part of all parties involved with the transaction.
Please keep in mind that individual resorts often have different requirements than exchange companies. For instance, we’ve heard that, in certain circumstances, the recipient of the transfer is required to purchase a membership with the exchange company responsible for handling the property before the timeshare can be transferred to the new owner. This expense is usually several hundred dollars. Sometimes a points transfer may require paying for an upgrade from the individual resort in question. Typically, resorts and exchange companies are not likely to spend time explaining these fees to the consumer, so these fees naturally seem like hidden charges. This is a serious issue which faces the industry; accordingly, most of the complaints we hear from owners revolve around the issue of points transfers.
What this all boils down to is that there is no industry standard for how timeshare points transfers work. However, just because the major resort chains and exchange companies can’t reach a single consensus is no reason to cancel your next vacation! No matter what resort hosts your timeshare or what exchange company is affiliated with it, you can and should take advantage of the flexibility of points-based timeshare.
The trick is to do your homework beforehand. Having the patience necessary to achieve a complete understanding of a timeshare points system has helped many timeshare owners experience more of the benefits of timesharing and avoid many of the potential hassles.
Where can you go to find out this information?
– Talk to your resale company rep or licensed timeshare broker. Don’t be afraid to ask: “Are there any hidden fees or other consequences of this transaction?” Keep in mind that, since every resort is different, it may take some time for your resale agent to uncover this information. Your patience will be amply rewarded!
– Investigate what other people are saying about your resort by using a search engine like Yahoo! or Google. You are likely to find online review sites and forums frequented by folks who own timeshare at your resort. See what other people are saying about the property, vacation club, or exchange company.
Here’s some (hopefully) helpful links:
Timeshare points at the TCA (mostly European info)
Some good info may be gleaned from this page at the Timeshare Users’ Group. Keep in mind that some of the information found here is more advertorial than informative, but if you’re reading this blog I’d assume you know better than to believe everything you read… however, if you’re into forums, the forums at TUG are one of the best places to find out about a particular resort or exchange company. The regulars here are seasoned timeshare vets who are more than happy to help out newcomers.
Wikipedia’s timeshare page – some information on timeshare points exists here at the time of this writing. However, keep in mind that anyone can edit a Wikipedia article, so objectivity may be suspect.