Is a Free Timeshare Vacation Really Free?

At SellMyTimeshareNOW, we hear a lot of questions about free timeshare vacations. And as all of us in colder climates begin to feel winter’s one-two punch, it is only natural that thoughts turn to white sand beaches, tall cool drinks beside a sparkling blue pool and the sound of balmy breezes rustling through the palm trees.

Which inspires many people to wonder if “free” timeshare vacations are worth it. My answer is a qualified “maybe.”

Most of us have had the experience of receiving a brochure about a timeshare promotion or a sales call from a timeshare company promising us three or four days at a luxurious resort. Are these legitimate? Will you really get a free timeshare vacation?

Let’s start with what we all already know: nothing in life is ever truly free. You may be offered free lodging, but more than likely, you will be offered discounted accommodations. Say a $200-a-night room for only $75. And occasionally the timeshare promotion actually will be a free room—just not necessarily a room at one of the luxury resorts where the timeshare company wants you to buy.

Before you pack your swim trunks and your snorkeling gear, here are some things to watch out for when it comes to a “free” timeshare vacation:

  • Even if your lodging actually is free, you may still be expected to pay taxes on your accommodations and perhaps taxes on the full value of the room despite the fact that you are paying a discounted rate. Hotel or room taxes (sometimes called tourist taxes) added on top of state sales taxes can be more than 20 percent of the room’s nightly rate. You could be looking at $20-$30 per night, for every night you stay at the resort.
  • Many free timeshare deals will still require you to provide your credit card for incidental expenses such as long distance phone use. Others will require you provide them a deposit, which they will not typically refund if you cancel. However, they may permit you to transfer your deposit to a future stay, provided you canceled in advance of your scheduled vacation date.
  • No free timeshare vacation will let you off the hook without you and your spouse (if you are married) attending a timeshare sales presentation together. The presentation may last a few hours or it may take up four to six hours of one day of your vacation. During the sales presentation, the timeshare agent will most likely do everything he or she can to convince you to buy a timeshare—right then—on the spot!
  • Your free timeshare vacation may or may not include transportation to the resort. Also your lodging may be at the resort where you will be buying, but it could also be at a less-than-desirable hotel or motel near the resort.

A free timeshare vacation can be a great way to enjoy a discounted holiday and at the same time learn a little more about a timeshare condo that interests you. On the other hand, it can be an unpleasant experience, that not only costs you more than you meant to spend on your vacation, but costs you dearly if you succumb to a timeshare developer’s pitch for a new timeshare at an inflated price. Do your research before you agree to go. And remember, you are under no obligation to buy anything from the resort!

The smart shopper’s way to buy timeshare is to buy it resale, from the owner who is a regular person just like you, not someone who is shelling out freebies to reel you in. Enjoy the freebies a resort offers you, investigate the resort, decide whether you and your family would like to vacation there, and then buy at the best price. Another option which may even be easier than “working” a “free” deal, is to rent timeshare at a resort you are interested in. This gives you much more control and freedom during your vacation.