Getting to the Point of Timeshare Points

Getting to the Point of Timeshare Points

If you have ever bought a garment that was marked, “one size fits all” you know this simply is not always accurate. Moreover, when the subject is buying timeshare or owning timeshare, one size (or one type of ownership) will never be right for everyone.

Individual timeshare vacation needs and preferences vary greatly and include vacation clubs, deeded ownership, and right to use timeshare ownership, any of which may or may not include points-based usage. And as popular as points-based timeshare has become, timeshare ownership through points is not the right choice for all property owners. In the same regard, one timeshare points system can be very different from another. Your goal, as an informed timeshare owner, is to understand your options so you can pick the type of timeshare points (or system without points) that best fits your objectives.

Examples of Timeshare Points Structures

Wyndham timeshares can be owned either by points or by whole ownership. Wyndham allows (and encourages) its timeshare owners to convert from ownership to points ownership only. When you do this, you literally deed your timeshare ownership to Wyndham timeshare, while you take points ownership in exchange. You can now use your points to trade or exchange within the Wyndham system. One downside is that you lose your automatically reserved week of timeshare at your home resort, requiring you to request your week of usage every year. If you happened to like knowing you always have a timeshare unit at your favorite resort, year in-year out, then you won’t like making this switch to Wyndham points.

RCI timeshare points are some of the most flexible to use. One simple feature is that RCI has a timeshare points policy that 9000 points will get you any available US timeshare within 45 days of your vacation date. RCI timeshare points can also be use for car rentals, air travel, and other vacation related expenses, which is a popular perk among timeshare owners.

In February of 2009, Disney Vacation Club redistributed their timeshare points. (Read more here: Disney Timeshares Are Changing Timeshare Points Structure) and in July of 2009, Marriott timeshare began integrating its timeshare points system with Marriott Rewards. (More on Marriott timeshare points: Timeshare Points System at Marriott Vacation Club is Changing). Starwood timeshare also made significant changes to their points systems in 2009, with some of the changes overriding privileges that many Starwood timeshare owners felt were part of the rights of their deeded timeshare ownership.

Takeaway point here? How each timeshare company or timeshare exchange company distributes and utilizes timeshare points is very different from one company to the next. Ask before you buy. Understand what you are buying. Timeshare owners who truly get the most out of their timeshares are almost always the owners who have a rock solid understanding of what they own and how it works.

Transferring Timeshare Points

Transferring Timeshare Points

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.

Converting Week-Based Timeshare Into Timeshare Points

Converting Week-Based Timeshare Into Timeshare Points

In order to achieve greater vacation flexibility, more and more owners are turning their weeks into points. While this can produce the desired effect, turning weeks into points is not always trouble-free.

In earlier posts, I delved into the subject of timeshare points. Points serve to break up a timeshare interval into manageable fractions, and in some cases can even be redeemed for airfare, car rentals or other vacation necessities.

Seeking the flexibility of a points-based system, some owners want to convert their existing weeks into points. More often than not, a major timeshare exchange company provides this service.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when considering converting your weeks to points.

– If buying points on the resale market, a good starting point is to make sure that these points are transferable. Otherwise, you may be paying a lot of money for nothing at all. This might be an inadvertent mistake on the part of the seller, as he or she might not be familiar with timesharing. It is best to do your homework and get more information from the resort to make sure the points are transferable.

– Most exchange companies require you to be a member before they will process your exchange. Membership usually involves a small fee.

Week-based timeshare, when converted into points, almost always suffers a decline in value. This situation is exacerbated by points systems which are subject to inflation. Thankfully, some points are inflation-proof. Find out from the seller or the home resort before making the investment.

– Even if an exchange company may gladly convert your weeks into points for a reasonable membership fee, sometimes an individual resort will assess its own fees. These fees range in price, from somewhat reasonable to startlingly cost-prohibitive. This is a hidden cost encountered more and more frequently by resale timeshare buyers. If you are buying timeshare specifically to convert it into points, it is strongly recommended that you contact the resort in order to determine what fees, if any, are charged by the resort under these circumstances. It is possible that hidden charges from an individual resort can amount to more than the (resale) purchase price of the timeshare itself.

Converting your week into points can improve the quality of your vacation experience. Like many things in the timeshare world, it always pays to look before you leap