Don’t just use your timeshare, abuse it.
First, the key to getting the most out of a timeshare is to deposit your timeshare with a timeshare consolidator like RCI or Interval International. If you do not deposit your timeshare you will only get the use of one week a year from your time share and that week will be on a specific date. That is a very, very poor use of your timeshare asset.
It will cost you a fee to join RCI or Interval International. That fee is usually around $50 a year depending on how long you choose to sign up for but if you are looking forward to a lot of travel it is money well spent.
In this article when I talk about “points” the term can be used interchangeably to describe the points that are awarded for your timeshare deposit either for a weeks timeshare or a points timeshare. Weeks use to represent “1 Week” of timeshare use but many years ago they started to assign “Weeks” a “trading power”. What’s weird is this “trading power” that represents the trading strength of your Week is also expressed by “numerical points”. So when I talk about points in this article the terms “trading power” and “points” are interchangeable.
Becoming a member of a consolidator gives you four distinct advantages: First, you can use your points to travel all over the world using your timeshare points: Second you can travel when ever you want using your timeshare points; Third, you have the advantage of getting “Last Call” units from the consolidator for a set discounted fee without using any points; Finally you have the advantage of “Extra Vacations” in which timeshare inventory is treated more like a hotel then a timeshare. In part three of this article I will talk about using “Last Call” units to get inexpensive lodging. In part four of this article I’ll describe how “Extra Vacations” work and how to maximize this consolidator advantage to get resort grade lodging for less than normal motel rates.
In part two of this article I want to discuss actually using your points. If you read our article on buying a timeshare you will remember that we only recommend buying one timeshare and getting the cheapest timeshare you can find. The reason for this advice is that the power of timeshares is in using the tools offered by the timeshare consolidators like “Last Calls” and “Extra Vacations”. That being said, because you bought that one timeshare you will also have points and why not use them to their highest use.
3 Years ago Charlene and I bought a deeply discounted timeshare in the Berkshires. The timeshare we bought is a one bed room, 1/2 timeshare that offers us 40,000 “points” every two years. The main advantage to this 1/2 ownership is we only pay a “maintenance fee” every 2 years. In short, for a much smaller investment we get full use of all the member advantages of our chosen timeshare consolidator. The consolidator we use is RCI, when we deposit our timeshare with RCI our “points” transfer into the RCI bank and we can use those points to secure timeshare units at any time all over the world.
Timeshare owners quickly learn that if they are not frugal they can burn thru points in a single week but if they are careful and frugal the points disbursed for a single unit can net 3 or even 4 weeks of resort quality lodging.
In this article we want to show you how to stretch those points into more travel.
Maximizing your points starts with understanding the timeshare consolidators web site. To help us explain these sites we will be using screen shots from the RCI.com web site.Above there is a screen shot of the home page that has the option of “Search Exchange Vacations Only”. If you press that icon you will be taken to the point area of the RCI web site. After you hit the “Exchange” icon you will be presented with a group of filters to aid you in deciding which timeshare you want to spend your points on. The filters are expressed on the right and left of this paragraph. The most important filter for most people is location and it is shown on the right hand side as a list of regions. The left hand side shows other filters.
If you hit the + sign after “Regions” on the left hand side you will be shown what regions are available and how many resorts are available in those regions. The screen shot to the right shows that there are resorts available in many regions. The numbers in ( ) represent how many resorts are available in each region. For example Europe shows 1394 available resorts.
As you begin to work thru the filters you will discover that you can figure out how many resorts have just what you want. For example on the left I have run a search for resorts in the USA available in May of 2017 that are Gold Crown and offer two bedroom units or larger.
As you can see on the screen shot to the left that search yielded me 70 available resorts with 1301 available units. That is a lot of units but the whole idea of this article is to maximize my 20,000 points a year that I get from my Berkshire timeshare. In order to get the most bang for my points I will use the “Point Range” filter.
When you hit the “Point Range” icon you will get the drop down that is displayed to the left. What the Icon represents to the left is that in May there will be 14 resorts that are offering your 2 bedroom units in Gold Crown resorts for 10,000 points or less. That means that for the cost of my one maintenance fee every two years I can stay at 4 of these American resorts and my total cost will be my maintenance fee plus the assigned cost of the exchange.
As I gaze at the 14 resorts available to me for 10,000 points or less my eye fixes on the listing for the Woodstone at Massanutten. As you can see there for 4700 points there are 22 available check in dates at Woodstone. With point 4700 point and the $230 exchange fee you can stay in a one bedroom unit at Woodstone. At this rate you can stretch your 20,000 point a year into a little over 4 units a year.
In the world when I ran a search criteria of any where in the world with units offered for less than 10,000 points I got a result on the right that shows available units in 10 regions at 1163 different resorts. That is enough diversity to keep any traveler happy.
like Woodstone mentioned above there are hundreds of resorts that will offer units for 5000 points or less. That means that my little 40,000 points every two years could be ballooned into 8 or more resort stays on my RCI banked points.
At this point, (no pun intended) you deserve a brief story. A friend of ours owns a unit at the Grand View in Las Vegas. Our friend has a 2 bedroom unit that he is allotted 80,000 points for each year. Before I showed him about banking his points with a timeshare consolidator he was not booking his points but instead was just returning to his unit each year and in doing so forfeiting his 80,000 points. I took my friend to the RCI website and showed him the point cost of his 2 bedroom unit in off-season (see the photo to the right). I asked my friend if he cared when he went to Vegas and he said “no”, so I ran a search on RCI and showed him that he could get a 2 bedroom unit at the Grand View for as little as 24,500 points. By just banking his unit with RCI or another consolidator he could not only have his week in Vegas at the Grand View but also travel the world on his left over 55,500 left over points.
After I ran the first search for my friend I ran a second search. In the second search I requested a 3 week stay a the Grand View. As you can see above my friend, by banking his timeshare points, could now stay at the Grand View for 3 weeks. Let me mention only one more thing about this 3 week stay: It is a 3 week stay but only one exchange so my friend only had to pay 1 $278 exchange fee instead of 3. Some timeshares allow this benefit and some don’t but if you can find a deal like this you are getting a great deal. In the start I mentioned that timeshares can be a lousy deal. My friend made a bad deal buying this timeshare he paid too much for the unit and his yearly maintenance fees are too high but if he is a traveler and flexible he can still turn his timeshare into a good deal.
I love doing the math. If my friend goes to Vegas and stays at the “Gold Crown” Grand View for the three weeks represented above here are his costs for that stay. First, you need to consider the $15,000 my friend spent initially and amortized it over 30 years. It’s actually in perpetuity but 30 years seems fine. That’s $500 a year he originally paid for his 80,000 points a year. Second, he has maintenance fees of $800 a year. Third he has about a $50 a year RCI member cost. Finally, he has the exchange fee of $278. My friends real life cost for staying in a Gold Crown, two bedroom resort for 3 weeks is $1628.or about $72.52 a day.
The units at the Grand View are approximately 1500 sq feet units, they have 2 full kitchens, 2 full living rooms with hide- a- beds, a jacuzzi tubs and can sleep 4 couples privately.
Using your points wisely can generate a lot of travel, in very nice accommodations, for a very reasonable cost.
Points can be a good deal, but points are not where the timeshare asset really can shine. In part 3 and 4 of this article we move away from using points and look at some other benefits that timeshare consolidators use to clear their excess inventory. In Part 3 we will discuss “Last Call” deals that can be gotten for as little as $219 a week with NO points. The 4th article will be dedicated to the “Extra Vacation” tool offered by many resorts. This option is a lot more flexible and available than “Last Call” units but in many instances is more expensive.
So keep reading these articles and if this information is helping you please join us by becoming a member of Geezerswithpassports.com by signing up below. In the future we will not only be discussing the timeshare articles mentioned above but we will also be describing Charlene and my trip to Mexico to get dental work done. In the next 3 weeks we will be publishing 3 articles on dental tourism a trend that could same you as much as 80% on your next dental procedures.
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