RCI Platinum - 2016 Evolution and what's next?

RCI Platinum - 2016 Evolution and what's next?

A lot of people wonder if RCI Platinum is worth the extra cost. I've written about this before, but it's a moving target. The program has evolved over the years, and will continue to do so.

What's the current state? And what does a crystal ball show for the future of this program?

Platinum coin RCI Platinum - Is it worth the extra cost?

RCI Platinum benefits as of 2016

At this point in 2016, here's what RCI offers as benefits of its Platinum program.

Monetary benefits

If you can estimate your usage of these features, then it's easy to quantify how much you could save, compared to the cost of the upgrade.
  • 10% off on Last Call and Extra Vacations. For many people this will be the biggest benefit of the Platinum program. If you purchase Extra Vacations and Last Calls, then this could save you a considerable amount of money. If you don't buy these vacations, then it doesn't help.
  • $25 off cruise exchanges. You can save $25 per cabin on your cruise exchanges. You'll need to shop around to find out if this is really your best deal. One good thing is that you can apply that to multiple cabins, so if you're planning a family cruise, you could get some extra benefit.


  • $25 off selected tours. If you're booking an African safari, a golf vacation, or various other tour packages, you may be able to save some money.
  • Free points transfers. RCI Points members can now avoid the normal fee if they transfer points to another member.

Non-monetary benefits

There's really no way to quantify the value these features provide. It just depends on how important these are to you. Worth the upgrade fee? Only you can answer!
  • Complimentary unit upgrades. This has been a platinum benefit since I first wrote about it. The idea is that you can get a free upgrade if one is available near your check-in date. In practice, though, it seems that these upgrades are rare. Have you gotten one? I'd love to know! Tell us about it in the Reply section below. 🙂
  • RCI deposit restore. This is a new addition to the Platinum program, for RCI Weeks members. Normally if you deposit your week less than 9 months in advance, you start losing trading power. Regular RCI members can pay a fee to restore full trading power on deposits up to 6 months ahead. Platinum members get this for free. Essentially it's giving you more flexibility - you can wait until 6 months ahead to deposit your week, without losing any trading power.
  • Longer points extension. Normally, RCI points members can extend their points to last up to 3 years, and after that they're gone. Platinum members get a 4th year free when they pay to extend to the 3rd year.
  • More Points Partners flexibility. Normal RCI points members can use up to 33% of their annual points for other purposes, via the Points Partners program. Platinum members can use up to 50% of their points.
  • Platinum previews. When there is a sale on Extra Vacations, platinum members get one day of advance access before it's opened up to everyone. Perhaps this will get you a deal that you'd miss out on otherwise? No way to tell.
  • Priority access. Get access to selected resort and hotel exchange vacations before they are opened up for other members. This is a pretty limited selection, but it might have something you want.
  • Go City Card. This is a pass that gets you a discounted admission to various tours, museums and attractions. You pay up front, and save compared to paying the full price of all the entry fees separately.
  • Free on-going searches. They call this "free", but really it's just a deferred payment. Normally you have to pay the exchange fee up front when you start an on-going search. With this platinum benefit, you don't pay the fee until they find you a match.
  • Free on hold vacations. If you see a vacation you want, you can hold it for 24 hours, to give you time to check on flights, etc. without a fee.
  • Priority answer. You get faster service when you call in to speak with an RCI person on the phone.
  • Savings dollars. This needs a whole section to itself -- see below...

Former benefits that are gone

  • Rebates. You used to get a rebate on combining deposits or purchasing a guest certificate. Now, instead of the straight $ rebate, you get Savings dollars instead.
  • Restaurant.com coupons. You used to get a monthly certificate worth up to $25. Now, you have the option of purchasing one with your Savings dollars.
  • Lifestyle benefits. No more Golf tee times or Box Office lifestyle benefits.

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A mysterious package What's inside the mystery package?

Savings dollars - The "mystery benefit"

I call Savings dollars a "mystery benefit", because RCI doesn't make the details available until you actually purchase the Platinum upgrade. You know that there's this special discount shopping program, but what can you get? How much can you save? Is this a useful benefit at all?

From a marketing standpoint, it's hard to see why they keep this secret. When you can't see what you're getting, I doubt it's a real factor in getting people to pay for the upgrade.

Here's how it works:

  • You get 300 Savings dollars when you sign up for Platinum. You collect more when you renew your RCI membership, pay an exchange fee, buy a guest certificate, or do other transactions, at a rate of $1 Savings dollar per $1 US dollar that you spend. You can then spend these in their online marketplace, to get you discounted consumer goods, hotel stays, restaurant certificates, or more.

That part is all public knowledge. But what are the deals you can get? Will they really save you money?

Here's what you get:

The online store has a large selection, covering everything from furniture, to jewelry, to consumer electronics. I spot checked a couple of the products they offer, and here's what I found...

  • Circulon Genesis 12-piece aluminum cookware set. The RCI store shows
    Market price = $450
    Savings $337 (you use $337 savings dollars, save $337)
    You pay = $113 (save 74%)
    .
    Amazon has the same set available, and they show
    You pay = $170.69, with free shipping.

    I'm not sure whether you get free shipping with your RCI savings dollars, but at most you are saving $58, not $337.
  • Canon EOS 5D Mark III 22.3 Megapixel Digital SLR Camera Body. Moving to the top end of the scale, here's what the RCI store shows
    Market price = $5,100
    Savings = $2,656 (you use $2,656 Savings dollars)
    You pay = $2,444 (save 52%)
    .
    Amazon shows the same camera, and here's what they show.
    List price = $2,799
    You pay = $2,499
    In spite of using over $2K of savings dollars, you'd only save $55 compared to Amazon.

Based on my extremely limited check of 2 products, the savings they display are not realistic. You do save something, but it's not all that much.

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Evolution sign The RCI Platinum program continues to evolve

How has RCI Platinum changed over time?

It's interesting to look at how RCI has changed this program over time. This could also provide some clues about what we may see from them in the future.

Platinum in 2013

Back in 2013, RCI platinum gave you rebates for various transactions as a direct credit to your RCI account. You could then use this to offset exchange fees, membership fees, or whatever else you pay RCI.

You also got a $25/month Restaurants.com certificate. How useful this was depended on where you lived and traveled, and what type of offers they had available in those locations.

There were some non-monetary benefits too (like upgrades and priority access, which are still there today), but the monetary benefits alone made it easy to see whether Platinum was worth it. For us, it was an easy call and well worth the price.

2013 Platinum price (1 year) = $55

  • Extra vacations = $25 rebate
  • Combining deposits = $25 rebate
  • Guest certificates = $20 rebate
  • Cruise exchanges = $25 per cabin
  • Restaurant.com certificates = $25/month = $300/year

See full article: RCI Platinum Membership - Is it worth it?

Platinum in 2014

In 2014, the value of Platinum dropped. RCI lowered the monetary benefits, while raising the price, which made it more difficult to justify the upgrade.

They added some new non-monetary benefits, but the value of those is highly subjective. For instance, I put very little value on priority phone calls, since I prefer to do things online, but somebody else might find that more important.

In 2014, it seemed they were trying to increase the profit margin on Platinum, by raising the price, while shifting benefits away from things that directly cost them money (i.e. rebates), to non-monetary benefits (e.g. priority phone calls).

2014 Platinum price (1 year) = $59 (up 7%)

  • Extra vacations = $15 rebate (down from $25)
  • Combining deposits = $15 rebate (down from $25)
  • Guest certificates = $15 rebate (down from $20)

See full article: RCI Platinum - Still worth it in 2014?

Platinum in 2016

As of 2016, there's one monetary benefit that is worth more than before. Instead of a $15 rebate, you now get a 10% discount on Extra Vacations. If you buy Extra Vacations, this single benefit could pay for the Platinum upgrade.

However, if you prefer exchanging to buying Extra Vacations, then you'll be sad to see the remaining monetary benefits disappear into the world of Savings dollars. They did add some additional flexibility for exchangers, but the value is hard to quantify.

2016 Platinum price (1 year) = $69 (up 17% over 2 yrs)

  • Extra vacations = 10% discount (was $25/$15)
  • Combining deposits = Savings dollars (was $25/$15)
  • Guest certificates = Savings dollars (was $20/15)

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The great Zoltar knows all What does the future look like for RCI Platinum?

What does the future hold?

I don't work for RCI, and I don't have an inside source who's told me their secret plans. But here's what I think we'll see...

  • Rising price. Price is sure to go up, since RCI seems to keep raising their fees for everything, and Platinum is no exception. I don't know about precious metals, but when it comes to RCI Platinum, I expect it to go up.
  • Not much for exchangers. If you use RCI primarily for exchanges, then I doubt you'll see a return to the kind of direct rebates that we had before. You may or may not get enough value from the non-monetary benefits to make it worth your while. But I'd be very surprised if you ever get back to the "no-brainer, totally worth it" way things were before.
  • Could be useful for Extra Vacations. If you use RCI for Extra Vacations, then you're probably in luck for awhile. It seems that RCI wants to push this side of the business, since this is where their one big monetary benefit is. That must be profitable enough for them that they're willing to incent you with a 10% discount. I won't be surprised if they lower this number in the future, but you'll probably still see a benefit.
  • Savings dollars? Who knows how long this will last? I wouldn't plan on saving up thousands of Savings dollars to use for some big purchase, since this will probably go away at some point. And 2K worth of Savings dollars probably won't get you that much anyway.
  • Multiple year memberships? So... If the prices are going to go up every year, does it make sense to take advantage of the discounted multiple-year membership upgrades? In my mind, it's a risk.
    .
    On the one hand, you protect yourself against future price increases, as well as locking in a discount right now. But on the other hand, RCI is going to change the program again. (That's one thing I'm sure of!) If you buy a 5-year membership, the program could look a lot different 5 years from now than it does today. Will it still be worth it to you? That's the risk you take.

Comments? Questions?

Have you been an RCI Platinum member over the years? If so, what do you think of how the program has evolved, and the benefits they currently offer? Are you thinking about Platinum for the first time? Which of the benefits seem most meaningful to you? Either way, I'd love to hear from you in the Reply section below! 🙂

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Sometimes timeshare owners get tired of the changing rules and rising prices with one exchange company, and wonder if they'd be better off switching. To get the scoop on how the two big exchange companies compare, and see if you could do better elsewhere, check out my free write-up on RCI vs. Interval - Which is Better?
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Hi! I'm Deanna, founder of Winning the Timeshare Game, and author of the books. After running an international tour company, I'm now into the fascinating world of timeshares. I enjoy sharing all the tips I discover, and I'd love to see everyone have as much fun with their timeshares as we do!

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16 Comments

  1. Kerm

    Thank you Deanna I really enjoy your Articles

    • I booked at a silver resort in Weston boneventure and got upgraded to gold . Studio to one bedroom. Nice. Getting one days Advance notice is a positive.

    • Steven Curry

      I did buy an extra vacation to Cancun and had an amazing time. Bahia Principe Coba. As a Platinum member we got an upgrade I believe. Champagne in our room. Private beach, bars and special service from our room to restaurants. We were treated very very well

  2. Hi, we upgraded to platinum and I think this has helped us get units in high demand places. I do a lot of ongoing searches on high demand resorts and I have gotten units in most places. I don't know if being platinum helps, but I think it does because we were not getting these units before we upgraded. Also, I was looking at the discounts on wine and those look pretty good. You can't buy wine on Amazon.

  3. Michele Egan

    We tried the Platinum for a couple of years, we use RCI mostly to trade. We did many trades, and never got any upgrades. I don't think we got anything the non-platinum members could have gotten. To me, if there were THAT many resorts that were only available to platinum members...how could that be fair? That wasn't out there when we first joined RCI, so to do it years in "Oh by the way, you now have to pay more $$ to join this special group to get the best choice of trades." What a racket - wasn't that supposed to be done by getting your week in early into the "spacebank" (as they used to call it), and things like that? We are VERY unhappy with RCI now, I know about inflation and all, but higher membership, much higher trade fees than when we joined, fee for guest certificates, and my REAL pet peeve, the cost to combine your trading power points at $100+ each time. And what choice do you have on that? NONE!! (sorry, got off on a tangent there...

    • Hi Michele -
      Thanks for your comments! That's a good point you make about how putting desirable inventory into a "platinum only" bucket is really not fair to all of the normal RCI members. As far as I've seen, it's a very limited selection right now, but if they decided to increase that in order to push their Platinum program, it could be a real problem for everybody else.

      The fees do seem to be out of control. I really didn't think I'd see exchange fees go over $200, but they blew right past that one! 🙁 There are some choices, like using one of the smaller exchange companies like DAE, but they just don't have the same selection that RCI does, so often RCI is still the only way to go.
      Thanks again! - Deanna.
      Deanna Keahey recently posted...Timeshare exchange fees - How much is too much?

  4. Bear Vancourite

    Hi, I'm a current RCI Platinum member, and joined on and off since it started. I used to sign up whenever I need to book a guest certificate for friends to get the rebate. Now that the rebate is gone, which to me was the most useful feature, it's going to really hard to decide to continue purchase Platinum. The only two useful benefit left is 1 extra year for extending points as we haven't been able to use up our points recently, and 50% points exchange. However, they have devalued the points exchange by a lot! I think it used to be 1 RCI = 1 cent for points exchange, but not it is 1 point for 0.7 cent!

    As well, the fee increases are crazy, especially for Canadian users like me. One week booking fee is now $336 CAD! I get that companies want to make more $$ and such. However, are the RCI members that much of a captive audience that they can just do this kind of stuff with impunity?

    They recently tried to push some new travel rewards program called Travel Dollars, but I didn't have the time to listen to the sales pitch. But I'm guessing it's another membership only discount vacation club type of deal.

    I wonder if the RCI members ever complain about this type of fee creep and force the company to work more in favor of its member, and go to more of a Costco model where most of the profits are from membership fees only, rather than through various ways to gouge or nickel & dime their customers to death.

    • Hi Bear -

      Thanks for your comments! $336 for Canadians? Yikes!! That's pretty astounding, and not in a good way. Combine that with lowering the value of the points exchange, and they're getting you on both ends. RCI members do indeed complain about rising fees, with very good reason. But it doesn't seem to have any effect -- it seems they're going to keep raising the prices until something gives. Many members feel like a captive audience right now, because RCI is still the biggest game in town, and have the most available vacation inventory. But it would be great to see one or more of the smaller exchange companies give them a real run for their money, and make the situation more competitive!
      I'll keep dreaming... 🙂 - Deanna.
      Deanna Keahey recently posted...RCI Changes their Combine Deposits feature

  5. Bear Vancourite

    Oh with regard to Saving Dollars, you are totally right, you aren't saving anything. I was looking at hotels for Vegas during the spring break, and ended up biting my teeth and did the points exchange instead, despite the devalued points value. The saving dollar hotel prices, even with the 67% off prices are often more expensive than Expedia.ca once the exchange rate is factored in! So basically no savings at all!

    Frankly, I don't see any deals at all with the RCI points partner program ever, despite their claim of having large negotiating power with suppliers due to the large membership numbers, and affiliation with certain companies due to parent company relationships. Expedia pretty much beat them on hotels, airfare, cruises, and car rental.

    With regard to the Restaurant.com certificates, it's also not worth it at all. Almost all certificate requires you to first double the certificate amount. So $25 certificate requires you to spend $50 first. Granted, it's cheaper than if you went to the restaurant without the coupon. However, the choice of restaurants are often limited and we were never impressed by any of the ones we managed to visit.

    • Hi Bear -
      Thanks for reporting your experiences with savings dollars and points partners comparison shopping. It's always worth shopping around, rather than assuming one of these "benefits" will actually work in your favor! Restaurant.com coupons can occasionally be helpful, in my experience, but it all depends on where you are, and what their selection is. My impression is that the popular restaurants have no need to participate in a program like this, and some locations have nothing at all available.
      Thanks again! - Deanna.
      Deanna Keahey recently posted...Interval hits owners with new upgrade fees

  6. Suzanne McDonough

    Regarding Platinum benefits, on November of 2016 we used our RCI points for a week in the Lagoon Tower at Hilton Hawaiian Village. We booked a one bedroom. About a week or so before our trip, we were upgraded to a two bedroom. While there were only two of us, we still enjoyed having the extra room. The main reason we took the upgrade, however, was that I was hoping a two bedroom would have a better view than a one bedroom. I don't know what the view would have been in the one bedroom, but we ended up with a view of the lagoon and Diamond Head from the 20th floor. It was amazing! Totally worth the fee for Platinum!

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