If you're a timeshare owner who's part of RCI (the largest exchange company), then you've undoubtedly seen promotions from them pushing the Platinum membership upgrades. RCI gives you a long list of benefits you can get, but most people will never use most of them.
Unless the prestige of having a Platinum logo beside your name is enough to sway you, you're probably wondering "Is it worth it?" We've been platinum for a couple of years now, and here's my evaluation.Is it worth it to go Platinum?
RCI Platinum costs and benefits
The cost of upgrading to RCI Platinum membership depends on how long you sign up for. Note that these costs are ON TOP OF your normal RCI membership.
- 1 year = $55
- 2 years = $100 ($50/year)
- 3 years = $140 ($47/year)
- 4 years = $180 ($45/year)
- 5 years = $215 ($43/year)
NOTE: You can upgrade to Platinum any time, which means that the schedule for your RCI membership does not have to align with your Platinum membership. For instance, your RCI membership may be annual starting on March 1, while your Platinum membership starts Sept 1. But don't worry - you'll get plenty of renewal reminders from RCI. 🙂
Here's an overview of the benefits RCI offers with their Platinum membership, ordered in my own subjective ranking. Each is covered more below.
- Platinum rebates - Get money back on specific types of RCI transactions.
- Restaurant discounts - Each month, you can get a $25 coupon for dining discounts.
- Priority access - You get special access to higher-demand properties.
- Unit upgrades - Complimentary upgrades when available.
- Lifestyle benefits & Travel rewards - Buy products online and earn travel reward points.
- Experiential vacations - Access various land-based trips like tours and safaris.
Now let's look at the real value of these in detail.
1. RCI Platinum rebates
Platinum lets you save money on the following transactions:
- Book an Extra Vacation - $25 rebate
- Combine multiple deposits - $25 rebate
- Get a Guest Certificate - $20 rebate
- Cruise exchanges - $25 off per cabin
You don't get a cash rebate, but you get a credit to your account that can be applied against other transactions like exchange fees (or Platinum membership renewals)! 😉
How much is this worth to you? It depends on how you use your RCI account. For us, this single category easily pays for the Platinum membership, as we typically do several Extra Vacation and Combination transactions each year.
2. Restaurant discountsGood food is one of the joys of travel
Each month, you're eligible for a $25 dining coupon from Restaurants.com.
Here's how it works. You need to log into your RCI Platinum membership area each month, then you get a $25 credit that you can use on coupons from Restaurants.com. The coupons don't need to be used in that month, but you do need to log on and get them that month, or you lose that month's credit.
You pick the specific restaurant you want (from a sizable list), then print out the certificate to take to the restaurant. There are always certain conditions - something like "Get $25 off with a minimum purchase of $50, not including alcohol".
How much is this worth to you? Theoretically, it could save you $25/month for 12 months = $300/year. In reality, it all depends.
- Are you organized and disciplined enough to get online every month and get them? If not, you could find month after month going unclaimed.
- Are there restaurants on the list where you live / travel? Most timeshare owners will find options nearby, but if you live and vacation in remote areas, there might not be much for you.
- Do you dine out enough to save money with these, or would you end up spending more on restaurants than normal just to fulfill the conditions for the discounts?
3. Priority access
Some special properties are made available to Platinum members early, before they're released to the rest of the RCI members. These are typically higher end properties, or premium timeshare destinations.RCI Platinum offers priority access - is it worth it?
This sounds great, but I've found pretty slim pickings here. A quick search right now as I'm writing this yields 9 Platinum Priority selections: 3 Hyatt hotels (with very limited dates), and 6 beach resorts in Florida. I've never actually booked anything via this Platinum Priority list, but perhaps your luck will be better than mine.
Platinum also gives you priority access to some RCI sales. A recent sale gave Platinum members one day advance access to the sale inventory (see RCI $199 Deals and Platinum Advantage).
If you're able to make use of sale vacations (generally off-season travel), then this could be a nice perk. It gives you the cream of the sale crop, but of course the "sale crop" is really the leftovers after everything else is booked. Don't expect to find a cheap Maui week here, even with that platinum priority!
4. Unit upgrades
You can receive a free unit size upgrade whenever one is available. Just check the little box to say you'd like an upgrade if possible. It's simple as pie.
The problem is that out of all our RCI vacations, we've never gotten an upgrade - they always say nothing is available. I've heard tales of people who have gotten upgrades, so perhaps you'll be luckier than us.
5. Lifestyle benefits & Travel rewards
WOW! I just ran the Platinum Savings Calculator on the RCI website, and it tells me that this category will save me $3,840 per year!!
Let's just say you need to take this with a whole shaker of salt.
This is basically an online shopping site that gives you reward points you can use for booking travel through RCI. You can buy wine, chocolate, electronics, spa treatments, theater tickets, golf packages and more. In return, you earn travel reward points you can use when booking your travel plans on RCI.
So is it really worth $3,840?
Here's a simple example from their calculator. One question asks "How many bottles of wine per year does your family enjoy?" If I put in a nice round number of 100 (about 2 bottles a week), it tells me that this option will save me $1,200/year.
Of course, I'd have to be spending a lot on wine in order to get back that $12/bottle in travel rewards. Personally, I'd rather just watch for deals locally and save my money up front, rather than pay higher prices and then get a rebate.You've got to buy a lot of wine to save that $1200
6. Experiential vacations
Now don't get me wrong - I'm all in favor of experiential vacations. In fact, I used to run a tour company that took people ballooning in Napa Valley, watching rainforest wildlife in Costa Rica, and sailing in the Greek Islands (among many other things). Experiential vacations are awesome!
But as far as Platinum benefits go, I don't see the value in this one. In fact, I don't even see how I could use it, since whenever I click on the link to "see the list of stunning destinations", it just gives an error. 🙁
So is RCI Platinum worth the cost?
RCI has given us many cool vacations over the years, and this platinum membership makes a lot of sense for us. Here's how it adds up for us.
- Platinum rebates - 4 Extra Vacations & Combinations = $100
- Restaurant discounts - 8 months @ $25 = $200
- Priority access - $0
- Unit upgrades - $0
- Lifestyle benefits & Travel rewards - $0
- Experiential vacations - $0
- Total value received = $300
Your results will vary, and hopefully the info above will help you figure it out for your own situation.
Do you have the RCI Platinum membership? Do you find that your usage makes it worthwhile? I'd love to hear how it's working for you - drop a note in the comments below.