Last year, I wrote a popular post on RCI Platinum Membership - Is It Worth It?, analyzing the costs and benefits of this program, and how it worked for us. In 2014, there are a number of significant updates to the program, so it's time to revisit it. If you're wondering whether Platinum is worth the additional fee, here's the scoop.Is RCI Platinum still worth it in 2014?
Changes to the cost of Platinum
RCI Platinum is now more expensive. It's not a huge increase, but it is more expensive than it was last year. Here's the scoop for 2014. As before, these costs are ON TOP OF your normal RCI membership.
- 1 year = $59 (was $55 before)
- 2 years = $108 ($54/year) (was $100)
- 3 years = $150 ($50/year) (was $140)
- 4 years = $192 ($48/year) (was $180)
- 5 years = $230 ($46/year) (was $215)
Changes to monetary benefits
RCI Platinum rebates
The RCI Platinum program still gives you a rebate on the same types of transactions, but the amounts have decreased. Here are the changes:
- Book an Extra Vacation - $15 (was $25)
- Combine multiple deposits - $15 (was $25)
- Get a Guest Certificate - $15 (was $20)
Each month, you're eligible for a $25 dining coupon from Restaurants.com. The program hasn't changed on RCI's end, but it seems like we find fewer $25 coupons on the site we can use, and often end up with $15 instead. I can't say if this is true on a large scale, or just happened in our particular searches, but it has reduced the monetary value for us.
New non-monetary benefits
- Deferred fee for on-going searches - Instead of paying the exchange fee upfront when you create an on-going search, you can pay it when the search is completed. Unfortunately, this doesn't work online. To do this, you need to set up the search over the phone, so you're not saving the normal $10 for setting it up online.
- Faster phone calls - You can spend less time on hold when you call RCI, by using a dedicated toll-free phone number for Platinum members.
- Free holds - You can place a vacation on 24-hour hold without a fee, when you do it through the RCI Platinum line.
- More points for Points Partners - In RCI points, usually you can use 1/3 of your points for Points Partners. For Platinum members, the limit is raised to 1/2.
Benefits that remain unchanged
- Priority access - 1 day advanced access to RCI sales, and 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.
- Cruise exchanges - $25 off per cabin.
You'll find a lot more information on these benefits in the earlier post on RCI Platinum.How do the costs and benefits balance out?
So is RCI Platinum worth it in 2014?
This is harder to quantify than it used to be, since they have lowered the monetary rewards, and increased non-monetary benefits instead. How much is it worth to spend less time on the phone?
For our usage, the rebates category alone used to easily cover the cost of platinum, but it's barely a break even now.
- 2013: 4 Extra vacation/combination rebates @ $25 each
= $100 benefit vs. $55 cost = $45 net savings
- 2014: 4 Extra vacation/combination rebates @ $15 each
= $60 benefit vs. $59 cost = $1 net savings
In our case, it's still a go, since if we make use of the restaurants.com coupons, that would make it a net positive financially. On the non-monetary side, I'd probably consider the priority access to sales as the next most important benefit, though it's hard to say for sure what that's really worth.
Your answer will depend on how you use your RCI membership. If you do a lot of extra vacations, deposit combinations, guest certificates, or cruise exchanges, it may still be worth it for you, but they've definitely moved the bar.
Hopefully the info above will help you figure it out for your own situation.
Do you have the RCI Platinum membership? Do their recent modifications to the program change your opinion about whether it's worth it or not? I'd love to hear what you think, if you'd like to drop a note in the Reply section below.