RCI Platinum - Still worth it in 2014?

RCI Platinum - Still worth it in 2014?

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.

Platinum - is it worth it? 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)

On average, this is a 7% increase from the 2013 prices.

Money, money What's changing money wise in 2014?

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)

For extra vacations, this is a 40% decrease from the 2013 benefits.

Restaurant discounts

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.
Priority luggage tag Priority access is one of the non-monetary benefits

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.

Two pan balance scale 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.

NOTE: Prices and terms for the RCI Platinum membership upgrade are subject to change at any time.

Comments? Questions?

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.

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27 Comments

  1. In 30 plus years it works best outside of peak periods, summer, spring breaks, and holiday. Using your time in low demand periods may double your trade from 1 week to2 or 3 weeks. Be flexable.

    • Raj

      Also if you book within 6 weeks of travel you get bigger bang as many resort owners release their unused inventory as time nears..... of course the travel cost may be higher, so you need to balance the two to see if that's advantageous....

  2. BC

    I like getting notification of sales that start a day early for Platinum members; fist shot at good extra vacations before the rest of the members. This alone might make it worthwhile.

    • Thanks for the tip, BC! First shot at the sale vacations is a pretty cool benefit. It's hard to quantify what that's worth, but if it gets you one good vacation you wouldn't have gotten otherwise, that's a great thing. Thanks!
      Deanna Keahey recently posted...Offbeat Timeshare - A Narrowboat in the UK

  3. Raj

    Thanks for the platinum update - i was considering it based on your previous assessment - but changed my mind, when i saw the pricing different on RCI site and after reading your 2014 update......
    Thanks for nice work Deanna....

  4. Jersey Shore Girl

    I like being in the front of the line. Therefore, I will remain a Platinum member. The sales are great as well as the advance notice of new inventory sale prices. I use the Restaurant.com certificates in my hometown area. Those who drop Platinum leave more on the table for other Platinum members to gobble up. Options galore with RCI Platinum. I am also an Interval Platinum member, and be rest assured, there is no deal there!

    • Hi Jersey Shore Girl -
      Having first shot at the sales is certainly a nice benefit. Glad to hear that you're able to use the restaurant.com coupons. They work better some places than others, but when they do work, it helps cover the cost of Platinum.
      Thanks for your comments! - Deanna.
      Deanna Keahey recently posted...Should I upgrade my week to RCI points?

  5. KC Eye Guy

    I pay extra to be an RCI Platinum member SOLELY to be eligible for a free upgrade when a larger unit is available. I recntly checked into the Laguna Holiday Club Phuket and found out I had booked a 1BR not a 2 BR as I had thought. Knowing I might be able to get an upgrade to a larger unit due to my Platinum status, I asked if a larger unit was available. I was told “several 2BR time-share units are available”. The resort simply needed an email from RCI letting them know that we could be upgraded to the larger unit. For some reason, RCI’s system didn’t show that any 2 BR suites are available. Because of this RCI refused to upgrade us! Just like the hassle of trying to find a resort where you want when you want, RCI Platinum has too many negatives and regulations that don't add up to good customer service.

    • Hi Eye Guy -
      How frustrating! It sounds like the resort had timeshares available, but those hadn't been deposited with RCI, or for some other reason RCI wasn't aware of them. In the meantime, you're paying extra, but can't get the upgrade. 🙁 It would be nice if RCI could just tell them "Yes, platinum member, approved for upgrade", and then leave it up to the resort to give you the upgrade if they have one available.

      Personally, I've never been able to get one of those platinum upgrades. I know some people have, but to me they're like the sasquatch - there are occasional reports of sightings, but I've never seen one! 😉
      Thanks for sharing your story! - Deanna.
      Deanna Keahey recently posted...Should I upgrade my week to RCI points?

  6. Adrienne

    We are considering a platinum point membership. RCI is asking 7500 for the property in Avon at Christie Lodge with 32,000 points and 500 yearly maintenance fee and 179 membership. What do you think? Or should we be looking at a resale?

  7. Marisa

    Hi, my husband and I are currently on vacation and just yesterday bought an RCI platinum timeshare worth 54,000 points per year. We are paying $13,000 overall, but we supposedly get our money back after 15 years when the membership ends. After we purchased, we saw all of the scathing negative reviews online about lack of availability, the difficult to use website, poor customer service, scams, etc. What is your opinion on the negative reviews and numerous complaints? Should we cancel our purchase? We have six more days to do so. Thanks.

    • Hi Marisa -
      Thanks for your message! I don't think that all RCI points are a bad idea - some people make good use of them. However, I also think you should reconsider your purchase while you have time to do that. Please see my article Should I cancel my timeshare purchase? for a full discussion on that topic. Timeshares can be great, but I'd advise doing all your research first, and knowing exactly what you're getting into before you buy.
      Good luck with it! - Deanna.
      Deanna Keahey recently posted...Should I upgrade my week to RCI points?

  8. Marisa

    Thanks! I have been reading your blog as well as your book, which has been very informative. I think we would would like to stick with the purchase with the help of the advice in your book, but why do you think RCI has so many negative reviews online? That's the only part that's worrying me...

    • Hi Marisa -
      I'm sure there's a wide range of reasons for negative reviews, but here are a few things that I believe apply in a lot of cases:
      a) Don't understand how to use it. Using your points effectively is a bit more complicated than just calling up and booking a hotel. New owners who don't understand the system can get frustrated because they're not getting the results they want.
      b) Lack of advance planning. In general, you have an advantage with timeshares if you can plan further in advance. If you're trying to do things on short notice (which is all that some people's lifestyle allows), your options will be significantly more limited than if you can start working on vacation plans many months in advance.
      c) Overly high expectations. Sales people tend to paint a very rosy picture of what you can expect. People buy, thinking they're going to get the world's greatest vacations, and then discover they can't get as much as they expected. IMHO, this could be the biggest reason of all.

      Good luck with it, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on it later! - Deanna.
      Deanna Keahey recently posted...How to use the RCI Deposit Calculator, and why

  9. Marisa

    Hello again, Deanna,

    So sorry to bother you again. We were wondering if it's possible to book multiple hotels consecutively within the same week with RCI. For instance, on our honeymoon, we traveled to various cities in Europe within the same vacation. Also, the salesperson advertised these experiential trips like African safaris- how difficult would it be to find a trip like that?

    How many points are the most expensive trips in studios or one bedrooms? Will our 54,000 points get us a couple of good vacations each year if we research?

    And are these rumors true about RCI distributing customers' personal information to other businesses and also about being harassed with presentations while on vacations?

    I'm sorry if any of this is answered in your book. I'm still only part-way through it, but I am learning so much!

    • Hi again -
      - You can book sequential stays to piece together a longer vacation, but it does take some planning and work to do that.
      - I don't know anyone who's done an African safari through RCI, but I'd expect that it's like cruises - always double check your options to make sure it's really a good deal to book this way rather than through another site.
      - What you can get depends on what you're looking for. Those points could get you 1 week in a nice place in Hawaii, or half a dozen off-season weeks at more budget-oriented resorts.
      - I wouldn't be surprised if RCI shares customer information, but that's true of a lot of companies these days.
      - You'll often be asked to attend a sales presentation, and some places are pushier about this than others. If you don't want to go, then just say no.
      Deanna Keahey recently posted...Resort Review: Grand Lodge on Peak 7

  10. Kid-K

    Hi Deanna,

    Thanks for the postings. I'd considered upgrading to a RCI Platinum membership, but now I don't believe it's worth it for me. Maybe it will be worth it later and I'll have to pay more then, but certainly not now. Your information has been quite helpful, I'll be looking for you books.

  11. Annette Havrilla

    Should you decide to accept this assignment... Maybe good fodder for a future blog? Once again RCI has changed their Platinum program, as of Nov 14, 2015. Now EV & LCV net you a 10% discount instead of the $15. Unless one can get a EV or LCV for $150 or less, it's a better deal. Even at $15 each it was a great deal for me as I'm traveling a lot. Now it's even better. Def a great deal for me! Then there are Savings Dollars. I'm not sure how that'll work out but they gave me 300 to start. I believe it's based on paying my membership fee. I paid before the transition but I believe they give you the SD based on it being paid. There are other benefits but these seem to be the biggest that changed. Thanks, I enjoy reading your blog posts.

    • Hi Annette -
      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! You're absolutely right -- this is an excellent topic for a future blog post. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your insights on the new program, and prompting me to do a little more research and reporting on it. I'm glad to hear that it's working out well for you!
      - Deanna.
      Deanna Keahey recently posted...How RCI Trading Power Protection works

  12. I am looking forward to reading an updated blog post from you, where you discuss the pros/cons of the new (2016) RCI Platinum membership. I cannot tell from the information on RCI's web site, what I would be allowed to spend my "Savings Dollars" on. (They don't allow anyone to look at the RCI Savings Dollars "store", until AFTER you've purchased a Platinum Membership!) For instance, if they say you can apply Savings Dollars toward hotels or rental cars, but only if booked through RCI Travel and you can only redeem Savings Dollars for 10% of the cost of the hotel or rental car, it's not worth it. It would only be worth if it I could potentially get a FREE night's hotel stay in exchange for Savings Dollars. Looking forward to hearing what you think about the new Platinum membership.

    • Hi Fay -
      Thanks for adding your vote to see an updated RCI Platinum 2016 article. I agree it's time to do an update, and also agree it's frustrationg that they don't show people up front what benefits they can get, before buying into the Platinum membership. Anyway, I've moved this way up my list of things to write about, and promise I'll get on it soon!
      Thanks again! - Deanna.
      Deanna Keahey recently posted...Is donating your timeshare a scam?

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