A lot of the questions I get are about RCI vs. Interval International, so I decided to do a series of blog posts discussing some key differences between the two. This post starts with the fundamental difference in how they filter your search results. When you're trying to find an exchange you want, this is important to know. Upcoming posts will discuss other differences between the companies.Filters prevent you from seeing all of the available exchanges
What you can "afford" on your exchange
When you have a timeshare week that you want to exchange, it has a certain value, or trading power. Both II and RCI assign a value to your week. With either company, your trading power is based on numerous factors, including the demand for that destination, the quality of your timeshare resort, the size of the unit you are exchanging, the season you own, and more. For instance, all else being equal, a 2-bedroom unit will have more trading power than a 1-bedroom, and a week in high season will have more value than one in low season.
Every week in the system is assigned a value. You can only exchange for something that has the same or lower value than what you are exchanging. In essence, you can only "afford" certain exchanges, based on the value of the week you own.RCI results show the trading power needed for different exchanges
Viewing everything available (RCI only)
In RCI, when you search for an exchange on their website, you can see all of the available exchanges that fit your search criteria, whether or not you can "afford" them based on what you have deposited. This is the default setting when you search for an exchange.RCI defaults to showing everything, with an option for you to filter
The search results will show you the trading power required for each possibility, and you can do a mental comparison yourself to see which would work with the trading power of the week you have deposited for exchange.
- Advantage RCI. I really like being able to see everything out there, whether I can get it right now or not. At least that way I know whether there simply isn't anything available for exchange, or there are plenty available but they're just worth more than what I have deposited. Although I can't get them right now, this knowledge could make a difference for my future exchange planning.
Upward filtering (II and RCI)
Interval International has no option of viewing everything available for exchange. Instead, what you see is always filtered on the upward side. Anything above your exchange value (i.e. those things "too expensive" for what you have deposited), will not be shown. You only see the weeks that are available and that you can afford based on your exchange.Search results on Interval show only weeks you could get for your exchange
In RCI, you can do the same thing, by selecting the search option "Show vacations that match my deposit" at the top of the screen. Just like Interval does, this will filter out the items that require more trading power than what you have.
- Draw. Both companies have the same ability on this one.
Downward filtering (II only)
Interval also filters out things that it feels aren't good enough for what you are exchanging. The logic is that they do not want people to be disappointed by depositing a wonderful high-value timeshare, and then discovering that they have exchanged it for something worth much less.
RCI has no equivalent filter. Even if your deposit is worth 52 trading power, you can still see exchange weeks worth just 4.
- Advantage RCI. I can understand the logic behind why Interval does this, but personally I'd rather be able to see everything myself, and decide which places do not meet my standards. Another potential problem is that if you want to stay somewhere without many timeshares, it is possible that this filter could remove your only options.
Company filtering (II only)
Some timeshare companies on II (notably Marriott and Starwood) have a company priority. When a Marriott unit is deposited, for example, there is a time period where it will only be displayed for people exchanging other Marriotts. Only once it passes that period will it appear for everybody else who is searching for exchanges.
RCI has no corresponding function.
- It depends. This is neither a pro nor a con for Interval as a whole. It works to the benefit of people who own in these companies, and against the rest of the people wanting to exchange.
Interval International filters everything for you, whether you want them to or not. They filter out places that are worth too much for your exchange, places that it thinks you won't like, and resorts with company priority. Their goal is to show you only the best exchanges for you. This could be a good approach for some people, since it is simple for the user.
RCI has a different approach, with greater transparency. They show you everything, and leave it up to you to figure out what you want and can get. You know how much trading power you have to work with, and you read the resort reviews yourself to see if it's a place you want to go or not. This is the approach that I prefer, since I like having all the information, and making my own decisions.
Are you part of RCI, Interval International or both? What do you think about the different ways that they filter your search results? Which do you prefer? I'd love to hear from you in the Reply section below.