Here's a question I get quite frequently - it goes something like this:
We recently attended a presentation, where they told us we could upgrade/convert our week and get points, for $x,xxx. They said that weeks like ours aren't very useful anymore, and if we want to get the good vacations, we'll need to have points. Should we convert to points? Is this a good deal?
Here's my take on it...
(Note: The same situation applies to people in different timeshare systems, too. This article is targeted to RCI points, but a lot of the concepts are the same for other systems, too.)Is this upgrade a good idea?
The sales pitch
The details of these situations vary, but there are certain elements that stay the same:
- Existing timeshare owners go to a presentation.
- Salespeople try to sell them something that will cost thousands of dollars. In this case, that means converting to points.
- On the negative side, the sales folks use scare tactics, telling owners the value or usability of what they currently own (i.e. a timeshare week), is or won't be good anymore.
- On the positive side, they tell owners how much better the new thing they're selling (i.e. points) will be.
This is a general formula which has proven to work in many situations, and which you're bound to run into as a timeshare owner. But should you buy what they're selling?
Is converting to points a good idea?
The general answer is that this depends on how you use your timeshare. The biggest advantage that people cite about having points is that you have more flexibility when it comes to your vacations.
- With RCI weeks, you need to vacation a full week at a time.
- With RCI points, you can book shorter trips, using your points for 1 to 6 night stays, or longer.
How much is this flexibility worth to you? That all depends on your travel schedule. If you're happy to vacation a week at a time, then this makes little difference. If week-long vacations don't work well for you, this could be important.
How would your exchange power change with points?
Another reason sometimes cited to convert to points is that it will make it easier to get an exchange that you want. How true is that? Here's how it works with RCI.
- Weeks. With RCI weeks, you deposit your week and get a certain amount of trading power units (TPUs). You can then use these to trade for any other vacation worth that many TPUs or less.
- Points. The system is actually very similar with points, except that the units are different. With points, you get a certain number of points to spend on a vacation, rather than TPUs.
Here's an example:
Tahoe Beach & Ski Club, Week 33, 1-bedroom
- 23 TPUs
- 36,000 points
- 1,565 points per TPU
Grandview Las Vegas, Week 33, 2-bedroom
- 17 TPUs
- 98,000 points
- 5,765 points per TPU
This is an enormous difference in terms of points per TPU!
- With the first resort, in Tahoe, your trading power is higher in TPUs. For instance, if you wanted to trade for the Grandview, you could do it with your week's TPUs but you're not even close in terms of the points.
- With the second resort, in Vegas, your trading power is higher in points. You wouldn't have enough TPUs to trade a week there for the Tahoe Beach & Ski Club, but with points, you'd be able to get more than 2 weeks at that resort.
Checking your trading power in weeks and points
In your RCI weeks account, you can easily see how many TPUs you currently get for your week, and how many TPUs it costs to exchange for a vacation somewhere else.
What you want to find out is whether the number of points you'd get with this conversion would be better or worse for you in terms of exchange power.
Fortunately, you can use RCI's online resort directory to get an idea about this. The resort directory identifies RCI points resorts, and then gives you a link so you can access their points charts.An RCI Points resort in the RCI Resort Directory The points grid for an RCI points resort
Just pick a few vacations you'd be interested in, and run through the scenario:
- TPU cost. How many TPUs would it take to get this vacation?
- TPUs you get. Does depositing your timeshare week give you this many TPUs?
- Points cost. How many points would it take to get this vacation?
- Points you would get. Would your newly converted timeshare give you this many points?
- The winner? Which seems to be a better deal for you? The answer will vary by resort.
Is this offer a good deal?
Generally speaking, if you're already happy with your timeshare, using it or exchanging it for week-long vacations, then it's not going to be worth it for you to spend a bunch more money to convert it to points.
It is true that more of the industry is moving to points, but that doesn't mean your week will be worthless anytime soon. Sometimes salespeople make claims like this to scare owners into converting to points, but your results tell the real story - are you able to get trades you want, or not?
If you do decide that you want points, then you need to look at the price to upgrade to points, and see if the benefits you gain will be worth that price.
- Flexibility. If the flexibility of booking shorter vacations is important for you, how many of those do you think you'll book? For instance, if the upgrade cost is $3,500, and you think you'll own your timeshare for another 10 years, that's $350/year. Are those shorter vacations worth that much to you?
- Trading power. If your analysis showed that you could get better exchanges with points, then how much is that improved trading ability worth to you? Using the same example, would you get better trades worth an additional $350/year?
Only you can answer these questions. but doing this analysis will enable you to make an informed decision that you'll feel comfortable and happy with.
Another option - Buy RCI points
If you know that you want RCI points, here's another option that works for some people... Buy a resale RCI points timeshare.
You can simply go onto eBay or another online site that sells timeshares, and find a timeshare for sale that is already in RCI points.
- No upgrade fees. A previous owner already paid that fee to convert their timeshare to points, so you don't have to pay that.
- Better cost per point. You can often buy a timeshare already in RCI points for less than the conversion cost, which makes it a more economical way to get those points.
- Two timeshares. You still have your existing RCI week, to use as you wish. If you do a lot of timeshare travel, this can be a good thing.
- Diversified portfolio. When you own multiple timeshares, you can think of it as a portfolio. Diversifying by having both weeks and points can be advantageous, since it gives you the benefits of both.
- Two timeshares. You still have your existing RCI week, so you would now own two timeshares, and have to pay two sets of maintenance fees.
- Lengthy buying period. Buying another timeshare can take months before the deal is finally closed.
- Lengthy selling period. If you want to sell your current timeshare to replace it with the new one, that could take months, too.
Do you have a timeshare that you've converted to points? One that you're considering converting to points? Any tips or suggestions for other people in this situation? Please leave your comments in the Reply section below. Thanks!