Timeshare exchange fees - How much is too much?

Timeshare exchange fees - How much is too much?

In December 2016, RCI raised their exchange fees again. If you're an RCI member, you know this is not uncommon. In fact, it comes less than a year after the last increase.

Anyway, this got me thinking... When it comes to exchange fees, how much is too much?

It's not that long ago that I thought $200 would be a natural ceiling, and companies would try to stay below that. Well, that's come and gone, and RCI is well beyond that level now, with the basic fee to exchange a week at $230.

So IS there a ceiling? Or is the sky the limit?

Sky high buildings How high can they go?

The latest RCI fee increase

Here's what just changed...

RCI weeks fees

As of Jan 1, 2016

  • Exchange fee (online) = $219
  • Exchange fee (phone) = $229

As of Dec 4, 2016

  • Exchange fee (any) = $230 *No more savings for online

RCI points fees

As of Jan 1, 2016

  • Home resort reservation (7 nights) = $40 (online) / $50 (phone)
  • RCI points reservation (7 nights) = $169 (online) / $179 (phone)
  • RCI points reservation (3 nights) = $ 79 (online) / $89 (phone)
  • Points rental = $0.02 per point

As of Dec 4, 2016

  • Home resort reservation (7 nights) = $50 (any) *No more savings for online
  • RCI points reservation (7 nights) = $189 (any) *Increase for everybody
  • RCI points reservation (3 nights) = $ 99 (any)
  • Points rental = $0.03 per point *50% increase
Timeshare fees keep going up Timeshare fees going up

Conclusions?

  • The fee increases are biggest for the people who are used to booking online (like me)! There used to be a price break if you did the work yourself online vs. going through their call center. That is no longer the case.



  • If you're used to exchanging by phone, your fee increase is negligible for RCI weeks. For RCI points reservations, it went up $0 to $10, depending on the length of stay you are booking.
  • One notable increase is the points rental cost, which went from $0.02 per point to $0.03. If you like to rent points, this will cost you considerably more in the future. That could make it worthwhile for only small amounts of points.

RCI vs. Interval fees
As of right now, the basic fee to exchange a week on RCI is $230, while the fee on Interval International is $179 if you book online. That means RCI is $51 higher, or 28% higher. Does it provide 28% more value? Not that I can see.

Impact on your vacation's affordability

Let's say you pay $750 per year in timeshare maintenance fees. We'll ignore the purchase price (which was hopefully low, if you've read my Consumer Awareness Guide to Timeshares), and just look at the annual fees.

Staying at your own timeshare?

- Cost per week = $750
- Cost per night = $107

Exchanging through RCI?

If your timeshare is in RCI and you want an exchange vacation through them, then you have an additional fee of $99 for the membership + $230 for the exchange fee. (That's the fee you'd pay for a Weeks exchange, whether you own a week or RCI points.)

- Cost per week = $750 + $99 + $230 = $1,079
- Cost per night = $154
- Increase = $329 for the week, 44% more than using your own timeshare

Wallet and money What's it worth to you?

Impact on your timeshare's value

Something that struck me as odd was that shortly after increasing their exchange fees, RCI had a sale where Extra Vacation weeks were on sale for as little as $199.

- Exchange vacation = Cost of your timeshare + $230
- Extra vacation = $199, with NO cost of your timeshare involved

How does this make sense?

If they want you to deposit your timeshare with them, then the exchange vacation you get out of the deal needs to be economically viable for you.

If exchange vacations rise in cost to the point that they're no longer a worthwhile deal, then that is no longer a useful benefit to your ownership.

How much is too much?

  • Timeshare owners are all well aware of the issue of rising maintenance fees. Sometimes these fee increases are reasonable, while other times they seem excessive.
     

    Some companies and resorts have more of a problem with this than others, but the fact is that maintenance fees do keep going up and up for all of us.

    Unfortunately, maintenance fees are generally outside your control, and the only way you can get away from them is to sell your timeshare.

  • Exchange fees, on the other hand, are different. For most owners, membership in an exchange company is optional, as is using that company and paying an exchange fee.

So, do you want to pay that fee? Is the value provided worth the cost?

Personally, my answer is "it depends". What vacation do I want to get, and how much would it wind up costing me this way vs. going through another channel?

Everybody's situation is different, depending on the timeshare you own, how much your fees are, and what exchanges you're looking for.

You may or may not be able to switch to Interval International, but you DO have some other choices. That's a topic for another day, and I'll write about it soon. In the meantime, I'd love to know your thoughts!

Comments? Questions?

So what's YOUR limit? How much are you willing to pay to exchange your timeshare for a different vacation? Is there a line at which you'd drop your RCI membership entirely? Please let us all know in the Reply section below!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The ability to exchange your timeshare for other places around the world is a big benefit to timeshare ownership. However, the higher the fees, the less this makes sense. Right now, the fee structure is better with Interval than RCI, but there are other factors to consider between the two also. For a complete rundown, get the free report RCI vs. Interval International - Which is Better?.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hi! I’m Deanna, founder of Winning the Timeshare Game, and author of the books. After running an international tour company, I’m now into the fascinating world of timeshares. I enjoy sharing all the tips I discover, and I’d love to see everyone have as much fun with their timeshares as we do!

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24 Comments

  1. Tried to combine recently and would only be good for one year. All my deposits were good into 2019 so I will wait til late 2017 before I do the combination. Unfortunately, I most the most value (credits) fro my deposits from RCI. I am going to begin checking with DAE and RTX the
    next time I am ready to deposit anything.

    • Hi Herman -
      Thanks for your message! I was disappointed with RCI's change to their Combine Deposits program, shortening the life of your combined deposit. It's wise of you to wait on doing the combination so that you don't lose valuable time.

      It's good to check out the other exchange companies, too. At the moment they're still much smaller than RCI or Interval, but IMHO it would be a great thing for timeshare owners if there was more competition in the exchange markets. If RCI's high exchange fees cost them some business, perhaps they would slow down their increases.
      Good luck with it! - Deanna.
      Deanna Keahey recently posted...Interval Gold and Platinum - Are they worth it?

  2. Don't forget that RCI also charges a fee to combined deposited weeks, then there is the annual fee for
    membership, and your resort HOA fees. All these fees and you really are not guarantied that you will even be
    able to exchange a week that is in your destination of choice
    After adding up all these fees timeshare ownership is just not worth it, with the new rental online programs
    like Home away and vrbo.com I would never tell anyone that timeshare ownership is a good idea
    in fact its a money pit. RCI looks for ways to screw over their members

    • Hi Amy -
      Thanks for your comments. It does seem that RCI finds a way to charge you a fee for absolutely everything. Fees, fees, fees... I think that timeshares can still provide good vacations, but as the fees go up, it's harder to find ways to make it a good deal financially. As you point out, there are alternative ways to book vacations, but since RCI seems to have a "captive audience", they are able to raise the rates without driving away many of their customers.
      Thanks again, - Deanna.
      Deanna Keahey recently posted...Interval hits owners with new upgrade fees

  3. Peggy Elliott

    As a RCI owner for over 30 years, I have found VRBO to be the better alternative .I did own two timeshares, but I sold one and have the other one on the market. By using VRBO, I have much more flexibility in my travel choices. I'm still traveling to the location I want, but I am paying no more than I would have with the exchange and having choices of selecting the unit and even negotiating with the owner for specials

    When RCI made changes years ago changing the values of red weeks and eliminating the exchange of any color for a red week if it was within 45 days of usage, I complained to "someone" at RCI. Business is business!

    I suspect they are losing their loyal customers. My kids have no desire to keep the membership and the time share program.

    • Hi Peggy -
      Thanks for your comments! You've owned timeshares for longer than I have, and I appreciate your perspective on it. As for the on-going changes at RCI, it sometimes seems like they're charging higher and higher fees, for less and less benefits. You cite the changes regarding red weeks. The recent fee hikes, along with their changes to the Combine deposits feature, are another example of that. They probably are losing some members, but others feel like they're locked in.
      Best wishes, - Deanna.
      Deanna Keahey recently posted...RCI Changes their Combine Deposits feature

  4. MANU CIO

    Dear DEANNA,
    Your advises are wonderful.
    You would be very grateful if you have some way to get rid of my time share easy(because my financial situation)
    I relay appreciate that in advance
    With grate respect MANU
    .

  5. Joyce Javorsek

    Deanna, it is exciting to read your post about the cost of RCI v/s II. We are owners in both exchange programs and have owned timeshare for 36 years. I did notice that when I did a few exchanges in the past 2 weeks that RCI was much higher. Yet while I was searching in the state of ME, it seemed to me that RCI had quite a few more resorts available than II for the summer of 2018. We are honestly trying to get out of both programs because of these extremely high exchange fees and resort costs. Unfortunately, you have to pay to get rid of timeshares these days. We used to own 16 timeshares until 2006 when we drove by a timeshare resale in Pagosa Springs, CO and saw a sign on their window that read, TRADE YOUR TIMESHARE FOR LAND. ( I had gone wild buying up timeshares on EBAY) getting such HA HA GREAT DEALS until I realized all of the maintenance fees I was owing. It was the best 18K we ever spent on a little quarter acre of land with no utilities to get out of 14 timeshares!!! We kept two. Later, how dumb we were to buy into Diamond and another little contract in Shell. Anyway, I love your posts! We are retired now and we did 2 private rentals last year and Expedia was how we booked one week in Hawaii for under $1,000. for a week but we did pay $1,800. for a week in Destin, FL, also not a timeshare. We have enjoyed our vacations over the years but not one of our 3 kids even want them. They are a burden instead of a treasure because of the fees. They do continue to go up in every way. It's better to let them go now.

    • Hi Joyce -
      Thanks for your message! 16 timeshares? Wow! You were enthusiastic! 🙂

      I haven't heard about the "timeshares for land" deals, but I'm glad to hear that it worked out well for you. As timeshares keep changing, about the only thing that seems certain is that fees DO keep going up and up every year - maintenance fees, exchange fees, and everything else. Obviously inflation is a factor, but many of these increases far outpace inflation. And when it gets too expensive to make sense financially, that's when people want to get out.
      Thanks again! - Deanna.
      Deanna Keahey recently posted...Are timeshares still about timeshares?

  6. Mike

    I was just told that if I wanted to book a week at my home resort other than the one that is tied to my points, I would charged the $230.00 exchange fee. I have a timeshare at Grandview in Las Vegas and they use RCI for their bookings.

    Even after complaining that this over inflates the cost of the points when you've already paid for your timeshare and maintenance fees, they said that the home resort would be happy to explain it to me.

    What I see is that they are picking the pockets of their customers because simply they can.

    This industry needs some type of oversight and regulation to quell this rapid piracy.

    • Hi Mike -
      I couldn't agree with you more that the timeshare industry could use more oversight and regulation. It starts with the sales process, where I would love to see everything be above-board, and without the pressure-cooker atmosphere that pushes people to make big decisions in a rush, without all of the facts.

      I'm dreaming of some sort of standardized form that all buyers would have to see and sign, that includes your purchase price, maintenance fees, club fees, taxes, exchange fees, and everything else that you'll need to pay. Then if they included a simple one-page sheet with the rules about using your timeshare (when can you make reservations, how does it work to book your own week vs. something else, etc.), it would go a long way towards helping buyers make informed decisions. This way owners wouldn't end up with unfortunate surprises like you found.

      Too bad this is just a dream! Thanks for writing, - Deanna.
      Deanna Keahey recently posted...Are timeshares still about timeshares?

  7. Patrick Durnal

    The cost of your maintenance on the timeshare you own prorated for points exchanged plus a sliding exchange fee should never exceed the discounted cost to rent the unit desired in an exchange. RCI should not be allowed to charge more than your cost to rent a unit out of the exchange. I think we should consider suing RCI for collusion and price fixing. Do any other members have a good law firm that could help organize such a class action lawsuit?

    • Hi Patrick -
      I'm no lawyer so I can't assess the legal chances of a lawsuit like that. But maybe somebody reading this knows a lot more than I do? if you find a law firm to take on the case, I would love to stay in touch about how it goes!

      As you say, ideally you should be paying less to get a timeshare using your own points than you would if you just rent it. If you can get the same thing for less without even being an owner, it undermines the whole basis of timeshare ownership. Unfortunately, it's not just RCI vacations where this isn't always true. There are other sad situations too, where owners pay more in maintenance fees than it would cost to just rent the same vacation on the open market.
      Good luck with it! - Deanna.
      Deanna Keahey recently posted...Are timeshares still about timeshares?

  8. Victoria Ladd-de Graff

    I was horrified yesterday (7-8-2017) when I was notified by the RCI Vacation Guide that exchange fees are now $298 PER WEEK! I was looking to use my 2 deposits and book 4 weeks, so that meant $1200!!! PLUS I had to pay $129 to combine my two deposits for one year! Paying for your timeshare then having to pay these fees on top of that is over the top excessive in my opinion! I wish I'd never bought timeshares. They are a hole into which money is constantly thrown.

    • Hi Victoria -

      Yikes! $1200 on top of what you're paying for the timeshares in the first place is quite a bundle! I totally agree with you that the fee seems excessive. It just seems to go up and up... )-:

      Thanks for writing! - Deanna.
      Deanna Keahey recently posted...Are timeshares still about timeshares?

  9. pat gialanella

    I'm totally in agreement that if you've already spent between 3500 and 14,000 on a timeshare and 109 a year for an exchange port plus between 425 and 750 maintenance a year and don't have any money left to actually travel to a vacation place and especially if you have kids, nothing left to do anything if you do go. Im getting out...soon

    • Hi Pat -
      Thanks for your message! Yes, it all adds up, doesn't it? And both the maintenance fees and exchange fees keep going up. As you said, you still need money to actually get there, too!
      Good luck with it! - Deanna.
      Deanna Keahey recently posted...Interval hits owners with new upgrade fees

  10. Latesha

    Any ideas on how to get out other than to stop paying for it and wait until its written off you credit after 7 years?

    Anyone know anything about reputable ways of renting timeshares? I hear this is a great way to pay for your timeshare if you don't use it so you don't have to pay out money.

    • Hi Latesha -
      To get out of it, you can either (a) sell it, or (b) stop paying and take the credit hit. For selling it, you can either go through a reputable timeshare broker, or sell it yourself on EBay or Redweek.
      With most timeshares, you have the right to rent out the timeshare you own, though not any exchange vacations you might get through II or RCI. You'll have to check with your own timeshare to verify the rules. People advertise rentals on sites like Redweek or TUG.
      Good luck with it! - Deanna.
      Deanna Keahey recently posted...Are timeshares still about timeshares?

  11. Rachel S

    If you live in Canada you are penalized further. I am not sure how RCI determines the Canadian rate but it is not based on the exchange rate. Exchange fee is currently $360 can or approx $280 US. Yes we have 13% tax to add on but still seems really unfair. So much for the cheap getaway to use up some leftover points. I have a trading power of 5 to use up before March 2018. $360 in exchange fees just doesn't make sense. Nobody wants to go to Ontario Canada in November so give me a break. it is also not worth me combining these points with next years. I have owned timeshare for over 20 years (currently own 2 with both RCI and Interval) and have had some fabulous vacations and found some great deals for both myself and for friends. These can no longer be found and I no longer recommend investing in the timeshare business. There are so many great last minute deals to be found outside the timeshare world and with AirBnB on the scene, being locked into Timeshare for the rest of your life is getting to be a tougher sell.

    • Hi Rachel -
      Thanks for your message! I didn't realize what the fees are now for Canadians. That's a huge fee! And just to exchange something that you're already paying for? It really seems like these fees should reach a point at which they're unsustainable, but so far, they just keep going up... )-:
      Thanks for the info! - Deanna.
      Deanna Keahey recently posted...Are timeshares still about timeshares?

  12. paul j. bayarinas

    what will happen if i just stop paying my $550.00 / year time share fee to blue trees resort in fla.??? i dont want the timeshare any more.

    • Hi Paul -
      If you stop paying your fees, it will give you a hit on your credit report. If you own a deeded timeshare, this could go through a foreclosure. If it's not deeded, you'll probably just end up with collection agents, and a negative impact to your credit. Your alternatives would be to try selling it, or contacting the timeshare to see if they'll take it back from you.
      Good luck with it! - Deanna.
      Deanna Keahey recently posted...Interval hits owners with new upgrade fees

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