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!

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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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7 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.

  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

  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.

  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.

  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.

  7. Miquel

    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.

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