All-inclusive fees can multiply your costs - Winning the Timeshare Game

All-inclusive fees can multiply your costs

If you’re a timeshare owner who belongs to RCI, you’ve probably looked through their listings of Extra Vacations. This is one of the best parts of RCI membership, and it’s how we managed to take five weeks of ski vacations this year for an unbelievably low price. There are some real bargains here!

One thing to watch out for, however, is the all-inclusive resorts. The fabulous deal you see at first glance could turn out to be dramatically different once you factor in all the fees.

The Sunscape Dorado Pacifico is an all-inclusive resort in Mexico This luxurious resort in Mexico may not be as cheap as you think

How the system works

Say you’re browsing the vacation listings on RCI. You’re looking for something over the New Year’s holiday, and astonishingly, this luxurious looking resort (pictured above) appears for a bargain price.

An all-inclusive resort appears with bargain prices Wow! This resort is a bargain – even over the holidays!

Looking through the available units, you find that Dec 28 to Jan 4 is available. Best of all, you can get this peak holiday week for just $243! How can that be?

What it’s really going to cost

The catch is that you’re really not going to get anything for $243. Read the fine print, and you’ll find that this resort has a mandatory all-inclusive fee (here called an “Unlimited Luxury Program“) that varies from $60 to $160 – per person, per night.

For the holiday week you’re looking at, the all-inclusive fee is $150/pp/night. That means an extra $300 per day for a couple, or an added cost of $2100 for the week. Instead of $243 for a week, you’d pay $2,343! The price goes up almost 10-fold once you calculate it with the all-inclusive fees.

All-inclusive fees are listed in the fine print Read the fine print to find the all-inclusive fees – very important!

There a couple of things about this that seem a bit deceptive:

  • The advertised price shown in big numbers on the main screen is super low, while the bulk of the total cost is hidden away in the fine print.
  • Do you think people really eat and drink $100 more each day in one season than another? Of course not. It’s just a way for them to price the units more expensively during high season, while still showing a bargain price on the availability listing.

Look into the details

Different resorts cover different things in their all-inclusive plans. It’s pretty much standard to include all of your meals and beverages (including alcoholic drinks), but beyond that you need to check on the particulars.

  • Some places have gourmet food, while others offer more casual dining.
  • Some places cover activities such as windsurfing or kayaking.
  • Some places include tours and sightseeing in the fee.
  • Some places provide airport transfers, included in the cost.

As you can see, the list varies, so it makes sense to know what you’d get for your money.

Looking into this particular resort, it turns out that they have 8 dining options, ranging from elegant seafood to a poolside grill. There are 4 bars, and activities such as bicycle rides, bocce ball, water slides, and a climbing wall.

All of the above is included, but at this resort, you’d have to pay extra for wi-fi in your room, airport transportation, sightseeing excursions, or spa treatments.

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Pros and cons of all-inclusive resorts

Some people love all-inclusive vacations, and find the cost worthwhile for the ease, convenience, and services they get. For other people, it doesn’t make as much sense.

All-inclusive resorts may be a good choice if…

  • You plan to spend most or all of your time at the resort.
  • You like the convenience of not paying every day, or worrying about the cost of each meal or drink.
  • You want a fixed price vacation (and don’t plan optional extras like tours or massages).
  • You envision eating enough gourmet meals and/or drinking enough cocktails to get your money’s worth.

On the other hand, all-inclusive vacations aren’t the best choice if…

  • You’re traveling by yourself. (You’ll usually see that all-inclusive fees are charged for a minimum of 2 adults per room.)
  • You’re not a big eater and/or drinker. (It’s probably cheaper to pay a la carte in this case.)
  • You want to spend a lot of time away from the resort. (You’d end up paying for meals elsewhere, too.)
  • You prefer to check out local restaurants rather than always eating at the resort.

You may decide that an all-inclusive timeshare resort is ideal for you. Many people do enjoy fabulous, relaxing vacations this way. Just make sure you know what you’re getting into, and don’t be fooled by the low display prices.

Comments? Questions?

Timeshare Buyer's GuideHave you stayed at an all-inclusive timeshare resort? Do you love the idea, or prefer to pay as you go? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!

Timeshares can be a great way to save money on vacations – as long as you don’t fall for the high pressure sales. Find out how you can save thousands by buying smart, with this new buying a timeshare guide.

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PHOTO CREDITS:  Sunscape Dorado Pacifico, Ixtapa, Mexico


  1. Whether you use your timeshare or not, you still have the obligation to pay your annual timeshare fees. Another cost to consider, is the cost of travel. It is useless to own a timeshare if you can’t afford getting to it.

    • You’re right, Kris. The transportation cost is one argument for buying a timeshare near where you live, and annual fees should always be a major consideration.

    • This message is for Deanna.
      I have a timeshare in Las Vegas Tahiti Village. I own and paying on another. Yes the maintenance fees are killing me not only that I still have payment and Intervals International is a joke.. So Allied Solution Group is offering me a way out to get me out of my deed and payments. In exchange for RCI Platinum should I purchase directly from RCI vs ASG

      • Hi Steven –

        Thanks for your message. If your timeshare fees are already killing you, I think you’d be better off trying to sell your fully-paid timeshare rather than upgrading/swapping/whatever the ASG deal is. I’m sure they want a fee from you for doing this deal, and without knowing all the details, I doubt this is the best option for you. You won’t be able to sell your 2nd timeshare as long as you’ve still got payments on it, but if the first one is paid off, you could unload that one. If you’re feeling in too deep with timeshare payments/fees, getting rid of one of them will at least cut your obligations.

        Best of luck with it! – Deanna.

  2. Robby Bruntz

    Hi there! Would you mind if I share your blog with my facebook group? There’s a lot of people that I think would really appreciate your content. Please let me know. Thank you.

  3. The cost of timeshare maintenance fees depends to a large degree on the resort location, the size of the unit and the amenities. They vary widely and can go from $450.00 to $750.00 USD a year at an average resort. In some cases, the fees can raise up to $1000.00 USD.

    It is also important to specify that those fees do not stay fixed. Due to the economic changes, timeshare maintenance fees increase every year. Sometimes, special assessment fees are added to cover unpredicted operating costs.

    • Hi Emillie –
      Maintenance fees are one of the most important considerations in making the decision to buy a timeshare. You’re right that they don’t stay the same – just like most things in life, costs do go up over time. This is one of the things that we discuss in our free Consumer Guide, which I highly recommend that anyone read before buying into a timeshare. It’s so important to make the best informed decision possible.

  4. There are good timeshares out there, as well as there are people who feel happy about their timeshare purchases, especially those who enjoy to vacation at the same place and are not spontaneous travelers. Unfortunately, due to the big number of timeshare scams being committed against many vacationers, the industry has gained a terrible reputation.

    • Thanks for the comment, Fabiola! I agree that there are many people who are happy with their timeshares and get good use of them. Unfortunately, not everyone does, and that’s why I created this blog.

  5. I like what you guys are usually up too. This kind of clever work and exposure! Keep up the amazing works guys I’ve added you guys to my blogroll.

  6. Can you offer me a discount? I’m a Nuevo Vallarta Destination Expert for Tripadvisor. Check me out my screen name is BobNH. Please contact me in regard if my Tripadvisor status can get me any discounts.
    Thanks BobNH

    • Hi Bob – Sorry, but I don’t work for a resort or timeshare company, so I cannot offer you a discount. I’m an information provider, not a timeshare employee. Best of luck!

  7. I appreciate your website. Continue the amazing work. I’ll come back to you and keep reading posts produced by you. Peace!

  8. Hello there, I found your web site via Google while searching for a related topic, your site came up, it looks great. I have bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.


    Considering buying a timeshare at Sheritan lake variant in oOrlando florida

    • Hi Carol –
      Thanks for your comment! Have you seen my free
      Consumer Awareness Guide to Buying a Timeshare? I’d highly recommend giving it a read before you make a purchase, since it will give you a bunch of pointers to help you avoid problems and get the best deal.
      Good luck with it! – Deanna.

  10. Lindsay R

    Can you use rci points for cost such as the “all inclusive” amounts?

    • Hi Lindsay –
      Good question! Sorry to say, you can’t do that. You’ll need to use a credit card to pay the all-inclusive amounts directly to the resort.
      Thanks for asking! – Deanna.

  11. Rich

    Do you know of any tactics on selling a timeshare that is not being used? I have a timeshare and due to my time restraints I am unable to use the benefits of owning one.

    • Hi Rich –
      Thanks for your comment! I’d suggest that the first thing to do is get an idea of the market value of your timeshare. Check out my article How much is my timeshare worth? for suggestions on how to do that. Then, a couple of good places to try listing your timeshare for sale are eBay and Redweek. Look at other people’s listings, find some you like, and use those as a model to set up your own posting.
      Good luck with it! – Deanna.

  12. Lee

    I find that the AI cost for resorts on the “open market” (i.e., going through a travel website, apple vacations, etc.) is approximately the SAME cost that RCI and II charges you. The only difference is you are not locked into a long term “contract” (i.e., maintenance fees/down payments/etc.). So your RCI or II membership buys you NOTHING for AI resorts.

    But here’s the kicker, the real gimmick IMHO, that I don’t see a lot of discussion on, when you do a RCI or II search for non-AI options and you’ll quickly see there aren’t many. Some Timeshare purchases allow you to opt out of the mandatory AI purchases at your home resort but that’s about it. However, that defeats the purpose of buying a timeshare to travel and explore the world! So they got you locked into a system where where you pay twice (maintenance fees/cost of ownership) and then pay the SAME price for the AI unit that you’d pay otherwise on the open market!

  13. Hi Lee –

    Thanks for your comments! Your observation about booking an AI resort on an exchange often costing about the same cash-wise as booking elsewhere, except that you also have to pay for your resort & exchange fees, is spot on.

    And that’s a good point about the shortage of timeshare resorts that are NON-AI mandatory. This is particularly true in some places like Mexico and the Caribbean, where all-inclusive has become very popular. Personally, I don’t want an all-inclusive resort, and the pickings are indeed slim when you want to find non-AI in some places. Other places, AI is pretty rare, so it all depends on where you’re looking.

    Thanks! – Deanna.

  14. TMN

    Can you recommend a resort through RCI that does not require AI fees in South America or the Caribbean?

    • Hi TMN –
      Thanks for your comment! Just go into your RCI account, and search for a vacation. On the search options, there’s a place you can select to see just resorts that do NOT have mandatory AI. Click that option, and you should get the list of resorts you want.
      Good luck with it! – Deanna.

  15. liz

    Hello- we are going to an RCI exchange at Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach in Cabo. We have the choice to do all inclusive meal/wifi plans before we go or when we get there but I don’t know what is reasonable? We have five of us and three are teenagers. We do plan to go off property to eat some days as we heard the restaurants are good. The range in prices for per day/per person all inclusive meal plans are huge. Any ideas?

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