Timeshare Owners' Update - Watch the Math

Timeshare Owners’ Update – Watch the Math

We recently attended an owner’s update, which much to our surprise (not!) was really an attempt to sell us something. If you’re a timeshare owner, I’m sure you’re familiar with the routine. Whatever you own now isn’t nearly good enough, but if you just give us a bit more money, you can upgrade to something so much better.

What I found most interesting, though, was how the math on this worked out…

Calculator on an iPhone Let’s see how the numbers look…

What we already have

Swimming at sunset More days like this!

* We currently own three deeded weeks at this particular resort. All are two-bedroom lock-offs, which we usually split to get 6 weeks to work with. We have 52-week float access, so we can book any time of year, including Christmas, Thanksgiving, spring break or summer vacation. We get 6 peak weeks for use or exchange.

* These weeks can be exchanged through either RCI or Interval International, and we use a combination of both companies to find what we want. We reserve far enough in advance that we get prime weeks for exchange. By working the system with RCI and II exchanges, we can often parlay these three lock-offs into 9 or 10 weeks of vacation.

* What can I say? It’s a great thing, and we’re very happy with what we own. Yes, there are exchange fees, but we can multiply our vacations and go almost anywhere in the timeshare world.

But we could be gold elite!

So what were they pushing at this meeting? Here are the highlights.

  • Points! We need to get points. Weeks are passe, and will soon be pretty much worthless. Points are the way of the future. While I know this last part is true, I personally believe that the accounts of weeks’ death have been greatly exaggerated.
  • Gold elite! If we just convert what we have to points, we’ll have enough that we’ll be gold elite status. Doesn’t that sound special? We’ll have access to super duper vacation opportunities that normal people cannot get. My heart’s going pitty-pat…
  • Gem encrusted gold crown Gold VIP status? Now I’m feeling important!

  • Flexible stays! With points, we wouldn’t need to travel a week at a time. We could go a few days here, a few days there, or whatever fit our schedule.
  • Other stuff! We would have points we could use for almost anything. We could pay for airline tickets with our points. “Of course, you could pay cash, but why do that when you can use points?

How much would this upgrade cost?

This was a moving target. Unlike most things with timeshares, though, the cost kept going down instead of up! 🙂

Wad of cash How much green would it cost to go gold?
  1. It’s not possible. First they said they simply won’t convert deeded weeks like ours to points anymore. They said the company did this for a limited time, just trying to be nice to their owners, but had to stop because they were losing money on this service.
  2. $110,000. Next, they quoted a price per point which meant this many points would cost about $250,000 at full retail cost. We wouldn’t have to pay that much, though, since they could realistically get it for us for just about $110,000. Oddly enough, we didn’t bite on this.

  3. $10,000. It’s almost impossible to believe. Yes, they’d be willing to let us upgrade our weeks to points for a mere $10,000. What a measly amount for $250K worth of points. It would be a miracle if they could get this deal approved, but they’d be willing to try hard on our behalf to make that deal happen. And what a deal it is!
  4. Free. On our way out the door (almost), the guy of last resort came out and offered it to us for free. That’s right, we could get all those points for free for one year, if we just agreed to pay the maintenance fee. It wasn’t totally clear what would happen at the end of the year, but it would be free to try for a year.

What’s the catch? Watch the math

There’s an old expression “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” How could it be that the company loses money on these deals, yet was willing to give it to us for free? This deserves a closer look.

Do the math So how does this all add up?
  • Mum’s the word. It was rare that any of the salesmen we spoke with mentioned anything about annual fees. Occasionally one would look at something on his paperwork, flip up a corner of his sheet and jot a few numbers underneath that we couldn’t see, and then say something like “you’d be paying a little bit more, but you’d be gold“.
  • Just a small increase? A bit of delving into the details revealed that our annual fees would go up from $2,700 per year to $4,100 per year, a whopping 52% increase. I’d say that’s more than a little bit – we’d be paying half again as much!
  • And what do we get? If you were expecting to get 50% more vacation for the 50% greater fees, you’d be sorely mistaken.

    To try to book the same exact 2-bedroom units that we currently own, at peak times of year, these points would only get us 2.5 weeks instead of the 3 we have now.

  • What about splitting the lock-offs? To try to get a mix of studio weeks + 1-bedroom weeks (which is what we normally use now), this many points could only get us three 1-bedroom weeks + one studio week. That’s only 4 weeks instead of the 6 we have now – a 33% decrease in vacations.

Pay 50% more to stay 33% less? Even for “free”, this math made no sense at all. No wonder they scribble those numbers where you can’t see them.

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Tips for your next timeshare owner’s update

  • Know the costs. Make sure you see all the numbers for yourself – not just the upgrade cost, but the annual costs as well. You need more than vague statements and scrawls. Don’t get too far into this process without seeing some real numbers.
  • Know the points. If you go for the deal, what will you get? If you’re adding points to an existing package, this is straightforward. If you’re moving from weeks to points, though, straighten out the apples to oranges comparison – will the points you get cover booking the exact same thing you have now?
  • Keep it logical. Don’t let glitzy phrases like “gold elite” or “platinum vip” sway you. You’re already important enough – you don’t need a timeshare status label to prove it. The real question is whether there’s enough true benefit to this upgrade that it’s worth the cost.
  • Maybe, maybe not. Upgrading your ownership may or may not make sense for you. The salespeople will always say that it does, but your own analysis of the deal may say otherwise. Everyone’s situation is different. Make your own informed decision.

Comments? Questions?

Have you been to any timeshare owner’s updates where they wanted to sell you something that didn’t make much sense? Any tips you’d like to share in the comments below?
Consumer Awareness Guide to Timeshares
I purposely didn’t mention any names here, because this isn’t intended as a warning about a particular timeshare company. You’ll find company after company trying to sell you things that aren’t really a good deal, so it’s hardly unique. Timeshares can be wonderful, but you need to be on your toes and watch the math! If you want to find out more about timeshares before spending your cash, check out our free Consumer Awareness Guide to Timeshares.

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  1. OW Diver

    Our TS just switched from II to RCI. I’m very angry about it. We feel something tangible and valuable is being taken away from us and being replaced with hypothetical and with an uncertain value which I believe will decrease year after year. I can’t believe this is legal!!!

    • Hi OW – Thanks for your comment! I can understand how you’d be upset. If you’re used to getting certain exchanges on II, you will probably not be able to get the same thing on RCI, because they work with different resorts. RCI does have a lot of properties to offer, however, so you should be able to find something, it just won’t be what you are used to. As for legality, I would bet that there’s a clause in the contract allowing them to make changes like that. I’m afraid you’re probably stuck with that, but hopefully you can get used to RCI and get some decent trades through there.

  2. A-1

    our last owner update was exactly as you described. in fact, they told us we eventually would get nothing and even less points if we didn’t act asap. we even had to sign a form saying we got updated. my husband scratched something illegible that wasn’t even close to his signature and we left. we felt so pressured we will never attend an owner’s update again. i am now subscribing to your newsletter and i think i’ll get the updates that way. thanks deanna!

    • Hi A-1 –
      Thanks for the comment! I’m sorry you had to sit through one of those high-pressure meetings. I’m a fan of timeshares, but it still amazes me that this is the approach they take with their current owners. The good news is you never have to waste your precious vacation time on that again! Just think how much more relaxed and happy your vacation can be without spending it with pushy salespeople! 🙂

  3. they said (people selling in the Bahamas) upgrading your membership will give you the option to reserve with RCI with 9thousand points per week not more . is that so or is it just bull….

    • Hi Rose –
      There are RCI points vacations available for 9,000 points. The catch is that these are short-notice exchanges (30 days in advance), and that the inventory is very slim. Actually, you will find similar deals on the RCI weeks side, where you can sometimes get exchanges for just 4 or 5 TPUs. In both cases, these are low-demand vacations – the good ones will always cost you more. This isn’t really a huge benefit for most people.
      Hope that helps! – Deanna.

  4. Dennis Segall

    Iused to owm in Massanutten. When I first bought it was very relaxed and low key. I bring street kids skiing every year. They started, yearly, to move me from one complex to the other , giving me reasons for my good. I was foolish believing them. Each time the cost and maintenance went up and I finally couldn’t afford it and dropped out, but found the Pines, where the kids can have a 3 bedroom with jacuzzi and sauna, ping pong and pool in the unit. I pay $300 yearly. I do feel dumb for blindly listening to sales people.

    • Hi Dennis –
      Thanks for sharing your story! No need to feel dumb about it — those sales people are professionals, well trained, and good at what they do. They can be pretty persuasive!

      I’m just happy to hear that you’ve found a better way! It sounds like you’ve got a winner now, that delivers a lot for a very reasonable price. So congrats on your outcome! (-:
      Enjoy those vacations! – Deanna.

  5. own a deeded week

    Great update info, demystifies all the hype, thanks!

  6. Tom

    I know which company is in the article because my company’s partners re RCI and Interval also. I’ve been pitched the same as the article. I usually wait until they go talk to their boss and don’t come back for a half hour, then my wife and I just leave. I’m here now through 5 July. I had to book an update appointment, but I didn’t go. If they keep my $115 credit card hold it’s okay with me. A small price to pay compared to what you might be pressured to buy. My cousin has owned at the same company for years. He usually checks in after 11pm and never answers the phone. The latest tact is to have the person scheduling the update to also be the one to issue your room key after all the hob knobbing. I HATE IT ALL! Anything you need for for an actual update can be found on their website or elsewhere on line.

    • Hi Tom –
      Thanks for sharing your tips on avoiding the updates. I agree with you it’s not at all necessary for an actual update, it’s all about another high-pressure sales opportunity.
      Thanks, and all the best, – Deanna.

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