Why You Shouldn’t Belong to Timeshare Exchange Companies

Timeshare exchange companies: flight path map

If you are a timeshare owner, you’ve probably heard of at least one of the many timeshare exchange companies on the vacation ownership market. These exchange companies allow timeshare owners to experience new destinations and resorts all over the world. Because why return to the same place every year when you can go somewhere you’ve never been before? Got a timeshare in Hawaii but have always wanted to go to the Caribbean? The trading power of exchange programs can make that switch possible. Want to exchange one timeshare week at a high-end resort for a bonus week at a lower one? Exchange programs tell you they can make that happen.


But are timeshare exchange companies too good to be true? Is an annual membership on top of your already pricey maintenance fees worth investing in? It may not be. Like many timeshare developers, vacation exchange companies are known for having hidden membership fees and timeshare booking issues. And no matter how much you pay to be part of one, belonging to an exchange network doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get to visit any place you want. Let’s look into two of the most popular timeshare exchange companies and the reasons why you should not seek membership with them. 


Popular Timeshare Exchange Companies

The largest timeshare exchange company is Resort Condominiums International (RCI). RCI allows vacation owners to exchange a stay at their home resort for stays in over 100 countries that the company has affiliated resorts in. 


RCI is owned by Travel & Leisure Company, formerly known as Wyndham Destinations. This makes them the sister company of Wyndham’s timeshare division. So though RCI allows members from multiple providers to use their services, there may be a conflict of interest for members who do not have a timeshare with Wyndham. 


With RCI you can’t just exchange one week at a resort in Central Florida for a seven-day stay at a condo in Times Square. That’s because each timeshare week is given an RCI point value depending on the ratings that members give the resort, where the unit is located, the number of beds in the unit, and how in-demand the timeshare week is. If you have a relatively cheap timeshare unit, you probably won’t be able to exchange it for a more extravagant and desirable location unless you pay for an upgrade.


The trading limitations of this exchange system aren’t its only downside. RCI memberships cost extra on top of your timeshare maintenance fees. RCI annual dues start at $89 a year and can go up with membership upgrades and exchange fees. These expenses apply even if you do not use them in the given year. So if you can’t exchange your timeshare for another location or don’t have time to take a trip, you’re out almost $100. 


Complications With Resort Condominiums International

Stressed woman working in her office

Say you’ve decided to forego your usual timeshare vacation for an exciting new destination. You log on to your RCI account and start browsing places to stay but realize that there is absolutely no availability at any of the lovely resorts the company is affiliated with. You start to wonder why you pay so much to belong to a system that doesn’t actually work. After all, you were sold on the idea that an RCI membership would allow you to stay at exciting vacation spots across the globe. Unfortunately, this has been a reality for many people with RCI memberships.


RCI has not only made it hard to do timeshare exchanges. The company has also had booking issues that prevented customers from staying at their home resorts. In a 2012 lawsuit, RCI was convicted of renting out inventory to non-timeshare owners when these units were supposed to be designated for timeshare owners. In an attempt to rent out units at a higher rate than what their timeshare owning members were paying, RCI disobeyed the trust of many customers. 


The limited availability of exchange options isn’t the only problem that RCI customers have experienced. The company is also notorious for having loads of hidden fees, poor customer service, and inconvenient cancellation policies. And when RCI started aligning with Wyndham and was rebranded as Wyndham Exchange and Rental, they began providing third-party travel companies with white-labeled access to owners’ inventory. These travel companies were then able to offer this inventory at extremely low rates to non-timeshare owners. 


The complications that RCI‘s timeshare exchange services have caused should tell you that their membership program is not worth investing in.


The Downside of Interval International

Interval International is another popular timeshare exchange company. It is owned by Marriott Vacation Worldwide, so similar to RCI, it has a conflict of interest when it comes to Marriott timeshares. 


Like RCI, Interval is partnered with a large collection of timeshare resorts and claims to give their members access to tradable destinations throughout the world. But just because Interval is technically affiliated with these international resorts doesn’t mean their customers have easy or affordable access to them.


Interval has multiple levels of membership that range from $64 to $139 for a year. This membership fee isn’t the only thing you’ll have to pay for when you use Interval to find new timeshare destinations. There’s also a $149-$209 exchange fee you have to pay in order to stay at a different resort than your home location. And because each property is given a different timeshare value, it can be hard to find a location that’s equally valued to your timeshare unit. You’ll most likely have to pay to upgrade to a more “desirable” timeshare resort, especially if it’s in a more spacious unit or at a better location and time.


Like RCI, it can be complicated to book a timeshare stay with Interval at the exact time and location you need it. This is further complicated by Interval’s roundabout booking system. To start the booking process, you have to deposit your timeshare week into its online system. You are then granted a time slot that you’re allowed to book your vacation during. If you cannot make the trip during this time, you’ll have to pay extra for an extension or forfeit your stay for no refund. Sound like a convenient service to you? Not at all.


Break up With Timeshare Exchange Companies

Timeshare exchange companies: person tearing up a contract

Timeshare Exchange Companies always claim to make your timeshare getaways more exciting. Access to a wide variety of exotic timeshare resorts as well as perks like discounts on cruises, airfare, and car rentals make you want to invest in an exchange membership. But paying to belong to timeshare exchange companies like RCI and Interval International may be an unwise investment


In reality, customers experience a lot of hassle using timeshare exchange programs. Both RCI and Interval require their members to pay an exchange fee anytime they want to stay at a different timeshare location. Finding a resort with a comparable value is challenging and often results in paying an upgrade fee for a higher valued unit. And if customers are unable to book their vacation during the time slot they’re given, they will not be refunded and will have essentially wasted their annual maintenance fees and mortgage payments on an unused property. 


If you are done wasting your money on timeshares and exchange programs, find relief with Centerstone Group. We are a full-service advocacy group that will guide you through the timeshare exit process. The Centerstone Group team is made up of timeshare industry experts who know how to quickly, affordably, and successfully find resolutions for our clients. We employ a three-pronged approach for seeking release from your timeshare contract that’ll get you back to a life without expensive maintenance and membership fees. If this sounds like a life you want, contact us to see if you qualify for our services.


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