Gone are the days when timeshare intervals were merely offered as fixed or floating weeks. Nowadays, the timeshare point system rules the industry and developers who don’t offer this option are considered old-fashioned.
Points systems are favorable with many timeshare owners because they offer more vacationing options and flexibility. Timesharers can travel when they want, where they want, and can even cash out their extra points on perks like cruises, concert tickets, and fun vacation activities.
Though many people enjoy the benefits and possibilities of the points system, some timeshare owners have often found them too good to be true. Many developers who’ve switched over to this system did so for the sake of maximizing profits.
Instead of offering only 52 spaces a year at a single unit, they could sell virtually endless amounts of timeshares with the promise that customers could exchange their property to stay wherever they want. But whether this promise is true or not is up for debate. Let’s analyze the realities of the point system and how it affects timeshare owners.
In order to understand how the timeshare point system works, we need to break down its origins. Traditionally, timeshares were offered as fixed weeks and an owner was assigned a seven-day length of stay on the same dates every year.
Timeshare companies started to realize that this limited customer reach since many people couldn’t guarantee they’d be able to vacation at the same time every year. So companies started offering flex weeks, which gives customers a wider range of time to book their timeshare units. Instead of having one week in December, they might be able to book a place anytime between November and January.
But when timeshare companies started recognizing vacationers‘ desires to visit locations other than their own home resort, they started partnering with groups like Resort Condominiums International. RCI is a timeshare exchange company that works with developers like Club Wyndham, Disney Vacation Club, Marriott Vacation Club, and Hilton Grand Vacations Club to allow their customers to earn and trade their own points and stay at a variety of affiliated timeshare properties throughout the world.
The number of points an RCI member receives depends on the value of their timeshare property. Property values are dependent on the ratings of the specific resort the timeshare is located, the number of beds and amenities within the unit, and the demand for the dates of the assigned week.
Naturally, timeshares in touristy places like Hawaii and Orlando, Florida will rank higher in the RCI points program. However, customers with a lower-ranking resort have the ability to trade in their week to get a smaller amount of days at a higher-ranking resort or purchase extra points to stay somewhere more valuable.
RCI isn’t the only company to offer a timeshare point system. Interval International is also a popular timeshare exchange program utilized by many major timeshare developers. With all the exchange opportunities out there, it’s easy to wonder if these programs are too good to be true. Do timeshare points work to benefit owners? Or is the points system just set up to make developers more money?
Exchange programs don’t just exist to offer flexibility to timeshare owners. They also benefit the timeshare developers who use them. Exchange programs capitalize on the developers’ ability to offer more timeshare deals. Selling specific weeks to customers limits the amount of timeshares a company can sell.
But when a timeshare deed is sold under the pretense that it can be exchanged for another property or time slot, developers can sell as many shares as they want. This can maximize profits and increase customer reach — regardless of whether inventory will actually be available to book.
Though point systems technically assign customers a specific week at their home resort, being part of a points ownership program doesn’t guarantee that your unit will be available during the time slot you were assigned.
In fact, many exchange programs have come under fire for lack of actual availability. RCI was caught renting out their highest-value units to non-timeshare-owning customers because they knew they could charge them more money than their point-owning customers. This made it nearly impossible for many RCI members to book a stay at their home resort and created a suspicion around the legitimacy of points systems.
RCI isn’t the only exchange company that warrants suspicion. Interval International has earned itself a score of 1.15 out of 5 stars on Better Business Bureau because of how inconvenient their booking system is, how high their membership fees are, and how poorly the company dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic. On their BBB page, many customers complain that they have to book way in advance in order to secure a vacation spot and that Interval constantly demands hefty upgrade and exchange fees.
One customer claimed that Interval refused to refund a $3,500 deposit on a Hawaiian timeshare even though there were COVID restrictions that prevented them from traveling to the island. When this customer disputed the charges, Interval froze their account and wouldn’t allow them to cancel their membership.
In theory, a timeshare point system sounds like a dream. Instead of limiting timeshare owners to one location a year, they allow customers to travel to all kinds of destinations. And if you’re lucky enough to have a highly valued property, your vacation possibilities are seemingly endless. You can exchange your points for longer stays at a new place or travel to two places for the price of one.
With all the benefits that come with a timeshare point system, it’s easy to look past the added membership fees and other small inconveniences. That is until they start impacting your ability to enjoy your vacations. When your timeshare point program becomes more of a hassle than a convenience, you start to realize that — like many other deals in the timeshare industry — points systems are often too good to be true.
In reality, using a timeshare points system can create all kinds of booking issues for customers. Offering unlimited possibilities to timeshare clients often leads to high-ranking resorts being impacted, booking at your home resort being unavailable, and membership fees being even higher than your maintenance fees, regardless of whether you use your timeshare or not.
Cancelling a membership with an exchange company should be much easier than cancelling a timeshare itself, right? Well as we’ve learned, such is not always the case with exchange companies like Interval International. So if you’re having trouble ending your membership, reaching out to Centerstone Group may be necessary.
Centerstone Group is a full-service advocacy group that specializes in helping clients navigate timeshare exits and resolve contracts. We’ve built a team of timeshare-relief experts well versed on tricky tactics that timeshare developers and exchange programs use to manipulate customers.
If you’ve experienced fraudulence, high-pressure sales tactics, or misrepresentation from your timeshare provider, Centerstone Group may be able to help you navigate release from your contract and point system membership. With a time-tested resolution process and more than 33 years of combined experience in the timeshare industry, Centerstone Group is happy to evaluate your case and determine if you’re eligible for our services. Contact us today for a free consultation.