The True Cost of Timeshare Exchange Programs

Timeshare exchange: beach full of beach umbrellas

The “vacation ownership” or “timeshare” methods of taking trips can seem like they’re a dream come true at first. The lure, of course, is that you can actually own something in the vacation destination of your dreams, at a fraction of the price. Of course, eventually the novelty of the experience wears off and you think, “Do I really have to spend every single vacation here?”

Timeshare resorts and developers are aware that this buyer’s remorse and boredom can make any timeshare purchase seem unwise. That is why many of them have implemented timeshare exchange programs. Some, like Marriott Vacation Club, allow you to exchange your time at one resort (or points) for time at other company resorts.

Other properties are part of networks of timeshare exchange companies that purportedly allow even more flexibility in planning vacations. These companies, like Resort Condominiums International (RCI) and Interval International (II) are essentially clubs for timeshare owners that facilitate the exchange of timeshare weeks and/or points among owners.

Companies like RCI and II aren’t running charities, though, and their services aren’t free. In fact, you may be surprised to find out how much a getaway arranged through one of these companies actually costs.

In this article, we will talk about the hidden fees at both RCI and II, as well as the procedures for getting an exchange. Those fees often end up being as expensive (or more so) than the amount you’d pay for a hotel. We’ll also look at the fact that many RCI and II customers may not even be able to get the timeshare exchange vacations that they want.


RCI Timeshare Exchanges

Timeshare exchange: elderly woman checking something online

RCI has been in business for nearly 50 years and is the largest timeshare exchange company in the world. It connects thousands of resorts for one purpose: helping timeshare owners exchange time at the property that they spent so much time and money acquiring. 

In many cases, owners have even taken out mortgages to finance their timeshare ownership. RCI’s business is based around convincing you to pay them even more money so that you can vacation anywhere you want — an ability you had before committing to a timeshare.

RCI’s exchange network fees aren’t cheap either. On top of the mortgage, annual maintenance fees, and other timeshare fees, you’ll be paying RCI between $80 and $90 per year for the privilege of even having the option to use their exchange service. Keep in mind that the cost per year only goes down if you buy longer, multi-year memberships.

On top of that, you have to pay an “exchange fee” when you actually want to take a vacation at an RCI-affiliated resort. Depending on the exact type of reservation you make with RCI, the fee for your vacation can run between $250 and $300. 

Once the extra miscellaneous fees for your particular reservation are added in, you could be paying as much as $800 (plus annual fees) for the “privilege” of using the RCI vacation network. Needless to say, this is money that could be put to good use for a vacation, but you are instead paying it to get out of using the timeshare that you paid too much money for in the first place.

Is someone other than you staying in the unit? Get ready to pay another “guest certificate” fee. There are others too, and there will likely be even more new fees in the future, all for the privilege of using something that you’ve already purchased.

For all that money, you would hope that you are getting a top-tier vacation experience. Sadly, this is not the case. You may not even get the exact time or resort that you want! You see, the exchange fee you pay is for a “resort search” that is meant to match your ideal parameters as closely as possible. 

What you want might not be out there, or it could cost even more money. Keep in mind that programs like RCI’s tend to exchange units for similar types of units. Therefore, if you have a week at a one-bedroom unit at a “home resort” in Orlando, getting a two-bedroom unit in Hawaii would cost you even more money, if you could even get it at all. 

While RCI may sound like a good deal in the abstract, keep in mind that it is just another set of fees and costs that come along with your timeshare, which was probably sold to you as a way to save money on vacations. If you are going to spend so much time and money to use what you are already legally entitled to, you are losing most of the value of your timeshare.

Interval International Timeshare Exchanges

Eliat City

II is the world’s second-largest timeshare exchange company. It has an exchange system like RCI’s, with thousands of associated resorts in over 80 countries around the world. As with RCI, II offers some discounts for buying multiple years of membership in advance. It also offers multiple tiers of membership. The basic fee, then, ranges from $51 to $139 per year.

For those annual membership fees, you then have different exchange options. All of them require you to exchange your timeshare interest for another that may or may not be exactly what you want. Again, keep in mind that the value of your timeshare, which is low to begin with, will be even lower if you don’t have an interest in a desirable unit or resort.

Also, like with RCI, II charges fees when you actually make an exchange. These exchange fees will cost you over $200 per week. If you want a larger unit when you make the exchange, you can also do that for a fee as well. Accordingly, just to make the exchange with II, you’ll have to shell out at least a few hundred dollars to use the property as a result of your “vacation ownership.”

And then, of course, there will be fees on top of that for other services associated with staying in a new resort. II will gladly help you with travel and car rentals, taking its own fees the whole time. As you can see, the process is very beneficial … for II.


Why Own a Timeshare If You Pay So Much?

Elderly couple computing their finances

Looking at the hidden fees that are associated with timeshare exchange companies, you may be wondering, “Why even get a timeshare if you’re just going to have to pay middlemen every time you want to use it or exchange it?” That is an excellent question, and one that most timeshare salespeople will cleverly try to dodge in their high-pressure sales pitches.

Of course, it could be that you have already bought a timeshare. Perhaps you even did it because the salespeople promised falsely that you could make an easy exchange with any property in the world. If you did, don’t beat yourself up. Lots of people fall victim to the high-pressure sales tactics and untruths that come along with timeshare sales.

If you find yourself in that situation, you don’t have to pay fees to both a timeshare resort and an exchange company in order to have proper vacations. Centerstone Group is a BBB-accredited company with a great reputation for helping unhappy timeshare owners ethically and legally exit oppressive timeshare contracts.

Upon receiving your information, Centerstone Group will use its proprietary strategies to determine the best exit method for you. Sometimes that will involve a pressure campaign against a timeshare resort or an attempt to properly dispose of your unit with the help of a qualified timeshare resale specialist.

Sometimes you may need legal help for your timeshare problems. In those cases, Centerstone Group can help you as well. They have extensive contacts with experienced real estate and contract attorneys through the country, and where necessary, other countries.


Get Rid of That Expensive Timeshare

Timeshares can be expensive mistakes. Trying to fix that mistake by using a timeshare exchange company is only going to make the problem worse. Now, instead of just paying exorbitant annual fees to a timeshare resort, you’re also paying middlemen for the privilege of getting timeshare exchanges that you might not even want.

Everybody makes mistakes, and purchasing a timeshare is a common one. Timeshare exchange companies just compound that mistake. Rather than turning to them, contact Centerstone Group today for a free consultation and case evaluation, so you can have a better plan to exit your timeshare without paying too much of your hard-earned money.


Get Your FREE Consultation!