My name is Jeff Pierce and I wrote How to Exchange a Timeshare – The Definitive Guide. How does a timeshare work?
I sold timeshare for a living for more than 25 years before I retired. I’ve published more than 150 articles and written 2 eBooks on timeshare and I’m known as “The Timeshare Expert.”
I have a passion for travel and I was lucky to be able to work in an industry in which traveling was at its core. Every day I was fortunate to meet new and interesting people, many of whom taught me even more about traveling the world than I already knew. I like to joke that they gave me a Ph.D. in travel.
I believe that timeshare membership is a great way to explore this beautiful planet. I know it’s not the only way, and not for everybody, but I also know it’s beneficial for many people. Unfortunately, it seems that the majority of timeshare members don’t know how to exchange a timeshare properly.
How to Exchange a Timeshare – The Definitive Guide, will give you all of the tools you need to successfully exchange your timeshare with both RCI and Interval International (II). Contrary to what your salesperson told you when you purchased your timeshare, you’ll find or may have already found, that doing a timeshare exchange is more complicated than you thought. Many timeshare members have found the exchange process less than satisfactory.
In this guide, you will find many helpful tips and strategies on how to exchange a timeshare, along with why you should do them. Links to helpful resources are also provided.1 All of the content for this article can be found in my different articles and videos, but for your convenience, I’ve consolidated them all here.
I’ve attempted to be as thorough as possible in writing this article believing that in explaining the “why” behind the how things function, and not just stopping at the recommendation, will better equip the reader not only to understand how to do a timeshare exchange but also their membership in particular.
Therefore, this article is quite lengthy. Those of you familiar with how to exchange a timeshare will already know some of the content, but I guarantee even the most experienced of you will find some very valuable insights.
If you don’t have time to read it in its entirety now, Let Us Send You a FREE Copy: How to Exchange a Timeshare: The Definitive Guide.
I’m confident that by following the recommendations outlined in this guide, you’ll be much better equipped than the average timeshare owner to get much better exchanges.
Many timeshare consumers were sold a bill of goods and never offered any real help understanding what they bought. Worse yet, the unhappy ones have been and still are being preyed upon by the unscrupulous timeshare resale companies.
I have 2 goals as The Timeshare Expert.
The first is to raise consumer awareness regarding the fraudulent timeshare resale industry whose ONLY purpose is to separate the desperate timeshare owner from their hard earned money by means of bogus fees. You can read a case study I did with a client here Timeshare Fraud.
If you are considering selling your timeshare I offer a free guide called “How to Sell a Timeshare: The Definitive Guide.” The guide has been extensively researched and is one of the best, if not THE best, resource on this subject. You can read the article right here on my Blog or Download the FREE PDF.
But selling any timeshare is still a losing proposition and should only be done as a last resort. A far better alternative is learning to use what you have effectively. This leads me to my second goal. To help timeshare members enjoy what may be the second or third largest purchase in their lives.
Any timeshare, coupled with a membership to either RCI or Interval International, comes with numerous travel benefits. Both RCI Travel and Interval Travel offer robust websites that are packed with great information.
These benefits go far beyond simply exchanging a week of timeshare, but many timeshare members do not take advantage of them.
The focus of this article, however, is strictly on exchanging a timeshare since it is much more complicated to do right that taking advantage of the other travel benefits.
Evolution of “The Timeshare Expert”
It was on an exchange to Hawaii in 2002 that motivated me to sort out how to exchange a timeshare better. I had done about 10 exchanges, using both RCI and II and thought I knew what I was doing because I was “mostly satisfied” with my results.
When I checked into a timeshare in Princeville, Hawaii I was smacked in the face with reality. The “resort” was just a condo complex, with 1 swimming pool and next to a golf course. Though not very impressed with the resort, I was happy to have gotten 2 weeks, back-to-back, in Hawaii, a difficult exchange even back then.
But my condo was sub-par with a leaky toilette and moldy shower. I immediately called my exchange company to see if I could be moved to no avail. I ended up paying for another room in another resort. To their credit, the exchange company did credit back my week, but this waste of time and money made me vow to really figure out how to exchange a timeshare into the most exclusive resorts.
But how was I going to accomplish this? I owned 3 weeks of timeshare, but doing only 3 exchanges a year would take me a very long time indeed to get the experience I needed.
About then I remembered the inspirational story of how Thomas Edison invented the first commercially viable, light bulb. He wasn’t the first person to invent the light bulb, as is the popular belief, but the first to invent a long-lasting one. All of the previous versions burned out too quickly to be practical. He and his staff tested more than 1,000 different filaments before succeeding with one made of carbon.
I thought about what Thomas Edison quipped when a reporter asked him how it felt to fail 1,000 times trying to find the right element for his light bulb. He responded “If I find 1,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged because every wrong attempt discarded, is often a step forward.”
I knew I didn’t have the time or resources to do a thousand timeshare exchanges. I had to figure out a way to see what worked and what didn’t fast. I didn’t want to waste any more money or valuable vacation time getting bad exchanges.
I made a commitment to personally dissect 1,000 of my own client’s timeshare exchanges to see what was really going on. I swore I’d take advantage of my connections at RCI and Interval International to pick the brains of the top pros to discover the secrets of how each system really worked and armed with that information, I ended up formulating a step-by-step blueprint.
Following that blueprint allowed me to get 11 more exchanges to Hawaii for 2 back-to-back weeks, 5 back-to-back weeks in Europe, numerous exchanges into Marriott Vacation Clubs, and the Hyatt Highlands Inn in Carmel, California for Thanksgiving to name of few.
All of this was accomplished with my 2 summer weeks in Whistler and an October week on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. None of my 3 weeks are with a major brand name timeshare, nor were they Gold Crown or Premier designated resorts.
So, a major source of information came from my personal exchanges.
Not OPM but OPE, “Other Peoples Experience”
The bigger source of how to exchange a timeshare, and how not to, came from my clients. I had set up a small telesales department for the Lawrence Welk Resort in Escondido, California and was calling multiple members daily to upgrade or add to their membership. I found the easiest way to get my foot in the door was to offer them advice on exchanging.
To my surprise, some of the members were very successful with their exchanges while others had no luck at all, even though they owned the exact same thing. So I learned from the winners but learned even more from the losers.
At that time, there was also both an II and RCI representative on site that I could mine for information. I’ll never forget the day that the RCI rep, Phil, called me excited that my exchange to Kauai had come through. He had me pull up the confirmation on my computer. I quickly looked at it and couldn’t understand his enthusiasm. It was at the Cliffs Club, a resort I liked and had exchanged to before, and for a 1 bedroom that slept 4.
When I expressed my surprise about his excitement of getting a 1 bedroom, he told me to take a closer look. The number 4 on my confirmation was not the sleeping capacity, but the number of bedrooms! I had gotten the 4 bedroom penthouse for my 1 bedroom, non-Gold Crown, summer Whistler week. Phil said he had only seen that come up 2 other times in his 17 years with RCI.
Naturally, I asked if he had done something a little extra for me, and he responded: “no, you just know how to exchange a timeshare.”
That day I became the Timeshare Expert and decided to write an eBook on how to exchange a timeshare that became The RCI Timeshare Exchange Bible. I later wrote The Interval International Timeshare Exchange Bible and have sold thousands of them from my website.
This article contains some of the proven success secrets, tips, and strategies from them so you don’t have to waste more time and money on getting bad exchanges.
How to Exchange a Timeshare Tip #1: Pay Your Maintenance Fees in Advance
If you don’t anything else I recommend in How to Exchange a Timeshare than applying Tip #1, you will be guaranteed much better exchanges. That’s how important this tip is.
If you are going to make an exchange, the very first thing all you should do now, strike that, should have done yesterday, is to pay NEXT YEAR’S maintenance fees this year. Ideally, the best time to do that is in the first quarter of the year.
One of the biggest mistakes timeshare members make that destroys their exchange power is they wait to be billed their maintenance fees before they bank their week. You must avoid doing this at all costs! You CAN, and always SHOULD pay next year’s maintenance fees this year!
I know, you’re probably thinking I’m crazy right now. Most people don’t like paying their maintenance fees in the first place and I’m telling you to pay them a year or more in advance. Here’s the reason.
Neither RCI nor Interval International will let you bank your week until you pay your maintenance fees. And I’m pretty sure you have all have been encouraged by both exchange companies to “bank early”. But they neglect to emphasize just how important it is. So allow me.
The earlier you bank your week, the more exchange power you enjoy. Simple enough, right? But here is what you may not know. If I bank my week even 1 minute before you, everything else being equal, I have more exchange power than you. And here is where light bulbs should be going off. You know you’re supposed to bank early.
But what the heck is early?
At a bare minimum, a week must be banked 271 days, or 9 months, in advance of the date it starts. For every month under 9 months you bank a week you significantly lose trading power, and for every month above that, you gain trading power.
Banking a week 10 or more months in advance increases your trading power and anything more than a year in advance starts to supercharge your exchange power.
If you own the first week of October and bank it in January when you pay your HOA fees, you’re doing alright with regards to exchange power. If you do the same thing but own the first week of April, you have DESTROYED your exchange power.
The Best Solution is Also the Easiest
Banking early to the timeshare exchange ninja means always banking next year’s week this year regardless if you own a fixed, floating or points-based week! And the only way you can do that is by paying your maintenance fees early.
I seriously love the timeshare members that wait until they’re billed in January to pay their maintenance fees. It simultaneously weakens their exchange power and strengthens mine.
Now that you know what the experts mean by “banking early” you’ll be more likely to put it into effect. And this is just 1 of many things you can do to increase your exchange power.
What You Don’t Need to Know
Here’s the beauty of this simple strategy. You don’t have to know where you want to go on exchange in order to bank your week. I’ll say that again. You don’t have to know where you want to go in advance to bank your week.
Most timeshare members don’t understand this, so they wait until January or later to deposit their week resulting in a huge reduction of their exchange power to the enormous benefit of those that don’t wait.
I can’t emphasize enough how essential this first simple tip is to your success. And when coupled with the next 11, you’ll be assured of getting much better exchanges.
How to Exchange a Timeshare Tip #2: If You Have Ever Believed This, Stop Now
If you’ve ever believed that you have to own one of the top brand named timeshares such as Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, Four Seasons, or Westin to either exchange into one of them or get an exchange into high demand destination areas like Hawaii or the Caribbean, stop now.
It certainly helps but you don’t need to pay top dollar and maintenance fees in order to do so. Within reason, many timeshare properties have the ability to do so. For more information on this topic, read “How to Exchange into Top Brand Name Timeshares.”
By believing this you’ll either end up going to your home resort every year, accepting a 2-star resort wherever your exchange network decides you can go, lowering your expectations just trying to find something, anything that’s available, or even worse, losing your week altogether after paying your maintenance fee!
And, you may even give up and sell your timeshare for pennies on the dollar.
The truth is, there are millions of timeshare weeks a year made available by RCI and II. The people that have uncovered the secrets of how to exchange a timeshare are getting into the best resorts in the best vacation destinations regardless if they own top brand name timeshare. In other words, they accomplish the Holy Grail of any exchange system: they bought low and traded high.
There are 2 reasons for their success: first, they follow a step-by-step plan that gives them the most exchange power. And second, because the vast majority of timeshare members unknowingly destroy their exchange power before they even request an exchange, the savvy exchangers face far less competition.
And, this leaves the pick of the litter for the privileged few!
Now that you know just one of your problems, that you have been unknowingly destroying your exchange power for all of these years, let’s dive into the next tip I have for you today.
Even though I know my way around a computer well enough, when I bought my first iPad I was a bit lost. I had to spend some time learning how to use it effectively. It’s no different when it comes to the RCI and II websites. Both company’s websites are jammed-packed with most everything you’ll need to know to plan a great vacation.
A thorough tutorial of navigating both websites is far too much work for this article. I’ll use the RCI site as an example of the type of valuable information you can find and how to interpret it.
This is where you start after logging in to www.RCI.com. Under each tab at the top, “Vacation Search & Deposits, Vacation Ideas, Air, Car, Cruise & More, Save With RCI and My Account,” you’ll find 4-8 categories you can click on for much more information.
Once at the directory, I clicked on the Caribbean & Bermuda tab (not pictured) which brought up a menu with 10 drop down categories, from “Region to Check-In Day of the Week,” that is loaded with much more information. Having all of this information at your fingertips is a giant plus as a timeshare owner saving you hours of research on the internet.
To see the resorts in the Caribbean & Bermuda, I clicked on “Region” dropdown menu on the left. You’ll see the results that opened on the right.
The picture shows there are 322 resorts in the region with more than 25 pages of listings. A quick glance immediately provides me with valuable exchange information. Circled in yellow you see that there are 134 resorts listed for the Dominican Republic and Turks and Caicos so there should be plenty of availability if I want to go to either of those 2 places.
You can also see that Bermuda, Grenada, and Haiti all have only 1 resort so I know to plan much more in advance if I want an exchange to one of these islands.
Clicking on the Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos listing circled in yellow above, opens the menu you see to the right. Once there, you will find that 129 of the resorts are in the Dominican Republic, leaving only 5 for the very popular Turks and Caicos. This completely changes my strategy of exchanging there. I now know I’ll have to request much earlier than I would if I had wanted to go to the Dominican Republic.
Were you to surf the resorts listed for the Dominican, you would find that nearly all 129 are MANDATORY All Inclusive.
Just a few minutes on the RCI website revealed very valuable insights about exchanging to the Caribbean. Waiting until you want to place an exchange request until discovering this information can negatively impact your plans and results.
A good strategy you can do beforehand is to navigate to the areas of the world you would like to visit and “favorite” the resorts that are most appealing to you. For instance, if you want to exchange to a beach resort, some of the resorts listed may be blocks from the beach rather than right on it. Adding to “Favorites” only those resorts you desire will save you a lot of time.
Both companies have thousands of resorts to choose from and are adding more every year. Their websites are intuitive, robust, and chalk full of information to help you plan a great timeshare exchange.
How to Exchange a Timeshare Tip #4: Questions are the Answers
When placing your request with RCI or Interval International make sure to ask how many weeks are deposited into the exchange pool during the time that you want to be there.
I don’t believe this information comes up automatically on the exchange counselor’s screen, so it’s not likely he is going to do your thinking for you. And with thousands of resorts, the counselor won’t know the answer off the top of his head. So you must ask him to look it up.
This may seem like common sense, but very few timeshare members know to ask this. And neither RCI nor II freely volunteer this information. The response you receive, however, will help you greatly in strategizing your request and increase your chances of getting your timeshare exchange.
In the previous tip, we found that the Turks and Caicos only had 5 resorts. In addition, I’d guess that the resorts are small, not like the giant ones in the Dominican Republic, so asking how many units are deposited annually from these resorts would be vital for planning an exchange there.
Beware of Local Holidays
Intuition will tell you that all of the major holiday weeks have a higher demand. In fact, each year, so many members have requested a holiday week that there is always a waiting list for them. In addition, the amount of holiday inventory actually deposited with RCI or II is far less than other weeks of the year. One reason for this is that holiday weeks are usually sold as fixed time AND for a substantial premium, so members are less likely to give them up for exchange. But, here is what isn’t so obvious!
The same thing occurs with local holidays that you are likely to be unaware of. For example, during the first 2 weekends of March each year, one of my favorite events is held in the Sonoma wine country. It’s called Barrel Tasting Weekend and has grown into a major local event. Under normal circumstances, the first 2 weeks of March wouldn’t be a very highly demanded time in the Sonoma wine country so one might assume it would be an easy exchange.
And even though the timeshare resorts most likely didn’t sell those weeks as fixed or for a premium, they have become high-demand for the members to use. So the supply of those weeks going into RCI and II has dwindled making it a much more difficult exchange.
Another example of a local holiday during an otherwise less demanded time of the year is the Bisbee’s Black and Blue Marlin Tournament in Cabo San Lucas. It’s the largest and richest marlin tournament in the world. It’s held last week in October and many of the people that own timeshares in Cabo are either fishing the tournament, watching it or renting out their units.
There are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of high demand local holiday weeks spread across the timeshare globe that the average timeshare member knows nothing about.
So now you can see how powerful it is to ask this one simple question. Doing so saves you from doing endless Google searches to find out if the week you want is highly demanded. You need only ask RCI or Interval International how many weeks are deposited. Armed with this information, you’ll be far better equipped to strategize your exchange request.
So far, in How to Exchange a Timeshare, I’ve covered 4 of the biggest problems timeshare members cause themselves when doing an exchange and what to do about it. By making these 4 simple changes, the quality of your timeshare exchanges will be much better.
And it’s about to get even better because now I’ll be sharing the 5th vital tip to How To Exchange a Timeshare and getting better timeshare exchanges. I call it strategizing your request.
Warning: without using this tip, you can forget about those other tips I just shared with you. This tip is that crucial. Avoid using this strategy, and you will render ineffective all of the good you’ve done up until this point in learning how to exchange a timeshare. First some background.
Unless you own one of the best timeshares in the world or you know and use all of the secrets, tricks, and strategies timeshare pros use, 9.9 times out of 10, RCI and Interval International will only show you availability in the less demanded resorts and times of the year.
The reason for this is straightforward and two-fold.
First, unlike the hotel reservation system, that can check future availability immediately, both RCI and II have to wait for individual timeshare members to deposit their weeks into their exchange pools. Only then can the weeks be made available for exchange. And both exchange companies receive deposits throughout the entire year and not all at one time.
So, the exchange pool inventory changes regularly with weeks both going in and coming back out. While your search may not yield results today, it could tomorrow or at a later date. Not knowing this, many timeshare members misinterpret “not available” to mean it will never become available and end up settling for what they can get. And this just isn’t the truth if you know what you are doing.
The second reason you see “not available” for your request, is because ALL of the best timeshare properties and best times of the year have a waiting list to get in. In other words, there is a list of people who have already requested the same thing that as you.
When the 3rd week of November in a hot property like the Westin in Maui DOES get deposited, Interval International automatically confirms it to the next person on the waiting list. It doesn’t, nor will it ever show up while you are browsing the site for availability. Consequently, you could check each day for the rest of the year and the results will be identical. “Not available.”
So whenever you hear or see “not available” for a resort of your liking, you need to get on the waiting list. RCI and Interval International call this making an “On-Going Search” or a “Pending Exchange Request.”
In fact, it’s the ONLY way to have a shot at getting into the best resorts and best times of the year.
Now, WHETHER your request becomes available will depend on WHERE you come in on that waiting list, and we’ll explore that in the next tip. Frankly, the more people that don’t understand what “not available” really means, the better your chances of getting the timeshare exchange you want.
As I mentioned in the last tip, there will ALWAYS be a waiting list for the best resorts and peak travel periods. There are three things to understand about how the waiting list functions.
- 1. The closer it is to the time you want to go, the longer the waiting list.
- The longer you wait to get on the waiting list, the fewer remaining weeks are left.
- Your position on the waiting list is constantly changing.
I could sum up the first two sentences by saying, “do things early,” but as usual in the timeshare world, the explanation is more complicated, so let’s take a look.
The Closer It Is To The Time You Want To Go, The Longer The Waiting List
Admittedly, the reason behind this is obvious, but stick with me, and I’ll tie it all together.
If you place an exchange request in February for Disney’s Beach Club Villas Resort in November, obviously the waiting list will be much shorter for that week than if you were to do it in July. As I said, forgive me for stating the obvious.
Now the reasoning behind the second isn’t quite that apparent.
The Longer You Wait To Get On The Waiting List, The Fewer Weeks Remain
Many timeshare members don’t understand the simple math behind timeshare exchange availability to their detriment. Let’s look at an example.
Disney’s Beach Club Villas have a total of 282 villas, which is larger than the average timeshare resort. That means for each week of the year, weeks 1-52, the maximum amount of units, or weeks, that can be deposited is 282. Of course, this will never happen.
Approximately 60% of timeshare members exchange their week every year. If that were true for this resort, then 169 units could be deposited with the exchange company for each week of the year. If that were to happen, getting an exchange there would be much easier than it is. What we need to factor in is that many of the people that buy a name brand timeshare, tend to exchange it less often. One reason for this is they paid more for the purchase and more in maintenance fees.
Let’s be generous and estimate that 40% of the members deposit their week for exchange. That would be a potential of 113 units for each week of the year. That’s still a pretty good number.
Disney’s Beach Club Villas, however, is part of the Disney Vacation Club. One of the benefits of belonging to a vacation club, is members don’t have to deposit their week to a third party exchange company like RCI or Interval International to transfer to another resort in the club. It’s done directly, so the exchange company receives even less inventory.
Again, being generous, let’s say that 20% of the members at Disney’s Beach Club Villas don’t want to use another Disney Resort, but want to exchange to somewhere Disney doesn’t have one. That pencil’s out to only 56 units deposited for the year.
By waiting until July to put in your request, 40 of them may have already been deposited and confirmed to other members on the waiting list. So your already slim chances of getting in are even more greatly diminished.
For more information on this see “How to Exchange into Top Brand Name Timeshares.”
So by waiting to put in your request, you’re hit with a double whammy. Fewer remaining weeks and a much longer waiting list. There is a workaround for this problem which is the tip I give below, but we must first deal with the third problem.
Your Position On The Waiting List Is Constantly Changing
Just placing your request as far in advance as possible doesn’t mean you’ll be put at the top of the waiting list and remain there. It helps, and I certainly recommend doing that, but your position on the waiting list changes from day to day, moving ever closer to your goal OR further away.
For example, if you’re third from the top of the waiting list to get confirmed, you may be bumped down to the 4th position even if I placed my request after you if I’ve maximized my exchange power.
And to make matters worse, neither RCI nor Interval International will tell anyone where they’re currently at on the waiting list. Imagine the problems they would have if they said that you were number 956 on the waiting list, or that you WERE number 2, but you’re now number 15?
Their members would be even more frustrated with exchanging and more likely to give up altogether. That would result in RCI and Interval International not only losing the yearly membership dues, but also the exchange fees. So your position on the waiting list depends not only on when you place your request but just as importantly, your exchange power. So what’s the answer?
The most common mistake members make when starting an On-Going Search, or a Pending Exchange Request is not giving RCI and II enough options. They think they are giving plenty, but in reality, it’s not, especially if they have destroyed their exchange power.
They pick three or four of the best resorts that RCI and II have to offer, start a pending search then sit back and wait to be confirmed. This kind of search will only work if you’re a pro.
When you don’t know how to exchange a timeshare like a Ninja, you have to think of it like fishing. Quite simply, the broader you cast your net, the more fish you catch. So don’t be afraid to request 8, 10, 15 or more resorts in the beginning. Once you’ve learned how to maximize both your exchange AND request power, you can be far more selective.
Just as there are many powerful ways to get more trading power, there are also many strategies you can use to enhance your requesting power. Far too many to cover in this article. But a good start is to remember to request many different resorts as far in advance as possible, so you don’t get hit with the double whammy!
Many people mistakenly believe that their resort’s built in trading power is their only source when it comes to exchanging their timeshare. While it’s true that all resorts come with a built in trading power, there are however, many other things you can do that will significantly enhance BOTH your exchange and request power.
How to Exchange a Timeshare Tip #7: How to Deposit a Floating or Points Based Week Early
In the very first tip of How to Exchange a Timeshare, I recommended to always bank next year’s week in the first quarter of this year. That straightforward and essential recommendation still stands. It may seem, therefore, unnecessary for me to even include Tip #7. I do so for two reasons: first, you need to know what to do if you can’t do this and second, the even deeper understanding you will acquire of how timeshare works will be invaluable to you over the years.
I sincerely wish I would not have had to include this step, as it was by far the most challenging and in-depth tip for me to articulate. It is, therefore, quite lengthy. After this tip, it’s all easy going so stick with me.
The strategies for how to deposit a floating week early are nearly identical for points-based timeshares, but I’ll treat them separately. The floating week portion will contain all of the detail so points members AND fixed week members should read this.
Typically, floating week and points members can use their vacation time any week of the year except Christmas and New Year. There are exceptions, but for simplicity, we’ll assume this for our example.
Since they have until mid-December to use their week many members mistakenly believe they have until then to deposit it with RCI or II. Big mistake!
If you’re confused about exchanging a floating week with RCI or II, you’re not alone. Unlike fixed week timeshare owners, that know that if they own week 46, they will be banking that specific week, floating week owners seldom grasp that a specific week will be deposited for them as well. Both RCI and II work on a quid pro quo basis. You deposit a week with them, and they’ll let you take one back out.
But EXACTLY which week is your Owner Services Department going to bank for you?
First, I’ll walk you through how the typical timeshare member starts an exchange that destroys their exchange power. We’ll then explore a better way that guarantees more exchange power and better results.
- Joe Timeshare Exchanger calls his Owner Services Department on May 10th and tells them he wants to use his week this year to do an exchange. Owner Services takes the 3rd week of September off of the inventory and reserves it in Joe’s name. They give Joe a reservation number.
- About a month later, Joe calls his exchange company with the reservation number and gives them 4 resorts he’d like.
- His request is “Not Available” so he either starts an On-Going Search with RCI or Pending Exchange Request with Interval International or, more commonly just takes what is available.
Very simple but all wrong. Joe will never get a great exchange.
Here’s how Jeri does her exchange.
- Jeri calls her Owner Services Department (OSD) in February to let them know she wants to deposit this year’s week with her exchange company.
- She specifically asks her OSD to deposit a week at least nine months from her call in date.
- The OSD takes the 3rd week in November off of their inventory, assigns it to Jeri and gives her a reservation number.
- Because Jeri has previously gone through the exchange company’s website and has a list of 12 different resorts she’d accept for an exchange, she calls them with the reservation number and starts a search.
- If none of the resorts are available, she begins an ongoing search.
Jeri’s exchange request will be confirmed.
Pretty simple but so far, but as is common with timeshare, it gets more complicated.
Does Your Resort Bulk Bank?
Unbeknownst to many members of floating or points based timeshares, the Owner Services Department of many resorts bulk bank weeks with RCI and II. It is imperative for you to find out if your resort does this.
Bulk banking is the Department’s estimation of the number of members wanting to do an exchange that year, then depositing those weeks in advance. All well-run resorts bulk bank weeks to the benefit of their members.
The reason they do this is to help their members from destroying their exchange power by depositing their week late. An all too common occurrence in floating and points based timeshares is an owner calling in July, August or later to have their week deposited because about the only thing they know when it comes to exchanging is that they will have another two years to use it.
When that happens, as it does at every resort, the Owner Services Department can assign a previously bulk banked week to the member that has some exchange power.
For example, When a member in a resort that doesn’t bulk bank calls in September to have a week deposited, the resort has to deposit an October, November or December week because the year is almost over. That banked week is nearly worthless to either RCI or II, and consequently, they heavily penalize the member in return. Quid pro quo.
When the same thing happens in a resort that bulk banks, the resort can assign an October, November or December week without penalty because the resort deposited it in January.
Deposit Strategy When Your Resort Bulk Banks
- Ask your Owner Services Department if they are assigning you a bulk banked week
- If yes, which week is it?
- When was it bulk banked?
- Is there at least a nine-month spread between the time the resort deposited it and the check-in day?
- Ask if they can bank a week with a 12-month spread? (you’ll get more exchange power.)
- Once you have your reservation number, wait 24 hours and call your exchange company with it and place your request.
It’s possible that the Owner Services Department at your resort will not know how important that 12-month spread is and tell you it doesn’t matter. IT DOES, so be strong.
Points based timeshares are growing and seem to be the preferred type of membership offered by developers today. All of the top name brand hotel companies that have timeshare divisions like Marriott, Disney, Hyatt, Lawrence Welk, Diamond, Starwood, and Hilton, to name a few, are points based.
Although points based timeshares offer the most flexibility, there are several more layers of complexity. Fortunately, doing an exchange from a points-based membership is nearly the same as was just described for floating weeks, with one additional step.
That step is for the member to determine how large of a unit he wants banked with RCI or II.
Typically points based members can choose to deposit any size unit from a studio to three bedrooms. The larger the unit, the more points deducted from their annual allotment. Floating and fixed week owners are stuck banking the size of the unit they own.
The most common misconception made by points members is that they are depositing POINTS with RCI and Interval International. Not so. Both companies only accept inventory in the form of weeks. And those weeks are in studios, one, two, three bedrooms, or more.
Points based club members should follow all of the strategies previously outlined for floating week members including those for bulk banking.
To further confuse things, when you bank a week with RCI, whether it’s from a fixed, floating or points-based club, they assign it a point value. Members of points-based timeshares need to understand that the number of points you use out of your annual allotment to do and exchange, and the number of points RCI awards you for banking your week are mutually exclusive.
While your club deducts 100,000 points to bank a two bedroom unit with RCI, another resort may deduct 100 because each club will have a unique point schedule.
If the cost of a week in a two bedroom at either resort was $20,000, then the cost per point was only .20 at one resort and $200 at the other. If RCI awards 50,000 points for a two bedroom deposit to both resorts because they are the same quality and in the same region, the member that used 100,000 points to get 50,000 RCI points feels hosed while the member that used 100 thinks he got a great deal. In reality, they both received the same value.
Did I mention this is complicated?
Interval International works the same as RCI when assigning trading power to the weeks deposited into their pool. Each deposit is worth a certain number of points, but the member is not made aware of what it is. The member only knows that he has approximately two years to use the week and he can trade “like for like.”
Your Best Deposit Strategy
If this all seems complicated, it is. Most timeshare salespeople don’t know what you are learning in this article. If you want to make your timeshare exchange life super simple, then follow the very first tip I gave you. In the first three months of each year, pay next year’s maintenance fees and bank that week. Simple.
How to Exchange a Timeshare Tip #8: How to Deposit a Fixed Week
After reading the last few tips, you may see why I miss the simplicity of fixed week timeshares. They’re not being sold much anymore, but I wouldn’t recommend against them.
Points clubs are now the predominate model and add far more flexibility, but come with a lot more rules, planning and complications. To use points effectively, you must know these standards intimately. If you do, points based clubs are a great value. It is common, however, for many members to lose some of their points each year because they failed to plan their use effectively. But I digress.
To get the most power from your fixed week, just make sure to bank it at least nine months in advance of your check-in date. Even better, always bank next year’s week this year.
If your fixed week is between January and June of each year, you will already be doing this. Just make sure if you own a January week you bank it no later than March of the previous year. You have to be on your toes.
Some resorts allow you to bank up to 2 years in advance. If you own at one of these resorts, and you know you are going to exchange, by all means, do it. I always deposited my Whistler weeks two years in advance, and it was one of the reasons I got a four bedroom penthouse in Hawaii with my non-Gold Crown, summer one bedroom.
About a week after you receive your confirmation call the resort, not your exchange company, to confirm your reservation. Verify the size unit you’re staying in and arrival date.
Only once in my more than 50 timeshare exchanges did a resort not have my reservation but it was in Hawaii. If I hadn’t double checked I would have paid the airfare and car rental only for them to tell me I didn’t have a room. What a disaster! It seldom happens, but it’s worth a quick phone call to be sure.
Once you’ve spoken with reservations, take the opportunity to talk to the concierge or activities director. Besides asking about them about the must do activities in the area, make sure to ask which you should reserve in advance.
For instance, the horseback ride into Haleakala Crater on Maui is usually booked up 1 or 2 months in advance since only a limited amount of people are allowed in each day.
How to Exchange a Timeshare Tip #10: What to Do if You Are Unhappy
As the timeshare industry matures, and with the entry of nearly every major brand name hotel chain in the US, we’re now seeing built spectacular timeshare properties in many great destination areas.
There are, unfortunately, still quite a few older, run down properties listed in both RCI and II. If you end up in one of them, and you’re legitimately unhappy with your exchange, here are some actions you can take.
Unlike hotels, most timeshare properties require you to check in on either one of two days, Saturday or Sunday. That means the majority of available rooms fill up quickly.
You will always want to be at the front desk 30 to 60 minutes before official check-in time so you can be one of the first to get a room. For the majority of timeshare resorts, check-in is usually at 4 p.m. That way, if you are unhappy with your room, you can request another before they are all filled. The longer you wait, the harder this will get.
Many exchangers make the mistake of sight seeing all day and eating dinner before checking in and end up with the worst rooms. So get checked in and then go out and about.
If your room is next to a noisy generator and the screen doors are falling off the tracks, you have a legitimate complaint. Immediately head back to the front desk to see about being moved.
Time is of the essence, so don’t unpack and don’t phone from the room. When dealing with this situation, face-to-face contact is better. Ask to speak to the manager about your concerns. He’ll most likely move you if he can but the longer you wait, the less chance you have.
If he can’t or won’t move you, then you should IMMEDIATELY get on the phone with your exchange company to see if you can be transferred to another resort nearby. Getting into another resort might not be possible, especially during peak season but it’s worth a try.
If your exchange company can’t, or won’t move you, there is one more action you can take to prevent your vacation from being a total loss. Document and photograph everything and ask your exchange company to credit back a week to your account.
Once you’ve placed an Ongoing Search with RCI or a Pending Exchange Request with II, it will most likely take some time before you are confirmed. If you have put in place all of the strategies outlined in this article, it will take less time, but one of the things no one can be certain of is the exact date your request will be confirmed.
I recommend you check back with RCI and Interval International at least once a week and ask them for their recommendations. The exchange counselors have their finger on the pulse and can often come up with great suggestions to add or change your request.
The key point is the more conversations you have with RCI or II, as well as with your Owner Services Department, will make you better at using your timeshare efficiently.
To Quote the Scottish Poet Robert Burns, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”
You’ve started your request, have applied all of the strategies recommended in this guide, are checking back frequently with your exchange company, but your confirmation still hasn’t come through.
Before too much time goes by, you need to plan how you are going to change your request if not confirmed by a specified date. Too often, timeshare exchangers start their search for their August family vacation in January, then forget about it until July. In the timeshare exchange world, they are dead in the water.
Any summer vacation search should be started at least nine months in advance unless you are a pro. Therefore, you should be putting in your request in November or December of the previous year. Starting your next year’s search in the preceding year is a highly recommended practice as both RCI and Interval International get a flood of weeks deposited by members in the first three months of the year.
If your exchange request hasn’t been approved by late January, you should ask for help and recommendations. The same can be said if not confirmed by the first of April and if no confirmation by mid-June, your chances are slim to none.
At that point, you’ll have some hard decisions to make. You can cancel that search and start a new one for a different time of year, or keep the same search and change the dates to next August, but you must have an alternate plan.
If you have followed all of the recommendations in this guide, this is not a likely scenario, but you should have a Plan B.
In this article, I have given you not only the simple steps and useful tips to get your exchange request started but also the far more complicated mechanics of using a timeshare. This knowledge of why things are the way they are in timeshare will benefit you greatly in the years to come.
Whether you want to buy more weeks or upgrade your membership, rent out your week, use it at your home resort, or exchange it, of course, you are now better informed than the majority of timeshare members and many of the salespeople.
The steps for trading your timeshare are simple, and I’m confident that by applying them you will be far better off than the average exchanger. But there is a lot more you can do if you want to become a Timeshare Exchange Ninja and get into the best resorts, in the best times of year in the shortest amount of time.
The problem is, and always has been, the lack of useful information on the subject, and a precise “How To” guide, to help the timeshare owner master the difficult art of getting the best timeshare exchanges.
Not any longer. I have written two books exclusively on this subject that have already sold thousands of copies worldwide. They are called The Timeshare Exchange Bibles and give you an easy step-by-step blueprint that is guaranteed to get you the best results. If you liked the content in this article, you will love The Timeshare Exchange Bibles.
There is one Bible each for RCI and Interval International. They come with a 100% Unconditional Money Back Guarantee that if you don’t believe them to be the best information on exchanging your timeshare period, you will get your money back. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
You’ve already spent tens of thousands of dollars buying your timeshare and thousands more on fees. Now for the price of lunch, you can enjoy your timeshare to its fullest.
One of the top 3 reasons timeshare owners give as a reason for their purchase is to exchange it to other locations. And, one of the top 3 reasons timeshare owners give for wanting to sell their timeshare was the difficulty of getting a good exchange.
You can expect the same quality of content found in this article to be found in The Timeshare Exchange Bibles. And more. I’ve uncovered secrets and strategies of exchanging timeshares that very few people know, and I’ve revealed them all to help you become a master at it.
Don’t wait, get The Timeshare Exchange Bible today. Click Here to see a video of them.
Have an issue that needs personal attention?
If you have a specific issue with your timeshare and would like to speak with me privately, I do a limited amount of personal consultations each month. We will get on the phone for up to 45 minutes to discuss your situation with either your RCI or Interval International timeshare. The Timeshare Exchange Bible and all eight bonuses are included in the consultation fee of $197. If you have already purchased the Bible, I will discount the consultation fee by that amount.
For less than the price of a single exchange, you will have a session with your own private timeshare expert who will answer all your questions about anything to do with your timeshare, not just exchanging.
To make sure you get the most value from the consultation, you will fill out a short form with the details of your membership that I will analyze before the call.
Click Here or the “Buy Now” button below to purchase your consultation and the form will be emailed to you along with a calendar link to schedule your appointment right away.
Jeff Pierce – The Timeshare Expert
1RCI Disclosure Guide
Interval International Buyer’s Guide
How to Exchange a Timeshare: The Definitive Guide