Bad news, travelers: Airbnbs are no longer the budget option they used to be. Traveling was already nightmarishly expensive. So, strike another money-saving technique off your list.
Another way travelers have saved money on travel for years is with a timeshare. Just like the once-great Airbnb, timeshares may have seen their glory days come to a close. It begs the question: are timeshares worth it anymore?
There is a good chance your resort or hotel tried to sit you in on their timeshare presentation spiel. Don’t be too quick to pull the trigger. Allow us to inform you of the complex reality timeshares present.
In this guide, we’ll discuss everything you could possibly want to know about timeshare ownership. Most importantly, if the timeshare price will be worth it to you.
What Is a Timeshare?
A timeshare is a form of fractional ownership. It’s a contractual agreement between you and a hotel, resort, or chain of vacation accommodations. As per the name “fractional,” you “own” a portion of the property.
You pay them on average, about $24,000, depending on the type of timeshare and hotel chain. In return, you get exclusive access to one or several of their resorts.
Each year, you redeem a guaranteed position in a room for a brief vacation stay. It works by a point system. You get an annual, fixed set of points that you can redeem for that year only–almost never with rollover potential.
Timeshares come in different varieties. Typically though, are you on the contract for a fixed period. Some people may own the timeshare for life.
In some cases, you may have a deeded timeshare. This means your own a portion of the property in a collective with owners of the same timeshare.
A timeshare limits you to the hotels and resorts stipulated in your contract. This could be one single venue or multiple. Once you sign the bottom line, though, you’re locked into that resort.
Generally speaking, this is not a contract you can cancel or alter with ease. Buying a timeshare provides little flexibility if you have second thoughts later.
Something that tends to blindside people is the responsibilities that come with timeshare ownership. You see, this is not simply a prepaid hotel reservation. There are many other strings attached.
For starters, you may be responsible for financing general upkeep and renovations. Think of this like all the worst aspects of owning realty. You have limited access to the property but are on the hook for its maintenance.
To make matters worse, you have to coordinate your efforts with other timeshare owners. Again, this is a form of very loose joint ownership. Your fellow joint owners could be people in other states, perhaps even other countries–further complicating coordination.
At the end of the day, somebody has to foot the bill. Uncooperative owners could make life hell. They could easily force you to step up to the plate, financially for fees and coverage.
What a Timeshare Is Not
We know what a timeshare is. Just as important, though, is knowing what it is not. This is where many common misconceptions spring up.
Let’s set the record straight and establish a handful of things a timeshare is not or cannot be.
Timeshares Are Not Investments
Timeshares seem, on the surface, to be a form of realty. After all, you have partial ownership of the property. With that ownership comes typical responsibilities, such as the upkeep mentioned earlier.
Timeshares cost a lot of money. They sit at the heart of the lucrative tourism and vacation industry. It’s easy to see why some people mistake them for investment opportunities.
It’s pretty easy to tell when something is an investment and when it is not. A good investment appreciates in value over time and generates revenue, such as through interest.
There may be dips and downturns. Generally, though, the long-term trend goes up and up.
Ask the investment experts themselves: timeshares are not investments. They do not appreciate. Do not purchase a timeshare with the hope of making dividends or saving for retirement.
They’re Not Rental Properties
Ask any hotel-contracted salesman trying to pitch a timeshare, and they’ll say you can rent it out. Unfortunately, this is a myth that the vacation industry still kicks around.
Remember how we said a timeshare is like being a property owner minus all the benefits? A timeshare is a form of fractional ownership. You do not have full control–nor full rights–over a property.
Sure, some people are able to rent out their timeshares. The devil is in the details, though. Many hotels will strictly prohibit you from renting your timeshare space to someone else.
A salesman who wants you to buy something will tell you anything you want to hear. If you ask them about the option to rent, they will likely tell you yes. It’s only deep in the contract boilerplate that you may learn you’d be breaching the contract.
They’re Not Exclusive Access
Hang on, you might be saying. We mentioned in the intro that timeshares are exclusive access to a hotel or resort chain. Unfortunately, when it comes to timeshares, the word “exclusive” is conditional.
Yes, you will have the first pick of the hotel bookings litter compared to non-timeshare guests. Someone perusing deals through Expedia has to wait in line behind you. But that’s only for available bookings.
Unbeknownst to you, the hotel will have blackout dates. Regardless of timeshare ownership, you cannot book on blackout dates. Operator discounts and advantages–timeshares included–get no special preference.
These are a resort’s busiest, most profitable seasons. The ones you most likely want to go during. Blackout dates keep you from filling them up early–prioritizing instead non-discount, non-perk bookings.
Further, things work on a first-come, first-served basis. Other timeshare owners will fight tooth and nail to get a spot before you. If you miss your chance, tough luck!
It’s Not Easy to Sell
That same tricky salesman will likely throw another lie at you: timeshares are easy to sell. They’ll say there’s no reason to fret about having an unwanted timeshare at some future date. You can simply sell it on a marketplace and dust your hands off.
To get some credit to the salesman, it is a half-truth. You are able to sell your timeshare and transfer ownership. But without the help of a timeshare exit company, this is far more difficult than you would expect.
Many, many people like you are trying to sell their timeshares. And since they don’t appreciate, people always sell them at a loss.
Then add on the fact that many people are skeptical of timeshares these days. They’re less keen to purchase them without a salesman dripping poison in their ear.
The end result? You will be hard-pressed to find a soul who will take your offer.
It’s Challenging to Cancel
Last but not least, travel salesmen may tell you that canceling is a possibility. To be fair, there are some options for canceling your timeshare. All of them, though, are not the most appetizing.
You have a tiny window known as a rescission period where you can back out of a contract. This is usually only about 3-15 days immediately after signing. You usually get a full refund without any monetary penalty.
Of course, most people don’t realize that they don’t want their timeshare until much later. At that point, they have to sell to a marketplace like we mentioned above. Or, they can try to convince the resort to buy it back–both for less than you paid.
Benefits of a Timeshare
To be fair, we are being perhaps a bit too harsh on timeshares. They do have a place–albeit one that’s rarely worth it.
Let’s discuss a few situations where timeshares dance for their dinner.
Saving Money on a Single Resort or Hotel
Are you a predictable vacationer? Take for example, a couple that goes to San Diego every summer and has done so for years. They have no plans to go anywhere else or change up their vacation.
Reserving the same hotel online is the most expensive option. Even with coupons and early bird savings, it’s a not-insignificant cost. That’s where a timeshare saves the most.
In this unique situation, a timeshare could prove to be more affordable. However, there are some considerations even in this idyllic scenario. Upkeep costs and others could turn it from something affordable into something that isn’t.
Joint Ownership with Friends and Family
Naturally, the average person cannot shell out $24,000 to pre-book vacations. Most people rely on yearly bonuses and raises to fund their vacations. For a single person or even a family, a timeshare feels more like a mortgage than vacation savings.
However, they can be a worthwhile investment (for personal use) with a group of people. Say, for example, with a group of immediate or extended family. This way, they can split the cost amongst themselves.
People then split up the points they get each year. One family vacations one year at that resort, then another family the next. They trade off, giving equal access as needed.
Some Flexibility and Perks
Some timeshares force you to work with a set of predetermined rooms. In most cases, though, you’ll be able to select from a variety of suite options. Depending on the date, you may be able to choose from any room in the resort.
Further, the points system works a lot like buying a room with actual money. The more points you have, the better room upgrades you can get. You can spend all of your points on a luxury suite for a shorter period than an economy-class room.
There may also be timeshare-exclusive perks. You might get cheaper upgrades, discounts on food, and so on. This depends entirely on the resort chain, however.
Downsides of a Timeshare
Most people are looking to cancel their timeshare mortgage. Clearly, this is a broken system that many people are trying to escape.
Let’s dig deeper into the primary downsides of owning a timeshare.
It Limits Your Vacation Options
Remember, a timeshare only allows you to book with a specific hotel or resort. If you are lucky, it’s a chain of hotels or resorts. They might have different locations across the country–or the world.
Even in the latter case, though, your options are severely limited. It’s highly unlikely that your timeshare company owns properties at all of your vacation bucket list destinations. Plain and simple, you have fewer vacation options as a result.
Most people only have two weeks of vacation per year. That limits them to one or two trips. Considering how expensive the average vacation is, most people splurge on a big one.
With so little time and money, you’d be forced to use your timeshare. This would deprive you of many wonderful vacation opportunities elsewhere.
We cannot stress this enough: timeshares have more than just the upfront cost. Those upkeep dues and renovation fees are always lurking beyond the horizon. The time may come when you will be spending an exorbitant amount to keep your timeshare.
The thing is, most companies are sneaky about this. They limit your financial obligations during the initial years of a timeshare. This gives the impression that yes, you only paid the upfront amount.
As the years go by, though, they shift more of the burden to you. Soon, you are paying far more than you ever expected to pay. What was once a way to save money becomes a millstone around your neck.
It Can Be Difficult to Get Rid of
Otherwise, a timeshare is very difficult to escape from. This is on purpose. Timeshare companies build contracts in such a way that they lock you in.
Most timeshares only last for a certain amount of time, such as 20 years. But some may last for the rest of your life–and into your children’s lives, too.
It May Take Time Before You Realize It’s Not Worth It
Perhaps the worst of the downsides on this list is this one. Simply put, you don’t know how long it will take before you realize your timeshare was a mistake. Certainly, though, it will be when it’s too late to cancel.
There’s always a messy honeymoon period for the first few years. Timeshare owners take their discounted vacations and feel a vindicated sense of satisfaction. However, the doubts creep in steadily.
Perhaps you see how the bills coming in are larger than you anticipated. Or perhaps you realize how inflexible a timeshare can be for the average vacation. You begin to read things online that make you realize how restrictive–and suffocating–a timeshare is.
Years later, you come to the realization that your timeshare was a waste. Unfortunately, you’ve already used a significant portion of it. If you do manage to sell it, you will only make a pittance compared to the original price.
Are Timeshares Worth It?
The question you’ve all been waiting for. Are timeshares worth it despite a litany of potential downsides?
For the vast majority of people, the answer is simple: NO, they are not worth it. This is evidenced by the fact that 85% of people regret purchasing their timeshare.
That’s right, only 15% of people think their timeshare was worth it. That number does not inspire any confidence.
Think for a second. When would it ever be a good thing for 15% of people to be unhappy with something they purchased? A product with 15% approval would promptly put its company out of business.
It’s clear that timeshare companies have pulled the wool over our eyes. Their marketing has successfully convinced us of timeshare utility despite all the evidence to the contrary.
Timeshares Are Deceptive
It’s important to understand that timeshares are deceptive on purpose. Think of how a hotel or resort approaches you about them. They often attempt to wine and dine you, providing free food or entertainment to attend a pitch meeting.
They do so when you are happy and relaxed. When you are counting down the days till your beloved, long-awaited vacation is over. Who knows, you may even be drunk or well-fed at the time.
The unfortunate reality is that businesses that sell timeshares have no interest in transparency. A timeshare allows them to make a pretty penny. In the process, they offset some of their operating costs to some sucker they got to sign.
Timeshares Are Rarely Advantageous
Understand that timeshares do have advantages. However, these advantages pale in comparison to the disadvantages. Getting your money’s worth may only happen in select cases.
Sure, you may save money in the long term at a single resort. Yet the cost of maintenance and upkeep tends to counterbalance any savings you get. At the very least, you simply have no way of knowing when a timeshare could turn into a burden for you.
Timeshares Only Benefit a Small Few
Let’s address the elephant in the room: timeshares take advantage of less-financially-able people. Not poor people, mind. Rather, those who aren’t prepared for a rainy day when the timeshare backfires on them.
Timeshares are great for individuals with solid financial reserves. If regretting a timeshare doesn’t cripple you financially, then you are one of the few it’s ideal for. For the rest of us, they are a financial drag.
You might be one of the lucky ones who own a timeshare in conjunction with your family. If that’s the case–and you’re enjoying it–then congrats! Just know you are an anomaly amongst a sea of dissatisfied owners.
How to Get Rid of a Timeshare
Chances are, you are reading this article because you have a timeshare. You have tried your hardest to justify your purchase. Regardless, you’ve come to a cold realization: a timeshare is not for you.
After reading this article, though, you may be feeling disheartened. After all, didn’t we just say that selling a timeshare is nigh on impossible?
Fortunately, there are timeshare exit companies that specialize in helping people transfer or exit their timeshares.
How It Works
As you may have noticed, the people who sell timeshares use all sorts of sneaky tactics. They cajole and coerce you by any means necessary until you sign. Then they provide misleading information to prevent you from exercising your rights.
Let’s discuss how a timeshare exit company can help you get out of your timeshare.
First, it’s important to gather as much information about your timeshare as possible. This includes your full legal name, address, email, and so on. It will also include when you purchased the timeshare and your identifying membership information.
You will be writing a statement of intention that demonstrates your desire to cancel your contract. This is the first step towards getting your money back.
Identifying Illegal Loopholes
Many of the tactics that timeshare salesmen use are straight-up illegal. Take for example, the following:
- They make up tax benefits from purchasing a timeshare
- They failed to mention critical fees and limitations
- They intimidated or scared you into signing
- They didn’t tell you about your rescission period
- They withheld your gift until you signed
Taking Your Case to Court
Contracts can become non-enforceable in certain situations. Namely, if one party is deceptive and not forthcoming when pushing for your signature.
Many, many people have been able to cancel their timeshare by canceling in response to these unethical practices. Again, salesmen work very hard to bully people into these contracts. The law is on your side if you experienced coercion when signing.
Get Your Money Back
If all goes well–and you have good reason to believe it will–you can get your money back. You’ll be free from your timeshare at long last.
Transfer Your Timeshare
If your timeshare exit company cannot successfully cancel your timeshare, they can help you transfer. This hands it off to someone who wants and needs it–freeing you.
Hire Lonestar for Your Timeshare Cancelation
Are timeshares worth it? All evidence would seem to point to a resounding no, with a few small exceptions. Few people should get a timeshare and will only benefit from them in unique circumstances.
Lonestar Transfer knows timeshares inside and out. We’ve helped many people like you free themselves from a burdensome timeshare. Contact us today for help getting rid of yours.