When you think about the word timeshare, what comes to your mind? Maybe a nice log cabin or a beach house waiting for you to go to once a year. Some timeshares still work that way but now you can get timeshares that let you travel to many places all over the world.
This sounds awesome, doesn’t it? You buy the timeshare and then you have it for life and you can travel anywhere in the world for practically free. At least that is what these resorts make it sound like. It is not so.
While buying a timeshare has its advantages, there are many, many disadvantages to doing so. My husband and I purchased one about a year and a half ago and have used it several times. However, we have noticed that we would have probably been better off not buying it at all. Here are some reasons why:
1. Timeshares are not very good for spontaneous traveling, especially in high season. Let’s say you are feeling like you really need a vacation and go to your timeshare and want to find out what’s available. Sure, there might be a couple of places here and there but you won’t have much selection. You might have to end up renting a regular hotel at the place you really want to go to instead of going through the hassle of going to wherever is available through the timeshare.
2. There aren’t as many resorts available as they made you think. When you buy a timeshare they dazzle you with the possibility of traveling all over the world, telling you a huge amount of resorts. You think, “Wow, so many? Surely I will be able to just go anywhere!” Not so fast. While some timeshare purchasers might be world travelers, most of us aren’t. Most of us will never go to Africa or Asia and we have to simply stay local most years. Do not let them impress you with tales of world travel unless you are already doing it.
3. Hidden Fees. When they tell you how much you are going to pay a month, you aren’t counting in all the other fees. Sure, they might tell you in passing but they are obviously going to highlight the advantages. You have to pay a maintenance fee every year or every two years ranging from $300-$600. If you belong to RCI (for more information on RCI, go to http://www.rci.com ), you must pay a $99 yearly fee. Every time you go to a resort you must pay a fee depending on your stay. If you are staying for less than a week most likely you will have to pay a housekeeping fee and they don’t even clean your room every day. Some resorts charge you to park your car and for the use of a safe deposit, even if you didn’t use it. If you want to give your reservation as a gift to someone else, you must pay $50 for a “guest certificate”. All of these fees you will continue to incur in even after you finish buying your timeshare and even if you barely use it.
4. Resell Values are horrible. You buy your timeshare and you think, “Well, if it doesn’t work, I can always sell it.” Wrong. Yes, you can sell it but the resell values are awfully low. If you haven’t finished paying chances are you will not get enough to pay off your debt and if you have finished paying it, you will not get your investment back. There are many websites that claim to help you resell your timeshare but they either want money up-front or a huge commission or both!
5. They are too expensive. If you purchase a timeshare from a specific resort, chances are you are paying too much for it. If you absolutely need to buy a timeshare do it from one of those reselling websites or from ebay.
6. They will send you to collections too quickly. My husband and I moved twice after purchasing the timeshare and we changed our address with RCI but not with the actual timeshare. We didn’t know when we were supposed to pay the maintenance fee so it was past due since they sent us a letter to our old address. All of sudden I receive a collections letter and I called my timeshare. I asked them why I hadn’t received a phone call from them and I was informed that that is why they hired a collection agency, so they wouldn’t have to make phone calls. I understand I made a mistake, but come on, I am paying for an expensive time share here, shouldn’t their customer service be a little bit more cooperative? The bank where I am paying off my car has called me a couple of times, but my timeshare can’t.
7. The interest rates are up to the roof. I have pretty decent credit and I got approved for the loan immediately. However, they are charging me a 16% interest rate. When we purchased it we were so excited we believed them when they told us that if we sent extra payments through the years we would finish paying it quicker. It seemed to me we were not the only ones that had to pay such a high interest rate.
8. They won’t let you cancel your reservation after 24 hours. Once you reserve your room and 24 hours go by you can forget about getting your money or points back if you have to cancel. Your only hope is to transfer your reservation to someone else and that will cost you $50.
9. Many of these places are still “under construction”. It doesn’t happen all the time but many of these resorts aren’t complete yet so they don’t have everything that their webpage boasts. They don’t let you know if the pool or Jacuzzi isn’t working either.
10. Even if you have “points” they aren’t enough most of the time. If you purchase a timeshare that includes a point system, they never end up being enough and they are always trying to sell you more. This is especially true if you are trying to vacation in high season.
If I had known a bit more about what timeshares entitle, I would have definitely not have purchased. Be careful and investigate before you make the same mistake.