Are timeshares worth it?
In my lifetime I’ve owned 1 timeshare and that was more than enough for me to last a 100 lifetimes. I’m going to be completely honest, I lost a lot of money when it comes to timeshares but I don’t want to make this another one of those everybody hates timeshares articles without at least covering the benefits of them as well.
In the end I want to give you the view from both sides of the fence to help you make a more informed decision of whether this is really the best choice for you. After all this is the whole reason I started this blog was to help people make better financial choices.
My hope is that this article helps you consider some of the hidden factors that most people don’t know before they buy a timeshare as well.
I’m also going to be honest and up front and say that I am not a big fan of them as you can probably already tell and their are a lot of people who back this up from Dave Ramsey to Clark Howard but again I want this to be your decision.
Finally, if you have any questions after reading this article feel free to ask them below in the comments section and I would be glad to help you out.
So with that said read on…
Benefits to Owning a Timeshare
To start here are some of the benefits I know of when it comes to timeshares you may or may not have thought of. If you know of any other benefits than the one I’ve mentioned please feel free to share them below in the comments.
#1 Allows You To Have a Nice Place To Go On Vacation
The first benefit is that it allows you to have a nice place to go on vacation every year. For most people we don’t always get the option to go someplace nice for a vacation and with a timeshare this is definitely an option.
I know the unit I owned in Aruba was very nice. It had two big swimming pools, hot tubs, a nice restaurant, and a nice view. It wasn’t right on the ocean or anything but it was still a nice place.
#2 Inexpensive Compared To All Inclusive
Back a few years ago I actually did a comparison between which was cheaper to do a timeshare or an all inclusive vacation. You can see my results by checking out this article here.
What I found even with all the extra cost is that the timeshare was still cheaper. The only thing was is that I was comparing this against the resort that I owned which was on the cheaper side of things.
I paid right around $4500 for my timeshare but if you got something like a Mariott which my brother in-law bought in Aruba you may have paid upwards of $25,000 or more.
In this case the numbers may have not penciled out as well but if you were on the cheaper end of things it might still be worth it to go the timeshare route.
Side Note: Even though I’m saying timeshares can be a cheaper route please read the rest of this article before you make a final decision.
#3 Rent it Out To Friends, Family, and Guest
Another great benefit is that people often tell me is that they may not be able to use it every year, in that case I recommend you rent it out. This is the great thing about timeshares is that you don’t have to be the one always using it.
You can rent it out to friends, family, or even put it up on Craigslist to rent it out to someone. Now I should mention that their is a fee to do this but even with this small fee you’ll at least make a nice little profit for renting it out.
If you rent your timeshare for a $100 a day it’s still going to be cheaper than going to any other resort so why not earn some money from it when you’re not using it.
#4 You Get a Whole Week
Next with timeshare you can get a whole week to yourself. If you figure one night for a couple at an all inclusive resort at around $250 a night your looking at right around $1750 plus taxes and fees to stay there for a week.
With a timeshare you are paying nothing, since you already own the unit you get to forgo this cost because you paid for it upfront.
Side Note: I should mention that it isn’t costing you anything as long as you have the timeshare paid off in full. If you still have a loan on it you are technically still paying for it.
#5 You Can Go Almost Anywhere
One objection I also hear from people is that they don’t want to buy a timeshare and be forced to go to the same resort each and every year and I agree because this was one of my big objections before I bought my timeshare but what I learned is that you can exchange your unit to go someplace else.
For example, instead of going to Aruba I decide that I want to go to Hawaii. I can opt to put my unit in the exchange marketplace and take a unit in Hawaii if it’s available.
#6 It Gets Cheaper the Longer You Have it
Finally, one last subtle benefit that many people don’t think about is that the longer you own a timeshare the cheaper it will get. What do I mean by this…
For example, if you buy a timeshare that cost $25,000 and an average all inclusive resort cost you $1750 a week and you use your timeshare once year. In roughly 14 years you’ll have basically used your timeshare enough times to recoup the initial amount of money you paid for it.
Every year after the fourteenth year you own your timeshare it will be at a cheaper cost since you have used it enough to compensate for what you paid on it.
Downside to Owning a Timeshare
Now that I’ve covered the benefits to owning timeshare let’s cover the other side to owning them. These are the things I wish I would’ve known before I bought mine and hopefully they will help you make a better decision as well.
#1 Not Available in all Places
First off, timeshares are not available in all places. When it comes to tropical destinations and bigger cities you’re more likely to find a timeshare that you can exchange and use.
However if you are planning to go somewhere off the beaten path then it’s likely you won’t find anything.
I remember one time in particular I was planning to go to Las Vegas for a convention and I was sure I would be able to use my timeshare there but what I came to find out was that this wasn’t the case.
I found that all the major hotels make up the Las Vegas strip and any timeshares were not going to be close to where the convention was at. In the end this was a big downside and one I did not consider upfront.
#2 Maintenance Fees
One of the biggest reasons I didn’t like my timeshare was the maintenance fees. My unit ran around $700 every two years which actually isn’t much compared to other resorts but it was still a pain to pay.
This fee was the main reason I wanted to sell my timeshare because even though I didn’t want it anymore I still had to make the payment, and I know this is a struggle many people face when owning a timeshare.
In my next few upcoming articles I’m going to talk about your options when it comes to selling your timeshare and what you should not do as well.
#3 Network Fees
Another fee you’ll have to deal with is a network fee. A network is a company that allows you to exchange your unit to go some place else. The network I was part of was called Interval International. I can’t recall how much the fee was to be apart of Interval but I know it can be fairly pricey.
I also noticed their website does one heck of a job of not letting you know how much it cost either which I feel is a huge negative when it comes to this company. I often feel when companies don’t want to tell you the price they are usually hiding something from you.
I don’t know if this is how you feel but it’s just the impression I get from them.
#4 Exchange Fees
Now the fees aren’t over yet.
Once you’re a member of a network you still have to pay to exchange your unit. With Interval I remember it being a $100 but this was also 10 years ago so this fee may have gone up since then.
#5 High Interest Rate Loans
Another huge down side to buying a timeshare is the interest rates they charge on the loans they give out. I ended up taking 80% of my timeshare out on loan and they slapped me with a 16% interest rate.
Needless to say when I found this out I end up paying off the remaining balance immediately. Thankfully I was able to do that but it ended up leaving me strapped for cash in a lot of other ways and would end up causing a lot of other financial headaches down the road.
I talked about this in a recent article which I called the financial domino effect.
#6 Hard to Sell
The final reason of all other reasons you don’t want to buy a timeshare is because they can be extremely hard to sell. I left this one for last because this one is the real ringer. Owning a timeshare is not the real problem it’s when you decide that you don’t like it anymore and that you want to sell it.
The timeshare resale industry is littered full of landmines and companies just waiting to take advantage of you. Believe me I know because I fell for their crap and I lost a lot of money because of it. I contacted companies I thought were legit that ended up ripping me off.
I’m not going to talk about how to sell your timeshare in this article but I will have an article that is coming out shortly that will talk about the options.
Are Timeshares Worth It
When you weigh all the options from the good to the bad a timeshare can be a great way to take a vacation but one of the big issues I have with them is that you are essentially pre-buying your vacation and more than that you don’t have as much control over your vacations.
I know some people will not agree with me when I say that but I know this is true because I lived it and I also know of a lot of other people who are living this nightmare as well.
So what is your decision are timeshares worth it? Share your thoughts in the comments below.