There are a number of different ways to use timeshare:
Stay in your unit during your week.
Many people enjoy visiting the same place each year, and enjoy feeling “at home” at their “home resort”. One advantage to using your timeshare this way is that you don’t pay anything but maintenance and taxes, because you’re not paying to exchange, and you don’t have to pay annual dues to an exchange company.
Go someplace different every year.
There is a lot of flexibility involved in timeshare, which can be taken advantage of by exchanging your week. We’ve list some tips on the best way to exchange on the “Exchanging” page, so we won’t repeat ourselves here. But if you’re wondering what the point of exchanging is, it’s that you can go somewhere else, maybe even someplace different each year, and you don’t necessarily have to use your week during that week. For example, if you’re a teacher, you probably can’t use a fall week. But if you bought a fall week, you can still enjoy using it during a different time of year by exchanging it. In order to exchange, you’ll have to pay dues to the exchange company of your choice, and then pay an exchange fee to actually make the trade. But if you add up your maintenance and taxes, exchange company dues, and exchange fees, you can often still end up staying someplace for a week for much less than you’d pay if you rented a hotel room… and usually it’s much nicer, too.
Another advantage to banking your week is that you have a four-year window of time to use it. By paying estimated maintenance in advance, you can bank up to two years ahead of time. Plus, you have two years from the beginning of the week to actually “spend” it. So, for example, if you bank 2005 in 2003, you have till 2007 to use it — that’s a four year window of opportunity. Incidentally, with RCI’s new Enhancements, you can now combine a deposit that’s about to expire with another deposit for $99, and the whole thing is good for 2 years from the date you combined them. So if your unit/week is about to expire, think about combining it with something else to give yourself more time to use it!
Let someone else use your unit.
This is applicable whether you bank your unit/week or not. If you’ve banked your week, you can usually get a “Guest Certificate” through the exchange companies and get your friend or family member a place somewhere else. Alternately, you can write to us by snail mail or fax, and let us know that someone will be using your unit, and they can just check in when your week begins. If you can’t use your week for some reason, this can be a nice gift that makes you look like a big spender, and keeps you from losing your week.
Rent your unit/week out.
This should be a last resort. Really. There’s no guarantee that we can ever rent any unit at any time, so by putting your unit up for rent, you risk the possibility of just flat-out losing it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people tell me, “Well if I’d have known it wasn’t going to rent, I would have banked it!” We have no control over whether a unit gets rented or not… So please, use this as a last resort, and don’t assume it’s going to rent until you have the check in hand.
Lose the week.
Actually, THIS should be the VERY last resort – even after putting it up for rent! If you don’t bank your week, and you don’t show up or send someone else in your place, and the unit isn’t rented, it sits empty. Which means it’s gone. You can’t call your exchange company after the week has passed, and ask them to bank the week, because they won’t be able to use it. You can’t ask us if we can come let you use someone else’s week some other time because you didn’t use yours. If you don’t use it, lend it out, bank it, or rent it, it’s gone. Period. And I don’t mean that to sound harsh, but I get a lot of questions about this, and I would rather tell people up front than after it’s too late.
P.S. This also means that if you haven’t paid your maintenance by the time your week begins, you will lose it. Not only will you still have to pay the maintenance and taxes, you’ll also owe late fees, interest, and maybe even collection costs… and you’ll be paying all that for nothing! Better to pay on time and do SOMETHING with the week than to just let it sit empty and still have to pay… Right?