Now that you are the proud owner of your vacation – or a timeshare, as it were – you can start scheduling your week of vacation at the resort of your choice. Vacation clubs like Marriott Vacation Club and Starwood Vacation Ownership give you the opportunity to travel to a variety of popular destinations with beachfront property, golf courses just down the street from the resort and theme parks practically in the resort’s back yard. What happens, though, when you can’t book the week you want at a particular resort in the network of vacation spots you have access to? Perhaps you’ve been going to the same resorts for years and you want to explore other options. Maybe the club you belong to doesn’t offer international options. You have more choices through exchange groups like RCI and Interval International.
To extract the most value from your timeshare, you can trade in your week or points through these exchange groups. Other timeshare owners are doing the same, and it is through them that you will have access to their timeshares.
In 1974, the founders of RCI invented the idea of vacation exchange and ran with it, according to the company’s website. If your resort is affiliated with RCI, then you likely receive a membership automatically to the exchange group. Once you create an account, you can start by depositing your week or points into RCI and the exchange company will assign a value. That value is based upon what you deposited, how many people want your specific timeshare or week, how many other similar timeshares or weeks are already in the RCI bank and the popularity of your timeshare or week. The group will also take into account the season in which you own a week, how many bedrooms your timeshare's has and the reputation of the resort in which you invested. Also, the sooner you deposit your week or points, the better your trading options.
Since the ’70s, Interval International has been offering timeshare owners the ability to trade their weeks at their home resort for a different timeshare in another location. At II, you can also turn your week into points and use those points to purchase cruises, getaways and other vacations. Like RCI, all of the same factors are taken into account when you trade your week to II. The demand, supply and popularity will determine how many points your timeshare is worth. Points with II are good for two years after you deposit your timeshare, so be sure to use those points before they expire. Keep in mind, also, that if you sell your timeshare to someone else, the new owner won’t receive II points and will need to buy a new membership.
Of course, you don’t have to stick to one exchange group. You can pay for a membership for both to give you even more options. Be aware that both companies charge exchange fees on top of membership fees, as well. If you join RCI, you will have access to more than 4,000 resorts, while with II, you can trade your timeshare for one in more than 2,900 resorts. Whether you choose one or both, you can expand your options to travel worldwide and see more than ever with your vacation investment.