How Do Timeshares Work? Are Timeshares Good or Bad?

(Note: Reading this blog post could save you four+ hours of your precious vacation time and thousands of dollars!)


Over the years we had heard about timeshares and had been solicited to go to presentations for freebies but we never once bothered…

… maybe it was the thought of wasting several hours of our vacation getting pitched to spend lots of money, maybe it was the thought of it being too much money or that we didn’t want to keep traveling to one property all the time, etc.

But over the past 7 weeks, as we’ve been traveling around to places in Hawaii & California, we’ve been staying at great resorts through our International Travel Club and we’ve talked to many timeshare owners staying at the same places…

…and we’ve been chatting it up with some of these people trying to figure out why they bought, whether they liked it/disliked it, etc.

So we figured it was time for us to see if a timeshare could benefit us with all the traveling we do.

So with that said, here in Las Vegas we took the plunge and went to a presentation.

(Side note: The $150 in dining vouchers we were offered to go to the presentation had nothing to do with us attending… we simply wanted to learn and would seriously consider buying if it made sense.

Tip: Our recommendation would be to never attend a Timeshare presentation for “the gift”… if you’re truly not interested, you’ll be wasting several hours of your vacation and you’ll be putting yourself in a EXTREMELY high-pressure sales situation… we were there for 4 hours, even though they said 90 minutes max, and they said no pressure sales up front but let’s just say, that was not so :-))

What was our experience like?

To be honest, we’re still confused from the whole thing. 🙂

We’ve traveled a ton over the years and as you may know, Shawn has been a successful Travel Agent for many years but when we logically looked at the #s, it just didn’t add up for us and we’re not really sure why billions of dollars of this gets sold every year.

Now don’t get us wrong, if you’re an owner yourself we’re not knocking you for buying… if we didn’t know of a better alternative we may have considered.

And we get that many people buy emotionally to “lock” themselves into an annual vacation or get away. We’re huge promoters of this as you’ll see in our Free eBook, STOP collecting Stuff and Start Creating Memories: 9 Great Reasons to Travel Now. (And Yes, you can read it!)

But logically, we couldn’t figure the whole timeshare thing out.

They were going on about buying points and how many points you need depends on things like how many weeks you want, time of year you travel, resort you stay at, room type, your “status”, and on and on.

But they wouldn’t give us real examples of what an amount of points would get us, what availability was like, how much ongoing maintenance fees would be, etc.

We had to make a decision “there and then”, that was it… no info to take with us to evaluate or think about it because “no-one comes back and buys once they leave” we were told…

…it was actually a little insulting as we felt we were expected to make an immediate decision without doing any due diligence on a “points” system that felt like you needed a degree to understand with all the variables, exchange options, add ons, upgrades, etc.

Being a couple that spent $40,000+ per year on travel the last several years, we feel we were great prospects but unless we were willing to make a decision ‘on the spot” our business wasn’t wanted…

…very weird business practices!?

When we initially joined our International Travel Club earlier this year, it wasn’t till 3 weeks after we first saw it we joined. That was AFTER we did a bunch of research and flew to Las Vegas to check out 7 of their properties. The club was still happy to take our business.

So we can now understand why many people who buy timeshares regret the hasty decision they made. (Google timeshare and you’ll see owners selling them is a huge market) People were so confused and pressured in the moment they didn’t really understand what they were buying.

Anyway, enough about our experience on that. 🙂

What great thing came out of it though was that we felt better then ever about our decision to join our Travel Club… let’s compare the #s and see why.

Regarding the timeshare we saw, depending on how many points we bought based on when we wanted to travel, we would have paid either $18,000 or $26,000 up front for 1 week per year… and if we financed that at their 15.99% rate over 10 years it would have doubled that #.

On top of that you have monthly maintenance fees that you’re locked into for LIFE.

They were $50-$70/month depending on the package we bought… let’s use $60 for our example.

Over 30 years we’d pay our initial $18,000-$26,000 up front and $21,600 in maintenance fees.  Keep in mind maintenance fees ALWAYS go up… that’s the biggest complaint owners tell us… we talked to one lady who’s fees jumped to over $2000/year due to a hurricane and major repairs being done… for our example though, we won’t even factor in higher fees.

So when you add it up for 30 years of JUST 1 week per year we’d pay $39,600-$47,600.

And if you want more weeks you have to buy more points. (Which could double or triple or more the above #s depending what you want)  And if you can’t travel due to illness you still pay maintenance fees, etc.

It’s a HUGE financial commitment!!

Now let’s look at our travel club.

We paid a ONE-TIME $4,995 fee for life-time access which allows us to book up to 10 weeks/year (they also have a 2 week option for $1,995 & 20 week option for $12,500) at over 5,000 resorts for the price range of $398-$799/week.

Now as you’ll see in our Resort Reviews & Deals section some weeks we paid only $398, $474, etc. but for our example we’ll say we pay $550 every week. (On average this is what our members spend per week)

So in 30 years we’ll have paid $4995 up front and $16,500 (that’s $550 a week x 30 years)  for 1 week/year. $21,500 in total… 45%-55% less then a basic timeshare. (And for our members at our 2 week/year level, the savings is even higher as their up front cost is less)

So you can see why we’re happy members of our Travel Club! 🙂

And here are a few things to consider:

1. We can book 9 more weeks per year and just pay the $550 or less/week…. over 30 years we’ll pay $16,500 per extra week whereas an extra timeshare would be MUCH more… basically we’re saving $20,000+ for each extra week compared to a timeshare… the more we use our club the savings get ridiculous!

2. We have no maintenance fees, ever! If we can’t travel in any given year or ever again, no big deal, we’ll never pay another dime… no contract locking in ongoing fees.

3. Our up front cost was $4,995, that’s it! Not $18,000-$26,000. Not sure about you but we don’t want to pay for years and years of vacations todaywe have better things to do with our hard-earned dollars! (Our membership has an option to join for as low as $1,995 which lowers the up front cost even more)

4. All the above timeshare #s are based on a studio or one bedroom which is all we need for 2 of us… if you have a bigger family and need 2 rooms or heaven forbid 3 or 4 you’ll need a ton more points… your costs will sky-rocket. With our travel club, the $398-$799/week can be for 1-3 bedrooms, based on our needs and availability… as you’ll see in our Resort Reviews & Deals section we’ve had 2 bedrooms for up to 8 people for $398 for the entire week… they’re not penalizing you and charging double/triple for your large family.

5. Most people don’t need to “finance” an upfront $4,995 or $1,995 fee with the travel club… with the $20,000+ for a timeshare many do… the high interest rates double your #s and really make a timeshare extra pricey.

And if any of the above #s are a little confusing for you… here’s the simplest one

we paid $599 through our Travel Club for the entire week at the resort where we’re staying now, which is where we did our timeshare presentation.  Going the timeshare route, a person would pay $1320-$1587 (over double) for the exact 1 week stay!  You simply divide the timeshares 30 year cost by 30 (1 week per year). And these prices could increase depending on the package we bought, time of year we traveled, etc.  And that’s with $0 in maintenance fee increases!!

Alright, enough said about the whole timeshare vs travel club option… we could go on with lots more pros/cons but we’re pretty sure just about anyone could look at the above and easily decide which one logically makes more sense and can at the same time get emotionally satisfied with the monetary savings. 🙂

As we said at the beginning, this post isn’t about knocking timeshares or owners… we love all industries that promote travel as we believe it’s so important and we know many of you love the “ownership” aspect of timeshares and that’s cool.

But we know our readers love to save money like savvy travelers like us do and we want to make sure you’re fully informed on the options…

…and in our experience, most people don’t necessarily want “Vacation Homes” or “Vacation Ownership”, they just simply want consistent vacations and in our expertise…

being a member of a Travel Club vs owning a Timeshare is a much more economical and smart option… in this volatile economy

… or in any economy for that matter! 🙂

If you’d like to learn more about our Travel Club and how it can start saving you money on your next vacation, visit and please, if you have any questions,  you can contact us here

…we’re happy to answer your questions to help you see if it’s right for you and whether you join today, two months from now, two years from now or never, we truly aren’t attached to the outcome

…no high pressure from us. 🙂

We just want you to be informed and make the best decision for you, to help you start experiencing the “9 Great Reasons To Travel Now” that we highlight in our eBook! 🙂

We appreciate you.

Nancy & Shawn