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How Many Times A Year Can You Use Your Timeshare?

So you just purchased a timeshare and are looking forward to the endless amount of vacations that you were sold on? Or maybe you've been a timeshare owner for years now, but are interested in taking more trips this coming year? Well, this article should be able to bring you back to reality and give you a better understanding of how often you will be able to make use of your timeshare every year. Timeshares are vacation properties with shared ownership, meaning all owners have annual access during allotted timeframes. Therefore, all owners of the timeshare property will get a specific amount of time to spend there -- usually in 1-2 week increments -- but this now varies with new systems in place. To fully understand how often a timeshare owner can use their unit, we have to look at the many different types of timeshares and their differences in arrangements.

Types of Timeshares

Not everybody's timeshare is the same. There are a couple of different forms of timeshare agreements, along with several different systems which determine the owner's length of stay at the unit. Timeshares gained popularity decades ago and began with owners having a specified week to use every year at their resort. As the industry progressed, new options became available offering more flexibility with scheduling, such as the points system.

They are still sold in increments of weeks, but typically just one or two because finding more than that consecutively at the same unit is extremely rare. There is also the option of owning multiple timeshare units, but once we go over the costs for just one, you may reconsider that idea. Resort developers have strict conditions on their timeshares and although some new systems may offer more flexibility, restrictions will still apply. Now let’s go over the three most familiar timeshare systems and how they differ from one another when it comes to how often you can use it.

Fixed Week

We'll begin with the longest-standing and most commonly sold timeshare unit, and that is the fixed week system. Timeshare owners will have the vacation property to use for one single specified week of the year. This will take place at the same resort and during the same week of every year. This provides security for your vacation trip, as you will not have to stress about booking or finding a place to visit. However, it does not provide flexibility, and visiting the same place repeatedly may not be ideal for everyone. There are timeshare exchange systems where owners are able to trade their weeks, but usually there are additional costs to be able to trade weeks. 

Floating Week

With a floating week system, flexibility is the main selling point. Rather than the same week every year, you can select a new week each year so you can experience vacations during different seasons. The main downside to this system is the competition for weeks during peak seasons such as summer and holidays, so it can be quite  difficult at times to book the week(s) you want. This can be troublesome for those with set work schedules, as a unit may not be available during your vacation period; with more flexibility comes less security.

Points System

Points-based systems are a new addition to the timeshare industry. Instead of owning a set week every year, owners get a certain amount of points they can use like currency to purchase time to spend at resorts. Owners have many options with this one, as they can use their points across different locations with their resort company and are not constricted to just one week or one location. However, more flexibility on scheduling and dates leads to more competition between owners, which can ultimately lead to more difficulty when booking. We recommend attempting to spend your points up to 12 months in advance.  Too often, timeshare owners find themselves with less points than they need, or an inability to spend the points they do have due to blackout dates. 

How Much Does It Cost & Is It Worth It?

No matter what type of timeshare you own, they can often be quite expensive. It is important to remember that this is a place you will only be able to visit once a year and most likely only for a week or two. At the end of the day, the question that matters most is whether or not it's worth it. When buying a timeshare, you need to know what all the costs are that go into it. Unfortunately, this information is often clouded by timeshare resorts, and many timeshare buyers find out the hard way what the true cost of these vacation properties are. With a substantially high initial cost, one would think that is all that would go into a timeshare purchase. Unfortunately, there are also several additional fees to consider.

Annual Maintenance Fees

Imagine thinking that you’re on your way to accomplish your dream of traveling the world, only to find out that there are additional fees every year -- on top of your initial fee -- to obtain the privilege to do so. Many timeshare owners experience this because they are left unaware of these fees by salespeople. For example, timeshare maintenance fees can be a real dealbreaker for many, which is why they are kept under wraps during some sales pitches. These fees may seem insignificant in the beginning, but here's the catch: their cost increases every single year. These fees have to be paid every year whether you use the property or not.

Timeshares should not be looked at in the same way as other forms of real estate, and that is no more obvious than in the resale market.

Timeshares Compared to Hotels & Vacation Homes

The Federal Trade Commission warns against comparing timeshares to other forms of real estate because there is a real lack of ownership. Instead, they are more comparable to other alternatives for vacation rentals. Timeshares are more similar to hotels, Airbnb's, and vacation homes than traditional real estate. So why do people keep coming back to the timeshare industry? Well, the salespeople of these timeshare companies are very good at coercing people into their sales pitch rooms and then pitching timeshare as the least expensive vacation option. That could be the case at first, but over time, the fees associated with the timeshare increase and can quickly become unbearable. Not only that, but timeshare ownership usually means a lifetime agreement. 

Here’s the good news:  if you haven't already been tied up with a timeshare, these other vacation options are less expensive and do not have near as many restrictions when it comes to booking and scheduling. Vacation ownership should not be limited to just one week and it should not have constraints on location or dates. When many timeshare owners are unable to book with their resort property, they end up having to stay in a hotel room when they have already paid for their timeshare. Why even have a timeshare if that happens to you? A timeshare company will not treat you as a valued client because they know they already have you stuck in their agreement. Take your money and time elsewhere for better service and a better vacation.

Summary

No matter what type of timeshare you have, the limitations they all have are glaring. It is well-known how difficult scheduling can be with a timeshare resort, so there is sometimes no guarantee for your vacation. It remains challenging to find one open week a year at most premier locations. Timeshares simply work best in their original form as a fixed week every year, as that at least guarantees you guaranteed time to spend at the property. With floating weeks or the points system, a timeshare owner can easily be scammed into believing they are getting more for their money, when really they just get more of a headache. Imagine paying for the mortgage and maintenance of a vacation property and barely being able to use it. That's the reality for most timeshare owners.

If you are considering buying a timeshare and wondering how many times a year you will be able to use it, just remember many timeshare owners are wondering if they'll even be able to use theirs once some years.

Wesley Financial Group, LLC, and/or its affiliates, successors, or assigns are not lawyers and/or a law firm and do not engage in the practice of law or provide legal advice or legal representation. All information, software, services, and comments provided on this site are for informational and self-help purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, legal or otherwise.

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