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5 Things You Should Know About Timeshares vs. Vacation Ownership

It's easy to get confused with both of these terms, but it's important to understand the distinctions between timeshare and vacation ownership. Timeshare sales teams tend to be manipulative with their sales tactics. This is essentially how the term vacation ownership was created. Timeshare companies use the term "vacation ownership" to try and make prospective customers feel like they're making an actual investment. So why wouldn't salespeople just stick to the term timeshare? Well, as the industry continues to grow, the term has come to be known with having a negative connotation.

Let's explore some key distinctions between both of these terms. It's important to educate yourself on the differences between these terms as well. Here are five aspects to compare and contrast between timeshares and vacation ownerships.

1. Vacation Clubs

It's easy to mix up vacation clubs with timeshare because so often timeshares are made out to have the same benefits as a vacation club. The difference? In a vacation club, you're not paying for one particular unit. You're still paying fees, but there isn't a set location that applies to you. Unlike timeshares, vacation clubs truly do give vacationers the freedom to travel where they want within their resort's terms and conditions. You don't have to suffer through any sort of exchange programs like you would with a timeshare. It should be noted, however, that in most vacation clubs, blackout date restrictions can still apply and you might have to pay extra expenses to book during holidays or high traffic weekends in the summer.

One similarity that vacation clubs and timeshares have in common? The never-ending additional fees. Members of vacation clubs still have to pay annual maintenance fees. And while they may not increase as they do with timeshares, they're still a very high annoyance with most vacation club members.

What is the difference between a travel club and a vacation club?

With so many different ways to describe vacationing and the tourism industry in general, it's easy to get lost in certain terms and what they mean. So is a travel club all that different from a vacation club? While they do share a lot in common, the most noticeable difference that sets a travel club apart would have to be the all-around experience. Typically, members of a travel club are given such additional luxuries as airfare, rental cars, planned off-site activities, or any other number of travel amenities. This is opposed to a vacation club, where your membership only covers your stay at a certain resort property.

2. Availability

Availability is everything when it comes to making vacations a fun experience. If you can't go when you want to go, then what's the point? While numerous timeshare sales people might try to tell you that availability is a selling point for timeshares, this is simply not the case. In most timeshare agreements there are a few conditions that state you have to book at least one year ahead of time. When you buy a timeshare you're under the impression that you're going to have a lot of freedom to take family vacations whenever you want. But it usually doesn't take long – for most owners it usually happens when trying to book their first week – to realize it was all a lie.

In vacation ownership, availability can depend on a lot of factors, but mainly on what kind of agreement you signed in the beginning. If your contract states that you have a variety of stipulations (holidays, weekends, or certain months) when it comes to availability, you might be in for playing the waiting game and having to book for months or even years in advance.

3. Ownership Types

As mentioned above, the agreement you sign can dictate a lot about the types of freedoms you have as an owner. Whether it's fractional ownership of a particular unit or you're the outright owner of a vacation property, it's important to understand the details of each agreement. Let's explore the two most common types of timeshare ownership.

Shared Leased Ownership Interest

In a shared leased ownership interest, the owner has a right-to-use agreement that grants them a fixed-week each year for a certain number of years. This would be an ideal type of ownership for someone who doesn't vacation regularly and does not care about the season in which they vacation. The main downside to a shared leased ownership interest is that since you're only usually offered a single week, you don't get a lot of bang for your buck. With shared leased ownership, the timeshare management company still holds the title to your vacation property.

Shared Deeded Ownership

According to, a shared deeded timeshare gives each buyer a percentage share of the physical property. This means that one single unit could have up to 52 different owners if each shared owner is offered a single week out of the year. This type of timeshare ownership is often held in perpetuity and can be willed to one's estate.

4. Exchange Programs

It seems that anytime consumers are not content with their product they reach out to the seller in hopes of an exchange. This is the same sort of case that happens with timeshares every day. As soon as a timeshare owner realizes they want to go somewhere else, but don't have the credit or points, they're told to reach out to a timeshare exchange company. It's sold to customers as a great way to take vacations in other destination hot spots, but there's always a catch, right? Yes, exchange fees.

Exchange fees easily rival the hassle of rising maintenance fees or any other additional costs that drive timeshare owners into near-immediate debt. In some timeshare exchange horror stories, owners have paid their exchange fees but never actually received a guaranteed exchange for a vacation at a different resort in a different location. While timeshare exchange may seem like an honest solution, most of the time it just ends in more money lost for the owner.

5. Lifetime Benefits

Vacation ownership is always sold as an "investment." You'll hear it in any sales presentation you attend. The staff will inform you of numerous different benefits, like the ability to pass down your timeshare to your heirs. This may seem like a fun gift at first, but if you're signing on with a shameful timeshare company, the only thing your children will end up inheriting is debt.

The counterargument to this involves other types of vacation ownership like vacation clubs. If your vacation club membership offers great deals and low annual fees, it's possible your kids wouldn't mind inheriting some of these benefits. However, it is recommended – no matter the situation – that you speak with your heirs before agreeing to such terms.


Timeshare ownership can be very deceptive. Resort management companies and their properties earn a lot of money by making their properties look desirable for any owner. Vacation clubs can be a better alternative to timeshares, but you could still find yourself faced with high annual fees.

It's important to educate yourself on the topic of timeshares and other types of vacation ownership programs before you attend any sales presentations. However, if it is too late and you do own a timeshare, you should start exploring your exit options. The best way to get out of your timeshare is to contact a legitimate timeshare cancellation service like Wesley Financial Group, LLC. Be sure to contact the team at WFG to get your free consultation today. And remember, paying money for a cancellation service isn't fun, but continuing to pay money for vacation time you never get to use is much worse.

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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