I write this article with the intention to bring awareness to those looking to buy a timeshare but also for those who own a timeshare as well. Some are reading this and are probably at the denial stage where they can't believe they've been duped.
For me, it all began 6 years ago when I was fresh out college with a good paying job and had no worries or financial obligations to hold me back. I received an offer to go to Orlando for the weekend through Holiday Inn Club Vacations based on an agreement to sit through a timeshare pitch. Being a college graduate, I assumed I would have the wherewithal to see through the sales pitch and just use the weekend for what it was, a cheap vacation. Boy was I wrong!! Next thing I know I'm signing a deed for $20,000!
For the first 2 years, I actually enjoyed my timeshare. Then fees began to invade my income and I began to realize that the costs didn't end with the $20,000. This is something that unless you spend hours searching you would never know all these extra costs exist. Truthfully, after I paid off the $20,000 I thought it wouldn't be so bad. Those fees are like the person riding behind you with their high beams on. Eventually, you're going to quit "dealing" with it and slow down to let them pass. For me, "dealing" with it was getting rid of my timeshare.
Fees Upon Fees
1. Maintenance Fee - $750 - Increases 2-5% a year. Paid yearly for maintenance of the property, even though you may never have stayed at your resort
2. Club membership Fee - $126 - Increases 2-5% a year. Provides you with all the coveted 'members' only discounts
3. Reservation Fee (within the Resort Family) - $60 - You pay this every time you book a trip to your timeshare if you are not staying in your exact unit.
4. Point conversion Fee - $69 - If you are on a point system, this allows you to transfer your resort points to hotel points. You do this to save your expiring points
5. Reservation Fee (through exchange resorts) - $75 - This covers the reservation and cleaning of the unit you will be staying at.
6. Housekeeping Fee - $21-$277 per stay and at some resorts per night.
When I started to realize the amount of fees I was paying annually, it really came as a shock to me, especially after I had already paid $20,000! To keep my sanity I continued to rationalize it by saying; 'this was a good investment, my family can use it, I will have it for life & the cost can't really go up every year'.
Each of those excuses kept me from dealing with the truth, I had spontanteously made a terrible $20,000 decision. What a learning experience!
1. A timeshare is not a good "investment". You can see with the picture below that most timeshares are selling well below what was originally paid. Basically, I just spent $20,000 and have a 0% chance of recovering any of that cost.
2. The only excuse that had any validity was being able to use it with my family. Even using this for an argument doesn't hold water very long. Simple fact that I can easily send my family on a vacation for $950 (maintenance fee + membership fee + reservation fee).
3. A life long timeshare sounded good at first. After much consideration I realized what it really means. Which is that the annual fees will never stop. If you happen to die, the fees will then be passed on to your heirs/family members. Can we say happy early Merry Christmas!
4. Being naïve and optimistic I couldn't fathom the maintenance fees increasing year after year. I'm here to tell you that they do and will increase. Over the life of my timeshare I saw them increase 13%.
After going through all the emotions capable of a human being, I started the process of getting rid of my timeshare. It was not fun and it took a lot of determination but it DID happen. In my next article I will lay out the steps to getting rid of your timeshare. If you want to vent below on how frustrated you are with your timeshare, please leave a comment. I will probably join you.