Using Your Timeshare for Exchange

Some people buy a timeshare so they can return to the same resort year after year. Others, however, like the long-run savings of timeshare, but want more variety in travel destinations, so they enjoy the flexibility they gain with exchange.

The Exchange Model

The concept of exchange is a simple one. When you buy a timeshare at a particular resort, that resort will almost always be affiliated with at least one timeshare exchange company, the most prevalent being Resort Condominiums International (RCI) and Interval International (II). Timeshare exchange programs give you the flexibility of buying a timeshare someplace like Vermont and exchanging that unit for a comparable unit in any other timeshare resort in the world affiliated with the exchange company.

Your resort may also have an internal exchange program. For instance, if you own a Hyatt Vacation Club timeshare, you can choose to exchange to another Hyatt resort instead of going into the RCI or II systems. Obviously, the bigger the network of timeshare resorts, the more exchange options you have.

Trading Power: The Value of Your Timeshare

The key to performing successful future exchanges is the value, sometimes called "trading power" of your timeshare week. Here's the scoop: when you buy a timeshare, unless you're buying vacation points, you usually have the ability to select the season and unit size at a home resort with desirable amenities and location. Exchange companies take these factors and put them into an equation to figure your timeshare's "trading power". Like most businesses, timeshare exchange companies work on supply and demand. This means you can't buy a one-bedroom week at a resort in Minnesota during the season where the weather never gets warmer than 0 degrees Farenheit and expect to exchange evenly for Christmas in Kauai. The Christmas week will go to someone who has an equally desirable week… and your week will go to someone who wants your week… or go into the exchange company or resort's rental pool.

Common sense should prevail here: if you buy an off-season timeshare week, you can generally exchange for off-season timeshare weeks in the same unit size. Trading up (and even DOWN, even if you request it) is usually difficult or impossible.