• February
  • 3 min read

Are Timeshares Worth It? Things to Consider Before Signing the Contract

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Are timeshares worth it or not? So many people asked this question before and there are so many articles trying to give the best answer when in fact, there is no right answer that fits all.

In this guide we will try and explain if owning a timeshare is worth it or not. Keep reading.

You may have had to listen to your neighbor talk for years about how amazing their timeshare is and watch with envy as they walked out of their door with suitcases packed ready for another two weeks at the beach or on the ski slopes.

Millions of people enjoy the perks of timeshare ownership, but is it really worth it?

The value question comes up so often because we’ve all heard horror stories of people getting involved in timeshares that end up being a financial burden or people who enjoyed them for a time but now want desperately to be rid of them.

There’s also the cliché of the pushy timeshare salesperson or shady company that lures people into timeshare ownership with promises of happiness and flexibility only to be locked into a strict contract that’s very rigid.

Deciding if a timeshare is worth it can be broken down into dollars and cents.

You can analyze how much you’ve historically spent on vacations, where you’ve gone, what kind of facilities you’ve been able to enjoy, and other factors in your decision.

However, like so many other things associated with leisure, timeshare purchases are also a bit subjective.

Some people are willing to pay more for the environment and brand association that a certain timeshare company or destination offers.

If you’re thinking about buying a timeshare or are simply curious about whether it’s a good move, here we break down some of the top things to consider before signing the dotted line.

These are good tidbits of information to have in your mind before you go into a timeshare presentation, even if you tell yourself you’re only going for the free gift card or the complimentary resort stay.

Thousands of people, including those who thought they would never buy a timeshare, have signed a contract on the same day of a presentation because the company or a motivated salesperson knew what to say and when.

The Timeshare Basics

At the most basic level, a timeshare is a contract that grants you or whoever the contract holder is the right to a resort for a certain amount of time.

Contracts vary to a large degree based on how many weeks you want to stay at the resort each year, whether you want it each year or every other year, what type of unit you want (how large), and what type of amenities you want access to.

Most timeshare companies have multiple properties, often located in different countries, so owning a timeshare can grant you the ability to book vacations in Mexico, Spain, Hawaii, and hundreds of other prime spots.

You can either select floating weeks that grant you maximum flexibility or specific weeks each year.

If you’re interested in floating weeks, it usually involves a bidding process, so you’ll need to be early to secure the best locations and dates.

Once you sign a contract for a timeshare, you’ll be required to pay the fees and the annual maintenance costs.

The typical timeshare annual fees are around $1000, but more expensive contracts at better properties will run your thousands of dollars of years.

Don’t Make Your Timeshare an Investment

Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you’ll be able to sell your timeshare for more than you bought it for or that it will appreciate meaningfully over time.

Buying a timeshare is not the same as buying a vacation home or a primary residence.

If you are in the least bit concerned about your financial situation, then owning a timeshare is not for you.

People who are happy with their decision to purchase a timeshare view it much differently than their other real estate holdings or investments.

They’re not worried about what it’s worth except in the sense of how much delight it provides them and their family and friends.

That’s an important consideration, especially since the average timeshare cost is around $20,000 over the lifetime of the contract.

Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that signing a contract will be a good financial decision down the road.

Getting out of a timeshare contract after the fact can be expensive and challenging. It often requires help from a lawyer or a firm that specializes in timeshare exits and sales. 

Avoid the Vacation Sales Pitch

If you’re into timeshares or want to learn more about your options, at some point you’re going to encounter a salesperson.

Timeshare sales are done over the phone a lot and in person at popular resorts. Perhaps you’ve seen advertisements when you’ve been on vacation in the past.

They tell you to come in and listen to an hour-long presentation and in return, you’ll get a free night or some meal vouchers at the hotel.

When you’re on vacation, it’s easy to get swept up in the idea of returning to the same nice resort every year.

You think that you can make this a regular thing, going somewhere with your friends or your family for a week or two of fun. Salespeople play on that romanticism in their presentations.

They know you’ll be more susceptible to the idea of signing a contract hastily because you’re in a good mood.

Actually, you should be listening to the pitch and looking over the contract on your turf. Many people find it easier to ask questions or say no over the phone.

Take your time to go through the fine details of the contract so you understand exactly what your obligations are. You should know precisely what you’re paying for and how often.

Explore the Secondary Market

Many vacationers don’t realize that there is a large, thriving second-hand market in timeshare contracts.

People, for several reasons, change their minds about owning a timeshare and want to sell it to remove the annual obligation.

You can save thousands of dollars by purchasing a contract from someone looking to sell their timeshare ownership. Ignore all of the “incentives” that the salespeople tell you to come along with buying new.

They never add up to the money you’ll save by buying a contract from another owner.

Buy for Your Ideal Vacation – Don’t Plan on Upgrading

A lot of people think they can get by with purchasing a lower-end timeshare and using their points or flex dates to upgrade to a nicer vacation that they want.

This is often like upgrading to business class on a flight with frequent flier miles. It can happen, but it’s very rare.

There are all sorts of conditions and stipulations built into your contract that restrict your ability to use points and change dates. You should never plan on being able to do it.

Instead, if you can afford it, buy the timeshare that will grant you the options you want.

Get the resort that has a fantastic beachfront and high-quality food. Then, using points to upgrade can be done for a special occasion or when it happens, it’s a nice surprise.

You’ll hate yourself if you buy something lower-value than you’ll be happy with and then never can upgrade to something nicer.

This is particularly important if you’re not a good planner and won’t be there to pounce on open dates or point windows where you can book nicer resorts.

Just go with fixed date timeshares at nicer locations to lock in something you’ll enjoy going to every year.

How Can You Get Out of Ownership?

What if your situation changes and you no longer want to own the timeshare? Perhaps you don’t want to go on vacation anymore or want to pick up camping instead of vacationing at nice resorts every winter.

Before you sign a timeshare contract, you should know exactly what ways you can get out of your contract and how much it will cost you.

Every year, thousands of Americans struggle with their timeshare companies as they try to offload the cost of a timeshare.

These contracts are built to keep people paying. That’s what the whole business model is built upon.

Avoid the ugly surprise of finding out it will cost you thousands of dollars to get out of paying every year or that you’re stuck in a very rigid contract that is almost impossible to offload.

Find out what your timeshare will likely command on the secondary market.

After you’ve done all the research and you still think timeshares are for you, then pick the right one and go have fun!

While timeshares do have the potential to cause a lot of stress and angst over fees and unfulfilled promises, they do offer a pleasant vacation experience that people have come to love.

If you’re someone who wants everything to a certain standard and want to know what to expect when you book a vacation, then a timeshare could be for you.

Just do what it takes to understand the ins and outs of the business and what it is you’re buying into before you sign. You’ll be thanking yourself that you did years down the road.

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