Are timeshare presentations worth it? As someone who has been to their fair share of timeshare presentations (probably at least five, but I have lost track), I can say that I have been tempted to purchase a timeshare.
However, I realize that they get you to sign on the dotted line with their high-pressure sales and being someone who tends to respond negatively to high-pressure sales and schmoozy salespeople, I did not end up purchasing the timeshare.
Others may not be so lucky.
The salespeople get you to buy the timeshare by making you act on impulse, and when you sign on the dotted line, you end up buying a huge impulse purchase that you may regret for a long time. In fact, there are many websites (such as eBay) where you can buy timeshare deeds because people are trying to get rid of them.
The Timeshare Presentation Experience In a Nutshell
I’ve been to timeshare presentations from Marriott, Hilton, Wyndham, and Disney, and some of them a few times over (!).
Usually, the timeshare presentation is about 90 minutes but I have had it go longer (about three hours one time) which was exhausting. One of the strategies is to tire you out so that you are exhausted to submission to purchase the timeshare.
If you are married you are not allowed to attend by yourself, you have to bring your spouse along (so that you can’t say “Oh I have to ask my wife/husband/partner”– yes they have thought of all angles, they are highly trained salespeople).
This is how it usually goes from my experience.
The sales rep starts off aggressively by asking you about yourself, how often you vacation, how much you spend on vacation or hotels per night, and talk about the increasing inflation costs of vacation. They ask what you do for a living and where you’re from etc. Then you watch a video presentation about the benefits of a timeshare. The video usually talks about investing in your family and spending time with your family on vacation and creating memories. After the video then you walk around and go to a unit to check out what the timeshare vacation condo would look like. Of course, it always looks beautiful and very inviting.
Afterward, you go back to the office with the sales rep and talk about the benefits of the timeshare some more and how it would fit into your life, and whether it would be something you could see yourself doing to ‘save money’ in the future. They also talk about how it can be passed down from generation to generation and it is something that you can leave to your grandchildren, like a ‘legacy’. When you continue to say no, they bring out their manager. The manager offers even more of a discount, or even some free points so that you can try it out and see whether you like it. Then when you continue to say no (and you will need to have a good exit strategy, check out some good strategies here from Lifehacker), you are given your gift and then you are free to go.
Crunching The Numbers
In 2014, Consumer Reports states that customers bought $8 billion of timeshare properties in the United States, with the average sale price being $20,020 and the average annual maintenance fees of $880. The average age of buyers is 51 years of age but the demographic is shifting younger.
The lowest option or entry level of timeshare points that I have seen is about $12,000-$15,000 to purchase the timeshare deed which would give you about 7 days of vacation on offpeak time. In addition to the $15,000 you will have to pay an annual maintenance fee of $880 a year. Therefore, the 7 days are worth $880, or about $125/night for accommodation, if you break even from the $15,000 upfront cost. To calculate how many years it will take to ‘break even’ from the upfront cost, see the graph below!
Is a Timeshare worth It?
According to Consumer Reports, a timeshare is worth it after a number of years from purchase date. Eight years that is.
Source: Consumer Reports
They based their calculations on how much it would cost to rent the Disneyland Polynesian Resort in Disneyland Florida. A regular rate for Disneyland Polynesian resort is about $485 USD/night (plus tax!). If you like staying in places for $400+ a night then a timeshare may be for you.
For us, we couldn’t fork over a $400+ a night for a vacation (except the one night on our honeymoon at a 5 star hotel). Even when we get past $160/night we call it a splurge. I don’t have picky taste on vacation. I’m used to staying in hostels- many years ago in my early 20’s I stayed in a Salvation Army in Kolkata India for $2.50 a night. It did not have a hot shower but I didn’t need it when it is 40+degrees Celsius outside. We can’t stay in hostels with a baby of course, but again, we are not fancy travelers.
Long answer short, no, I don’t think a timeshare is worth it if you crunch the numbers but then again it’s not just the monetary reasons why I would not commit to a timeshare. If you like to have variety, don’t like to be tied down, and don’t mind renting Airbnb or VRBO rentals, then a timeshare is likely not for you.
A timeshare purchase may be for you if… you like to have things planned out, always like to have a kitchen when you travel, don’t like to trip plan (to me, trip planning is about 50% of the fun aspect of a trip), then a timeshare might work for you. In addition, if you have a lot of family and extended family and everyone is willing to chip in for the annual maintenance fees and the initial purchase price, or you don’t mind traveling in offseason and you are retired then it might be a good idea for you as well. If you really do want to buy a timeshare then probably the best way to buy it (like the best way to buy many things in life) is second hand at a deep discount, but even then you’ll be stuck paying the annual fees (which were average $880 a year as mentioned above).
How We got 4 Nights in Mexico for $50
How we got 4 nights free in Mazatlan and 2 nights free in San Diego (we paid the taxes which was about $75 USD in total) started almost one year ago at Indian Wells, during the BNP Paribas tennis tournament. We were walking by the booths and I saw a ‘spin the wheel’. I love to spin the wheel because it satisfies the secret gambler in me with no downside. We talked to the salespeople at the booth and I asked if I could spin the wheel.
The sales person also threw in another 2-night getaway as well. Little did the salesperson know that we have been to many timeshare presentations (my husband over 10 and me, probably around 5) and we feel like we know how to survive their sales tactics. We know that we have to sit through an at minimum 90-minute high-pressure sales presentation where they try to connect with you by asking about your life and what matters to you. We declined in the end (as we always do, though I was pretty close to signing up the first time I ever went!) and as we got our vouchers for the free trip, the salesperson passive aggressively cryptically said: “they aren’t that great anyway, it’s not what you think it to be”.
The 2 Night Getaway with First Priority Travel was to a number of places such as Las Vegas, Eureka, Newport, Palm Springs, Phoenix, San Diego, Tucson, and even Victoria, BC. We had to mail the registration form, complete within 60 days of the issue date of the voucher, and to call them to book the reservation. This process was easy enough and we got our confirmation stay in San Diego pretty quickly.
We I (I am the master trip planner in the household) had to trip plan ahead of time and we knew we wanted to go to the Daily Journal Annual Meeting to see Charlie Munger and so we booked 2 nights in San Diego around the time of the meeting. It is usually near Valentine’s Day in February so we booked around then since San Diego is about a 2-hour drive to Los Angeles, where the meeting is held. We had to send a bank draft to the reservation company of $20.24 USD to pay the taxes to guarantee the booking.
The other voucher was more of a headache (this is an understatement). The 4 Nights Tropical Adventure voucher was for places like the Grand Cayman, Oahu, Maui, Orlando, Cancun, and the Bahamas. We were planning to go to Hawaii with the baby and I have never been to Maui (my husband has) so we picked Maui. For this voucher (it is a different booking company) we put in our choice of destination and TWO separate travel dates. Then you get confirmation THREE WEEKS beforehand (you get empty hotel rooms hence the short notice).
This was a gamble.
The whole process caused a bit of anxiety for the 9 months. We paid another $50 USD bank draft with no guarantee that we would get these 4 nights in Maui. The voucher expires 1 year from the date of application. We were prepared to forfeit the $50 because the likelihood of us getting 4 nights in Maui in December was pretty low. This was the gamble.
So I called 3 weeks before our intended dates and low and behold, we got rejected again from FastTrack Promotions and had to give some other travel dates. Then the nice lady on the phone said that we could actually book our own trip ourselves if we want to go to Mexico instead of Hawaii and you get confirmation right away. Anyway long story short, we secured 4 nights in Mazatlan, Mexico for February.
4 nights in Mexico
For the 4 nights in Mazatlan, we stayed in a one bedroom condo/hotel room that was meant for timeshare accommodation. When I checked reviews online, it sounded like there was a lot of pressure from more timeshare salespeople. When we checked in, they asked if we wanted a free breakfast buffet (worth $20 USD per person) to give us the opportunity to show us the new towers they were building. Again, my husband looked interested but thankfully there weren’t enough spots available to give us a timeshare presentation! So we didn’t have to deal with any sales pressure at all.
The place was lovely and spacious and also had a beautiful ocean view and a great kitchen with a cooktop.
2 nights in san diego
For the two nights in San Diego, we stayed in a Best Western. It had free hot breakfast (I love free breakfast! So helpful not to have to search for food in the mornings especially when you’re stuck in baby nap jail). When we checked out we didn’t have to pay anything, it was great.
Related: PC Travel Review
Timeshare PResentations are Worth it
So in essence, timeshare presentations are worth it (if you have no young kids or if you have a baby who can sleep during the presentations). We haven’t been to a timeshare presentation in years because we have young kids, but it was fun while it lasted.
Maybe one day when the kids are older we will try our hand at going to timeshare presentations again. Some people don’t want to spend their vacation at timeshare presentations especially if the vacation is short- and I can understand that.
Readers, do you think a timeshare is worth it?
Have you had any friends or family members ranting or raving about their timeshare?
GYM is a 30 something millennial interested in achieving financial freedom through disciplined saving, dividend and ETF investing, and living a minimalist lifestyle. Before you go, check out my recommendations page of financial tools I use to save and invest money. Don’t forget to subscribe for blog updates, a free dividend yield spreadsheet, and the free Young Money Bootcamp eCourse.
31 thoughts on “Are Timeshare Presentations Worth It?”
Excellent analysis GYM. Thank you for the follow up. Tom
@Tom- Anytime Tom!
No way. I went to one timeshare presentation and I hated the pressure tactic. Now, I don’t want to go because I have no intention of purchasing. It’d feel a bit dishonest if I go. I probably could resist the pressure, but I don’t like going through it.
We don’t take expensive vacation anyway. Credit card reward hacking is much more to my liking.
@Joe- I love credit card hacking too, we need to get better cards in Canada. Yeah, I know I do feel a bit guilty about having no intention of purchasing just to get the gift, but they salespeople seem to not mind that and seem equipped for that.
Those timeshare presentations sounds like a high pressured sales pitch where they bring in back up to really tempt you to buy one. But they aren’t for me, I’m okay with an inexpensive vacation, would even prefer to go camping sometimes over staying a hotel, let alone a timeshare.
@Kris- I love camping too! But let’s face it, I just like going away, period. Camping is really expensive here in B.C. now, it’s like at least $20 a night if you reserve.
Lol thanks for this post, GYM.
I don’t think I’d ever wanna be involved. By the sounds of it, I don’t think I’d be able to handle it… and it seems a bit overwhelming to me. I hate getting pressured and deep inside I’d just wanna leave haha.
I’m glad to hear that it’s working out for you though!!
@fin$avvypanda- It seems like a resounding ‘no way’ from everyone, I would have thought there would be some hardcore FIRE people liking timeshares 🙂
Thanks GYM for the lowdown on a timeshare presentation! We’ve never attended one, nor at this stage in life are considering it. We do have an older aunt and uncle that love their timeshare in the South Carolina. They’ve offered us times to go if we ever wanted but never seem to make it there! I have a feeling I would want one if we went!
@Mrs. DS- I have never been to South Caroline but looking a pics from bloggers from SC from Instagram, it looks really pretty! Yeah, it can be pretty tempting but I think I would much rather own a piece of property to upkeep myself instead of share it.
No they aren’t for me, I am like Joe and went to one timeshare presentation and I hated the pressure tactic. But they are a good way to get a cheap holiday. I prefer RVing and going to different location.
@Steve- I have never traveled in an RV, it sounds fun! I think you can rent them for $2000/week?
I am at the right age to buy one!!! Still not interested, sounds like even seating thru the presentation would be too much pressure for me:) I will keep renting VRBOs.
@Caroline- Are you sure you’re not interested even though you are FIRO? Jk jk 😉
I’ve heard they always try to pressure you a lot. And I’m not sure of the idea of vacationing at the same spot. My grandfather had one, decades ago but later sold it. We used to go there as kids – Ocean City.
@SMM- Cool- just looked up Ocean City, looks like a great place for a kid! I think they seem like a great way to bring the entire family together, but as Caroline said, renting a vacation home is just as nice without the hassle.
“One of the strategies is to tire you out so that you are exhausted to submission to purchase the timeshare.” Sounds very much like the tactics utilized by some sleazy salespeople I have met in my life! On and off I have entertained the idea, but not for long. I get bored really fast, prefer variety, and just can’t commit to another mini-mortgage of sorts.
BTW I did a good number of Salvation Army hostels as a single guy myself, and still reminisce on the good ol’ days. lol
@Enoch- Hostelling is the way to go as a single person, lol! I like how you say it is a ‘mini-mortgage’ that is so true.
You got a full vacation nice! I went for a free cruise around the bay and breakfast haha!
It was such an intense pressure cooker to get you to sign. I was totally turned away from it. Asking someone how much they can afford a month for vacation is not my cup of tea. Felt like I was with a sleazy car dealer.
In the end a time share is not for me. I would much rather invest money and use the income later to pick and choose where in the world I travel next.
@Damn Millennial- Free cruise and breakfast, that sounds lovely! Yeah, it wasn’t the most pleasant experience, especially when they asked how much we usually spend for a room/night and I said $100-120 and they seemed appalled we would travel like that haha. Sounds like timeshare is not for anyone! I do think our timeshare presentation days are over since we have the baby! Haha.
I can’t remember but were you the one that was telling me about timeshares when we had lunch together? Didn’t you guys get a gift card for attending the presentation? I have yet to do this! But it really does sound interesting.
@Melanie- YES hahaha…… A $50 Disney gift card. We used most of it up having lunch at the Disney condo resort though.
When I was a teenager my parents made me go with them to a timeshare presentation. We were there for a full day, it was such a bad experience. The hard sell is serious, they even had a lady dressed as a maid baking cookies in the demo unit so that it was warm and inviting. I still remember the smell of those cookies though. LOL. My parents ended up buying the timeshare, which I think for them makes sense because they use it every year and invite people over. I’m still not convinced it would make sense for us financially. Great post!
@Liiy- Man a full day! That’s rough. Wow, the marketing got you so good that you remember the smell of the cookies to this day AND they got your parents to buy the timeshare. That’s good that your parents use it every year- are they happy with it and would they buy it again, do you think?
We purchased a timeshare as a resale for a few thousand $ and have had great use out of it – used it a few times to swap into Europe and have been to Vegas and Orlando numerous times as they tend to have easy availability to swap into. Key is plan early and be flexible as to where to go and when, to be able to make good use out of it. Over the years we have been able to make great use of ‘extra vacations’ with RCI. Extra vacations are vacation weeks you can purchase at times & locations that are less in demand e.g. while we were working, it became a family tradition for us to have a sunny break the week prior to Christmas, typically at a cost of less than $500 for a luxury 1 or 2 bedroom unit. Now that we have entered early retirement we purchase 6 or 7 extra vacations a year, some for as little as $350 all in / week for what I consider a 4 * hotel equivalent (except with a kitchen because we don’t like eating out all the time). None more than a $900 (a limit I have set myself). Typically this requires purchasing approx 6 to 8 months in advance, or last minute. It has worked well for us but fully appreciate that when purchasing at a timeshare presentation at premium prices and depending on your vacation approach (early planning), it doesn’t work well for everyone.
@Gin- I saw the huge RCI catalog and it looked very interesting. Thank you for sharing your experience and that it was a positive experience! That may be something I would be interested in once I hit early retirement and have time slots to choose from. How much are you paying annually for maintenance expenses and has it increased?
Annual maintenance is about CAD 850 and tends to have increase at approx inflation. RCI membership and platinum membership costs (gets you 10% discount on extra vacations) are additional. We tend to look out for multi-year special renewal offers, but typically each membership can add approx another CAD 100 each per year.
@Gin- Thanks for sharing your experience and information, Gin!
I am a big fan of time shares. They are an economical way to stay in a nice place on vacation. The problem is they are sold to the wrong people and then those people who should have never purchased one in the first place, complain about it. I’ve owned for about 30 years.
Here’s who should buy a timeshare on the secondary market (never go to those sales presentations)
1: You have the money to pay cash for it.
2: You vacation at nice facilities, not hostles.
3: You have enough time off to use it.
4: You can afford to fly your family somewhere every year.
5: You are flexible in when and where you go.
If you do not fit those criteria, you will be unhappy owning a timeshare. If you do fit, you will have years of fun and save some money doing it.
I did a two week video series on getting the most out of your timeshare on my Facebook page in early December.
Dr. Cory S. Fawcett
Prescription for Financial Success
@Dr. Cory Fawcett- Cool, thanks for sharing and for sharing that buying on the secondary market is the way to go. They do seem like a great way to get the extended family together. I don’t have Facebook so can’t check out your video series, but hopefully someone reading this comment will check it out!