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.