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With $10 billion a year in timeshare purchases (yes, billions!) Americans are spending more money buying vacation ownerships than Major League Baseball’s total annual revenue! This article, by a timeshare owner for other potential owners, will help you make a purchase that’s a great value for money.
If you’re thinking to yourself, “What is a Timeshare Exactly?!?”
Timeshares are partial vacation ownerships of condo-like units in resort developments. They are owned, operated, and maintained by independent resorts, small chains, and large timeshare companies like Hilton Grand Vacations Club, Club Wyndham, Marriott Vacation Club, and Disney.
Don’t Purchase On a Whim
Buying a timeshare is not the type of real estate decision to make on a whim, three margaritas deep, while on vacation. Can your budget–and your emergency fund—comfortably cover all of the costs every year? Even during job loss, retirement, or a pandemic? For more introductory information on timeshare ownership and critical factors to consider before making this long-term commitment check out “Six Tips for Savvy Timeshare Purchases.”
There are a variety of factors in selecting a timeshare company or vacation club. For this article and analysis, I will focus on value for money as the purchase driver. Perhaps you are thinking about becoming a first-time timeshare owner and want to make a small and smart financial commitment. Or maybe you’re one of the 20 million timeshare or vacation club owners worldwide who are looking for more trips, and you want to buy in a resort development with the most bang for your buck.
Value for Money Starts in the Timeshare Resale Market
When buying timeshares, the path to a savvy purchase starts by getting a timeshare resale from an existing owner looking for a timeshare exit. According to Timeshare Users Group (TUG), the oldest and largest timeshare owners group and advocacy organization, timeshare resorts spend between 40% – 60% of the purchase price on marketing campaigns to sell timeshare properties.
Meaning, if you buy a vacation property directly from a timeshare resort, you’ll be paying much more than its market value. You can save 75 to 99% of the purchase price by buying in the resale market. TUG hits it right on the head when they say, “Why would anyone buy ‘new’ if they could get the same week, at the same resort property, for pennies on the dollar from an existing owner?”
What is the Best Timeshare to Buy?
If I had a dollar for every time people ask this question in the owners’ groups and forums, there would be two brand new Teslas parked in our driveway. There are folklores on top timeshare ownership resorts for value, but I’ve never seen a comparative analysis.
One legend is that Grandview, a Vacation Village Resort in Las Vegas, is THE timeshare that gives you the most value for the money. This article will explore this hypothesis and answer the Grandview the Granddaddy of Timeshare Value?
How to Evaluate Timeshares Across Companies: Apples & Oranges
The timeshare industry does not have an easy way to evaluate timeshares strictly based on value like the dollar per square foot metric when you’re looking to purchase real estate. To make matters more complicated, timeshare companies now offer a wide range of timeshare products (fixed week, points system, fractional ownership, deeded ownership, etc.) to meet people’s various vacation preferences.
So how do you figure out the best timeshare to buy for value if you’re trying to compare apples, to oranges, to pineapples to grapes? You compare the two common denominators for every single timeshare ownership resort: the trading power associated with what you’re buying and the maintenance fees you pay every year.
What about the purchase price when buying timeshare properties, you say? All the timeshare resale listings analyzed here are under $2,000. Over the course of 20-year ownership, it is not this small purchase price that drives your value for money, but the annual fees and the annual trading power currency you can receive in return.
That’s why this article focuses on these two elements of timeshare ownership and not the small purchase price of a resale listing.
If you’ve never heard of timeshare exchanges before, one of the most exciting things about owning a timeshare (besides the fact that I have no chores to do at my vacation property) is that you can trade for other timeshare vacations at 4,000+ affiliated resorts across 100+ countries via timeshare exchange companies.
It’s like picking up your vacation home or ski condo and magically moving it around the world for every vacation!
Where Can you Find Timeshare Resales?
One of the best places to find timeshare resale listings is TUG’s owner to owner marketplace. It is one of the largest and most visited timeshares classified ad sites on the internet with millions in timeshare sales, owner direct timeshare rentals, and one-week vacation exchanges between timeshare owners. Who needs an expensive timeshare exit company when there is TUG? If you’re looking for a timeshare exit or a place for a timeshare rental, you don’t need a real estate company with high fees.
For this analysis, I’m running real TUG resale listings through RCI (the world’s largest vacation exchange company) to see how many points of trading power they’d get for their associated annual maintenance fee. Since RCI divides timeshare owners into two separate programs (it’s a complicated story why, and it’s not really relevant for our analysis), I’ll identify the best buy for RCI Weeks owners and the best buy for RCI Points owners.
What is the Best Place to Buy a Timeshare: RCI Points Program
Depending on what resort, and type of timeshare you bought, you might join the RCI Points program. This means that instead of vacationing at your “home resort,” you can deposit your annual week with an exchange company and will receive 10,000’s of RCI points (your trading currency) to use for vacations all across the world. Pretty cool, right?!
When looking for a timeshare resale deal, a veteran of the RCI points program shared, “A good rule of thumb would be to aim for 100 RCI points per dollar of maintenance fee (MF).” Well, let’s take a look at some timeshare resort resale listings to see what purchases would be a good value for the money in the points system!
|Resort/Unit Size||Maintenance Fee (MF)||Total Points||Points per MF Dollar|
|Summer Bay 1 BR||$993||53,000||53 points|
|Silver Lake 2 BR||$1,021.58||86,000||84 points|
|Vacation Village 2 BR||$970||93,400||96 points|
|Massanutten Woodstone 2 BR||$470||55,250||117 points|
|Grandview 1 BR||$417.50||61,000||146 points|
Bullseye: Grandview High Season Purchase
So, the lore of Grandview Las Vegas is confirmed! If you’re looking to buy timeshare properties in the RCI Points system, buying a Grandview high season unit will give you the most value for money. In fact, one-week vacation ownership provides three times the value of a Summer Bay one-bedroom ownership.
Interestingly, at the Grandview resort, the maintenance fees for a high season or low season ownership are the same. So, the bullseye for securing years of future value for your dollar is to buy a timeshare resale listing in one of their nine high season weeks.
In the below chart, you can see that a one-bedroom high season fixed week option gets you the same RCI trading power points as a 2 bedroom low season fixed week for half the annual maintenance fees. That’s why high season resale listings are rare and really are worth the $2,000 one time purchase price vs. a free timeshare resale listing at Summer Bay Resort.
|1 Bedroom||2 Bedroom|
|Week||RCI Points Per Week||RCI Points Per Week|
Down the road, if you ever wanted to enter a timeshare rental program or even shed timeshare ownerships, purchasing something with resale value would allow you to sell without the need for an exit company.
Exchanging Grandview Timeshare Points
To give you a sense of what you can do with these 61,000 RCI timeshare points, you can exchange them for 4+ weeks of vacation every year. Whether it’s the mountains, beach, National Parks, or kid-friendly vacation clubs, you’ll be able to exchange your way to timeshare resort developments in top destinations. It will be hard to go back to the small hotel rooms again!
If you ask me, turning $415 into 4+ week-long vacations in amazing resorts is a total life hack! If you’re interested in more ways to stretch your timeshare ownership outside of timeshare rental programs.
What is the Best Place to Buy a Timeshare: RCI Weeks Program
The RCI Weeks Program is the timeshare exchange I use when not renting or using my 2 bedroom unit. In this program, I receive 23 Trading Power Units (TPU’s) for each week deposited with RCI. When I bought these fixed weeks 15 years ago, I didn’t use value as the #1 purchase driver, but I’m pleased with the trading power we receive at $28.74 per TPU.
Let’s take a look at how that value compares to other resorts and answer: Is a Grandview Resale Purchase also the best value for money for the RCI Week option?
|Resort/Unit Size||Maintenance Fee (MF)||Total TPUs||Dollar-Cost per TPU|
|Greenspring Village 4BR Lockout||$1554||48 TPUs||$32.37|
|Anchorage Resort Key Largo 1BR Week51||$600||23 TPUs||$26.09|
|Vacation Village Weston 2BR Lockout||$947||37 TPUs||$25.59|
|Grandview Tri-Annual 1 BR||$417||17 TPUs||$24.53|
|Kahana Falls Floating Week Studio||$650||45 TPUs||$14.44|
Bullseye: Independent Maui Resort Purchase
While the Grandview tri-annual timeshare ownership is a super low-cost way to join the world of timesharing, a Kahana Falls floating week in Maui knocks the Grandview out of the top value spot in the RCI Weeks Program.
People love tri-annual vacation ownerships as the per-year financial commitment is minimal, and they have access to exchange company deals. The Grandview offers one of the lowest triannual offerings in the timeshare industry at $139 a year (or $417 every three years).
One of the best bargains in the timeshare industry is Last Minute Deals. When these exchange companies have untraded rooms, they offer them for $299 a week, 45 days from check-in. If you’d like to read more about this frugal way to vacation at beautiful vacation club resorts, check out “Timeshare Vacation Master Class: RCI Last Calls.”
Exchanging Kahana Falls Trading Currency
This Kahana Falls floating week vacation ownership was advertised on TUG as a “Monster Trader,” and the owner wasn’t exaggerating! She wants to timeshare exit some of her real estate in cities with complicated Airbnb rental regulations, so she is giving this away. Even though I already own 13 timeshare weeks, I’m really interested in this free vacation club listing that provides 45 TPUs for $660 a year.
To give you an idea of how one could use 45 TPUs with the RCI Weeks Program, you could exchange for 15 timeshare weeks in a one-bedroom at Vacation Village Orlando. A timeshare rental of a one-bedroom at this kid-friendly resort on a bargain hotel website runs $738 a week. After including the exchange fees, you’d get it for 66% of the bargain travel site price.
Who needs a vacation home in Florida with upkeep responsibilities when you could snowbird for the entire winter in a resort with 7 pools and loads of vacation club amenities at this price. You know where to find me in retirement!
Hawaii has always been a costly place to vacation, but staying in timeshares vs. hotels makes it much more accessible. The average Hawaii hotel room rate is $330 a night, making this week-long condo cost of $660 a real deal! Many timeshare exchange companies offer bonus weeks to sweeten the pot if you deposit your Hawaii timeshare week with them.
This means I could transform my $660 Hawaii week into two weeks of Hawaii condo accommodations. That’s only $88 a night, taking into account exchange company fees. Aloha!
Thanks for joining me today! If you approach buying timeshare properties or vacation club ownerships with ‘dollars and sense,’ you will be setting yourself up to enjoy years of beautiful resorts for Motel 6 prices. Happy Timeshare Travels, ya’ll!
This article originally appeared on Your Money Geek and has been republished with permission.
Ibotta is an amazing cashback app that helps you save money on all of your everyday purchases.
It’s my favorite of all the money-saving apps. This Ibotta review will help you decide if this app will be beneficial to you.
Spoiler alert: Unless you never buy anything, you will probably be able to save money with Ibotta.
This Ibotta review will cover everything you ever wanted to know about this money-saving app. You’ll discover what Ibotta is, how you can earn cashback from using it, and even how they make their money, so you’ll see that it’s a legitimate service.
What is Ibotta
Ibotta is an app that lets you earn cashback on purchases. It can be used in person at malls, big box stores, many grocery stores, or online at Amazon, and even on a few travel websites. Pretty much anyone can find a use for this app.
Is Ibotta Legitimate?
A big question people ask about Ibotta is whether it’s legitimate or not. Anything that professes to offer money for nothing has to be a scam, right? That’s a valid concern, but Ibotta is not a scam. It’s a legitimate company that does offer cashback on a variety of purchases.
Does Ibotta Really Give you Money?
Yes, Ibotta really gives you money! I’ve made over a hundred dollars just by uploading a few receipts.
It’s effortless to start earning with Ibotta. I made six bucks the very first time I used it while grocery shopping. I only spent a hundred dollars total during that trip, so that app basically saved me 6%. Who wouldn’t want to save money on groceries?
Though Ibotta gives beginners a ton of bonuses and easy ways to earn, if you aren’t much of a shopper, it will be harder for you to earn money after getting those initial bonuses. I went through a period where I only used it for grocery shopping, and sometimes I’d only earn ten cents on a given shopping trip. That’s not going to be FU money anytime soon, but those little things add up, so I happily take that small amount!
How Do you Make Money with Ibotta?
There are various ways to make money with Ibotta, and all you have to do for each of them is shop. You can earn cash back at supermarkets by uploading your receipt, get paid to shop at many stores using Ibotta pay, and link Ibotta to your online accounts to earn rewards for online shopping.
Earning cash back with their receipt upload function is easy. I love it because it’s one of the only options for cash users to take advantage of cashback shopping. Unfortunately, for now, it’s only available at grocery stores, but everyone needs groceries.
To earn your rewards, log in to Ibotta and check out the deals they have at your grocery store of choice (and don’t forget to check the “any offers” section!). Tap the little plus sign (+) icon associated with the offer. From there, the item gets added to your list. After you purchase your items, log back into the app, and hit the “redeem” button on the bottom. Follow the instructions to take a photo of your receipt and upload it.
Ibotta may ask you to verify some of the purchases by scanning the product barcode. Once you verify your purchases, Ibotta will review everything and send you your cash. Usually, the process only takes a few minutes, but Ibotta cautions that it may take up to twenty-four hours.
Cash-Back at your Favorite Stores
Many of your favorite stores partner with Ibotta to offer cashback rewards on in-store purchases. Home Depot offers 2% cashback, Barnes & Noble offers 5%, Sephora offers 6%, and Michaels offers a whopping 7% cashback on in-store purchases. Many other stores and restaurants offer cashback in-store as well – be sure to download Ibotta for the full list.
Using Ibotta to get cashback at these places is a little complicated. It would be better to upload a receipt or scan your app at checkout regardless of the payment method. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. Instead, you need to purchase a gift card with Ibotta pay, and then use that gift card to pay for your purchases.
First, you have to link a debit card to Ibotta Pay. One thing to note is that it must be a debit card. Ibotta no longer allows you to link credit cards. Then, you find your favorite retailer on Ibotta and purchase the gift card with them directly. You then use this gift card that you just purchased to pay for the items that you are buying.
I used this method at GameStop when I bought my Nintendo Switch, and although it was a bit complicated, I earned $17 cashback, so it was well worth it. Although you can purchase the gift card at home before you go to the store, that creates a challenge because you don’t know how much you will be spending.
I purchased my GameStop gift card right at the register, so I knew the exact amount that I would be needing. It was a bit awkward, as I took an extra minute to complete my purchase, but it was worthwhile to prevent overspending.
See Related: Sites Where You Can Play Games for Paypal Money
Earn Cashback with Online Shopping
Many of your favorite online retailers offer cashback when you shop online through Ibotta. To earn extra cash through online shopping, log into your Ibotta account, and then search for your favorite retailer.
For example, let’s say you want to shop online at Kohls. When you log into Ibotta and search “Kohls,” you’ll see a .5% cashback offer and a green “shop” button. When you click the “shop” button, you will be redirected to the Kohls website, where you can make all of your purchases. As long as you have logged in via Ibotta, and you can see the Ibotta offer at the bottom of the page, your purchases will be eligible for the cashback.
You will not see your earnings in your account until your order has been shipped and processed. This can take up to 90 days, but usually, it only takes a few days.
Hundreds of retailers partner with Ibotta to offer you cashback on your everyday purchases. Best Buy, Target, Banana Republic, Foot Locker, and Microsoft are just a small sampling of the stores with cashback offers available on Ibotta. Chances are, your favorite retailer offers cash pack as well.
Earn Extra Money with Bonuses
Ibotta keeps things entertaining by offering numerous ways to make money with bonuses. They make it incredibly easy for new customers to earn extra with the “In-store purchase” bonus and the ten-dollar sign-on bonus. They also offer monthly bonuses, seasonal bonuses, and other random bonus opportunities throughout the year.
Some brands also offer bonuses if you redeem their offers on multiple occasions. For example, I Dunkin’ Donuts bonus by redeeming the Dunkin Creamer offer three times when it was available. These bonuses are constantly changing, but many of your favorite brands, including Kraft and Pepsi, have offered them.
Make Extra Money by Referring Friends
A final way you can earn money with Ibotta is by referring friends. You get five dollars for each referral, and you get the money as soon as your friend uploads their first receipt and redeems their first offer.
Another cool thing about referring your friends is that you become a team, and you can help each other earn a little extra each month. Every person you refer becomes a member of your team, and as your team earns individually, you can collectively work towards earning team bonuses. Usually, the first level is only fifty cents, but that adds up over time!
Is Using Ibotta Time Consuming?
One of my top fears in using this app is that it would take too much time. I don’t want to do anything tedious to make a few cents. That’s not worthwhile to me. But fortunately, using Ibotta is easy and only takes a few extra minutes.
If you Scan Ibotta for offers while writing out your grocery list, it will only take you a few extra minutes. Uploading the receipt and scanning the barcode takes a minute or two, depending on how many offers you have. Sometimes you may only have ten cents, but other times you can score five to ten dollars’ worth of cashback offers in one go! All of those things add up.
How Do you get the Money from Ibotta?
One of the drawbacks of using Ibotta is that you don’t get paid immediately. You have to earn twenty dollars before being able to redeem anything. But, since Ibotta offers too many ways to make extra cash, it’s easy to get to the twenty-dollar payout threshold. A few trips to the grocery store and one or two online purchases should be enough to get you to that threshold.
I think it’s a little better to wait for the payout, though. You won’t notice a few cents being added to your account here and there, but you definitely will notice the twenty bucks. It’s a feel-good win.
What is the Catch With Ibotta?
Everything has a catch, and Ibotta is no different. The catch is that if you aren’t paying attention to what you are buying, you may spend more money than you normally would. For example, Ibotta had a fifty-cent cashback offer on Ball Park hot dog buns. Sounds good, right?
But Ball Park buns are generally two bucks and some change, and the generic brand is only 87 cents. If I had used that deal, I’d end up spending a dollar more on hot dog buns than I usually do! It’s easy to avoid that trap, though. You have to pay attention to prices.
The other catch is that you sometimes have to switch brands to get a deal. I usually buy Coffee-Mate creamer, but there was a $1 cashback offer on Dunkin Donuts’ creamer. The Dunkin creamer was a dollar more (paying attention to the price!), but it was the larger quantity.
Using the deal got me the bigger bottle of creamer for the same price as the small one! I don’t mind switching brands on a few items to get a better deal. However, make sure you are paying attention to the price. Don’t use an offer if you’ll end up spending more in the long run.
One final catch is that you have to earn ten dollars’ worth of cashback rewards within 14 days of signing up to earn your ten-dollar sign-on bonus. One trip to the grocery store got me more than halfway there, so I’m sure most people will be able to achieve this challenge.
How Does Ibotta Make Money?
Ibotta is, at its core, a marketing company. When you use this app, you have to remember that you aren’t the customer. You’re the product. Ibotta makes money off of you by tracking your data and sharing it with their partners. The companies use this data to understand consumer behavior and learn how to market their products better.
“Perform aggregated, pseudonymous (unless otherwise consented by you) analytics that may be used for Ibottas and any third parties’ marketing, advertising, and data enrichment activities”.
This basically means that they use the information they collect to help their partners with marketing and advertising, but they combine the data so that no one person is singled out.
Ibotta also makes money by having users complete surveys or answer simple questions on some of their offers. These activities also offer their partners valuable data that can be used for better marketing campaigns.
A final way they make money is through affiliate sales. They offer a short video for users to watch and earn a small commission if they redeem the video’s offer. They may also earn small commissions for other offers that are redeemed.
Is Ibotta Right For You?
I hope this Ibotta review clarified all the questions you had about Ibotta and helped you realize that it is a legitimate company that really can help you save tons of money on your everyday purchases. If you don’t mind a company collecting your data (and most of us let Facebook do it for free), then it’s a perfect way to get cashback.
In my opinion, it’s the best cashback out there. So what are you waiting for? Head to Ibotta and start saving today!
This article originally appeared on Your Money Geek and has been republished with permission.