Timeshares used to be all the rage. For a reasonable price, you can visit the same (or sometimes different) exotic location every year and have a spot guaranteed for you. Well, at least that’s what they tell you during the sales pitch. But are timeshares worth it? The short answer is no.

Timeshares are often associated with scams. Although you can good value when purchasing a timeshare, generally speaking, they’re a pretty bad investment. The whole business is a bit deceptive and arguably predatory. Timeshare companies are aware of their reputation which is why they’ll offer some pretty generous gifts just to attend one of their presentations.

Despite what you may have heard, you may still be interested in purchasing a timeshare. There’s nothing wrong with that, but here’s what I know about timeshares and how they relate to your money.

What are timeshares?

Let’s be clear, timeshares are still very popular with travellers and are a huge business. Timeshares are based on fractional ownership in a property. If you purchase a one-week timeshare, you own 1/52 of the property. Alternatively, if you purchase a month, you own 1/12 of the property. Costs are split between the owners which is why timeshares are appealing.

Even though the concept of timeshares sounds simple enough, they come in two different forms.

Deeded – You own a specific time of the timeshare that you can use, rent, or sell.

Non-deeded – Instead of owning part of the timeshare, you agree to lease the property for a set time each year. You usually get more flexibility here and often you’ll get access to more than one property.

Now, this may sound simple enough, but things can still get complicated. Your agreement will either give you a set week every year or a floating week where you can choose when to vacation based on your contract and availability. There’s also timeshares that operate on a points system where you purchase points and use them at select properties. Some points can be carried over for a few years, which may or may not be a benefit to the owner.

Fees and charges

Since timeshares are a unique type of property, you likely won’t be able to qualify for a traditional mortgage. What that means is that you’ll need to get a loan from the timeshare company or some other source. Of course, that means you’ll be at the mercy of their interest rate. Now, you could refinance your home so you’re getting access to better rates, but as you’ll soon find out, you probably don’t want to do that.

Besides the loan, you also need to factor in any annual maintenance fees and possibly property taxes. That could run you anywhere from $500 – 800 dollars a year. That might sound reasonable, but you’re essentially paying a fee to possibly go on a vacation every year. That’s not a good deal.

Are timeshares worth it?

Not at all. When you buy a timeshare from a developer, the value decreases instantly. Quite often timeshares are even “worthless” as soon as you buy them. It doesn’t matter if you’re buying a popular brand, the resale value isn’t there. Check eBay, kijiji, or any resale site and you’ll see that people are trying to give them away at a considerable loss. The salespeople will tell you how they’re great investments, but there is no market for resale timeshares.

Now, if you were gifted a timeshare at no cost, you may think you’re getting a deal, but you’re still paying those maintenance fees we talked about which only increase every year. If you happen to be on a points system timeshare, you may end up paying additional fees when booking a different resort.

Timeshares are often positioned as a vacation with options, but that’s simply not true. Quite often you’ll run into some pretty strict rules about the dates you have and the ability to switch them. Although you can carry points over, they tend to have a three year limit. Points can also be sold, but look online and you’ll see people who are practically giving them away.

Even if someone tells you that timeshares are a great deal because they only pay $X per year, it means nothing unless you get proof. Timeshares are expensive to own!

That said, timeshares can be valuable to some people. Some travellers love going to the same resort or property every month and a timeshare pretty much guarantees them a similar rate every year. There are also some timeshares such as Disney Vacation Club which are incredibly popular since it allows you to stay at Disney owned properties. 

Some people also think of timeshares as an investment, but I’ve made it pretty clear that they’re not worth it. If you’re looking for ways to invest your money, invest in ETFs with a robot advisor such as JustWealth, Wealthsimple or Wealth Bar. I personally think it’s better to invest in the market, not a single asset. Note that those are Canadian robo advisors.

Are timeshare presentations worth it?

Yes and no. The appeal of timeshare presentations is the gifts that come with it. All you need to do is sit through a presentation and you’ll be given tickets to a free dinner, concert, or other “valuable” things. If timeshares are such great investments, why do companies have to give you free stuff just to sit through a presentation?

It’s fine if you decide that 3 hours of your time is worth a $100 meal or an 8-hour session is a good value when you’re getting a $1,000 trip in return. I personally sat through a timeshare presentation in the Caribbean that lasted about two hours. I said no to every attempt at a sale and got vouchers for free activities and meal upgrades that lasted me for the rest of my trip. I probably got about $500 in value out of those vouchers so my time was worth $250 an hour. Not a bad deal.

During the presentation, salespeople will tell you how a week in your timeshare is worth $3000-$5000 as a way to convince you to buy. Those numbers are never accurate, and can’t be believed. Also note that timeshare salespeople are trained in high-pressure sales tactics. They’ll start at a high price, say $15,000 and keep offering discounts to make it sound like you’re getting a deal of a lifetime. You’ll never end up ahead.

Sitting through a timeshare presentation could be worth your time if you’re going for the free gifts, but rarely is getting an actual timeshare worth it. If you’re unsure, just take the paperwork and do additional research after. 

Final thoughts

Are timeshares worth it? I’m pretty sure that you’ve figured out by now that they’re not a good investment. Timeshares are hard to sell and it may even be difficult to give them away. That being said, if you like going to the same destination every year, then perhaps timeshares may have value to you. If you’re just looking for cheap accommodations when you travel, use a website such as booking.com where you can browse hotels, serviced apartments, vacation homes and more.

Are Timeshares Worth it?

24 Comments

  1. Gerrt Lobel on November 29, 2017 at 10:39 AM

    A much better way to explore different places is Airbnb. No upfront purchase, no maintenance fees… Just the cost of the time you want to rent the apartment, etc.
    Maintenance fees for timeshares are usually in US dollars or Euros… Another negative if you’re Canadian.
    Had good experiences with Airbnb but as always… Do your research and due diligence.

  2. Brian Fraser on November 29, 2017 at 12:01 PM

    I don’t totally agree with this. We have a timeshare in Daytona Beach which we purchased for $105 US plus closing fees of $225 a few years back. This timeshare is well managed and well-funded for their operations. It’s also survived hurricanes with very little damage. Yes the maintenance fees have been going up each year but minimally. Each year we have been letting a member of our family use for a week’s vacation in Florida. All they have to do is get there and look after their meals, transportation, and entertainment costs just like any other vacation. What they save is the accommodation expense which can be a lot more than the annual timeshare maintenance fee. I am not concerned about the resale value of this timeshare at all. There are lots of timeshare opportunities at a reasonable cost out there if you just take the time to look.

  3. Yaya on February 27, 2018 at 6:52 PM

    It’s all about your preference. If you like to vacation and will use your timeshare weeks plus bonus weeks, then it is a good investment. Disney Resorts are very popular. If you look at all of the money you will pay for a hotel during your vacation and compare it to the cost of a timeshare purchase then you could be over spending. It is all about YOUR preference and you vacation time.

    • Barry Choi on February 27, 2018 at 7:12 PM

      Yaya,

      It’s true, it really is a personal preference and there can be value for some travellers

  4. Conniet on August 11, 2018 at 7:48 AM

    I just purchased a time share in Honolulu with the Hilton and I appreciate the comment about it being a personal preference and you will utilize the other benefits. The only hesitation I still have is the annual Fee for stAte taxes/fees. It’s high for us being Canadian but we really enjoy our vacation time in Hawaii.

    • Barry Choi on August 11, 2018 at 8:15 AM

      If you enjoy Hawaii and go there often, then a timeshare likely makes good sense.

    • Djs on August 2, 2020 at 2:38 PM

      We purchased a time share in Florida on the points system. Got nothing but the run around when trying to get room anywhere. They promised me that I could go anywhere using my points. Anytime I tried the rooms where booked 1 to 2 years out. I was trying to book a year in advance. Come to find out that the company was holding back the rooms to sell them somewhere else for more money. They were caught twice & were sued & lost but continue to do it. Well after a year & $4500.00 plus payments. I am free of the timeshare. The writer is correct in saying that it is a scam.

  5. Ty on April 9, 2019 at 5:54 PM

    I’m looking for a timeshare, but I do not want to pay in US dollars. I am Canadian and right now the exchange rate is $1.40 Canadian for $1.00 US dollar.

    • Barry Choi on April 9, 2019 at 6:28 PM

      Ty,

      Even if the timeshares are listed in Canadian, they’ll likely be automatically from USD so you won’t actually save anything.

    • Luisa on November 19, 2019 at 4:16 PM

      Hi Ty,

      I have a timeshare for sale and I accept to sell it for Canadian dollars. Let me know if interested
      Luisa

      • Ty on November 19, 2019 at 4:33 PM

        I’m interested, can you please provide more details.

      • Luisa on November 19, 2019 at 8:47 PM

        Ty, can We correspond thru email? If so please send me yours thanks

        Luisaforner10@gmail.com

    • Lynda on June 30, 2020 at 1:35 PM

      We purchased a time share with a point system. I go to Northstar 2 or 3 times a year, San Diego every other year and either Kaui or Cabo San Lucas once a year. Top accommodations, friendly staff and access to exchange properties all over the globe. It works for us.

      • Mickey on July 9, 2020 at 9:30 PM

        Sounds like Welk and I have Welk timeshare. I enjoy and find it worth it because I take lots of trips per year. They use a point system but also offer great discounts if you ran out of point and don’t want to buy more in the same year.

    • Brenda on July 27, 2020 at 11:23 PM

      We bought a timeshare in Las Vegas 4 years ago. During the sales pitch we asked about the dollar difference and they discounted the price even more. We were very happy with our purchase until COVID 19 hit, and we won’t be traveling to US for a long while.

  6. Paul Berman on October 7, 2019 at 10:53 AM

    A timeshare in the United states is probably less risky than Mexico since you would be able to leverage the courts system if its a scam. In Mexico the legal system is very difficult to use when you are non local nit to mention expensive.

  7. Sean on January 7, 2020 at 2:06 AM

    My parents bought a few weeks in the 80’s. One of the problems was when the economic downturn came at the end of the 80*s/early 90’s, many owners couldn’t pay their maintenance fees and so it fell to the remaining owners to pay the defaulter’s share and the increased amounts led to ore defaults. A vicious cycle.

  8. Shannon Pruitt on January 15, 2020 at 5:16 PM

    We have Wyndam points system and really enjoy it. Matter of preference

  9. Taylor Hansen on March 25, 2020 at 4:14 PM

    It’s good to know that timeshares guarantee a similar rate every year. I’ve been wanting to purchase a timeshare in Oahu this summer so I can have a good excuse to visit Hawaii all the time. Thanks for the tips and I’ll have to contact a real estate agent to see what my options are for a timeshare in Hawaii.

  10. Dovie Williams on July 20, 2020 at 7:37 AM

    Timeshare: Westgate Town Center- Kissimmee, FL. I own a Westgate timeshare in Kissimmee, FL. I have it for 1 week every other year. I bought it when I was young & just starting out in my career. I was able to manage the payments, when I went back to school; however, it was difficult at times. Now, I own it, but I have to pay the maintenance/taxes fees- which has increased from approximately $500 to over $1100+ every other year. I think that’s a lot. I have used it much, but recently I took some of my siblings & their kids to Kissimmee/Orlando to use the timeshare for the 1st time. They loved it. We saved tons of money in lodging costs, as we had a party of 15 people. My timeshare is ideally located near Disney in the Orlando area & it is approximately, 45mins from Tampa, Florida- where Busch Garden is. We Ll have kids now, & there’s so much we haven’t done yet. We can go to Orlando for many years & never get bored. I think this timeshare location was worth it.

    • Barry.Choi on July 20, 2020 at 8:18 AM

      Dovie,

      Timeshares can be worth it for some people. If you enjoy visiting the same place it definitely has value. Some timeshares also allow you to try different properties. But like you’ve stated, the maintenance fees can be expensive. Selling timeshares can also be difficult.

  11. John Walker on July 27, 2020 at 9:01 PM

    I have a timeshare at temptation Cancun.l bought in 2010,and upgraded in 2011.lt includes 6 referral weeks/year and has no maintenance fee.BUT l have only used it 3 times because they refused to book me twice(without a valid reason).On one occasion they called me back to book the trip,but l already booked elsewhere,and they didn’t pay referral fees which would have allowed me to travel for free.l have no legal recourse,and of course it’s impossible to sell.Dont buy a timeshare, especially out of the country.

  12. sam Misale on July 28, 2020 at 10:42 PM

    I purchased Disney Vacation Club for 58 dollars a point 8 years ago the have now doubled on the resale market tripled if bought through disney that’s a pretty good investment. if I decide not to go I can’t rent my points which doubles my maintenance fees so I make money if I decide not to go money in the bank. I have made over 10,000 renting point and only paid 11,600 plus maintenance fees of 1,200 a year for rooms at rack rates that cost 3000-6000 a week to stay there

  13. Joan on August 9, 2020 at 1:00 AM

    I have a deeded timeshare in Tahoe and we love it as it encouraged us to go on vacation and go to countries and various parts of the States we’ve never been before. I’m not a fan of the various exchange and annual fees that come with it but if you add it up, for me it is a reasonable price. My overall cost is $140/day for a 2 week vacation in 2 different places each year. We usually stay at 5 star places with 2 bedroom suites that comes with a full kitchen which are at least $400-$500/night so it is worth having a timeshare. The downside: you have to manage your allotted time and be patient. If you’re flexible with availability and location, it is definitely worth it. We got to stay in San Francisco which are $300-$500/night for my cost! It is preference and my timeshare is worth it!

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