We examined 10 of the leading timeshare companies, and after careful consideration found three of the best options. We analyzed timeshare owner reviews, resort amenities, quality of service and other factors during our timeshare company evaluations. Three companies distinguished themselves from all others: Bluegreen Vacations, RCI and Diamond Resorts.
In this guide, we’ll explore timeshare companies, how timeshare ownership works and the benefits of buying a shared vacation property. We also evaluate the top timeshare companies so you can find one to match your expectations.
Top Timeshare Tips:
- Look to purchase a resale timeshare for the best deal
- Make sure you understand ownership rules like whether you own the property for life, until you sell it or a predetermined number of years.
- Beware of timeshare scams like paying money before a property has been built or not including maintenance and upkeep in the contract.
What to Know if you Buy a Timeshare
Today, approximately 9.1 million households own a timeshare. While a popular vacation option, not all timeshares are created equal. One timeshare may work well for some folks, but there is no guarantee it will prove to be the best option for others. At first, searching for a timeshare may seem overwhelming. There is no shortage of timeshare companies at your disposal, and each one offers a wide range of products and services. However, with careful planning and analysis, you can find a timeshare you can enjoy both now and in the future.
Types of Timeshares
The American Resort Development Association (ARDA) points out at least 1,547 timeshare resorts were available in the United States in 2016. Additionally, ARDA reports these timeshare resorts owned approximately 200,720 units as of 2016. The ARDA statistics indicate there are many timeshares available nationwide, so you’ll want to evaluate your options carefully to narrow your search and make the best possible decision.
Know what type of timeshare you are buying
As you examine timeshares, consider the differences between deeded and right-to-use options. Buy a deeded timeshare, and you have property ownership for a certain amount of time each year. This period usually ranges from one to two weeks. With a deeded timeshare, you can own the timeshare indefinitely, for a set number of years, or until you sell it.
Comparatively, the developer or property management company owns the deed to right-to-use timeshares, and the share you buy gives you the right to use the property at for a certain amount of time annually. Under the terms of a right-to-use contract, you’ll be able to visit the timeshare during a designated interval, but you don’t own the property.
Remember, the price of your timeshare will vary based on the products and services you choose, too. The cost of a deeded timeshare in Hawaii likely will differ from the cost of a right-to-use timeshare at a Colorado mountain resort. But if you review your timeshare options, you can determine the best choice based on your individual needs.
Most large timeshare companies won’t be upfront about their costs. The trade group for timeshare companies, American Resort Development Association (ARDA), says the average cost of a timeshare is around $19,000 per week with a yearly maintenance fee of around $660.
A good rule of thumb is to never pay more for a timeshare than you would for a hotel room at your favorite destination. If you have multiple family members or friends, be sure to include them in the price estimation. Make sure you understand all annual fees associated with your timeshare purchase, the weekly price of your timeshare and compare that with a week’s stay at a popular resort in the same area.
Experts advise to never pay full price and always negotiate for a timeshare. If you can, look to purchase a resale timeshare (used).
Timeshare Company Policies
Learn about a timeshare company’s buy and sell policies
Before you buy a timeshare, there are many questions to consider regarding the timeshare company and its policies. These questions include:
What are my responsibilities as a timeshare owner? In addition to the cost of a timeshare itself, you may be responsible for an annual maintenance fee and other timeshare expenses.
What rules are in place if I want to let a friend or family member use my timeshare? There may be instances where you want to allow a loved one use your timeshare. Be sure to find out if there are any stipulations related to letting others use your timeshare or renting or selling your timeshare.
What happens if I want to cancel my timeshare contract? It is ideal to have a real estate lawyer review your timeshare contract before you sign it. The lawyer can give you expert insights into the contract so you can learn what happens if you decide you want to cancel the agreement.
Avoiding Timeshare Ripoffs
Beware timeshare scams
The FBI notes timeshare scams are used to steal millions of dollars annually from unsuspecting victims across the United States. These scams often begin with unsolicited telephone calls or emails from criminals disguised as timeshare company representatives. In some cases, these representatives will promise a quick timeshare sale or use high-pressure sales tactics to close a deal. They also will encourage timeshare buyers to make an upfront payment ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Once a timeshare buyer pays the scammer, they may never hear back from a timeshare company representative.
When it comes to purchasing a timeshare, do not leave anything to chance. If you perform plenty of research into the company, you can reduce the risk of falling victim to a timeshare scam.
Our Search For The Best Timeshare Companies
1. We searched for a comprehensive list of timeshare companies
2. We analyzed timeshare companies based on timeshare owner reviews, resort amenities, quality of service and other factors
3. We crafted a list of the best timeshare companies for your consideration
The approach we took to narrow down the top timeshare companies was as follows:
- We considered multiple timeshare companies
We began our search with 10 well-known timeshare companies. These companies offer timeshare options in a variety of locations, have varying rates, amenities and services and provide great customer service.
- We checked with experts
We analyzed timeshare companies based on timeshare owner reviews, resort amenities, quality of service and other factors.
- We listened to consumers
We narrowed our scope to shorten the list. We only included companies that had 4 of 5 stars in online customer reviews. We found and removed companies with overwhelming amounts of negative reviews. For example, timeshare companies that seemed to be involved with scamming people were cut.
- We put the best companies on your radar
We delivered the best companies so you can start your search for choosing a timeshare that works best for your situation.
Timeshare Company Reviews
Following our evaluation, we selected the three best timeshare companies: Bluegreen Vacations, RCI and Diamond Resorts. Each of these companies goes the extra mile to accommodate timeshare owners and provide them with memorable vacations.
Bluegreen Vacations Review
Best Timeshare Destinations |
Bluegreen Vacations started operations in 1966, and since then, has been a leading provider of points-based and deeded timeshares. Today, this company supports more than 200,000 timeshare owners and provides them with access to exceptional resorts at budget-friendly rates.
Bluegreen U.S. Destinations
To date, Bluegreen received recognition from TripAdvisor, Choice Hotels and other globally renowned travel brands. Bluegreen strives to offer premium resort accommodations at over 60 resorts across 40 destinations in the continental United States and the Caribbean. It has already helped millions of families enjoy terrific travel experiences and continues to search for ways to upgrade its timeshare products and services.
Bluegreen timeshare owners frequently speak about the flexibility of the company’s points-based system. Bluegreen Vacations ensures timeshare owners can explore new destinations at their convenience. And as a result, Bluegreen offers different services than many other timeshare providers.
Bluegreen Vacations has timeshares in over 20 states, one location in the Bahamas and one location in Aruba. It doesn’t list timeshare pricing on their website but we found Bluegreen Vacation timeshares reselling for anywhere from around $5,000 to over $10,000.
Consumers give Bluegreen Vacations a 2.5-star rating on the Better Business Bureau and 1.5 stars on ConsumerAffairs. Most of the negative complaints talk about misleading sales tactics and feeling like the value of purchased timeshare packages weren’t worth the money.
Best Timeshare Offers and Deals |
RCI has been a top timeshare company for four-plus decades. As the world’s largest timeshare vacation exchange network, RCI helps people plan amazing trips to various global destinations any time they choose.
RCI Special Offers
RCI handled approximately 1.5 million timeshare transactions last year and managed over 53 million altogether. The company provides timeshare owners with convenient access to more than 750,000 exchange and rental vacation accommodations at any given time. Perhaps best of all, RCI offers exclusive deals on vacations, ensuring timeshare owners can book cruises, tropical excursions, and other fun and relaxing trips at reduced rates.
RCI has different tiers of membership which dictate your annual fees. Annual fees can be anywhere from $49 to $399. It also charges miscellaneous fees such as Membership or Deposit Transfer fee ($98) and a Five-year Guest Pass fee ($179). RCI’s basic membership is $99 which gives you access to their exchange program. Simply “deposit” your timeshare week at your home resort for a week at another resort in RCI’s network of affiliated resorts.
RCI has a wide range of consumer reviews online. They have 1.5 stars on ConsumerAffairs with over 40 reviews. The company currently has a 3.7-star rating with the Better Business Bureau. A lot of negative reviews are about persistant phone calls and the membership fees not being worth the money.
Diamond Resorts Review
Best Customer Service |
Diamond Resorts ranks among the best timeshare companies thanks in large part to its customer service. Diamond Resorts employs friendly, knowledgeable staff to assist timeshare owners. If a timeshare owner has concerns or questions about an upcoming trip or requires extra help while he or she is vacationing, the Diamond team is happy to assist.
Screenshot: Diamond Events
You will find many one-of-a-kind travel experiences and events available from Diamond. From Diamond’s concert series to its exclusive VIP dinners and celebrity outings, the company helps timeshare owners find unique experiences.
Diamond makes it simple for timeshare owners to find and book trips as well. The company offers a user-friendly mobile app for your mobile devices, along with easy-to-access online resources and tools for timeshare owners. Diamond also offers a points-based system designed to take the guesswork out of booking timeshare reservations.
Diamond Resort doesn’t list pricing on their website but we found timeshares for as low as $1,995 to more than $60,000 per week online.
After checking our consumer reviews for Diamond Resorts timeshares, we found they have a 1 star rating with TrustPilot, a 2-star rating with Yelp and a 3.7-star rating with the Better Business Bureau. A lot of complaints speak about high fees, in particular maintenance fees, and the membership not being worth the value.
Timeshare Company Review Snapshot
|Bluegreen Vacations||RCI||Diamond Resorts||BBB Rating||2.5 stars||3.7 stars||3.7 stars|
|Timeshare Locations||22 states, Aruba, Bahamas||25 states, Caribbean, Europe, South America, Asia, Australia||12 states, Europe, Caribbean|
|What Consumers Paid||$5,000-$25,000 per week (resale)||$16,000-$21,000 per week (resale)||$5,000-$60,000 per week (resale)|
Frequently Asked Questions about Timeshare Companies
What does a timeshare include?
Timeshares are an arrangement allowing you to visit a set destination over specific dates. Some timeshare companies offer additional perks which may include car rentals, food or airfare.
When can I use my timeshare?
The dates you can use your timeshare vary based on your contract with the timeshare company. Some agreements offer fixed dates during which a person can visit a particular destination, or you may have the flexibility to pick specific dates and locations based on availability.
Can I use a timeshare to visit different locations?
Sometimes – it all depends on your timeshare company. Some companies offer the flexibility to travel to many global destinations while others offer products and services for a single location.
How much does a timeshare cost?
The cost of a timeshare varies based on the company you select, the destination and the services you choose. Also, it is essential to consider your travel expenses and closing and maintenance fees as you evaluate the cost of a timeshare. The American Resort and Development Association reports that the average cost of a timeshare was $20,040.
How is owning a timeshare different from staying at a hotel during a vacation?
A hotel is a one-time vacation cost, while a timeshare gives you the opportunity to guarantee you’ll have a place to stay at a specific destination every year. Over the course of several years, an individual may be able to save money with a timeshare in comparison to booking a hotel at the same destination annually. A timeshare may provide perks you won’t find at a hotel, too.
Are timeshares in high demand?
Yes. A recent Ernst & Young study revealed timeshare sales volume rose 7 percent year over year to $9.2 billion in 2016. As more people search for affordable and convenient travel options, the demand for timeshares may increase in the foreseeable future.
Concluding Thoughts on Timeshares
Timeshare companies often help people save money on travel, enjoy premium travel accommodations and deliver better travel perks.
Planning a vacation is no small feat. Vacation products and services and the prices associated with them vary based on the timeshare company and other factors. But if you analyze your options, you can make a solid, objective decision. A timeshare company will help you streamline your travels. Finding a top-notch timeshare company enables you to enjoy a fun and luxurious travel experience every year. If you make an informed timeshare purchase, you may be able to avoid exorbitant travel costs and other potential issues down the line.