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Newbie question re: Exchange Companies


Sep 7, 2008
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I'm considering buying a timeshare (haven't picked one out yet, but looking on eBay). I've been reading up on all the FAQs (esp Steve Nelson's Timeshare 101) but I still have some questions regarding the exchange process. Would appreciate some opinions on this stuff!

1. Should I go with RCI or II? I suppose it may depend on which resort I buy at and whether they have affiliations with RCI or II already. But if I'm starting from scratch, which one is better? I heard II has a program where you can request first, but is that worth anything? Is it worth looking into one of the smaller independent exchange companies, if I'm looking at primarily the popular domestic sites?

2. Do I even need to go with an exchange company? I definitely want the option to trade for other locations, but it seems like RCI/II charge both an annual fee and an exchange fee. That plus the annual maintenance on the timeshare, seems like a lot. What if I go without an exchange company? How good are the other websites (classifieds, internal sites at resorts, condorentals.com?) at allowing us to trade for cheaper than what RCI/II charge?

Thanks in advance!
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Jun 6, 2005
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Northern, CA
Resorts Owned
WKORV, WKV, SDO, 4-Kauai Beach Villas, Island Park Village (Yellowstone), Hyatt High Sierra, Dolphin's Cove (Anaheim) NEW: 2 Lawa'i Beach Resort!
Exchanging is challenging even when you use an exchange company - without one, it becomes far more difficult. You might want to consider one of the systems that has an internal exchange program or a a points system. You might also browse through the exchange board in the TUG timeshare Marketplace to see what is being offered and what people are looking for - mostly it's the better resorts being requested. Buying just for exchanging can be frustrating unless you are extremely flexabile about when and where you go.


TUG Member
Jun 6, 2005
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There is a reason you pay a fee for the exchange companies - they do all the work for you, and take all the risk.

Say you have a 2BR unit on the beach in September - not high season, but still somewhat popular. If you don't want to use your week you have the following choices:

1 - use an exchange company. You deposit your week, and exchange it for a week where you want to travel. You don't have to worry about who will use your week - the exchange company will take care of that. If more weeks are available than people who want to use them, you don't have to worry - you still get a week to use elsewhere.

2 - Place your week with a rental agency, and use the proceeds to rent a week where you want to go. This can work, if you can find a reasonable rental where you want to travel. But remember those fees to the exchange company? Well, now you will pay them in the form of a commission to the rental agency. Also, you take the risk that your week won't rent.

3 - Rent the week yourself. This should work fine if you have a peak-demand week at one of the best resorts. But there are still risks - unless you require fees upfront, and have a no-refund policy, you risk your renter backing out. As with the agency, you do still have the risk of not finding a renter, and you might not want to deal with the amount of work involved in renting your week - negotiating with people, the contracts...

As a new timeshare owner, unless you are already familiar with rental real estate, you're better off starting with an exchange company, whether that is one of the big companies or a smaller independant.

As for the big Companies, II and RCI are very similar. II does offer request first, but I don't know that it's really that much of a benefit - when everybody uses it, you have to wait for II to get an exchange for the person who owns the week you want to use before it will be deposited. With deposit first, that person commits to letting someone use their week, without knowing what they will get in return.

All the exchange companies fill different roles - RCI has the most affiliated resorts, but some are a bit run-down, the smaller companies don't accept all resorts and are each better for certain exchanges, depending where they concentrate their efforts.


Tug Review Crew
TUG Member
Feb 10, 2007
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Los Angeles
As Denise mentioned, you might look at a resort which is part of a system who offers internal exchanges within the system they are part of. There are several large brand names and some smaller ones as well.

Example: I own Hilton (HGVC) and exchange within their system. I also own a week at a small resort which is managed by a company called VRI. VRI has just rolled out it's own internal system among hundreds of other resorts it manages, which is run by RCI. The advantage to VRI's internal system is you don't have to belong to RCI and the exchange fee's are less.

Also HGVC offers "select" RCI resorts which can be booked with HGVC's currency (points), which potentially opens up destinations not part of HGVC, subject to availability. That last qualifier (availability) is what makes exchaging a bit of a challange and something you need to evaluate when considering purchasing a resort or system. I really like to go to Maui and availbility was an issue, so I purchased a week at a resort there we like.

It can help to make a list of 10 destinations you'd like to visit over the next 5 - 10 years and try to match them up with systems that can take you there internally.