Timeshare Review: Weeks VS Points

Published: 23rd May 2011
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In the world of timeshare, there are two main types of vacation ownership programs—weeks and points. Within each type, and according to the company you purchase your timeshare with, there are different options to choose from and rules of ownership and usage. This creates a huge learning curve for those looking into vacation ownership. There is much research to be done and lifestyle choices you’ll need to factor in before you commit to a particular program. Which program you choose will depend upon several factors:

1) Lifestyle—consider how, when and which way you want or like to vacation and travel.

2) Budget—determine how much you would normally spend on vacationing and how much you can afford to spend for not just the timeshare itself, but vacation travel expenses, food and sightseeing.

3) Locations—make a list of all the places you’ve ever dreamed of traveling to. Then, when researching companies, find out which ones you can you can travel to within their timeshare program. For example, if you buy a fixed week with one timeshare company and there is a point-based resort you’ve always wanted to travel to you’re out of luck, points and weeks don’t mix.

4) Timeshare Companies—take the list of locations you want to visit then find out first whether the resorts there operate by weeks or points. This will help narrow your choices down considerably.

Timeshare Weeks Offer Availability

There are two categories of weeks: fixed weeks and floating weeks. In its infancy, most timeshares were sold as one deeded fixed week. You owned that particular week and every year you could count on that week for vacationing at one spot, in the same unit, every year.

The floating week system used by week-based timeshare companies today still gives you guaranteed availability if you will be traveling at the same time and place every year, but there is more flexibility in owning a floating week. Most floating week programs operate on a color-coded calendar and you can switch your week to another week, but only within the color you purchased and dependent upon availability. Peak or high season weeks are going to cost considerably more than off season weeks, but they give you more choice of times to use your week.

A drawback with many week-based programs, floating or not, is you may only vacation 8 days, 7 nights each year in the same size unit or less within the system. However, there are some timeshare companies which allow for more stays than just the week or weeks purchased. For example, some resorts offer "Bonus Time" which is included with an owner’s deeded week purchase. Based upon availability and unit size owned, an owner can stay at their deeded week resort or other resorts within the resorts system for a designated number of days within their color time for a small fee. So if you used your week three months ago, but want to take a weekend for fishing at a different resort within their system, you could call reservations a certain number of days out, and if something is available, you could book an additional stay. Taking advantage of extra usage can really up the value you get out of your timeshare week program.

If you are unable to use your week, many week-based companies allow you to gift it or rent it out. High season weeks are the most desirable for rental. Deeded weeks can be gifted or willed to anyone the owner desires, because they actually own their accommodations for the week bought.

Timeshare Points Offer Flexibility

The points program is used by many of the largest hotel chains who have ventured into the timeshare industry including Hilton, Marriott, Disney, Wyndham and Starwood. As with the week-based companies, each of the point-based companies has their own unique rules, regulations, and options. The majority of time, the point system gives you the most flexibility out of any of the timeshare options.

Each resort week is assigned so many points, this places a certain value on it in the system. Once you buy at a particular resort, you are allowed a certain number of points to use each year. Timeshare points act as "currency" which gives you the ability to book a stay or stays of varying lengths, in varying size units dependent upon the resort and point plan you purchase. Like with the week-based programs, there are high season and low season point programs and there are resorts more popular than others.

Unlike some of the week-based systems, points do not restrict you to just one week’s stay. Points give you the flexibility of traveling at any time you like, booking any time at any point-based resort, just as long as you have enough points to cover your stay. This type of flexibility is ideal for those who don’t know when they will be able to vacation up to the last minute or for those spontaneous vacationers.

In the points system, as with the weeks system, the annual maintenance fee is a given and must be paid every year, However, with points you can take more vacation time throughout the year, borrow points from your next year’s allotment and even purchase additional points. With these advantages in mind, some point’s members are seeing a savings per stay of up to 45%.

According to recent timeshare stats, it is estimated over 50% of week-based timeshare companies have switched to the points system to give greater flexibility to their owners. Others say they enjoy the variety a point system has to offer. Many of the biggest point-based companies have literally hundreds of locations within their systems. Others like the feeling of ownership and availability they get by owning their week.

Which is the best program for you? If you do the research suggested above you’ll be able to make an educated purchase and enjoy great vacations for years to come, whichever company and system you choose.

Robert Howells has been in the timeshare sales and marketing field for over 20 years. He has extensive knowledge in all aspects of timeshare sales and marketing. His primary focus is timeshare internet marketing. He founded the World Timeshare Directory which is a complete timeshare resource consisting of various timeshare categories with contact information for all timeshare hotel brands, independent timeshare developers, timeshare resale companies, timeshare exchange companies, timeshare support services, user groups, forums, publications, timeshare associations and all timeshare resorts in the world. Go to www.worldtimesharedirectory.com for more information and to research the timeshare industry.

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