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Old February 28, 2010, 01:37 AM   #1
sissy_ib
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Can you explain RCI to me?

I know how a traditional timeshare works and I know it is not for me. I want to travel, not go to the same place year after year. Can anyone explain how RCI works? I know there is a points system and weeks, but how do those two systems work? Do you pay a set price (plus yearly dues) and own it for a certain number of years like a traditional timeshare? And what are the cost? I would love to get in to it if I am able to use it in locations all over the world. All the information I have been able to find on it is very confusing. I have found points charts but no price information for the points. Any help is much appreciated.
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Old February 28, 2010, 04:10 AM   #2
brankatz
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Trying to explain RCI could take many books of information and is prob not the answer you are looking for anyway. What you are asking is can you travel around the world if you own a time share and get a better deal than if you choose to use search engines and wing it on your own. The answer most likely no. My personal experience with time sharing is I purchased a unit to make myself and family take a vacation at a specific time every year at a resort I love. Do I use RCI never to trade my original rarely to trade my second resort now I have a third I use exclusively to trade but you must plan well in advance. For instance I traded time share number 3 the maintenance fees equate to 700 a year plus the cost of rci member ship weeks side 90 a year or points side 124 per year plus the cost of the exchange up to 179 per exchange weeks side for a week. Now does that equate to savings sometimes in this equation it does but it is still not cheap and requires alot of planning. Now if you plan on taking advantage of some of there Last call(no exchange fee, no maintenance fee, just a booking fee and cost of yearly enrolement into RCI) you can get some cheap vacations but you have to get a little lucky hear also. The other side of the equation is the points side, you must own a points resort (cost of maintenance fee varies, RCI membership fee 124 per year, and the exchange fee varies usually 139 for a full 7 day trade) you can get some very good deals with short notice exchanges in points side for as little as 7500 points plus the cost of exchange and figure in the annual fee but these require a flexible ability to travel on short notice(within 45 days). When i travel out of the country especially to an all inclusive resort I find an online search engine usually gets me a better price and requires a lot less energy to find a deal. So that is why most on this forum will tell you buy where you want to travel every year and if you happen to enjoy the experience of ownership than take advantage of the other perks that happen on occassion. My best trades 2 weeks in Hawaii big island, 2 weeks on St. thomas, week in Key west, 2 weeks on DVC resort, but each one of those weeks cost me around 1000 dollars as a pure trade stand point. Could have traveled for less but not usually with the comforts of home full kitchen, 2 bathrooms.

Last edited by brankatz; February 28, 2010 at 04:13 AM.
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Old February 28, 2010, 10:44 AM   #3
Conan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sissy_ib View Post
I know how a traditional timeshare works and I know it is not for me. I want to travel, not go to the same place year after year. Can anyone explain how RCI works? I know there is a points system and weeks, but how do those two systems work? Do you pay a set price (plus yearly dues) and own it for a certain number of years like a traditional timeshare? And what are the cost? I would love to get in to it if I am able to use it in locations all over the world. All the information I have been able to find on it is very confusing. I have found points charts but no price information for the points. Any help is much appreciated.
Exchanging through RCI requires buying a timeshare week (resale) where your unit is eligible for exchange on RCI (almost all timeshares participate in RCI Weeks exchanges; only certain units at certain properties have RCI Points allotted to them). Don't forget besides the purchase price and closing costs, as owner you'll need to pay annual maintenance fees and occasional special assessments, just like someone who owns a coop or condo apartment except yours is a 1/52nd or 1/50th share. So if owning a timeshare is not for you then you're not going to be making vacation exchanges through RCI.

If you want to do exchanges through RCI, then besides buying a timeshare you'll need to buy membership in RCI (annual dues). If it's RCI Weeks, you'll decide whether and when to deposit (bank) use of your week for a particular year, which will entitle you to use somebody else's banked week. What you're allowed to take in exchange for what you've deposited is determined by RCI Weeks' secret system; generally you want to deposit a week that has good trading value (supply and demand so a July week in Cape Cod, for example, can see many more exchange offers than the same property's October week), and you want to make the deposit about a year in advance. Once you've made a Weeks deposit you have generally a two year window to find an exchange that you want to use.

[The company that owns RCI allows itself to take some of those deposits and rent them for cash, which is one reason that timeshare owners are often disappointed with what's available to them to reserve. This has been the subject of a lawsuit but at this point it's also a fact of life. So if you're not going to buy a timeshare you should be looking at the agencies that offer those weeks to the public at a cash price.]

If you don't bank the week you own, it's there for you to use, or to rent for cash if you can find a taker.

If you own a fixed week that's what you bank; if you own a floating week you'll do well to choose a "good" week to deposit. If it's RCI Points your ownership will entitle you to a certain number of RCI Points (so make sure you know what the week you buy entitles you to). In RCI Points the deposit of your week and receipt of its points is generally automatic - - if you want to use the week you own or rent it out for cash you have to call ahead and cancel the automatic deposit.

There's no charge to deposit your week (apart from initial membership and annual dues) but there's a hefty exchange fee (almost $200) to reserve somebody else's banked week. So if the maintenance on the week you own is $700 and you bank it and pay an exchange fee, you're paying about $900 to use the exchange week (plus paying off the purchase price of the week you bought, plus annual dues to RCI). Renting out a week you get from the bank is prohibited, but if you want to allow friend or family to stay in the week you've taken out of the bank (if you're not checking in yourself) you can buy them a guest certificate to stay there. RCI points deposits generally are good for two years (you need to know your "use year" to figure it out) and can be used for RCI Points properties and also in the RCI Weeks system but only for resorts that don't participate in RCI Points.

RCI is not the only exchange company. Besides II in which some properties participate, there are others, like Dial an Exchange (DAE) and SFX.

Or you can buy your week in a system that has its own internal exchange system, like Wyndham, Marriott, Starwood, etc. Most Wyndham properties come with points values for exchange within Wyndham and offer the option of trading into RCI Weeks (the Wyndham dues give you a free RCI Weeks account but you pay regular RCI exchange fees if you use it). Marriott has its own internal trades plus it has a connection to II. Starwood has its own exchange system (I don't know if a Starwood owner can also use RCI, II, DAE etc.).

Last edited by Conan; February 28, 2010 at 11:01 AM.
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Old February 28, 2010, 10:51 AM   #4
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Sissy, I think your confusion may be in thinking of RCI as a timeshare company. They don't technically own timeshares. They are a timeshare exchange company.

If you own a timeshare someplace (either a week or points) and you don't want to use it at the resort where you own, you can deposit your usage week (or spend a portion of your points you own) to exchange for the use of another timeshare someplace else. That is done on a one-time basis. You don't give up anything more that that week for that year (or those points.) The next time your timeshare becomes available for use, you're back where you were before.

So what RCI allows you to do is travel elsewhere. The problem with that is what can you get for your deposited week or points? If it's points, you can go just about anywhere, if you've deposited enough points. You "spend them" kind of like money. With a few exceptions, you're basically restricted only by how many points you have on deposit. (Points people, feel free to correct me if I'm mistaken in that. I'm a weeks guy.)

With a deposited week, it's a bit different. There is a mysterious formula, known only to RCI, called "trading power." When you deposit your week for exchange, RCI assigns a trading power to that deposit. That will allow you to see a number of weeks available at resorts all over the place. You can select one of those weeks to use. The number of weeks made available to you, and the size of the unit or available date, may be restricted by that mysterious trading power. Depositing the right week at the right time can maximize your trading power, but some deposits never have the strength to pull prime weeks at prime resorts during prime seasons. It's a bit of a crap shoot trying to determine how it all works best, and what to do to increase your odds of getting what you want.

Generally speaking, if you own a decent week at a decent resort, and deposit it at the right time, you'll be able to find something to suit your needs. But if you want only a specific type of resort or unit size or whatever, then you're better off buying and using points instead.

The rule of thumb in timesharing is to buy where you most often want to vacation. Buying for exchange purposes isn't usually a good idea, unless you're experienced enough to know how to get the most bang for the buck. It's easy to get locked into paying high maintenance fees on a timeshare that doesn't exchange well. And if all you want to do is exchange that week for someplace else, then that sets you up for disappointment.

Read through the various "sticky" posts at the top of the timesharing forums on TUG. Read the forums in the places where you think you'ld like to own. There is a huge amount of information available here. Ask questions. DO NOT get in a rush to buy anything - it's a lot easier to get into a timeshare than get out of one, and passing up one deal one day only means you'll see a better deal another day.

And most important of all: When you are ready to purchase, buy resale. Don't ever buy from a developer, not matter what they promise. They will say anything it takes to get you to buy - they make used car salesmen look like angels.

I hope this helps clear things up a bit. Good luck!

Dave
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Old February 28, 2010, 11:28 AM   #5
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Look at the points systems for what you want.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sissy_ib View Post
I know how a traditional timeshare works and I know it is not for me. I want to travel, not go to the same place year after year. Can anyone explain how RCI works? I know there is a points system and weeks, but how do those two systems work? Do you pay a set price (plus yearly dues) and own it for a certain number of years like a traditional timeshare? And what are the cost? I would love to get in to it if I am able to use it in locations all over the world. All the information I have been able to find on it is very confusing. I have found points charts but no price information for the points. Any help is much appreciated.
For your type of desired use you do not want to purchase a week anywhere. You want a good multi-resort based system such as Wyndham, DRI, Worldmark and others OR a system designed from the ground up to be used every use period to travel to different locations anywhere there is availability with no need to worry about what/where your "home" resort is based. The only system like that right now is RCI Points.

If you plan to stay in different places each use than having the maximum flexibilty to adjust your deposit value to your desired use value is key. Only points systems can do that as there is no way to split up a week and get change back or add to its value to reach what you need. Points systems allow borrowing, renting and pooling of points as well as links to other exchange systems so you can often get what you want by utilizing the core features of the system. Week for week trades are not set up for that and are really only meant as an occasional option to the actual use of a week at your home resort.
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Old February 28, 2010, 11:44 AM   #6
DeniseM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sissy_ib View Post
I would love to get in to it if I am able to use it in locations all over the world.
As others have said, RCI is an exchange company, but exchanging is more of an art than a science and getting any particular exchange isn't guaranteed - it's more like gambling, than making a hotel reservation. A lot of it has to do with the trade value of the week you own, and where you want to go. For instance, if you own an off-season studio in Arkansas and you want a 3 bdm. at Harborside Atlantis for week 52 - no way. If you own an off-season studio in Arkansas and you want a studio in Scottsdale for August - maybe.

Here are a few questions for you so we can be a little more specific:

Exactly what do you own? - Resort/unit size/season
Is it affiliated with RCI?
How many people usually travel with you?
Where do you want to go? List a few locations.
Can you travel off-season? (when the kids are in school.)
Can you plan 12-24 mos. in advance?
Are you flexible about where you go?
Are you willing to search online yourself for exchanges on a regular basis?
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Old February 28, 2010, 11:58 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeniseM View Post
Here are a few questions for you so we can be a little more specific:

Exactly what do you own? - Resort/unit size/season
Is it affiliated with RCI?
How many people usually travel with you?
Where do you want to go? List a few locations.
Can you travel off-season? (when the kids are in school.)
Can you plan 12-24 mos. in advance?
Are you flexible about where you go?
Are you willing to search online yourself for exchanges on a regular basis?
Denise, I don't think she owns anything yet. As I read the first few sentences of her OP, I think she's trying to decide on weeks or points, and especially whether/how points would work for her, as opposed to time at a specific resort.

Dave
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Old February 28, 2010, 12:35 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BMWguynw View Post
And most important of all: When you are ready to purchase, buy resale. Don't ever buy from a developer, not matter what they promise. They will say anything it takes to get you to buy - they make used car salesmen look like angels.
You are correct, sir.

Nothing the timeshare companies sell at full freight is worth the money.

Nothing.

Buy timeshares resale.

Save thousands of dollars on exactly the same thing, or the equivalent, or something even better.

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Old February 28, 2010, 12:39 PM   #9
DeniseM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BMWguynw View Post
Denise, I don't think she owns anything yet. As I read the first few sentences of her OP, I think she's trying to decide on weeks or points, and especially whether/how points would work for her, as opposed to time at a specific resort.

Dave
Oppps! I think you are right!

Ok - revised questions:

Here are a few questions for you so we can be a little more specific:
How much can you afford to spend to buy points/or a TS without financing it?
How much can you afford to spend on a maintenance fee that comes due every year right after Christmas?
How many people usually travel with you?
Where do you want to go? List a few locations.
Can you travel off-season? (when the kids are in school.)
Can you plan 12-24 mos. in advance?
Are you flexible about where you go?
Are you willing to search online yourself for exchanges on a regular basis?
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