RCI reservations and timeshares, a widely misunderstood concept for those that own a timeshare.
You own a timeshare; now what? The “now what” is tied up in how you will use it, or more specifically, how can you use it? The most common complaint people have with their timeshare is frustration making reservations. I’ve previously written an article about why I think everybody should purchase a timeshare resale. However, there are tons of people out there that have a timeshare and are not using it. I am going to explain how to make an RCI reservation and maximize your investment.
I use my timeshare at least three times a year, often more. For example, next year, I have Bali and Germany (during Oktoberfest) booked using points! I’ve also made reservations for friends and family, further maximizing my investment.
If I got a dollar for every time I have explained the different ways to make reservations through RCI, I would have retired some time ago. I do not work for RCI, a timeshare company, nor do I work for a company that sells or re-sells timeshare.
I am sharing this information because I want everyone to be able to use the timeshare they purchased. It makes me sad when I hear that people invested a ton of money in what they think will be their path to vacations, only to be frustrated with not being able to make reservations. Many people wind up not using their timeshare due to this. I will help you change that with a few simple tips. Let’s get started.
Making RCI Reservations
I have found the key to almost every timeshare booking is to go with what’s available and when vs. a specific location on a particular date. This approach is the opposite of how most people try to book. Most people decide to book about six months out with a specific time and location in mind. You can achieve this but using a planning approach. For example, we wanted to go to Oktoberfest sometime in the next couple of years. I searched which year was available in the location we wanted. I secured us a week in 2019 for 21K points and a cost of $219. If I were married to the same reservation for 2018, it would not be happening.
RCI Reservations Search Types
#1 Exchange Vacation RCI Reservation
This search is based on points. You merely search a region and dates. The system will show what’s available and the number of points needed. I strongly advise you to take advantage of what’s available vs. a specific location on a particular date. Book as far ahead as you can. If you are married to July 4th in Key West this year, it’s not going to happen. We used our timeshare in Key Largo to take a group of friends. I booked two years in advance by searching what was available and when. Just know the points booking is the premium route. In my experience, there are more options with point usage. We have also scored some super fancy digs (2/2 2000 sq. foot condo beachfront in Cabo with a plunge pool) using points! Four of us went on this trip, and all we paid for was flights.
#2 Extra Vacation RCI Reservation
You can be out of points or not want to use points and pay to stay at a resort. We did this in Vermont. We got a 3-bedroom 2-bath townhouse with a sauna for $500 for seven nights. Cheaper and more extravagant than any deal you will find online. This option does help with going to a specific location on a particular date but only marginally. If you are set on a particular time or place, it can get expensive.
#3 Last Call RCI Reservation
Last Call is an excess inventory not booked. You can score a deal on a 90-day countdown ticker for $199 – $239 without using a point. All the last call options are for seven nights, but guess what, you can leave anytime you want. We have used this many times for random trips. Sometimes we use this for a weekend and check out early. The Last Call is also a favorite of ours for all things Florida. I have used this for friends that are traveling and issue the guest certificate. Sometimes, RCI has sales, and you can score one of these as cheap as $99 – we have several times.
#4 Nightly Stays RCI Reservation
We have used this twice. It’s the equivalent of making a hotel reservation but at a resort in a condo. The challenge is it often requires high points, high fees, and a cleaning fee that would not apply to a week’s reservation.
Maximizing Your Timeshare Investment
Let’s assume your maintenance fees are $500 a year, and your RCI membership is $124. This means annually, the timeshare costs you $624. Add to this any RCI transaction has a booking fee unless you book “that week,” free. For this example, booking Cabo is 30K points with a booking fee of $239. You are now at $863 for the year. Suitable for a week, but if you book another trip for 15K points and a booking fee of $239, you are at $1102 for 14 nights! For us, having one is not worth the maintenance fee unless we use it at least twice a year. Naturally, the more you use it, the lower the overall annual costs are.
You will need to combine different search options to get what you want, but it can be done. If you modify your approach to how you book where you go, you’ll get the most out of bookings.
Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions. I would be more than happy to help you!
Nikki Webster is a travel writer who covers how to travel while grinding a day job, how to travel without breaking the bank, hotels, cruising, and off-the-beaten-track experiences. She is particularly fond of Florida and writes extensively about the state. She flies around 60,000 miles per year and has visited 54 countries, 50 states, and six continents. You can read all about her travels at www.britonthemove.com.