How Exchanges Work. Exchange Company Fees & Member Benefits
Two timeshare exchange companies are the largest and most well known:
1. RCI (Resort Condominiums International), based in Indianapolis, IN
is the largest, representing some 3600 timeshare resorts and 2.6 million members
2. I.I. Interval International, based in Miami, FL
representing some 1,000 resorts and over 1 million members
See the Exchange Company Fee Chart for the exchange
fees and other data related to membership in these two exchange companies.
A frequently asked question about exchanging is:
"Before the exchange company will confirm a requested exchange, does the exchange company have to first find someone
who will take the week being offered for exchange?"
The answer is NO!!
The exchange company doesn't EVER have to find someone to take the week that was offered for exchange.
Exchanges are not simple two-way transactions. The weeks in the pool which are available for exchange, come from
weeks deposited by members worldwide. If the week being requested is in the pool, and if the week being offered by the potential exchanger has sufficient trade power (as determined by criteria set by the exchange company), the exchange will be confirmed.
It is up to the exchange company to find someone who wants the deposited week, whenever and if ever that may happen.
If the week being requested is not yet in the pool at the initial time of a request, an ongoing search can be instituted and the exchange company will notify the person requesting the exchange when a match becomes available. The owner
requesting the exchange can specify at the time of the initial exchange request, whether a potential exchange confirmation is desired to be automatic, or whether to instead reserve the right to approve the week once he unit details are known.
Since exchanging a timeshare is closely associated with what "season" is owned, explanation of season follows:
If you are thinking of buying a timeshare, it is very important to understand the concept of "season" discussed below, and to understand resort ratings.
Most timeshare resorts have times of the year when the demand is higher than others. These times of the year are referred to as the "season", much the same way as hotels rate the times of the year as being "on season" and "off season", and where rates vary substantially according to the time of year.
See article about resort ratings and how to buy a powerful exchange week
Accordingly, timeshare sales prices and values differ substantially depending
upon what time of year the owner is privileged to use the timeshare.
For RCI, the seasonal designations pertaining to greater or lessor member demand for space at the resort, are color coded:
Red time = greater demand
White time = average demand
Blue time = lessor demand
Red is the most valueable and owners of a Red week can request the prime times of the year in exchange, as well as
the lessor-demand times of the year. In other words,owners of Red weeks can request any of the 52 weeks of the year.
For standard exchanges White or Blue time owners are limited to the non-prime times of the year to exchange into a resort.
For short notice exchanges (60 days or less in advance of travel) colors are ignored and a Blue or White week
is allowed to exchange for a Red week.
The RCI Directory designates for each resort, which weeks of the year are rated as Red, White, or Blue.
For I.I. Interval International, the same concept applies, but the I.I. colors for the same seasonal demand periods, are Red, Yellow, and Green.
For some resort destinations the demand is high year around, so they are rated Red year around.
For floating time resorts, there is a common misconception that if a week is Red, it means that a reservation can be made
during any of the 52 weeks of the year. This may or may not be true, depending on the resort. The resort's rules and regulations
set forth what the reservation period (from and to) is for each color designation.
There are many benefits to membership in an exchange company, in addition to the ability to exchange:
1. Sometimes called "Vacation Escapes" or bonus weeks, members have the ability to rent additional weeks, and weekends, on a space available basis, at very attractive rates. These extra weeks do not require the "banking" of a week, nor the payment of a maintenance fee. These weeks are more available during the off season, and on short notice, but the rates
are extremely attractive and these weeks can be used as often as wanted.
2.Guest Certificates. Family and friends are allowed to use a member's accommodation as guests and the exchange company even provides a Guest Certificate to the guest. A week's vacation provides one of the most wonderful and appreciated gifts anyone could offer to loved ones!
3. Travel bargains. Timeshare exchange companies are also full service travel agencies, large agencies booking for millions of owners. As a result they often have extremely good rates on airlines and package condo/air packages.
If you wish to shop for lowest rates for air, hotel, or car rentals, a popular online travel site: click here to search airfare, hotels and city info worldwide.
4. Cruises. Most people don't know that RCI has a program whereby a timeshare can be used
as a credit towards various cruises. If you are an RCI member, call RCI for details
5. Supplements. As a part of their membership, RCI and I.I. members receive very high quality color resort directory supplements, every other month. These supplements contain the new resorts added since the publication of the main Resort Directory. Supplements are jam packed with vacation packages and information about the resorts and the geographical settings of the resorts, providing the vacationer with the ability to know what to expect. The articles are extremely well written and informative concerning the various regions of the world where one might want to consider vacationing.
In addition to RCI and I.I., there are many independent exchange companies who also perform timeshare exchanges.
These companies exchange into many of the same resorts affiliated with RCI and I.I., plus a few more.
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