The True Cost Of Owning a Timeshare
How much would you pay for an annually recurring week-long vacation? Does a $22,000 price tag with 14% interest and an additional $970 fee each year sound like a good deal?
It shouldn’t, but those numbers are standard in the timeshare industry, according to the American Resort Development Association (ARDA). While many timeshare resorts tell potential buyers that they’ll save money over time, simple math shows that those promises just don’t add up. Timeshare resorts assure travelers convenient recurring trips, but in the age of the sharing economy where affordable short-term rentals are available, the arrangement makes less sense.
Let’s walk through a typical timeshare pitch:
A resort will usually lure you in with a free dinner, concert tickets or extended vacation stay to distract you from the fact that you’re making a considerable life decision on the spot. You can’t pay for the unit upfront? No worries! The timeshare developer often can offer you a loan. But not so fast – these loans often come with very high interest rates. As previously mentioned, ARDA reports that the average timeshare loan has a 14 percent interest rate over a 10 year mortgage term. Would you pay 14% interest on your home loan? On top of that, all timeshares also come with property maintenance fees, which average about $970 a year, according to ARDA. The worst part? They don’t stay stagnant. ARDA estimates an average increase in maintenance fees at 5 percent per year, a rate so high that the amount you ultimately end up paying in uncapped maintenances fees quickly outpaces what your timeshare is actually worth.
To compare the costs between an outdated timeshare rental and more modern accommodation booking methods, we’ve run the numbers to look at how much the same vacation would cost consumers if they were to opt for an Airbnb or hotel instead. Turns out, it’s about half the cost. But don’t take our word for it – Consumer Reports has run a similar analysis.
When deciding between timeshare ownership or other shorter-term vacation options, it’s important to think of a timeshare purchase as a lifestyle purchase. When you consider depreciation, travel costs and maintenance fees, and the uncertainty of use, the concept of “prepaying” for your vacations may not pencil out when compared to more modern options. Just run the numbers.