A landscape picture of a resort that offers timeshares

Is Buying a Timeshare a Good Idea?

You decide to attend a timeshare presentation. Maybe you’re genuinely interested in buying a timeshare; perhaps you’re only interested in the incentive. After all, who doesn’t want a free spa voucher? Whatever your goals, remember that a few hours of your time and a free massage do not obligate you to sign on the dotted line right away. You need time to think about whether buying a timeshare is a good idea.

Ask yourself these questions before buying a timeshare:

  • What is my ideal vacation?
    Think about your previous vacations. If you prefer to go on a new adventure every year, a timeshare wouldn’t be the wisest purchase. Alternatively, if your annual trip to Hawaii is the highlight of your year, buying a timeshare could be worthwhile. Considering the money you’ll be pouring into it, a timeshare isn’t something you’d use every other year.
  • Can I afford it in the long run?
    Between maintenance fees and travel expenses, you may find yourself stuck in a financial commitment you can’t fulfill. You can’t prepare for everything life has in store, such as increases in airfare or sudden unemployment. Regardless of whether you can afford to make the trip, you still have to pay maintenance fees.
  • How long will I use a timeshare?
    It’s hard to imagine Hawaii ever getting boring, but after 10 years, you may want something new. Keep in mind that selling timeshares isn’t easy. There are tons of used timeshares on the market competing with each other and new deals from salespeople. A timeshare is a long-term commitment; if you imagine you’ll tire of your vacation spot, a timeshare may not be for you.

    An alternative to buying a timeshare at a single location would be buying into a points program. These timeshare networks allow you to accumulate points that can be used at various locations within the network. Points are earned by either buying a certain property or specifically purchasing points.

Let’s talk costs.

Before delving into the costs of a timeshare, let me just say that a timeshare is not an investment. Buying a timeshare sounds like an investment (especially if you listen to the sales presentation), but it doesn’t really work like one. An investment will increase in value over time or bring in additional income. A timeshare just saves you a few bucks on your annual vacation.

Think of a timeshare as a cyclical vacation. You can’t recover the money you spend in one-time and reoccurring maintenance fees, and if you do manage to sell your used timeshare (which is extremely difficult due to the saturated market), you won’t turn a profit. Also, you may be saddled with additional fees when you try to sell your timeshare.  

On average, a one-week timeshare will cost over $10,000 up front. In addition to the sales price, you’ll have to pay hundreds in yearly maintenance fees. Some timeshares operate within a membership network, which means you’ll pay a membership fee every year. The location and time period will affect the price of your timeshare, as will the size. For example, California and Hawaii units will cost more than a ski resort timeshare in the summer. 

A good salesperson can make a timeshare look like the best decision you could make. Before you make the commitment, be sure to think about whether a timeshare is a good choice for you. Consider where, when, and how long you want to vacation—and don’t let a pushy salesperson make the decision for you.