How to Exchange

by Chip Ballew

 Chip is the project director of the Timesharemall, their web address is [no longer valid] and he is a Lic. Real Estate Agent for Timeshare Buyers Outlet (ph# 407-354-5245) or email Chip at

More than 80% of timeshare purchasers buy with the intention of using the exchange option. Owning at an affiliated resort will provide you with the opportunity to exchange your week for any number of destinations throughout the world. There are two major exchange companies, Resort Condominiums International (RCI) and Interval International (II). Listed below are the 1994 operational statistics for RCI and II.

                                           RCI                II
Affiliated Resorts                        2,853             1,256                 
Member Families                        1,894,486           549,949  
Confirmed Exchanges                    1,396,785           284,842
1995 Exch. Fees                            $93   (Domestic)  $89              
                                          $123    (Int'l)   $109
1995 Bonus Weekends                    $129-$179           $99-up          
1995 Bonus Weeks                       $299-$649          $99-$549                                         
Guest Certificate                          $40               $35 
Membership Fee                             $67      1 yr.    $64*
                                          $181      3 yrs.  $159*
                                          $285      5 yrs.  $249*
* II charges $75 for one year, $189 for three years, and $299 for five years if you own at more than one resort.

The following are the operating guidelines concerning when you can deposit and travel against your timeshare week, as well as other pertinent exchange information

                       RCI                      II

Deposit your     2 yrs. to 2 weeks       2 yrs. to 2 weeks
week                  prior                   prior

Request your     2 yrs. to 2 days        2 yrs. to 1 day exchange              prior                   prior
Eligibility of  1 yr. prior to 2 yrs.   1 yr. prior to 2 yrs. trading week      after start date         after start date                        of week                 of week
Last Minute       Instant Exchange          Flexchange Exchange          45 - 2 days prior      60 - 1 day prior
Telephone          (800) 338-7777         (800) 843-8843 Number

Other member benefits from RCI include the bi-annual Special Resort Edition, or the directory of resorts, the bi-monthly Endless Vacation magazine, use of RCI Travel, discounts on car rentals, cruises and hotel reservations, as well as an application for an RCI Visa or Mastercard, all of which are included in your membership.

Interval International member benefits include the I.I. Resort Directory, and the quarterly Interval International Traveler magazine. For an extra $45 per year (or three years for $109) members can enroll in the WorldCard Preferred program which entitles them to extra benefits on programs such as AutoVantage©, Preferred Shopper, and discounts on stays at hotels and resorts.




    RCI recognizes quality by giving either the Gold Crown (their highest award), or the Resort of International Distinction award. Interval International gives its highest quality resorts the 5 STAR award. Both companies recognize top quality by granting the awards to deserving resorts. It is very important to note that you do not have to own at an award winning resort to be able to trade into one. This is true for both RCI and II.




    The first step in exchanging is normally to deposit the week you own. II does offer the choice of requesting your exchange first, but in order to have the greatest exchange potential, you should deposit your week at least one year prior to its start date. The longer you wait to deposit the more your trading power diminishes.

    The most crucial determination to make in deciding where you should own (and therefore what you will be trading) is to analyze how and where you plan your vacations .

    If you are limited to traveling during peak seasons (mainly when children are out of school) or to destinations in high demand (such as Orlando, the beach during the summer, etc.), then you should own a prime property and request your exchange far in advance. Both exchange companies allow requests to be entered up to two years prior to the travel dates. Not many people can plan this far in advance, but if you are planning an anniversary trip or family reunion (where you may need more than one unit), then planning far in advance will give you the best possibility for getting confirmed.

    When you call the exchange company to request your vacation, do not be surprised if you are told that nothing is currently available. Normally, no more than 50% of requests get confirmed the same day. Ask to submit a pending exchange request. List as many suitable resort choices found in your directory of resorts. If you let them, the exchange companies will automatically confirm one of your choices once it becomes available. You can ask to be called prior to confirming any of your choices. Once something is offered to you, you will normally have at least 24 hours to make your decision to accept or reject it. What a great opportunity to surf The Worldwide Timeshare Mall to see pictures and read reviews from other exchange guests!

    The more flexibility you have regarding travel dates or possible destinations the greater the likelihood of getting confirmed. Keep in mind that everything comes down to supply and demand. Give the exchange company as much time as possible to try and get an exchange. You may ask, “Why would I get confirmed later if nothing is available now”? Keep in mind that the exchange companies can only offer weeks that are deposited by other members such as yourself. They will continue to receive deposits up to two weeks prior to the travel date. At that point there will still be cancellations that come in, and members that have emergencies whose week may still be accepted by the exchange company.

    The longer you have a pending exchange request going, the greater the chance that you eventually will be confirmed. You will have to determine for yourself how long you can wait to confirm before giving up and arranging alternate accommodations.

    If you are flexible and can travel during off-season or on short notice then you should use your “lowest value” week for that particular request. How do you determine that? First, look at your week’s expiration date (two years after it started...not two years after you deposited it!), as well as how far in advance you deposited the week. For example, say that you own weeks 26 and 27 at Vistana Resort in Orlando. Week 26 was deposited one year before it began, but week 27 was deposited two months prior to the start date. Week 27 will have a lower value to the exchange company, due to the fact that they had less time to offer your unit to other members.

    If you are planning two vacations the following year - one to Myrtle Beach in September and the other to St. Maarten in January - use your early deposit (week 26) to request St. Maarten, and use week 27 to request Myrtle Beach. If you have different weeks on deposit, ask the exchange counselor to try searching with each one. Ask their advice on which week you should use for your particular request.

    If you own a lesser demanded resort, then yes, it will be difficult to obtain a highly demanded exchange. It certainly can and does still occur, though! Once you are in the close travel dates (45 days for RCI, 60 days for II), you can no longer submit a new pending exchange request. It is important to remember that you can have pending request search until you say to it 2 days before travel! Having a search entered in the system means that the computer is searching 24 hours a day. If your week is not a prime week, or it was deposited late, you will have a better chance at getting a particular exchange by submitting a pending search compared to someone who owns Christmas week on Maui but waited for the last minute exchange without putting in an ongoing search.

    To recap, there are two types of exchange requests. One that is entered into the system to be searched on an on-going basis, and the last minute exchange opportunities where it is basically first come, first served.
    For the pending exchange requests that have been entered into the system, priority for fulfilling those requests is based upon the following factors:

  • demand for your home resort
  • demand for the geographic area of your resort
  • demand for the week you own
  • size of the unit you deposit
  • how far in advance of its start date you deposit your week

  • The other type of exchange request, the “last minute” exchange, is done so on a first-come first-serve basis. However, requests that were entered on an on-going basis will continue to be searched 24 hours a day (even while others are calling to check last minute availability) down to just a couple of days before the start date of the requested week.

    Using the last minute exchange option can require persistence in checking availability, but you can still find some wonderful trade opportunities. The more flexibility you have, the better the results you will have under the last-minute timeframe.

    No matter what you own, or when you deposited your week, whenever possible enter in a pending search. In this way you can see how someone with a lower priority week will benefit having a pending request searching compared to someone with a high value week waiting until close dates to check on availability. By all means, have the computer search for you whenever possible, no matter what you own!

    One very important note...if you are on an exchange, and there is a major problem at the resort, i.e. quality, unable to check in, etc., the exchange company has the capability to relocate dissatisfied members to other resorts in the area. This step will not be taken for trivial reasons, but if there is a legitimate problem, don’t suffer through a bad vacation; call the exchange company to see about getting relocated. If traveling internationally, take the phone number of the nearest international office of your exchange company just in case. The alternate space that is used comes from last minute deposits and cancellations.

    © 1995 The Worldwide Timeshare Mall