RCI Timeshares - How Does RCI Work?
Timeshares are a wonderful vacation ownership product and have been providing vacationers with outstanding accommodation options for over 50 years. A unique appeal of the timeshare product is the ability to exchange the use of a unit to travel the world, and Resort Condominiums International (known as RCI) has been providing timeshare exchange services for nearly as long as there have been timeshare resorts.
Created in 1974 by Jon and Christel DeHaan, RCI is the largest timeshare exchange company in the world with nearly four million members and approximately 4,500 affiliated resorts in over 100 countries. While RCI doesn't actually own, sell or buy timeshares, the RCI timeshare relationship is clearly a successful one as RCI is dependent on a healthy timeshare industry.
Owners join RCI to exchange their weeks to travel the globe, and timeshare resorts leverage the benefits of timeshare exchange options through RCI in order to grow their vacation ownership base.
The significance of having 4,500 resorts worldwide from which to choose a vacation cannot be understated, as the power of the RCI timeshare exchange program is a major reason why so many owners continue to enjoy the product. Overall satisfaction with timeshare stands at 83%, according to the American Resort Development Association, and much of the credit can be attributed to the flexible use programs created by companies such as RCI.
Because RCI is the largest timeshare exchange company in the world, you’ll see many of the most-recognized brand names in the business affiliated with RCI, such as:
- Wyndham Vacation Ownership
- WorldMark by Wyndham
- Hilton Grand Vacations Club
- Disney Vacation Club
- Bluegreen Vacation Club
- Holiday Inn Club Vacations
- Shell Vacations Club
- Festiva Resorts
- Welk Resorts
RCI Timeshare Exchange Options – The Fundamentals
RCI is a membership-based organization which provides services to timeshare owners who enroll in annual memberships with them. In order to enroll with RCI, an owner has to hold ownership in a timeshare interest in a resort that is affiliated with RCI, and the owner needs to be in good standing with their resort in areas such as remaining current with their maintenance fees.
For new owners who buy timeshare through an RCI-affiliated resort, the resort often includes the first year of membership with RCI as part of the purchase price. Once enrolled, it is incumbent upon the owner to renew their membership if they want to continue to enjoy the benefits provided through the RCI timeshare exchange program.
On the resale side, the process works a little differently. Because timeshare resale transactions occur between a prospective buyer and an existing owner, an exchange company could be involved only after a transaction is completed. RCI memberships are between the company and an individual timeshare owner and the membership does not typically transfer, which means that a buyer would need to contact RCI after they have purchased their timeshare in order to enroll in the program.
Once Enrolled in RCI, Then What?
The RCI timeshare exchange program consists primarily of two distinct processes; the RCI Weeks program, which is the traditional week-for-week exchange system, and the RCI Points program, a global points-based exchange system which is the first of its kind in the timeshare industry.
Under the RCI Weeks program, if an owner wants to exchange their week for a week at a different resort, they would do what is referred to as “bank” or “deposit” that week into the pool of inventory that RCI manages. The owner would then be assigned a value for their week and, based on that value, would search the inventory available through RCI to book a vacation week at the resort of their choice, again based on availability and the assigned value of the week. There are also options such as trading into a week with a lower trading value to receive additional credits to apply to a second vacation, or using the value of a week to, for example, purchase a cruise.
The RCI Points program operates uniquely and involves the conversion of the value of a week into points which can then be used in different ways for various travel products. A points owner can take their points and use them for multiple, shorter breaks during the course of a year, even if it’s only for one night. This allows the owner to take multiple, long weekends rather than taking their ownership time over one week. Points owners can also use their points toward a cruise or, as part of the RCI Points Partner program, use points toward products such as airfare, hotels, and rental cars. Owners need to check with their home resort to make sure it is an RCI Points-affiliated resort if they wish to participate in this program.
What If I Can’t Use My RCI Membership?
For programs such as RCI Points, there are options in place where an owner can save up points over multiple years or even borrow points from future years to use for an upgraded experience. The upgraded RCI Platinum service has so many options, such as shopping, spa, dining and wine purchases, that it would be virtually impossible not to be able to use the membership in a given year.
The RCI exchange program is a benefit of membership in the world’s largest and oldest exchange program, but please keep in mind that such exchange is an added benefit to existing timeshare use at a home resort, which is the resort at which a timeshare is actually owned. Owners can vacation at their home resort year after year, but many owners agree that the ability to exchange the use of their timeshare to travel the world through companies such as RCI are what really make it all worthwhile.