How to Turn a Timeshare Pitch Into a Cheap Vacation

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Timeshare marketers like to send travel offers promising to whisk you away to a mountain resort or fancy condo near a major city or theme park. Your room will be either free or heavily discounted if you "tour the property," which means up to two hours of high-pressure selling. Nothing requires you to buy a thing, so don't fall for these tactics. Instead, turn the offer into a cheap family vacation.

Negotiate for the Best Perks Possible

Most timeshare promotions come with a set list of perks you receive in exchange for your time. For example, look at Westgate Resorts' timeshare deals. Westgate is one of the biggest timeshare resort companies in the nation. Its August 2019 offerings include a three-day/two-night vacation in Orlando, Fla., for $59, and a three-day/two-night Disney World vacation from $259.

Other timeshare companies offer similar promotions. The standard package includes a specific number of nights, resort amenities, and travel credits depending on the destination. Companies will often throw in “extras” if you ask. You’ll never know what you can get unless you ask for it. The worst they can say is “no.”

Consider Other Travel Expenses

While scoring a few free hotel nights for next to nothing can seem like a cheap weekend getaway, don’t forget to budget for the other aspects of your trip. If you’re driving to your destination, you need to factor in the cost of gas and a meal or two. If flying, there's airfare, airport parking, and snacks. If you fail to account for these expenses, your “cheap” trip could turn into a money pit in a hurry.

Put Your Best “No” Face On

The goal of these timeshare companies is to lure you in, “wow” you with all their amenities, and get you to buy. Unfortunately, salespeople who work in the timeshare field are often ruthless when it comes to applying pressure and not taking “no” for an answer.

Your best bet is taking note of the amount of time you’re expected to sit in a presentation (usually 90 minutes to two hours), saying “no” as many times as required, and being prepared to walk out the door once your time is up.

It will be awkward, but that’s all part of the game. Salespeople want to get you excited about their product and make you feel a sense of urgency, so you’ll be more inclined to buy.

Read the Fine Print

Don’t forget to read the fine print before you agree to attend a timeshare presentation in exchange for a discounted getaway. Westgate Resorts, for example, puts limits on its deal dates and may not book during peak travel times like three-day weekends.

Find out exactly what is and isn’t covered in the price of your trip, including transportation to and from the resort, tickets to attractions, and resort food and beverage credits. Be wary of attempts to upsell you on upgraded rooms or additional nights.

Timeshares as an Investment

Timeshares are often seen as a poor deal for consumers because they come with unpredictable annual maintenance fees. And worse yet, they’re often difficult—if not impossible—to sell. You'll frequently see timeshares for sale on eBay for $1; if that doesn’t warn you to stay away, it should.