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7 timeshare alternatives for 2023

PUBLISHED DATE: MARCH 17, 2023

7 timeshare alternatives for 2023

Timeshare salespeople are known for pushy tactics and a tendency to overpromise and underdeliver. The truth is, timeshares rightfully have a stigma attached to them due to their high costs and strict limitations.

If you’re tempted to buy into one, you should evaluate these timeshare alternatives before signing on the dotted line. There are better options for your vacation, including:  

Let’s dive into each alternative and how they stand out from the typical reasons to not buy a timeshare.

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1. Vacation rentals

Vacation rentals like Airbnb and Vrbo are nothing new, but advancements in technology have aided in their exploding popularity. Renting the property of a private owner is often cheaper than comparable hotel rooms, and they often give travelers added perks like kitchens and convenient locations.

Vacation rentals are considered preferable alternatives to timeshares because they give greater flexibility in where and when you can vacation. You’re only paying for specific days, so you aren’t on the hook for yearly fees on top of the purchase price of a timeshare.  

Timeshare owners often sell their timeshare days when they can’t use them, giving vacationers the option to visit the same timeshare facility without the long-term commitment.

PROS
AND
CONS

PROS
 

No long-term commitment

Available around the world

Affordable nightly rates

CONS
 

Limited quality control

Missing sought-after amenities

2. Hotels

Hotels are consistent and safe timeshare alternatives that are accessible all over the world. When you book a room at a Marriott in Chicago, for example, you’ll get a comparable experience to a Marriott in Los Angeles, taking out the guesswork in finding quality accommodations. 

On a night-by-night basis, the cost may be higher than a timeshare, but when you factor in yearly timeshare maintenance fees, you’ll usually come out ahead. 

Hotels often provide discounts to certain groups (like the military and AAA) or will simply offer discounted rates throughout the year, making them even more affordable. Some hotel chains offer rewards programs, so the more you stay there, the more you get back. 

Solo travelers and people traveling in small groups can opt for a related option to save even more money: hostels. They are typically sparse in accommodations, but the trade-off is worth it for people who enjoy different locations every year.

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PROS
AND
CONS

PROS
 

Professionally managed

No long-term commitment

Available around the world

Offer rewards programs

CONS
 

May have fewer amenities than a timeshare

Expensive nightly rates

3. Resorts

Resorts are like hotels on steroids, offering the all-inclusive appeal of many of the best timeshares. Many resorts provide private beach access, live entertainment, gourmet food and guided tours. You’ll spend less time planning all the details of your vacation, leading to less stress and more time enjoying your break. 

Just like hotels, resorts give you the flexibility to stay for longer or shorter durations than a timeshare. You won’t be boxed into traveling at predetermined times of year, and you can visit whenever you want.

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PROS
AND
CONS

PROS
 

No long-term commitment

Available around the world

Affordable nightly rates

Comparable amenities to timeshares

CONS
 

More expensive than a timeshare on a per-stay basis

4. Vacation Clubs

Vacation clubs are the closest alternative to timeshares. To join, you’ll pay an initial sign-up fee, plus yearly membership and maintenance fees for as long as you’re a member. In return for your membership, you’ll receive discounts to the destinations in the club’s network.

Many clubs have blackout dates that restrict your ability to travel unless you pay more money. Depending on the club you join, it could end up costing more per year than even luxury timeshares, but you’ll have easier access to multiple destinations.

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PROS
AND
CONS

PROS
 

Access to multiple locations

Comparable amenities to timeshares

Discounted stays

CONS
 

Require expensive membership fees

Blackout dates

5. Travel Clubs

Travel clubs operate similarly to both timeshares and vacation clubs while being slightly more affordable. Travel clubs require yearly membership fees, and some clubs charge maintenance fees as well. These combined costs are often lower than those of vacation clubs.

The benefit of travel clubs is that they arrange for group rates, making your stay cheaper while giving you the benefit of travel companions. Oftentimes the club is centered around a shared trait, like a hobby or age group. 

Aside from the social aspect of travel groups, travel clubs also free you from long-term commitments. Even the cost of an inexpensive timeshare begins to add up over the years if you aren’t able to sell it. Since membership to a travel club is yearly, you’ll only lose what you’ve already spent. 

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PROS
AND
CONS

PROS
 

Access to multiple locations

Discounted stays

Organized group travel

CONS
 

Expensive membership fees

Rigid travel dates

6. Vacation Home Ownership

One big draw of owning a timeshare is the dependability of returning to the same destination year after year while avoiding the rising costs of accommodations. Buying a second home in a vacation destination gives you those same benefits and more. 

Unlike a timeshare, buying a vacation home gives you real equity in the property, so you have the potential to recoup the money you put into it over the years. Timeshares rarely appreciate in value, and due to the many drawbacks of timeshare ownership, they can be extremely difficult to resell.

When you have your own vacation home, you have the freedom to use it as much as you want. In contrast, most timeshare options only allow you to use them once per year and have fixed scheduling limitations. 

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PROS
AND
CONS

PROS
 

Potential equity in the property

Can visit as much as you want

Can travel with friends

Easier to resell than a timeshare

CONS
 

Single location

Responsibilities of property ownership

High upfront cost

7. Second Home Co-ownership 

Buying a vacation home is a greater upfront expense than a timeshare, but you don’t have to be the sole owner. Co-ownership is a viable way to make that dream of a second home a reality. With this timeshare and vacation home alternative, you’ll only be responsible for a fraction of the purchase price and yearly costs of ownership. 

Whether you’re buying with a group of friends or buying a Pacaso second home, you still have true real estate property ownership. You’re not just buying the right to use a hotel or condo-sized space for a set period of time.

Timeshares are notoriously difficult to sell due to the many rules and limitations owners must abide by. The timeshare is also one of many identical units, creating an imbalance between supply and demand. On the other hand, unique homes attract buyers who must compete against each other in the whole housing market.  

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PROS
AND
CONS

PROS
 

Potential equity in the property

Can visit frequently

Can travel with friends

Lower cost compared to sole ownership

Easier to resell than a timeshare

CONS
 

Single location

Responsibilities of property ownership

Evaluate your vacation options

Not all timeshare alternatives are equal. Depending on your vacation goals, it might make more sense to either stick to vacation rentals or make the investment in a vacation property.

Timeshare alternatives FAQ
Can you write off a timeshare on taxes?

Since a timeshare is not the same as owning real estate, not all of the same tax deductions apply.

Things that can be deducted include:

  • Property taxes so long as they are separate from your maintenance fees     

  • Expenses related to the rental of the timeshare

Things that cannot be deducted include:

  • Closing costs and legal fees     

  • Maintenance fees if the property was not being rented

If you’re looking for a tax deductible investment, you’ll likely be better off looking at timeshare alternatives involving true ownership of the property. And it’s smart to consult with a tax professional before making a purchase.

Can you inherit timeshare debt?

Yes. Family timeshares will be included in the probate process when the owner of the timeshare dies. The executor will be responsible for paying the maintenance fees from the owner’s estate until the timeshare has been properly distributed. If the owner’s heir accepts the timeshare, they will be responsible for any remaining debts and fees.

Can a timeshare be exchanged for
another vacation option?

Your timeshare vacation options are limited by the details of your contract. Some timeshare companies have networks that allow you to spend your week or points at other locations. These often come with stipulations regarding when you can use them and who has first rights to select dates, and they may come at an extra cost. 

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