How does RCI Timeshare work | Timeshare Solicitor
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How does RCI Timeshare work

What is RCI Timeshare?

RCI is not actually a timeshare resort itself, but rather a timeshare exchange club or broker. RCI, short for Resorts Condominiums International, was established in 1974 by co-founders Jon and Christel DeHaan. Essentially, RCI works by allowing buyers who have either a fixed or floating week(s) to use in various timeshare resorts across the globe to enter into their exchange programme which allows them to holiday in different destinations. A fixed week simply means you purchase the same week to holiday in each year, whereas a floating week can be moved around, with some level of flexibility, to suit the holiday-maker, but both ‘types of week’ can be compatible with RCI exchange programmes. RCI are currently the biggest timeshare company in the world and have 31,000 exchange options, 3.2 million members and operate within 109 countries worldwide.

How does it work?

RCI works in two ways. The first is their RCI weeks membership which works by selling memberships to buyers across the world who already own timeshare in affiliated resorts. Members pay a yearly fee (which gets cheaper in cost the longer you sign up for) and then this fee entitles you to exchange your holiday week in your usual resort for a week of equal value or more weeks at a lesser value in a different RCI timeshare resort. Or, if you decide you don’t want to use your selected week that particular year at your resort sometimes you can bank your week to use at a different time or in a different year. This means that by paying an exchange fee (usually somewhere up to around $200) you can use your week to see a new destination in a different RCI resort. Once you are a member, on their website, you can look at the resort directory to view all the different timeshares available to use. They claim that their members can enjoy holidays ‘anywhere in the world’ as part of their exchange programme.

The second type of membership with RCI is called an RCI points membership This membership offers timeshare owners at RCI-affiliated resorts the opportunity to swap their ownership week for an allocation of points. The points are worked out by the points value of your particular property which is based on ratings that members give your resort, the number of beds and also the booking and demand for both your resort and the dates you own. It is also worked out based on the red, blue and white colour coding of the weeks within the year. *

* Blue Week = low demand/ low season

Red Week = High season/ high desirability

White Week = intermediate demand

Once you have been given your new points in exchange for your week then you can pay the exchange fee and use those points at other RCI resorts. Or, you can use those points against RCI Points Partners products. These products range from car hire to hotel stays and city breaks with flights and popular attraction tickets. RCI will oversee the exchange and provide the details of the resorts you can exchange with, however, much of the work will be done by you as you will be required to book your holiday using their official booking system.

Drawbacks of RCI?

Hidden costs

Although on the surface, RCI might sound like an ideal purchase as it allows buyers to explore various holiday destinations – there are a number of extra costs that must be considered. Hidden charges such as booking fees, exchange fees, and name changes to gift your week to a friend all start to add up – even though you do much of the admin work yourself. Don’t forget to account for the maintenance fees you will still be paying for your timeshare as well as any payments you may still be making monthly to cover the original cost of buying your timeshare. When all these factors are taken into consideration and you work through the numbers you might realise you are paying way over the odds for your week away on holiday compared with holiday makers in the same resort who have just booked independently.

Misleading sales pitches

Unfortunately, in timeshare history, there has been an association with timeshare and very persuasive salespeople or even those who use intimidation or ‘bully’ tactics. Keep in mind that the person trying to sell you RCI may be on a commission basis and will be making more money per customer they sign up – this may well mean they don’t have your best interests in mind and may be able to twist the facts to make it seem like a very good deal for you. RCI does have thousands of happy members who use their services, but equally they have also received widespread complaints over problems of unavailability and other issues. One common complaint is that members have become very exasperated with the booking system and have even been disappointed to find that there are no exchanges available to them within their bracket. This is perhaps yet another way for RCI to make money as the only way a customer can then enjoy their holiday is to pay more to access a timeshare unit, or, settle for a holiday of a much lower quality than the one they pay their maintenance for.

Not only this, but many of the issues of complaints, and even legal claims that RCI have faced is to do with the issue of a range of destinations that are there to use throughout the year. Whilst members may have been promised unlimited choice of their holiday destinations, in reality, many find that only the same places become free each year – often in the Canary Islands. In the smallprint they do admit that holidays are ‘subject to availability’ and whilst some timeshare owners may be more than happy with the Canary Islands as a holiday location, others find that they are left disappointed as they were sold the dream that RCI meant they could swap their timeshare, or use their points to go ‘anywhere in the world’. When you consider the prospect of an owner who does have timeshare in the Caribbean or somewhere exotic it is understandable that they might be unwilling to give up their week to holiday in Fuerteventura. The sales pitch may have been very misleading to you as you were lead to believe the choice would be yours but, the fact of the matter is you are left with a very limited choice of holiday resorts to pick from. It is true that those with red week timeshares may find it much easier to exchange but those with blue weeks might struggle to find a resort they would actually want to take a holiday in, if they had the choice.

Exiting RCI

While there are huge issues with leaving your actual timeshare contract, it is less difficult to exit the RCI exchange programme itself. As you need to pay yearly for your membership you can simply choose not to renew it. However, keep in mind it could end up being a very expensive ‘trial’ purchase in addition to the significant fees you may already be paying for your timeshare week – especially if you don’t actually get to find a holiday resort you wish to use.

Exiting my timeshare completely?

If you have realised that not only is RCI not working out for you any longer, but actually neither is your timeshare week and you want to enjoy more freedom in your holiday destinations at a cheaper price then get in touch with Athena Law today for professional, friendly advice that you can really trust. Our team of dedicated, expert timeshare solicitors will work closely with you to discuss any timeshare queries you may have.

Call 0161 839 8847 today

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I offer a free, initial consultation to go over the details of your particular circumstances and advise you on whether your timeshare is capable of being terminated and if you have an entitlement to financial compensation.

Stephen Boyd of Athena Law, specialist timeshare solicitor

Stephen Boyd - Specialist Timeshare Solicitor