Exchanging timeshare weeks can be complicated. Swapping out weeks can be a process I find myself wishing I could avoid. I looked into Interval International, which is supposed to simplify the vacation exchange process and allow my wife and I access to nearly 3,200 resorts in over 80 different countries.
Signing Up Online
My online sign-up process was a bit rocky. While you do need to be a timeshare owner with proof of ownership, the initial sign-up process seems to be a bit outdated and has a lot of extra steps. I own a timeshare at Laguna Surf in Laguna Beach, CA, and when you sign up, they send your information to the resort for verification that you do own there.
Typically, the night rates for Laguna Surf are $350 per night in the summer, so I figured that Interval International would be a great place to see if we could get some good trades to use during ski season, or to explore other destinations.
Unfortunately, I received an error message at the last step of my online sign-up. It read:
“Error detected. We apologize for the inconvenience. We were unable to process your request at this time. Please try again or contact Customer Service for further assistance.”
Not only had I just wasted 10-15 minutes of my time, but there was no email or phone number listed for Customer Service for me to go ahead and contact about this error message. I decided to go to the home page in hopes that my login information had gone through anyway and tried to log in, but with no luck.
I finally tracked down an email address for customer service and sent them an email. They responded to my request in less than 24 hours, which was appreciated, but it simply told me to call their 800 number.
I called and spoke with Elle, who was very helpful. She had to start over from the beginning and collect all my information again, including my address, member number, and so on. She wasn’t sure what the problem was with the online sign-up, or why it had given me the error message.
About halfway through the call, she put me on hold, and I accidentally was transferred to another customer service agent who was extremely confused as to where my call originated from and why I was sent to her. However, she continued with my sign-up information, and eventually, we finished that process.
After the sign-up, the new customer service agent explained that there is a $99 annual fee, which was a little shocking to me since there is no information about annual fees on the Interval International website, or during the sign-up process.
They have a silver and platinum membership level above the $99 base fee, but that sounded like marketing fluff to me. Those plans give discounts on various services, but they didn’t seem to benefit my wife and me. I paid the $99 fee hoping to get some value out of the Interval International world. I also knew that the $99 wasn’t an exorbitant amount for a vacation exchange service, based on what I’d read online.
Later I realized that the upgraded memberships would have saved me a bundle on Getaway pricing.
Finishing the Sign-Up Process
The Laguna Surf, while it is an oceanfront resort, is a 3.5-star beach property. Typically, it rents for $220 per night in the summer on the resale rental market, and $350 per night direct from the resort. I hoped that while it’s not a brand-name resort, it would hold some good value for exchange.
I asked if I could add my other weeks from other timeshares I purchase in the future. I also wanted to confirm if there is a $39 fee to do this. Right at that moment, the phone call was cut off.
Overall, my Interval International review is that their website has many technical problems for signing up, which is a shame for those interested in joining this exchange service. Not only was my sign-up experience online less than satisfactory, but their own customer service agents had technical issues with getting my information in the system, and I had to speak with two different people because of their phone system.
After several days, I received an email that Laguna Surf had confirmed my ownership and that I was now a member with Interval International. I logged in using my member number, and it turned out to be correct.
Upon logging in, there are several options to start. The Getaways are discounted weeks, usually used during the off-season. The Exchanges enable you to trade your week with other timeshares.
I decided to start with Getaways and searched for Park City, UT during the summer months, as this is a drivable destination for us. I put in “Summer 2019” and received a list of some fantastic deals at the Marriott Summit Watch. I have always heard great things about this resort, including lots of kids’ activities, proximity to downtown, a pool, no resort fees, and no parking fees.
Right away, I sent my wife a text message and asked her if she wanted to go to Park City in late August for only $440 for the entire week. She agreed immediately! Marriott Summit Watch is an Interval International Elite Resort with great amenities priced less than a per-night rate at a Motel 6. As with most timeshares, it also includes a full kitchen where we can cook and save money.
My first log in to Interval International immediately convinced me to spend $440. I’m not sure if having a membership is a good thing if I’m spending money in just the first few minutes of viewing their website!
My Next Experience with Interval International
After getting the hang of using the system, Interval International is turning out to be a very nice experience. I logged in again several months after my first login and tried more options. Some tips I’ve learned throughout my logins and vacation bookings include:
- The best timeshare to use for points is Hyatt Residence.
- Marriott and Hyatt timeshare owners get an Interval International sign-up automatically.
- Be aware of fees! Exchanges will cost you $199.
- Make lots of requests, as these will better your odds.
- Be on top of the timing. There are a lot of expiration dates for ownership points and weeks, and you need to be aware of these dates to maximize your value.
As I continue to use Interval International, I’ve booked more vacations than I can use with their system. I brooked another $350 getaway to Breckinridge, CO for the whole week, so we are looking to visit there at the end of the year.
I exchanged some Hyatt Residence Club points in Interval International for a “stay-cation” locally here in Scottsdale, AZ, and I still have quite a few points left. Interval International even emailed me a free week, and I could choose from hundreds of locations. I really ended up with more points and weeks than I can use for trips.
Overall, Interval International is a great site to use to find trips. I have many friends that are not timeshare owners who are asking me how to get whole weeks at elite resorts for only $400. The key is to be able to travel during the off-season and knowing how to navigate the Interval International website.
Other Member Reviews
While many people are happy with Interval International’s exchange process, others find the $199 exchange fee to be quite pricey. The exchange fees, coupled with the annual membership fee, does end up becoming an investment.
For Hyatt and Marriott timeshare owners, they enjoy the free included use of Interval International but need to keep a close eye on expiring points as these can only be used up to two years after an exchange.