Q. Why am I being nickel and dimed? Don’t I pay enough with my maintenance fees?
A. If you’re an owner long enough, you’re likely to end up paying a fee at some point. It all depends on how you use it. Wyndham has a different business model than some resorts. Some resort systems roll all the costs of the program into a fee. So, to the owner, it looks like they are not paying housekeeping services or for the booking system. Those things do not come free, and someone has to pay for it. So, the resort system rolls it all up into one fee. The smaller companies can get away with the “all you can eat” option. You can book as many times as you want or do multiple stays and never pay a fee. That’s because there are fewer owners using the resources, so it’s easier to estimate how much the cost of the system use and housekeeping will be, and roll that cost into the maintenance fees. Wyndham cannot use the “all you can eat” model. They have hundreds of thousands of owners, who all travel differently. Some go one week a year. Some do multiple weeks or multiple weekends. Each time you use the booking system, it costs money. Each time you stay at a resort, housekeeping cleans your room, and that’s not free. If they did an “all you can eat” model, the program fees we pay to Wyndham would be much higher, because they would have to account for everyone’s usage. The person who only uses the system once would have to pay extra to cover the cost of the person doing it multiple times a year.
Instead of the “all you can eat model,” Wyndham does sort of a “pay for what you use” model. Wyndham gives a set amount of housekeeping credits (1 per 1,000 points owned), and a certain number of reservation transaction credits (1 per 77,000 points owned). They set that number based on how much they think the average owner needs. If someone uses more than what the average owner does, they pay for the extra usage. That way, the person who uses their timeshare once a year, isn’t paying to clean the room of someone who books six weeks a year. Fees related to the points deposit feature, PIC exchanges, renting points, RCI booking fee, etc., are all optional fees. If you don’t need them, you don’t pay them. Again, pay for what you use.
Most common fees
Reservation Transaction credits – Non-VIP and Silver VIP get 1 per 77,000 points they own. Gold and Platinum VIP owners get unlimited. They are $19 online/$29 over the phone each if you run out. You need one per transaction. A transaction could be a reservation, RCI deposit, Converting Points to Maintenance Dollars, booking cruises, Wyndham Club Pass reservations and Adventures by Wyndham. Contrary to what some might say, you do not need a reservation transaction credit every time you call a vacation planner. If you are calling to ask questions, it’s free. If they complete one of the previously mentioned transactions for you, it costs a credit. Don’t be afraid to call a vacation planner if you have questions or need to be pointed in the right direction on the website. If you are unsure if it will cost you a credit, don’t be afraid to ask.
Housekeeping Credits – Non-VIP gets 1 per 1,000 points they own. VIP owners get unlimited. These credits pay for your room cleaning. If you run out, they are $2.25 each. How many you need per reservation depends on the unit type. For up to 7 days, a hotel/Studio requires 28 credits, a 1 bedroom requires 63 credits, a two-bedroom requires 77 credits, a three-bedroom requires 140 credits, and a four-bedroom requires 154 credits. If you are staying 8-14 days, you would double the number of credits you need.
Guest Certificates – Non-VIP get two every year. Silver, Gold, and Platinum VIP get 5, 10, and 15 guest certificates per million respectively. If you run out, they are $99 online, or $129 over the phone.
RCI Nightly Stays – There are some RCI resorts that participate in RCI Nightly stays. These resorts will allow you to book individual nights for a smaller fee. If they do not participate in RCI nightly stays, you have to book a full week. A list of participating resorts and the fees can be found in the directory, under the Plus Partners section. The fees are per reservation, not per night. To book a nightly stay resort, non-VIP and Silver VIP must first deposit points into RCI first (which may require an extra charge for Housekeeping credits, or a reservation transaction credit, if you are out of those). Gold and Platinum do not have to deposit first. When they book a reservation, the points automatically get transferred from Wyndham to RCI.
RCI weeks reservation – As previously mentioned, if a resort does not participate RCI nightly stays, you have to book an entire week. The fee for the entire week is $239. Like RCI nightly stays, you may incur an extra charge if you are out of reservation transaction credits or housekeeping credits.
No profit in fees
If you think Wyndham makes a profit off of the fees, you’d be incorrect. I was watching the Wyndham Owners meeting one year over webcast. The executive who was going over the budget (his name escapes me), said that they try to avoid having extra money from the fees at the end of the year because they have to pay taxes on that. If that sounds odd, it’s because corporate tax laws are odd. You can get taxed on different rates based on where you earned that income. He didn’t say it, but I am guessing that the fee money would be taxed at a higher rate, than money earned from sales. I’m not a corporate tax expert though, and I don’t have any inside information on how they do their taxes. It’s purely speculation. The bottom line is, they purposely avoid making extra a profit from the fees for tax reasons. So, rest assured, you can put away the tinfoil hat. Wyndham is not skimming off the top. They are not making extra money by charging for housekeeping or the booking fees. Their revenue mainly comes from points sales and rental revenue.
One last word about the fees
All timeshare systems have fees. Some have more fees than others and some have higher fees than others. Wyndham’s fees are fairly low to book, considering other places charge $50+ to book within their system and some even charge to cancel. If you want to avoid the fees, look at how you are using your timeshare. If you are taking multiple long weekends, you will burn through your free housekeeping faster. Remember, it does not matter whether you stay three nights or 7; you pay the same number of housekeeping credits. That’s because the cleaning for a three-night stay and the seven-night stay are the same. They don’t cut corners for shorter stays. If you find your plans change often, and you have to cancel and book something else, you’re likely running through reservation transaction credits. Maybe you should try booking closer to check-in when you can finalize your plans more. Learning about the fees and when you might be charged for them will help you be more strategic in how you use those resources and avoid the fees. Take the time to review the program guidelines in the books, so you know what the fees are, so you can figure out how to avoid them. No one likes being surprised by a fee