After hours of high-pressure sales tactics and many attempts to increase the bonus offer, I was sold. I was the new owner of a timeshare at Las Palmeras by Hilton Grand Vacations Club (HGV) in Orlando, Florida.
My timeshare studio cost upward of $14,000 (without fees). Every year, I would receive 1,600 ClubPoints in perpetuity. These points could be used as currency to book stays at Hilton hotels and resorts worldwide. I also negotiated a one-time bonus of 8,000 bonus points from the original 3,200 points offered right after the timeshare presentation.
Questioning My Decision
After signing all of the paperwork (which we breezed through at closing), I should have been enthusiastic about my new timeshare, but I wasn’t. Deep down, I was feeling buyer’s remorse. I had mixed feelings about taking on debt without any financial planning beforehand and I questioned if my investment was worth it.
Did I really need to stay at resorts around the world? Was a $14,000 mortgage at a 17 percent interest rate for the next 10 years the right decision?
Since I had 10 days to request a full refund, as soon as I got home, I combed through the contract. I made a list of all the costs associated with timeshare ownership. Then, I requested a refund two days later.
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Why I Backed Out
Here are the unexpected costs of owning a timeshare that I should have considered before signing the dotted lined and that ultimately made me request that refund.
One-Time Club Inventory Activation
At Hilton Grand Vacations, all members pay a one-time inventory activation fee of $366.
Club Point Stretching Fee
If for some reason you didn’t get to spend all of your points by the end of the fiscal year, you would have to pay a “club point saving fee” of $104 online or $114 if processed over the phone. This fee would ensure you got to hold on to your points and have them rolled over to next year’s stash.
Annual Club Dues
Since I’m based in the U.S., my annual club dues for 2018 were $170 (also applicable to residents of Canada). Outside of North America, annual club dues cost $204.
Club Reservation Fee
For each reservation you make, you have to pay a club reservation fee of $65 online or $80 over the phone. Again, this fee is charged just to make a reservation.
Maintenance and Fees
In 2018, my annual maintenance and fees totaled $617. This cost was likely to increase annually.
Automatic Payment Plan
Lastly, to process payments with an automatic payment plan, there’s a monthly administration fee of $6.50. The alternative would be a higher interest rate on the mortgage.
Total Cost: Nearly $1,400
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Always Read the Fine Print
I bought an HGV timeshare because I wanted to spend more quality time with my loved ones on vacations at beautiful resorts around the world. After running the numbers, however, I was overwhelmed by the amount of money it would cost me every year just in fees alone. I underestimated the cost of owning a timeshare big time–but thankfully, I read through all the details, assessed the true value and canceled before it was too late.
If you ever find yourself in a high-pressure situation like this, realize that you don’t have to buy anything. Don’t let salespeople working on commission trick you into purchasing something you don’t really want or need. And always remember to go over the details of any contract with a fine-toothed comb before you sign.
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