Hilton Grand Vacation Club timeshare numbers didn’t add up

hilton grand vacation club hgvc timeshare: deal or scam?A pal of mine emailed me a few days ago asking:

Do you have a Hilton Grand Vacations HGVC timeshare? Which resort do you usually go to? Are you happy with it?

We went back and forth in email, including me explaining some of the math behind time shares and why they’re such a bad idea for most people (myself included, in hindsight) and so I thought I’d publish the back and forth here with some additional comments.

I, of course, invite you readers to add your own two cents and your experiences with timeshares, whether you own one or not.

To his message I responded thusly:

We paid $110,000 for a double-timeshare share at the fanciest new King’s Land location in the Waikaloa Beach area (Kona Coast) of the Big Island of Hawaii. When Linda and I separated, however, and we took a two-location, shared kids, trip to Hawaii for a few weeks, she booked through Hilton Grand Vacations and I just went to the vacation rentals by owner (VRBO) Web site and booked a nicer place with far, far less hassle.

The theory of timeshares is good, but my experience is that the reality is that it’s so complicated to figure out their point system and when you can / can’t get what you want, when you want, that I strongly suggest you put the money into a CD and use sites like vrbo.com to book your trips instead.

For example, check out this page to see how many rentals there are on just the Waikoloa coast area on the west side of the Big Island of Hawaii.

My friend, rather surprised to get this information from me (I think he expected it was a better deal), responded:

Thanks for the straight scoop, that’s very sobering. You were one of the few people I know who had bought a timeshare and I thought you were still high on it.

We would only buy one on the used market but I think we’re leaning away even from that. The annual fees scare me and it seems like they can increase them at will. I like the idea of renting other people’s timeshares — there is a huge market for that and lots of bargains.

Also, VRBO looks great.

My response:

Yeah, ultimately it’s about complexity. I really like being able to just go where I want, when I want, and timeshares only work if you actually use them annually for at least 20 years, then the math starts to work in your favor.

I mean, our Hawaiian timeshare was about $110k plus I think $2k/annual fee and a $180 booking fee per trip. My VRBO condo was about $1300/week (maybe?) for a two bedroom. We planned on using it 2-3 weeks/year, so that’s $2,600-$3,900 flat fee versus $110,000. How many years do you have to actually go on vacation before the numbers balance out?

To be fair, I will say that the rooms and the facilities are gorgeous.

If we would have gone for two weeks every year for a decade then run out of steam and stop using it, that room would cost me about ($110,000/10)/2 per week, or an impressive $5,500/week. At that rate I want a butler, cook and driver thrown in, and probably a private jet to get me to Hawaii in the first place.

Here’s a typical King’s Land room:

hilton kings land room
The worst thing is that of course that’s not the full math because there’s at least a $2200 annual fee and that $180/trip booking fee too, so let’s say $6,000 per week, paid in advance.

Now there are definitely people who groove on timeshares, but I expect that they have less expensive options, and indeed, I should point out that the King’s Land Hilton Grand Vacation Club resort is one of the most expensive ones in the entire chain, and that if were were willing to stay in the older HGVC resorts in Waikoloa Beach, we’d have had enough points for a month/year there. So that’s $2,500/week across a decade, but again, the math doesn’t quite work out that nicely and there’s no mention of the fact that nailing down what we wanted, when we wanted it, was a pain in the booty.

Nonetheless, my kids are very flexible when it comes to vacations, so if I go back to the VRBO site and look for two or three bedroom condos available for a week, it’s about five minutes to find a three-bedroom + loft condo in a great location about a half-mile from the King’s Land Resort, priced at $199/night (or $1,393/week):

vrbo waikoloa property photo

[see more info] [makes me want to book and go out there for a few weeks, actually!]

In a nutshell, timeshares seem to be a relatively obsolete concept to me with the rise of Internet-based vacation rental sites like VRBO.com.

If you have the ability to dig around, why go through the hassle and tie up your cash in advance?

78 comments on “Hilton Grand Vacation Club timeshare numbers didn’t add up

  1. Marriott International Inc. disclosed in Sept 2009 that it will stop developing new time-share and luxury-residential projects and write down the value of timeshares under construction by $760 million.
    The Wall Street Journal wrote, “The three largest time-share players — Wyndham Worldwide Corp., Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. and Marriott — already had dramatically pared their time-share businesses in the past year to reflect weakening demand, falling prices and difficulty securitizing loans for consumers.”
    “[The timeshare] business, at least for the next 10 years, is going to remain permanently shrunk,” said Joseph Greff, a gambling and lodging analyst for J.P. Morgan Securities, speaking of the time-share and luxury-residential markets in general.”
    Vacation Rental home owners are taking a beating, too, in this dreadful economy. I speak from experience.

  2. I so agree with you about the nonsense of buying a timeshare. But I gotta say that thank heavens some people own them, and want to rent them out, because renting a timeshare has been for us a saving grace in getting to have family vacations. They are so much less expensive (we get ours through http://www.redweek.com) than hotel rooms, and come with all of the perks that resorts have to offer.

  3. I’m in the industry, so it may sound weird, but my advice is “don’t buy timeshare” (maybe unless you have a relative working for the exchange program…)

  4. I am trying to rent a condo in Kings Land for a trip with my daughter. Do you still have contact info for the one you rented. I can’t seem to find any on VRBO or redbook

  5. If you’re considering buying a timeshare, be smart and buy a timeshare on the timeshare resale market. Not only will you save thousands of dollars, you’ll receive all the benefits included in vacation ownership. It’s really important when buying or selling timeshares to deal with a reputable, licensed realtor who has extensive knowledge of the timeshare industry, however, so you don’t get ripped off.

    • you’ll save alot of money buying timeshare on the resale market but there is a catch. i work in the business and the companies don’t allow you all the benefits like that person said. if you go to that location great, but if you want to use your points for car rental, air fare, food, gas, gift cards. forgt it. if you get a weeks resort, there are issues also. just be carefull, people assume all the time that they can use all the benefits and then after buying are stuck with it. if you buy one resale, then buy another one at that same resort and they will combine the both and you’ll be ok.

  6. I couldn’t agree more with the numbers not adding up for the Hilton Grand Vacations. I fell victim to the sales pitch in 2008 and have regretted it ever since. I have seen my annual maintenance fee raised significantly every year and is now $1,091. This of course doesn’t include all of the small periodic fees for using my timeshare, nor the fees that are charged for not using my timeshare. I just recently made a reservation in December to use my 2010 points before they expired, but for some reason the system would only let me use my 2011 points for the reservation (and of course I got charged for this). Then my 2010 points expired and I had to call someone to complain about it, and I had to pay to “rescue” my 2010 points (which was another $84). The HGV rep said I should read the rules more carefully because there are stipulations about why I can only use my 2010 points if I pay to move them to 2011.
    Now maybe this program makes sense to some people, but for someone like me who barely has enough time to TAKE a vacation, this program has been a colossal waste of money. I feel like I sold my last cow for an ordinary bean.

    • that stink but all companies aren’t like that. you have to do your homework before buying or ask alot of questions when your on tour. some companies allow you to keep your points forever. it only cost 45.00 to put them into a seperate account and then you save them for food,airline tickets,shopping,car rental,cruise. so if you don’t go on vacation-cash them in for gift cards to best buy or dick sporting goods. all companies are different. i have worked at 4 different companies and they all have good things. your reps should help you, not run away after the sale. that’s why people are unhappy, they don’t get the service.

  7. Thanks for this frank information, most useful for those of us getting all of the special offer emails from HGV, I will now delete them as they arrive.

    • Being residents of Australia our decision to purchase HGVC was more or less a defiant one based on what we were enduring at he time. That said, we asked all the right questions, just didn’t get all he right answers and these sorts of answers are not in a contract. For us, it was important to have flexibility and availability. We purchased less xpensive real estate in Florida rather than hawaii. However, we have been unable to travel (for various reasons) and have not used our points since purchasing in 2010. We either upgrade to Hawaii or sell our membership. I understand either way we loose. Living so far away from US, what is the best option to sell not understanding US law.

  8. What I find savoy owners do is rent part of their ownership out and use part of their ownership… buy doing this they are able to vacation annual free and have something to leave behind to future generations.

    I felt as though this forum needed a different perspective, as it is HGVC is they only company expanding and doing more for their owners.. We have over 95% customer satisfaction approval rating from our owners and the most flexible system in the industry!

    For all of the people who think the “Resale market” is the way to go… Good Luck! It is currently the biggest complaint in the state of FL and is the most unregulated market in terms of real estate in the country. Hilton last year set aside over $20 million to clear up the resale market, which is more than enough to buy any and everything you’ll see, so the question is, if we didn’t buy it… why would you?

    Of course ownership isn’t for everybody and you can always find “deals” out there, but I was always taught, if you don’t own, you’re owned!

    The true value comes when you leave behind lifetimes of vacations to future generations…. already paid off!

    • Thanks Nick.
      We are new owners. Every other year option. I know we will use it. My goal is to pay it off early.

    • We are new HGVC owners, we originally purchased 6,200 points, every year during platinum. I wasn’t sure about the program since we were only shown property during our “pitch” and couldn’t even stay in one. Well, HGVC called us and offered us another opportunity and offered us a stay in one of the Grand Vacation resorts. We agreed and LOVED IT, we attended another sales pitch, they were straight up with the sales pitch (about why they asked us back), but just based on our stay in an actual resort, we knew before we went to the pitch that we were going to get more points. We are now HGVC Elite Premier. We are still working full time, but the options available are incredible. Putting the points toward HH if you don’t use them is fantastic, it also ensures we can share our vacations with our families. I have had another timeshare, different company – never used it once, and lost all the money (it was only good for 7 years), but the flexibility in this program is fantastic.

  9. Congrats Danielle!

    Remember you have an option on your contract to pick up the opposite year at a discounted rate!

  10. Thanks for this. We are new HGVC owners, paid in full, I see the benefits but we are also not blind to pitfalls. We are on an every other year plan.
    Found staff at HGVC to be great with follow up questions, etc.

  11. Thank you for all of this information. I am about to sign with HGVC (tomorrow) and I am doing research. I clearly have more questions to ask.

  12. I found some untruth to your article which makes me question your integrity and your intentions.

    First, you have posted a picture of another HGVC property and labeled them as King’s Land when in reality the picture is from the guest room at Kohala Suites before their renovations.

    Secondly if you indeed paid $110,000 that would have qualified you for various Elite Statuses which means your reservation fees would either be free or $39 if you were not booking your deed type. And if you were truly Elite that means you have a lot of points which can equate to much more than 2 weeks. I also question why you feel your ownership would only entitle you to returning to your property? Why not explore with your points and see the world? Heck, why not even book something like a $800/night hotel room in Europe?

    • I wrote this so many years ago I don’t remember much about the photos I included. And as for the Elite Status, I don’t recall hearing a word about that from our sales people when we bought the shares. Yes, we could have stayed elsewhere, but we didn’t want to, we wanted to stay in Hawaii at the property.

  13. We would like to take a one week family vacation every other year and we attended a presentation on Friday 8/17/2012 and actually signed the deal with HGVC for $16,500 plus 860/year maintenance for a 2 bedroom unit. This deal is for 5,000 points every other year starting in 2013. They also gave us a signing bonus of 15,000 points plus an additional 2,400 points because we intend to pay this in full right away.

    While this appears to be a reasonable program, it did not stop me from waking up with a panic attack the next morning…especially after reading some of the horror stories found online about never being able to book a vacation when or where you want.

    We are still within the 10-day buyer’s remorse cancellation period and confusion with the actual use of the program has set in. Can anyone tell me (from actual experience) if this deal is worth it or if we should cancel?

    • It depends on a number of factors Rick.

      1) Can you afford to spend the money you have signed up to spend? If so, pay off the loan as soon as you can. If you can’t, back out now.

      2) Do you plan on staying at 5000 points every other year or might you eventually buy more? If you plan on staying at 5000, maybe you should back out and then buy resale. Just realize that there is a lot on passionate debate online about buying resale versus buying from HGVC (with the resale camp being far more vocal). The resale only camp would say that on a a strict price basis per point, it is cheaper, to buy resale. But buying resale means that you will lose out on your bonus points, which are substantial in your case. And you can use your bonus points to pay for your maintenance fees if you so choose. But bonus points do not renew each year like your club points do. If you plan on buying more points eventually, then be aware that Elite status and higher in HGVC requires that you purchase from HGVC.

      For example, when my wife and I first purchased, we had a goal to eventually own 14,000 points/year (Elite) and soon after to buy up to 24,000 points/year (Elite Plus), so we never even considered resale. The Elite status gives some benefits, although again the resale camp would say it’s not worth it. But, as an Elite Plus member I have a specific person that I can call 24/7 to remove roadblocks provide information, and etc. I like that kind of service.

      All in all though, you can’t go wrong with the quality of HGVC resorts. My wife and I have been delighted with them. Those that are bookable online are relatively easy to reserve and get what you want. It is the ones that are not bookable online that are harder to reserve. Good luck in your decision.

  14. I guess I have a different take on HGVC and timeshares than does the author. No, timeshares aren’t for everyone, but they work for me. Here is my story.

    I have spent my working life investing for retirement. My wife and I decided in 2010 to also invest in a timeshare. I do not view the timeshare as a financial investment. It is a lifestyle investment. My wife and I have taken more vacations in the last 2 year than we did in the previous 20 years. In addition, the quality of accommodations is far greater than we experienced previously. As Elite Plus HGVC members, we have seen great customer service, very good resorts, and excellent timeshare flexibility. In a sense, I have diversified my investments to include not only those that provide monetary return (my 401k), but also that provide lifestyle return (my timeshare).

    But some would say, “Don’t invest in a timeshare, take that money, invest it in the markets, and use these monies for future vacation.” For me, however,this would emotionally limit me from taking vacations in years when returns are not good (like now, for example). Because of my timeshare purchase, I now find that I have the emotional freedom to take a vacation regardless of how my other investments are doing. Stated another way, putting money into a timeshare that I trust frees me to take the time for a vacation now. I am less concerned about having the funds in the future to take vacations because I have already spent a significant portion of the funds needed for these vacations in the past . The timeshare, Lord willing, is there for the rest of my life and can be passed on to my children.

    Yes, there are maintenance fees, but this is the cost of ownership of the timeshare. If I had a vacation home, there would be larger maintenance fees plus the emotional and physical energy needed to keep the vacation home well maintained. With the timeshare, I have maintenance fees but no emotional, physical, or time investment is needed. Thus, I feel more free than I think I would feel with a vacation home. Maintenance fees are simply the marginal cost of taking vacations in a timeshare environment. They are “insurance payments” to make sure that the timeshare property is maintained at a high level of quality.

    Bottom line: My wife and I have counted the cost and feel very good about the lifestyle returns that our timeshare purchase has given us. In the final analysis, the decision to purchase a timeshare is not merely a financial issue. It includes lifestyle and peace of mind issues also. It may not be for all people or temperaments, but it works for my wife and I.

    We own timeshares in Hawaii (Kings Land) and Myrtle Beach (Anderson). Given the flexibility of the Hilton Grand Vacation system, we take vacations wherever HGVC resorts or Hilton Hotels are located.

  15. I just did an interesting analysis on the value of Elite Plus ownership at HGVC:

    The roughly $100,000 we invested in Elite Plus (24000 HGVC club points per year with a total grant of 66400 bonus points) could be invested in a joint life annuity on immediateannuity.com to yield $4800/year for the remainder of my wife and my lifetime (we are in our mid 50s–younger folks would get less per year from an annuity).

    The 24000 yearly club points yields roughly 12 weeks of studio accommodations per year (1 week of studio costs 2200 points/week in platinum season and 1600 points/week in gold season, so I assume roughly 2000 points/week for a studio on average). Given HGVCs upgrade policy for Elite Plus, this could be converted to 12 weeks of a 1 bedroom suite. Nevertheless, assuming the value of accommodations is $100/night, this translates to a total value of $8400/year. Maintenance fees accounts for about $2400/year. This leaves the net value that I receive from the use of the 24000 points per year (from the $100,000 originally invested) at roughly $6000/year.

    So in this very simple example, I’m up $1200/year comparing HGVC versus an annuity. If I factor in the 66,400 bonus points received, the “financial return” of my timeshare is even greater, increasing the value over an annuity from $1200/year to roughly $3500/year assuming the total value of the bonus points (just over 33 weeks of studio living = about $23240) is pro-rated evenly over 10 years.

    This is a very subjective calculation, nevertheless I found it to be an interesting exercise.

  16. Doug,

    Thanks for the thorough response. You’ve definitely given us a lot to think about for the next day or so. I appreciate your time on this.

    • My pleasure Rick. BTW, I have just started a Facebook Page called “Exploring Hilton Grand Vacations Club”. This is not much there yet, but feel free to drop by, like the page, and post questions if you have any. As I mention above, I am an Elite Plus owner/member at HGVC but I am not in any other way affiliated with Hilton. Here is the link:

    • And one more thing Rick:
      Based on the info you provided about your purchase, it appears to me that, excluding bonus points, the ROI is zero on your deal (the benefits of the days/year granted in points equals the maintenance fee). However, if you include the bonus points as a prorated item over 10 years, the ROI is roughly 4%, which is equal to what you would get in an annuity.

      So what have you decided on your purchase?

      All the best,

      • Hey Rick, you probably could care less, but being OCD, I have to correct what I think is an error in my ROI calculation above. The maintenace fees you state are likely every other year (I used every year in my calculation of zero ROI before bonus points. If it is every other year then the ROI is 2.8% before and 6.8% after bonus points

        • Thanks again for the calculations. We decided to cancel the contract although we may consider this again somewhere down the road.

  17. I bought my HGVC in 1997 then upgraded in 1999. It was wonderful especially while my children were young. We traded it out every year and my kids and my husband and I travelled all over the place including two trips overseas. Now we are older and unable to travel as much, and I wonder of I can rent it out? Does anyone have info about how to do this without getting scammed?

    • Valerie,

      The easiest way to know if it’s a scam is if they ask for money upfront… you should only collect money not spend.

      Also remember you are the only one who can make reservations, no one else can book reservations with your points… You can book reservations under different names, but you have to be the one who calls.

  18. Wow… I posted on this some time ago and thought I should check in… Doug, I work with Ivette at the corporate offices and read your responses that you sent to her. I thought wow, what a great way to break down ownership with HGVC and how to determine whether it fits your life style or not.

    Fast forward, I happened to think about the forum and wondered if anyone had posted since I last visited in March… To my surprise, I found myself reading the same thing Ivette showed me!! What a coincidence!

    I’m glad to see that HGVC owners have found this site and have responded with nothing but positive feedback, not a surprise to me as I talk with owners daily and know of their satisfaction.

    The only thing I didn’t see mentioned about Elite is the top level Elite Premier! Talking about benefits!

  19. Nick, nice to see you “at corporate” checking in here, but I think it’s a bit questionable to say it’s nothing but positive comments from owners when I originally wrote this as a HGVC owner who was dissatisfied. At this point my ex has the timeshare and as far as I can tell she definitely doesn’t use it to its full potential so I expect she’s probably not thrilled with the economics of the situation either…

  20. I find negativity attracts negativity, when you originally started this forum everyone who responded followed your lead most if not all basing their opinions on assumptions and what they’d heard.
    Since my post in Jan. of this year (2012), every commit has been positive!

    As many have said, timeshare isn’t for everybody, it is a certain type of life style and not everybody can do it.

    Perhaps you have found ways that work better for you, and that’s great! But if reading what Daniele, Heather, Donna, Guy, Doug, & Valerie wrote isn’t a turn in opinion I don’t know what is.

    Guy said it best… If you spent over $100k, many years ago, you would be at least Elite if not better and would have the power to travel much more than 2 weeks a year. In addition to being able to travel the world.

    We’re sorry this didn’t work for you and that your ex can’t seem to find a way to use over $100k worth of timeshare, perhaps have her speak with Doug who is similarly invested and seems to be ecstatic about his ownership.

  21. My wife and I attended HGVC tour last year. We didn’t buy then but we were offered 5,000 points at a cost of $1,500 and we are booked for Waikoloa Village Hotel. As a bonus we were offered a two night stay at a local Hilton Hotel nearby. We made a reservation but could not make it. We were then contacted explaining that we were liable for $500 cancellation fee (what!). YES…they explain it as a bonus but quickly learned it was yet another attempt to coerce us into buying. We were required to do the same tour AGAIN. Talk about persistent. I have been in sales all my life and can appreciate zealousness of a sale. However, this 90 minute tour lasted 3+ hours. Even though, I explained to the sales rep that we were not interested. It was the same ol’ dog and pony show you experience at a car dealership when buying a car. Then their “closer” was a disaster. He didn’t shake my hand nor my wife’s when he sat at our table. He mumbled most of his words and threw in an occasional joke that made no one laugh but himself. Even our original sales rep shook his head a couple of times at the tings that were coming out of his mouth. The best part was his pitch on how he was going to throw in a bonus 2800 points just because he liked us. Hmmmm? Really?

    And then the sore loser. It took our sales rep took 3+ hours of our time to make himself our buddy buddy…but it took him 10 minutes to let us know that we had wasted his time. As he escorted us out his demeanor was filled with obvious disgust. Where is the business etiquette that I used to know?

    They don’t realize this but we ended up running into another couple who went through the same dog and pony show and they were offered 3400 points but the cost for their offer was $4,500 more for what we realized the same level of ownership.

    Hilton – you are seriously ruining your reputation with experiences like this.

  22. How does one get out of a contract? I recently signed, only yesterday and on one page it says I have 7 days to cancel, rescind is the word they use. I can’t tell how to get out of it. It talks about the grace period, but doesn’t say HOW to cancel.

  23. This exchange has been helpful and would appreciate some furhter understanding. My wife and I just completed our third HGVC promo presentation. This was at Kings Land, for the first time we were actually open to buying in. We are 60 yrs old with grown children and take two vacations a year, one cruise and one nice land. We would continue to in retirement.

    Here was the deal 2 BDRM with 14,400 pts for $74,000 and 1723 MF including 72,000 bonus pts. Leaving the bonus points aside, which I calculated out to be worth approx. $11,000 on the open market that is a $63,000 investment. We would pay it directly in cash.

    Using a 4% inflation factor for the MF and the cost of paid vacation, and leaving the $63,000 as an investment, paying each year’s vacation out of it, receiving a 4% annual return. When finished that works out to approximately a 17 year payback!

    A similar resale (if HGVC doesn’t ROFR) is available for $30,000.

    Could someone help me understand the REAL benefit in buying into (1) a 17 yr payback? Why not just book yourself each year? And (2) is losing Elite status with the resale worth over $30k? Simply put what are we missing in not going forward with a time share?

    Many of you appear to have a good understanding of this I would appreciate your views. Many thanks.

  24. We bought every other year in Hawaii. This was a while ago but did not get as many bonus points. Almost upgraded but they were only giving 5K bonus points. So we did not upgrade. We are pretty happy as we dont use up all our alternate year points of 7K. So we either rescue to move forward and pull forward if we need to.

  25. Gene G

    Wow that is too high. The price per point is almost $5+. We bought ours in kingsland of course y years ago for less than $3 a point. We took every other year and 7k points. Works out pretty well. You are 60welcome yrs old and would never recommend my father to put all that into a club. Put it in a retirement savings. If you need a club membership then take a n alternate year membership. We used it to become members and if we need to get more time then just pay cash option which is far less than a hotel.

  26. Hello,
    I stumbled upon this discussion while doing web searches regarding the purchase of an HGVC timeshare.
    From what I have seen so far there are no real long term monetary advantages purchasing directly from HGVC. The bonus points offered to us had a variable value depending on use. We re offer 1 million hilton honours points if we purchased 8400 gold points for approximately 34,000 dollars (annual).

    The HH point value varies greatly. From what can gather it has a monetary value of approximately 10,000 dollars.

    So far resale does seem the best method of purchasing. It is all about the points. Why would I pay 3 times or from HGVC and get the same vacation opportunity as purchasing resale? That’s crazy!
    When I can purchase 11,000 plus points for approximately 7000 dollars.

    Anyways I haven’t committed to anything,yet. But it has been fun looking into this type of ownership.


  27. I, too, just attende, a sales presentation and did not purchase. I then did some research regarding resale possibilities and found them to be 40% – 60% lower than the quoted price during the presentation. Besides the bonus points, what are the procedual differences in booking properties with points purchased from Hilton versus points purchase by resale? Thanks.

  28. My wife and I purchased HGVC in 2005 and started off with 3,500 pts worth one week in Orlando in a 2bedroom/2bath. The first time we used our timeshare we were badgered to attend an “owners update” to learn about new locations, etc. We attended and ended up doubling our points to 7,000 for a 3bedroom/2bath in Vegas. Now we are divorced and can’t afford to keep up with the mortgage and maintenance fee of $1,000 annually. Hilton informed us that they would buy our timeshare back from us for $3,000-$4,000. What an insult! We paid a total of $27,000 for the 7,000 points and we still owe $12,0000 which was refinanced by Hilton after five years and now the loan is all interests. They are really screwing us over right now and I have not way out because bad credit will cost me my job which. What should I do? The balance when we refinanced was $12,xxx and it’s still the same no money going to principal anymore.

  29. If you’re thinking about purchasing HGVC, Do NOT buy into the presentation. The sales guides are hungry and just there to make as much money as they can, they don’t care about you. Timeshare is a major scam no matter what company you deal with. There is always a fee. A booking fee, a fee to transfer points to Hilton Honors and you will not get as many nights out of your points when you transfer to Hilton Honors, then there is a fee to transfer points over to RCI, and there is a fee to roll your points over to the next year so you don’t lose them.
    They will drain you with fees and constantly increasing annual dues. If you decide you need to sell they will offer you no much more then $3,000 no matter what you paid. They don’t care if you lost your job or your spouse died or you medically unable to travel. You will pay for your timeshare until you die or sell it on e-Bay for $1. You have to basically give it away if you can’t use it any longer. It’s like a cancer.

  30. Hilton will not even allow us to downgrade to a lesser amount, they say you can only upgrade. We had no clue that the annual dues would be less in a 1bedroom versus a 2 or 3bedroom. It’s all about the points. So what I’ve learned if you buy a timeshare found out which resort has the lowest annual dues and buy the smallest unit, because when you travel as long as you have enough points you can stay at any location and in any size unit you need.

  31. If you’re smart you won’t buy into the scam, or you’ll buy one for $1 on eBay and the fee is only $200 to transfer the title.

  32. We attended a ‘presentation’ in Honolulu which was supposed to be 1.5 to 2 hrs and took over 3 hours of oily flattery and unprofessional behaviour which was most off putting. Pie charts of statistics with no back up hard evidence were offered, we were pressured into spending considerable sums of money on the spot and were not able to read the fine print on the legal documents (how unethical is this???). In the end the ‘manager’ suggested we could not afford it, (we actually can), were offered a deal to ‘hold’ the price with some benefits but at a cost. We decided that we could not trust such sales tactics and were quickly shown the door. We can see how some people succumb to such bullying but we are still laughing.

    • Hear hear! Just done this charade today with my husband in Orlando, been reading this forum and thought I’d throw my two pennies in.. This is the comment that sums up my feelings the most, & nice to get it off my chest. My favourite comment from them was “Oh you won’t be picked up until you are finished with your presentation” after I had expressed concern after we’d run over the 2hrs.. I could go on but in summary:
      1. A potentially good product is being ruined here by the ‘smoke & mirrors’ approach to sales. Insulting.
      2. When I committed to a package one time 6 night deal it was because as a coincidence I was in the state & the Park Tickets / good value package was worth taking, I was never asked if I would consider a HGVC scheme at all..
      3. The sales pitch was shallow – taking credit for the lifetime of family holiday memories I will accrue (not credit to you lady) & the sales video we were showed had no info on resorts.. Just testimonials.. In a darkened room..
      4. I asked for info to take away, none was given & they made it hard for us to leave – a reputable pitch would be more reasonable, considerate, personable, transparent, simple.. It is arrogant for them to act as if you owe them all that time there.. And answers to their silly questions.
      5. My advice? Take a HGVC promo offer to Orlando if you’re offered park tickets etc.. Just remember that they must be using these desperate & covert tactics for a reason..? Surely the headache of endless points calculations & commitment in such a flexible day & age will deter you? I had my fun this week anyway & will come back to some kind of resort here in future with my kids (aged 3 + 6) but I will decide later at my leisure how & when I do this.
      Anon, savvy well travelled young UK business woman 🙂

  33. The idea of owning a timeshare is that you have quality vacations ensured for the rest of your life at an incredible price, or at least that is what the salesmen tell you when you attend a timeshare sales pitch. The truth is that timeshare ownership can get very expensive, being that beside the initial purchase price there are other annual charges: there are timeshare maintenance fees.

  34. We purchased the every other year “deal” at the HGVC on the Las Vegas strip and upgraded the next year to an annual “ownership” 3400 points per year. I agree that if you put the numbers on paper it is not a financial investment, particularly in the short run. However, we go to Vegas every year anyway (for 3 to 4 nights only) and over the past few years we have had enough points left over to do a 3 or 4 night trip somewhere else. Even though rooms are cheap in Vegas, the key is to stay at places, there and elsewhere, which cost more than your annual maintenance fee. The conversion to HHilton Honors points, however, is really a bad deal and so that should not be considered as a reason to buy. In retrospect, I wish that we had gone with 4800 points per year and I wish we had purchased through a reputable re-seller rather than through Hilton. Having said that, however, we are thus far satisfied with our purchase.

  35. Timeshare fraud has been around since the timeshare idea was created, but they increase during poor economy. When times are difficult, timeshare owners are stuck with properties they can´t travel to or even afford. Desperate to recoup some money to pay for bills, they can easily become victims to scams artists pretending to be their timeshare salvation who will take upfront fees -as much as five number figures in some cases- but fail to fulfill their promise.

  36. Heard the HGVC pitch today – for New York. $98k for 14000 points with annual maintenance fee of nearly $5k. + 54k bonus points. Tempting because we want to have lots of weekends in NY. What do you all think?

    • 5k will buy lots of hotel time; additionally the W 57th St. property is not always available, particularly on weekends. I’d pass on the deal.

  37. Yeah, interesting, the $5K does seem like a lot. The difference now is that “the club” includes the Hilton on 6th Ave, not just the 57th St. property….maybe better availability? And this seems like a better way to get into the city repeatedly, one way or another. We’ve spent $300/night for a room with nothing but a bed at times. Thanks for your thoughts John.

  38. Timeshares can be a terrific purchase for some families, as they also can be a giant rip off for others. 50 years ago, also known as Holiday Home Sharing or timeshare travel timeshares were created with the idea of offering fully furnished accommodations for a lower price than a full-time ownership.

  39. Buying a timeshare under the impression you will save money on the long run on travel expenses such as airfare or cruises equals to being a victim of timeshare fraud. Timeshares will barely provide you a small discount on accommodations and that´s it. Timeshares will not provide you, in most cases, any discounts on your vacation expenses.

  40. The timeshare industry is known for being very susceptible to scams; however, timeshare properties are still a successful business for most resorts. In these times of rough economy, it is important to take care of our money, however, and timeshares are not generally a good investment for individuals unless you are really, really careful about the numbers.

  41. Timeshares need to be looked up as a purchase and not an investment. Regardless of how timeshares are presented, they don´t perform as well as a house or stock investment. If you look around the resale market for timeshares on websites like EBay, Redweek, or TUGBBS will find that you can buy a timeshare for far less money than what the first owner purchased it for.

  42. Thousands of International travelers, particularly from the US and Canada, have fallen victims of timeshare fraud while vacationing. Resort developers hire skilled salesmen to represent their timeshares as many different attractive packages, such as financial investments, deeded properties, or vacation clubs, just to increase their sales. Be careful out there!

    • That is true, Cheryl. The properties — last I was in Hawaii — were all at least a walk from the shoreline, and a longer walk to a beach.

  43. The timeshare industry has been into the lion’s mouth for the last couple of years, and it has generated lots of controversy and discussions in many forums and blogs on the web. However, since we’re living an economic downturn, anyone would expect that the timeshare sales collapse, but instead of that the sales seem to be increasing… but this comes with a trap: timeshare scams are increasing too. That leads us to the question: then, why keep people investing in timeshares?

  44. Timeshares have always been a bad buy. But for those who really feel they need one I make one recommendation: Never buy from the developer. Always wait for timeshares to appear on the secondary market, usually at half-price. People like you get excited at the new developments and jump right in, only to become disillusioned later and dump the property onto the secondary market, at a loss, for a patient, informed buyer to take advantage of.

  45. Interesting comments about time shares. Last week (Oct. 2014) we attended a HGVC presentation in Myrtle Beach and bought a 1 week 1 bedroom non-prime period property at the new resort set to open next year. The annual points are 3,400 and we were given 9,600 bonus points that expire in two years if not used.

    I found the “presenters” as they liked to be called (rather than salesman) to be very professional. I did not feel pressured to buy. Perhaps they sensed that I would not respond well to high pressure tactics. And the closer was also very low key and extremely professional. The primary sales person we dealt with gave me his personal cell number with instructions to call him if I had questions or issues. We just had a different experience than some of the others that have posted here.

    We decided to buy because I just retired and we plan to spend the next five years doing a lot of traveling. The program seems to offer a lot of flexibility and fits with our retirement plans. As I told the salesman, I would not have bought this 5 years ago and probably would not buy it 5 years from now but for us the timing is right.

    I have a few days left where I could cancel the contract but I expect to go through with it. I do have some concerns; perpetual maintenance fees, resale potential if necessary, booking fees (which was not mentioned), booking a room when and where I want it. The latter is probably my biggest concern since I have no experience with that. So, there are some risks, but at very least we can go stay in Myrtle Beach which is only a 3 hour drive for one week a year, or longer if we stay in a studio apartment. The downside of that is I probably could of done the same for less money.

    The upside is we have the potential to visit a lot of cities and stay at what I hope are really nice resorts. We have 3 kids that all live within 1 to 4 hours of MB and they can use it when we can’t or don’t want to anymore. I think we will get 20+ years of use from this purchase – which I do not see as an investment anymore than I see buying a car as an investment.

    That’s our story, which I think is similar to Doug’s who posted here back in 2012. I’ll post back in couple of years and let you know how it is working for us.

    • Refreshing reading your post after all the other negative posts. We just purchased in Hawaii. Even though we know we likely won’t go to Hawaii every year we embraced the flexibility of the purchase. As I read many of these I see people that simply didn’t think their lifestyle through before buying. We travel ALOT solo, together, and Family. The flexibility of converting points was great for us to. Like you, for us the time was right. I attended same presentation at 57th in NYC about 4 years ago and we didn’t buy. …..
      the time wasn’t right. I know for a fact that I’ll spend more than 30k in hotel rooms over next 5-8 years. That’s our lifestyle. …. having this for a lifetime simply made sense and was the right time for us. I really hate listening to people try to pick stuff apart and scream “scam” Stop. .. really? You had all the paperwork in front of you and even 10 days to back out. Why is it everyone else’s fault you didn’t read or think it through and weigh your options even in the grace period? ? Tired of bashers.

  46. Hello, we just bought one of these timeshares an They were upfront with annual fees and registration charges and so forth. But after looking online I do have concerns about reservation availability and also problems using RCI. I am also troubled about the lack of good reviews for HGV timeshare usage. We are thinking about canceling.

  47. Whoops submitted before finished. I think the time share is good in that it will make us take a break and at this point we feel we have been duly informed of all the costs involved with the timeshare. My real concern is getting the place to stay . It would be nice to read reviews from people who use it successfuly, but thats not tobe had.

  48. I loved HGVC . . . until trying to sell it or trying to get Hilton to just take it back due to unexpected, serious health issues and money needed to cover medical expenses. Type “complaints against HGVC” into Google: 87,200 results; “HGVC fraud” brings up 75,600 results. Comments include: “You will not get back what you originally paid for your timeshare. When you bought from the developer, you overpaid — total cost of your ownership was marked up to cover sales presentations, incentives and giveaways. Chances are the sales person told you that your timeshare would appreciate in value. This is simply not true, except in rare cases at high-end fractional properties. Resale timeshares often sell for only 50% of the original price — some for as little as 20-30%.” In principal and interest, HGVC has received the original cost. I receive calls monthly from HGVC trying to sell me another week. HGVC is doing so well, they are building more timeshare properties. But, again, if you try to sell yours, they will tell you the demand isn’t there. I’m confused. HGVC is NOT a member of BBB, Florida. I contacted FBI Fraud Division. No resolution from them. They provided a list of attorneys. ANYONE HAVE ANY IDEAS? At this point, I just want to give it back to Hilton, but it seems they won’t take it back.

    • Hello D,

      Sell the Hilton Timeshare that you want to get rid of for a ridiculously low price online. If the price is really low, Hilton may exercise their Right of First Refusal and they would basically buy it back from you for the price you “sold” it for. If you don’t want to take a legitimate buyer on a roller coaster ride, sell it to a family member who would be willing to buy it for next to nothing in case hilton doesn’t exercise their ROFR.

  49. If you just bought a timeshare from a developer, chances are that you didn’t research anything ahead of time and haven’t even had the chance to read all the materials they just gave you. My advice is to cancel/rescind the contract immediately. Follow the instructions in the contract on how to do so. A simple internet search will provide a sample letter. It varies by state, but you may have as little as 3 days to cancel. If you don’t cancel within the rescission period, there’s no easy way out. I found the TUG (Timeshare Users Group) Forum to be very helpful.

    After you have done your homework and still decide you want a timeshare – there will be plenty of options out there!

  50. I just got back from the “vacation from hell” at HGV Elara in Las Vegas. I’m a single mom of a 10 year old. I got roped into going on this promotional during some sort of phone call I made to Hilton trying to reserve a room for some other event. They roped me in by saying all I’d have to do is go to a short sales presentation and I would get two free dinners and show tickets for 2 plus a free night’s stay in a Hilton, and bonus points for going. One of the shows was Popovic Pet Comedy Theater, which my daughter wanted to see, so I thought, okay, I’ll go during her spring break from school since Las Vegas is within driving distance for me.

    My sales presentation was for 9:45 am the day after our arrival the night before. (You can’t check into the hotel before 4 pm and check out is at 10 am). I had not eaten breakfast (except some chocolate!) before I went, as I’d been told the presentation was about 90 minutes (now looking at the email I got from HGVC before I went, it says it will last two hours). I thought I’ll be back to the hotel room before noon and I’ll take my daughter to lunch.

    They assign you to an individual sales rep right away, who takes you to a presentation in a large room with all the other “guinea pigs” in your group, who also have their own sales rep. The presentation (done by a different person–who said she’d worked for Hilton for like 21 years) is designed to take away all your doubts, even though the presenter keeps saying you can say either yes or no at the end, and “we’ll part friends.” Yea. The presenter goes through some calculations illustrated by the power point presentation, that make it look like HGVC is a great investment that will save you lots of money on vacations.

    Then after this, the sales rep takes you up to the 57th floor (which you cannot get to using the guest elevators, just these special hidden ones), takes you to their desk, and starts asking you lots of questions about where you’d like to travel, how often you travel, etc etc. The rep keeps hanging out bait—soon I’ll take you to see our premier unit–, etc. They also throw in personal questions and compliments so you start thinking they are your friend and on your side. Finally after 2 hours I say I have to go get my daughter–and the next thing I know, she’s trying to convince me to buy into this whole thing too.

    The whole thing reminded me of the process of buying a car–all the high pressure sales tactics, and the better “deal” that suddenly becomes available when you say you don’t want the first one, and have convinced them somehow you aren’t going to buy that one. My female sales rep even brought over a male manager at one point who was really pushy. Both my daughter and I kept eating their crappy wraps–at least they did have some food there for us, but since I’m gluten free, I was only eating out the insides. I was starving, tired (hadn’t slept well the 2 nights previously), crying–yes, I broke down crying about the fact my ex was supposed to go with us on this “vacation” but had backed out the morning we left because he had “work” to do– and finally, around 3:30 pm, I signed the papers to buy a “studio plus” at the Elara which translated into 3500 club points every other year, with a $823 maintenance fee every other year and $140 on the years I’m not paying the maintenance fee, with a bonus of 4500 club points I could use either my first or second year. Cost was $15,140.

    Of course, I did not sleep again that night, waking up every 2 hours with anxiety about the whole thing, and promptly the next morning looked at all my paperwork, got online and found this blog, along with lots of other info, and decided I would resciss. I called American Express, as I had charged the entire amount to that card–as applying for it and getting even more bonus points was part of the promotion–and they were very helpful, saying the charge to my card was still pending, and reassuring me they would help me file a dispute if I rescissed and the charge still appeared on my card. They gave me the phone # of where the charge was placed from–and it was the Elara main desk–but luckily people were helpful enough so that I got back up to the reception area where my tour had started the day before. Someone helped me get up to the 57th floor where I insisted I wanted to cancel… and soon I’d signed the form. Thank God for government regulations–the state of Nevada gives you 5 days to resciss and the state I live in gives 7–and all those forms were in the paperwork I received, with instructions on how and where to mail them in. I”m thinking of sending a copy of my rescission letter by certified mail just in case HGVC doesn’t actually turn it in. I want this nightmare to end!

    By the way, the show we wanted (Popovic Pet Comedy) hadn’t been running for like 2 months, and the place we wanted to go for the “free” dinner was booked that night for a private party. AND we actually ended up missing the show we did get tickets for–because I was so brain dead I accidentally got the wrong start time in my head!

    So, even though the vacation was “cheap”–$228 for the room for 3 nights, it was exorbitant in the stress it caused me.

    • I just went through a similar ordeal. It’s best to follow the instructions in the contract and send your rescission letter by certified mail to the administrative office address provided in the contract. That makes it legal. However, from what I have heard, Hilton is usually pretty good about following through with cancellations, so hopefully you’ll be okay. I guess it wouldn’t hurt to send a letter explaining that you turned in your cancellation where and to whom.

      My deposit was credited back to my card within a week or so of them receiving my letter.

      • I did go ahead and send a certified letter containing copies of the cancellation I signed in the office and also an additional handwritten note canceling which was good, as I then received an email back acknowledging my cancellation. I checked with the American Express card and the charge is still on there, which indicates to me that despite what they said onsite, they hadn’t really processed my cancellation there.

        Also, the sales rep kept texting me and trying to convince me to change my mind. I finally just blocked her on my phone.

  51. Ok, so I just read through all of these comments and found them enlightening. I bought 3400 points on even years down in Florida (Tuscany) back in 2011. My wife and I were actually looking for a timeshare. I didn’t even think of looking at the reselling market before we bought. I know we paid more than we had to pay, however I have read several post about fraud in the resale market maybe I was better off. We really like our ownership. For us, it was about having a separate bedroom so we wouldn’t have to be packed into small hotel room with our kids.

    We have stayed once at Tuscany in Orlando and twice traded into RCI. We were able to trade into a Disney Vacation Club twice, once for Beach Club Villas, and once for Wilderness Lodge Villas. The cost of paying to stay at these resorts is crazy high. If we reserved these rooms through Disney for the seven days, it would of cost around $11,000. These two stays cost the same as our club membership. We stayed once in October and once during school spring break! Could I have done Disney cheaper… yes, but this allowed us a one bedroom suite on property.

    Speaking of RCI, I believe their property inventory has declined a little since we purchased our HGVC property. I can usually find properties to exchange except for Newport, RI, in the summer. I actually wish HGVC would acquire a property in Newport. I am currently thinking about buying more points (hence how I found this site) so we can start to bring family with us on vacation. Overall I haven’t had problems reserving rooms and I believe I’ve gotten value from this ownership. The open season rentals are awesome as well.

    VRBO is definitely an option, and I have used this many times, for weekend trips (Newport, RI). The week long trips I’ve done with VBRO (Charelston, SC & Cooperstown, NY) would cost just as much or more than my HGVC property. The people I rent from on VBRO are usually timeshare owners.

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