As a Timeshare owner, your home resort is most often associated with an Exchange company (RCI or II) that can be used to deposit your week in exchange for another week within that same Exchange network.
This article is meant to be a quick overview of the concepts and differences between RCI points, and RCI weeks in the Timeshare Exchange world! TUG has a very comprehensive RCI FAQ located here for later reading: TUG Advice Articles
RCI Weeks Timeshare Overview
This grand-daddy of exchange systems launched in 1974. The basic premise: to provide greater destination choices to the timeshare owner through a means of trading (exchanging) their Home Resort week for another week of similar size and value at another participating resort property. A “week” is defined at a 7-night reservation with arrival generally falling on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
For many years the exchanges were offered “week for week” (one week into the inventory pool; one week out) and restricted to “like for like” exchange based on variables including Resort Quality, Season, Location and Unit Size. The “like for like” method was intended to protect “high demand” inventory for those who also owned similar “high demand” weeks to trade.
Recent revisions to the RCI Weeks program introduced “Trade Power Units” (TPU) as a means of setting value for each week in the inventory pool. TPU, based on the variables mentioned above of Resort Quality, Season, Location and Unit Size, is the "currency" used to reserve exchanges from the pool of available exchanges.
Operationally, the timeshare owner will deposit their week to RCI Weeks and receive a fixed number of TPU for that deposit. They may use their TPU to book a week of similar TPU (a “like for like” exchange) or they might accept an exchange week of lower TPU value and keep the change towards a second exchange. TPU from multiple deposits may be combined to assist the timeshare owner in booking a week of greater value than their original deposit.
Fees related to RCI Weeks include the RCI Membership Fee, Exchange Fee (Domestic and International), Combining TPU, Extending TPU expiration, and Guest Certificates. For a complete list, shown in USD: RCI Fees List
RCI Points Timeshare Overview
Similar to RCI Weeks, the RCI Points program was designed to increase destination choices for Timeshare Owners of resorts affiliated with the RCI Points program. The significant difference between RCI Points and RCI Weeks is the length of stay: RCI Points members may book exchanges as brief as a single-night stay! RCI Points offers greater flexibility when booking your vacation allowing the timeshare owner to choose: location, unit size, arrival date, and length of stay.
Similar to RCI Weeks, the timeshare week deposited into RCI Points will be assigned an arbitrary value of "points" used as currency within the RCI Points system. When exchanging with RCI points, the timeshare owner can use their Points balance to exchange for weeks that have equal (or less) point value from the Exchange pool. Points may also be combined from multiple deposits to increase the Timeshare Owner’s RCI Points balance.
Note that the RCI Points value is completely different from the "TPU" value used by RCI Weeks and the two currencies are not linked or related in any way.The easiest way to differentiate is that RCI points values are in the tens of thousands, and TPUs are generally a fraction of that (between 5-150 for example).
Fees related to RCI Points include the RCI Membership Fee, Exchange Fee based on length of stay, Points Extension, Points Transfer, Guest Certificates. For a complete list, shown in USD:RCI Fees List
I think I understand - sort of - OK not really?
Hopefully the following quick facts will help clear it up a bit more(or make you even more confused!)
- With an RCI Weeks membership, you can deposit into the RCI points system under a procedure called "Points for Deposit". There is of course an extra fee to do this. You also must have an RCI Points membership along with your RCI weeks membership with the "Points for Deposit" program, again an additional fee applies.
- With an RCI points membership, you already have access to RCI weeks deposits in the exchange pool.
- You can have both an RCI points, and RCI weeks membership, note that if you are an RCI points owner, you automatically get a free RCI weeks membership.
- Many owners find that RCI points are far more flexible for short stays (not a full week) vs RCI weeks deposits.
- Ongoing searches are available out to 24 months with RCI Weeks memberships, but only 10 months for RCI points.
Excellent, so which one is for me?
Well this is the great question, however if you are already an owner this decision is made for you as your Timeshare Resort would already be affiliated with RCI points, or RCI weeks thus making you a participant in one or the another automatically.
Frequently owners discover their resort is converting from RCI weeks to RCI points, and in most every case there is a sales pitch to all owners urging them to convert their weeks over (always for a hefty fee). We have an advice article specifically about this subject here: Read: Should I convert my Timeshare week to points
In most cases, the fee charged (in the thousands of dollars) is not worth the conversion especially when you can currently buy additional weeks at existing RCI points timeshares for pennies on the dollar in the resale market if you truly want to go into the RCI points system (and subsequently give away your existing deeded week). That of course is a decision you should make separately, but never believe it when a resort says you "HAVE TO CONVERT" as that is just part of the sales tactic.
The Final Word!
RCI is a complex system for exchanges, and even folks who have been in the Timeshare Exchange world for ages still dont fully understand all of the in's and out's! This article was certainly not meant to describe all the features RCI has to offer, but instead give a quick summary and differences between the two sub-categories of the RCI exchange system.
We hope this article helps you better understand RCI points vs RCI weeks!
Additional Links and helpful information about RCI Exchanging
A comparison chart of all the major Timeshare Point Systems ownership programs it is available here!
Visit the Timeshare Users Group Exchanging Discussion Forum where tens of thousands of owners gather to give and get help 24 hours a day