If you are the sort of family or couple who enjoys taking a holiday at the same time and place every single year, year after year, then a timeshare might be right for you!

Similarly, if you do not enjoy planning your own holiday and you prefer to chose from a limited experience selection and be restricted in your choices, then a holiday club membership may suit your needs and lifestyle.

Whichever of these categories you fit into both come with an overwhelming amount of terms and conditions and fine print. And when we say fine print, we mean miniscule, it is literally hidden away in the dreaded legally binding contracts.

So, what exactly are the differences between timeshares and holiday clubs?

When you buy a timeshare, what you are actually purchasing is the shared right to a vacation property that allows you to stay there for a set amount of time, on set dates every year. The contract maybe indefinite or it may be set to expire after a certain number of years have passed and “you have had your money’s worth” (which is likely never the case). A timeshare can mean anything from a hotel room or apartment to a family sized villa or larger dwelling. You will normally always have to pay a one-off upfront fee for a timeshare, and this can be anywhere from £10,000 upwards. The only real flexibility with timeshares is where they are traded in or swapped with other timeshare companies or owners for different times and locations. However, the timeshare is set up, they are generally quite restrictive, this works well for some families if they must holiday during certain times of the year i.e. school holidays. But bear in mind many people find that when the kids have grown up and no longer want to go on holiday with their parents, you are still stuck with the same timeshare and it may no longer suit your needs.

With holiday clubs, or vacation memberships, the membership scheme requires you to prepay for your annual holiday. They do, however, allow for slightly more variation on the type of getaway you can plan, compared to a timeshare, but nether less are still incredibly restrictive when compared to planning your own package holiday. The system of points that members purchase is redeemed within a network of resorts. Most resorts offer these types of points-based holiday clubs and are moving away from the standard timeshare model, and there is one reason why! They are highly profitable for the resorts as they continue to trap people in lengthy contracts, upselling customers at every opportunity, slapping additional fees when customers try to book different resorts all while they continue to charge annual maintenance fees.

So are they really worth it? The best way to work out if this is a good investment or a financial drain is to calculate the cost compared to booking your own holidays. Over ten to twenty years (and holidaying in the same place) will you get your money’s worth? And do not forget to calculate the cost of maintenance fees, which will rise year in year out.

Holidays clubs do offer more flexibility to members, but that does not mean they come without restrictions. They all depend on the type of membership you buy, the higher the purchase price, the more options you have and a greater selection to choose from. However, compare this to booking your own holiday and not having to pay annual fees to do so, and they are rarely worth the money and trouble you will have trying to book through the complicated points system.

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