Over the last 20 years, that US ‘trip of a lifetime’ has become within reach for many more UK holidaymakers, with 5.5 million Brits visiting the USA in 2019.
Coronavirus has been a spanner in the works for Anglo-American visitation this year but with the trend being towards more of us popping across the pond to experience Disney World, shop in New York or even a lazy road trip down Route 66 we are being exposed to the American timeshare market.
The operations in America are polished and slick, with great incentives for any couple willing to attend a sales presentation. Theme park tickets like Disney can be yours for $5 each instead of $130 in exchange for a chance to present their membership schemes to you.
Brits buying timeshare in the USA are a long way from home. While it may seem like a good idea for some people, Daniel Keating of the Timeshare Consumer Association reminds you to carefully consider the following before committing to a purchase in the Land of the Free.
- It’s a long way. “Yes, this year you didn´t mind the journey and extra expense of travelling to the USA,” says Daniel, “but your circumstances may change in the future. You might have kids and need short haul holidays for a while. Someone in your party could be ill and not be up to the journey. You might be going through temporary financial hardship, or just getting older. Committing to a transatlantic journey every year forever is a big step.
- You might get bored of the destination. “You love it now, but realistically do you want the same holiday every year forever? Sure, the smooth talking salesman will tell you that you can just exchange to a destination nearer you. But do you want to commit to paying an exchange fee every year after that point?”
- The US timeshares annual fees include property tax. “This makes it harder and more expensive to get out of the contract in the future if you want to,” Daniel explains. “It´s not just a timeshare company you are committed to paying every year, but also the US government. You might want to stop paying your fees as part of your strategy to exit your timeshare, but the reality is that you can´t because some of it is taxes, and they can´t be avoided.”
- US timeshares are “forever” contracts. “In Europe protective laws limit the lifespan of a timeshare contract to 50 years. However in the USA virtually all memberships are In Perpetuity, meaning they don´t even end with the death of the owner. The commitment is part of the member´s estate and can affect the inheritance of a beneficiary,” warns Daniel. “If you do buy timeshare in the USA, make sure your kids are happy with the expense when it passes to them.
Lisa Schreier is a US based crusader against pitfalls in the timeshare industry Stateside. Here is her guide to buying timeshare in the USA.
Jack Dawson, a timeshare relinquishment and claims expert with ECC gives the following advice: “A US based timeshare contract can be a lot harder to exit than a European membership. It´s a case by case basis and can´t be generalised.
“If you have a USA timeshare membership that you want to exit you can get free, impartial advice from organisations like the TCA by phone or email. Have the details of your contract ready when you get in touch and they will point you in the right direction.”