You’ve come to dread watching the money drain out of your bank account when your timeshare payments and maintenance fees are due. At this point, the resort is like a rude guest eating all the food at a party—and they never get the hint that you’re sick of them. Maybe it wasn’t always like this. Maybe you used to enjoy your timeshare before the kids grew up, your spouse got sick or your finances changed. Or maybe you realized it was a horrible mistake the day after you signed the papers.
Whatever the case, now you feel trapped. And just like 85% of timeshare owners, you’re wondering, How can I get rid of my timeshare? 1 Timeshare cancellation can be a bit tricky, but there are ways to get out. Check out these options:
Use the Recission Period
The recission period is a window of time when you can take back your buying decision and walk away from the timeshare. A short window of time.
In the U.S., each state decides how long its recission period is. They range from three days (the Federal Trade Commission’s minimum requirement) in states like Indiana and Massachusetts to 15 days in Alaska, the most generous state.2
Recission laws are based on where your timeshare is located—not where you live—so make sure you look up the laws in the correct state. And if you bought a timeshare outside the U.S., you’ll need to research that country’s laws. This article is intended to be helpful, but it isn’t legal advice, so do your research.
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The recission period may start the day you buy the timeshare—but it may be based on other factors, like when you receive the public offering statement. (That’s a list of general information about the timeshare, and it may also be called a “timeshare disclosure” or a “disclosure statement.”)
And of course, find out when that recission period ends too. Some states disqualify you if you have the public offering statement for too long before you purchase the timeshare. Other states know how shady timeshares are, and they’re willing to give you extra time if you meet certain requirements.
Review your timeshare documents and compare your recission period to the timeshare laws in your state or country to know if you still qualify.
Timeshare Cancellation Letters
If you’re still in the recission period, great! Now all you need to do is cancel that pesky timeshare purchase.
To do this, you’ll need to write a cancellation letter that tells the resort it’s over and mail it to their cancellation address. But since these resorts are sneaky and underhanded, a lot of them hide that address in tiny fine print or leave it out altogether. (They’ll do anything to avoid cancellations that cost them money.)
If you can’t find the address, ask the resort for it. Don’t take no for an answer—you’re legally entitled to this information! (The good news is, some states actually won’t start your recission period until you receive the cancellation address and instructions. So if your timeshare is in one of those places, you’ve got something to be grateful for.)
Of course, just mailing your letter doesn’t mean the resort is suddenly going to start playing fair. They often like to pretend they lost cancellation letters. It’s up to you to make sure the letter gets there. USPS certified mail works well—then the resort has to sign for it and prove they actually got it. Keep extra copies handy too, so you can send as many as it takes!
One more thing: Some resorts try to charge “cancellation penalties” and other fees. But there are actually laws about whether sellers can do this. They usually can’t, so watch them like a hawk. They’re not just breaking some random law—they’re trying to rob you. Don’t fall for it!
Ask the Resort to Take It Back
If you missed the recission period, there are still ways to get out of your timeshare. Some are surprisingly simple, like a timeshare deed-back. This is a legal, low-cost way to give the property back to the resort.
Look through your timeshare’s paperwork to see if this is an option for you.
You may even want to try Dave Ramsey’s approach and offer the resort’s sales manager an incentive, since they’ll have to buy your timeshare back from you and then resell it.
Just be careful! Sometimes when you call, the resort sees it as an opportunity to upgrade your timeshare. You do not want to walk away with an additional contract chaining you down.
Sell Your Timeshare
Okay, so you missed the recission period and the resort won’t take back your timeshare. Now what?
Sell it to someone else!
Prepare to Sell
The first step is seeing if you can sell your timeshare. If you still have a loan on it, your timeshare will be listed as “encumbered.” Unfortunately, there’s really no going forward with a sale until the loan’s paid off.
If your timeshare is eligible to sell, find out what it’s worth. Check with a real estate agent, or look online for timeshare resale sites or general listing sites like eBay and Craigslist. Try to find the final sale prices for timeshares similar to yours (not just the amount they’re listed for).
Unless it’s in a hot market (think Disney World), your timeshare may not be worth a lot. That’s okay! In that case, your goal isn’t to recoup expenses you’ve already paid. It’s to avoid future costs. This thing is going to drain your money for years if you stick with it—the average timeshare maintenance fee is $1,000 every year and rises by 5% annually.
Cut your losses and get out now!
List Your Timeshare
You can list your timeshare for sale online—but choose a website with no up-front fees so you don’t get hoodwinked by companies charging an arm and a leg to post on their “exclusive” website.
You can also talk to the owner who bought the week before or after yours. They may want to purchase your contract so they can extend their vacation options. If you don’t know them personally, you may be able to get an owners’ directory from the resort. Or, contact the county courthouse where the timeshare is located and request a copy of the deed, since it’s a public record.
Use an Attorney
Have you ever heard the phrase, “a verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on”? Well, your timeshare contract is on a piece of paper. It’s binding.
And if you’ve taken timeshare “upgrade” offers (even just changing your vacation week), those are normally considered to be new contracts. That means seven or eight individual contracts may be wrapped around you like barbed wire, pinning you to that painful timeshare. You’ll have to cut each separate contract to escape.
That’s a lot to do on your own, so you may need an attorney to help you work your way out of all those contracts.
Find one who specializes in contract law and has successfully gotten people out of their timeshares. You’re already paying through the nose for timeshare fees, so don’t keep throwing money away by paying a lawyer who doesn’t know what you’re up against and can’t get you out of your timeshare contract.
Use a Timeshare Exit Company
Even better than an individual attorney, wouldn’t you love to have a team of people working on your timeshare problem?
That’s what a timeshare exit company does! You’ll need one that’s experienced with the ins and outs of the timeshare industry. That means they have a proven track record and have already helped lots of other people end their timeshare ownership for good.
Don’t get suckered into shady deals from companies that say they’ll get you out of your commitment at a “low, low price,” only to disappear in a few months—with your money!
If they use high-pressure sales tactics or ask for a credit card number before you’ve signed a contract with them, they’re scum and can’t be trusted. And obviously, run away screaming if they’re asking you to participate in illegal or unethical activities!
Costs to Get Out of a Timeshare
On average, it costs about $5,000 to $6,000 and takes 12–18 months to get out of your timeshare contract using a timeshare exit company. But the cost and the timeframe can vary depending on a number of factors including, how many contracts are attached to your timeshare.
Believe it or not, your one timeshare can have multiple contracts on it. Each time you upgraded your timeshare, or made changes to your vacation dates, the timeshare company slapped another new contract on top of the old one. Those contracts add up over time. And to get you out, your timeshare exit service has to cancel each one. Lots of contracts on your timeshare mean more work for them and a potentially higher cost.
But even if you’ve been in your timeshare for years and years, it might still be worth it to hire a timeshare exit company. Doing it yourself can feel like trying to run through a brick wall, and a professional exit team can actually save you money in the long run¾more on the cost to benefit ratio later.
Options to Avoid
You’ve probably gotten plenty of advice on how to get rid of your timeshare—but be careful. Most stupid ideas sound good at first, until they blow up in your face. Don’t complicate your situation with any of these risky options.
Renting Out Your Timeshare
Some people—like those self-proclaimed timeshare “experts” you meet online or your know-it-all Uncle Lou—say it’s smart to rent out your timeshare. Their logic is that at least you’ll get some money for your trouble.
But this option stinks like a dead possum under the porch for several reasons. First, most resorts don’t allow it. Second, it only takes one bad renter to trash the place and leave you with a massive repair project that costs you more money and gets you in trouble with the resort. What a headache!
And even if you do find good renters, the money you make probably won’t cover your costs. Timeshare rentals are a Band-Aid at best—and they widen the cut at worst. You’re trying to stop the bleeding, so steer clear.
Giving Your Timeshare Away
Another idea comes from good-hearted people like your sweet Aunt Mary who just don’t understand how timeshares work. They say you should give it to charity or a loved one. Sounds good, right?
The thing is, most charities aren’t as receptive as you might imagine. They’re too busy doing good works to take a vacation. And they don’t want those never-ending costs, either!
The ones that do have retreats or off-site gatherings might accept it if you agree to pay the fees for several years. Ouch—no thank you! (By the way, any “solution” that keeps you paying the resort isn’t a solution. Run away!)
As far as giving it away, that’s not a good answer either. If owning a timeshare has been so miserable for you, why put that hardship on a loved one?
This one is our favorite. This idea says that if you just close your eyes, ignore it and wish really hard, your timeshare will go away.
As much as you wish that was true, it isn’t. You owe these people money. And they’re not going to let you forget it.
If you don’t pay, they’ll turn your unpaid dues over to collection agencies. Cue the manipulative phone calls at all hours of the day and night! If you still don’t pay, your timeshare may go into foreclosure, but that’s not guaranteed. Some developers won’t foreclose because they’d rather keep harassing you for payments and ruining your credit. We’re talking months of court battles, legal fees and heartaches—all because you listened to your dumb-butt neighbor who told you to quit making your payments.
We know you’re sick and tired of paying these vultures, but they are not worth the frustration of being harassed and hounded.
Is It Worth It to Get Out of a Timeshare?
Yes! And you’ll be happy you did. While you’re likely to pay a few thousand dollars to get out of your timeshare contracts, you’ll recoup your costs and save money in the long run.
Let’s break it down: In 2019, the average timeshare maintenance fees were $1,000 per year.4 Fees increase by 5% each year, on average. So, although it costs a few thousand dollars to get out of the timeshare, after 5–6 years, it’ll pay for itself—not to mention how much you’ll save on travel costs and other fees. And with all that money—and your newfound sense of freedom—you can take the whole family to Cabo and pay cash!