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Timeshare Maintenance Fees: The Ugly Truth

When you own a timeshare, you also own the responsibility of paying annual maintenance fees. Takes the shine off, right? Not only because you’re paying these fees to maintain a place you visit just once a year, but also because every year the fees go up!  

So what are timeshare maintenance fees, and just how bad are they? And can you get rid of them if you do own a timeshare? We’ll walk you through all you need to know.  

What Are Timeshare Maintenance Fees?

For the timeshare owner, these annual fees are collected by the timeshare management company yearly (or possibly monthly) for the stated purpose of covering the normal costs of maintaining their timeshare property. Just like regularly changing the oil in your car, timeshares need regular maintenance to make sure everything’s running well. This, of course, comes at a cost—and that cost is passed on to you. 

What Do Timeshare Maintenance Fees Cover?

Timeshare maintenance fees cover regular upkeep and repairs to the property like:

  • Landscaping—mowing grass, trimming hedges, raking leaves, and even sprinkler systems
  • Amenities upkeep—pool cleaning and chemicals, gym equipment servicing, golf course maintenance
  • Business costs—insurance on the property, record keeping, scheduling, and administration

How Much Do Timeshare Maintenance Fees Cost?

The average annual maintenance fee is $1,000. But the surprise comes when you find out the fees go up every year, often much faster than the normal inflation rate. The latest numbers say the increase averages around 2% a year. So, in hard numbers, your original $1,000 fee could be nearly $1,220 by year 10—a total increase of around 18%.1 

Signing up for these crazy-high fees (and on-going debt) is not worth it—no matter how attractive the timeshare!

Maintenance fees must be paid every year whether you use the property or not. They are non-negotiable. Read your contract carefully to see what is actually disclosed about your maintenance fees. 

And here’s a sad yet sober truth: Sometimes the maintenance fees are subsidized by the developer during the sales process. But when the initial push for sales is over, and the fees are left for the Homeowners Association (HOA) to handle, these fees can go up dramatically without any warning! Yep, you read that right.

We’re not arguing that regular maintenance doesn’t need to be done on a property. We get it. No one wants to stay in an “open air” property that really just has a hole in the roof!

The problem is that the increased fees appear to be a major part of the income of the timeshare company because they’re used for much more than just upkeep on the property.

And don’t get us started about the nasty extra assessment fees, which are just another way to get money out of you to cover things like natural disasters (that your regular maintenance fee doesn’t cover). They’re worse because they seem to be catch-all costs thrown at you, the owner, and you have no choice but to pay them.

What Happens If I Stop Paying My Timeshare Maintenance Fees?

When you break it all down, these fees make up a real debt that you owe . . . for life! If you stop paying it, the timeshare company will do whatever it takes to collect. They’ll make phone calls and send letters, then they’ll assign it over to (you guessed it) a collections company.

If you still don’t pay, the situation sinks even further into foreclosure and possible legal action against you. 

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Debt always catches up with you, and it needs to be paid at some point. Like it or not, timeshare maintenance fees are a personal responsibility—until they’re not. If you really want to be free of them, then getting rid of your entire timeshare is your best option.

How to Get Rid of Timeshare Maintenance Fees

The only way to get rid of your timeshare maintenance fees and the other special assessment fees altogether is to get rid of your timeshare. Because as long as you own the property, there’s really no way to end the yearly onslaught on your bank account. 

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Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

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