We’ve all gotten them – nice looking certificates that arrive in our mailboxes – usually at the end of winter when we’re starting to dream of spring break – advertising for a free vacation. Some certificates include lodging in a hotel or timeshare resort for a certain number of days and nights. Other offers include airfare or a cruise, or provide one complimentary ticket with the purchase of a second. Some certificates include discount coupons for restaurants, tours or attractions in the resort area.
Your momma taught you there is no such thing as a free lunch, right? True here, too. To start with, many require a non-refundable processing and handling fee or a refundable deposit of $50 to $100 to reserve a vacation offer.
But that’s not all you need to watch out for:
Read the rules carefully. Do you meet the required conditions, such as age and marital status or income level?
Determine all costs involved in using a vacation certificate. It will be your responsibility to pay for anything not specifically mentioned. Will you be expected to pay for:
Hotel, timeshare resort or other lodging? Meals?
Transportation from your home to the resort? Do you have to travel to a distant location before the company pays for “free” travel?
Transportation from the airport to the lodging accommodation?
Additional fees for the peak tourist season? When is the peak season? Are there any port taxes when visiting a foreign country?
Remember, timeshare presentations are often long, grueling and difficult to walk away from.