How to Get Away from Timeshare Maintenance Fees

Dear Liz: We have owned a timeshare since 2007. It is paid in full. We no longer use it and would like to stop paying the annual maintenance fee. To help! Selling or giving away is not easy. Should we just stop paying maintenance fees? At 71, how bad could the impact be?

Answer: Timeshare developers have different policies regarding pursuing unpaid maintenance fees. If the developer takes your account to a collection agency, your credit could suffer for up to 7.5 years.

Before you simply stop paying, consider asking the developer to take back your timeshare first. Only a few timeshare developers have formal programs to accept assigned timeshares, but many will consider doing so as long as the timeshare is paid for. Ask to speak to the person who deals with these surrenders or “dos d’acte”.

If the developer resists, you have a few other options. Sites such as the timeshare user group and Red Week have marketplaces where you can list your timeshare. You may have to offer to pay the maintenance fee for a year or two to get someone to take the timeshare away from you. Another alternative is to rent out your timeshare, as you may be able to cover maintenance costs that way.

If someone contacts you offering to help you sell your timeshare, it’s probably a scam. You can find legit brokers that facilitate sales by contacting the Assn Licensed Timeshare Resale Brokers., but these professionals usually only handle sales at high-end resorts.

Dear Liz: We are recently retired and will own our house free and clear in about six months. Will not having regular mortgage payments affect our credit rating? If so, what can be done as a good substitute?

Answer: Your credit scores may drop after you pay off your mortgage, especially if you don’t have another installment loan, such as a car or personal loan. To obtain and maintain the highest credit scores, you generally need both installment loans and revolving accounts, such as credit cards.

The good news: you don’t need the highest credit scores to get the best rates and terms from lenders. Using credit cards lightly but consistently can help you maintain good scores without going into debt.

Dear Liz: You recently suggested a credit freeze. I agree that it’s a good idea, and probably the only right way, to try to protect your credit.

But I’ve tried to periodically unfreeze my credit reports and it rarely goes well. Banks won’t tell you which credit bureau(s) they use to check your credit, so you need to temporarily unfreeze your reports at all three. This weekend, only one office worked well. At another point, I was able to log in, but received a message that the site was temporarily unable to access my information. The third didn’t recognize any of my possible usernames, so I tried my social security number and date of birth, which it didn’t recognize either. I’m sure I’m not mistaken, so I’d say part or all of their database is offline. More than likely I’ll be able to fix this on a weekday when the offices use their phones, but so far I’ve been working on unlocking my credit for two days and only one of the three services has responded correctly.

Answer: Freezing and unfreezing your credit reports is definitely easier and faster than ever before – plus, these services are now free under federal law. But as you’ve learned, you should carefully track the credentials associated with your accounts at each credit bureau, including logins, passwords, and personal identification numbers.

You can write down this information and keep it in a safe place, or consider using a password manager. These secure software allow you to create unique credentials for each site you visit. Given the prevalence of database breaches, it is essential that you do not reuse usernames and passwords. The programs can also help you change your passwords regularly, which is also important for keeping your information secure.

Liz Weston, Certified Financial Planner, is a personal finance columnist for NerdWallet. Questions can be sent to him at 3940 Laurel Canyon, No. 238, Studio City, CA 91604, or by using the “Contact” form at asklizweston.com.

Kayleen C. Rice