So for some of you this may be old news. But for all the rest of you that are like me, you’ve probably gotten info in the mail from RCI telling you the benefits of their new Platinum Membership upgrade and you’ve put it aside (forever) because you’re too busy doing other things right now. Well, that’s what we’re here for. We’re going to give you a synopsis of the new program along with some pros and cons to at least give you a heads up on if you’re missing something or not.
RCI advertises that the membership costs $55. Now you have to remember, this is $55 on top of your regular membership fee of $89. Still, not a ton of money. So what do you get and is it worth it?
1. PRIORITY ACCESS. RCI states that “With RCI Platinum membership, you can benefit from “Priority Access” exchange privileges at upscale hotels and resorts in high demand locations. This means that you could be among the first in line when it comes to exchanging for sensational accommodations, specially acquired by RCI for RCI Platinum members, in sought-after destinations like Chicago, San Francisco and New York.” Now at first glance the first thing that came to my mind was, “Does this mean that all the good stuff goes to the folks who paid more money to RCI? What about all the folks with regular memberships?” Hmmmm…… Well, in the fine print RCI states that this is “specially-acquired vacation inventory…made exclusively available for Exchanges by Platinum Members before the inventory is made available to Points Members and Weeks Members who are not Platinum Members”. The words “specially-acquired” are key here. What makes it “special”? We don’t know. Does it work? Here’s two blogs we ran across that may give a clue: “I did a search before becoming a Platinum member, called and became a Platinum member, and then did another search in the standard points search. There were a few new places that showed up. The membership goes into effect as soon as you pay, but you have to log out and then back into your account.” And another: “I joined the Platinum Points program and thus far have been pleasantly surprised by what I can now see with some searches. There was one in May that NEVER comes up on that short of notice. I am also in for an upgrade for DVC at Vero Beach in September. You do not actually know if you get the upgrade until 14 days before check in, so I will have to let you know if I get upgraded or not. I figure just one upgrade would be worth the extra Platinum membership cost. So far it looks very good.” Now these are only two different blogs, but honestly we couldn’t find any negative comments. So if this works as advertised, is it worth the $55? Personally, I think so. Everyone wants the best of the best, and they’re willing to pay a bit more for it. If you truly get hard-to-get exchanges, I’d say this benefit along is worth the $55.
2. Complementary Unit Upgrades. Who doesn’t like more room to stretch out? If a larger unit is available within two weeks of check-in, it’s all yours! So that Studio now becomes a one bedroom, that one bedroom becomes a two bedroom, etc. I like this. Figure this: the $55 fee divided by 7 nights works out to $7.86 per night. Would you pay $7.86 per night to get a larger unit? If it works, I think this also is worth the $55 all by itself.
3. Platinum Rebates. Get a $20 rebate for RCI Guest Certificates, a $25 rebate when you book an Extra Vacations Getaway and a $25 rebate when you combine multiple deposits or deposit credits (more on this in a future newsletter). Depending on how you use RCI, this also could be a substantial savings based on the fact that the upgrade fee is only $55. I’d go along with this one also.
4. Experiential Vacation Exchange. These are tours put together by third parties. You save $500 or more per couple by going through RCI. Personally, I’d do a lot of comparison shopping to make sure the savings are really there.
5. Platinum Cruise Exchange. Again, this is put together by third parties and you supposedly save $500 or more going through RCI. Comparison shop on this as well.
There’s a few other perks as well but some you’ve seen before with restaurant discount cards, etc. So is the $55 upgrade worth it? I think so. It’s still a relatively new program so time will tell how the public perceives it and how well the program actually works. We’ll keep you informed.