Timeshare is a business model whereby a company owning property, typically resort condominiums, sells small time slices of property to customers. Timeshare buyers can:

• Use their usage time.
• Rent out their owned usage.
• Give it as a gift.
• Exchange internally within the same resort or resort group.
• Exchange externally into thousands of other timeshare resorts.
• Sell it either through traditional advertising, Internet advertising or by using a company that simply duplicates the same process that the Timeshare Industry has used for last 30 years, Fair Market Services!
• Assign their usage time to the point system to be exchanged for airline tickets, hotels, travel packages, cruises, and amusement park tickets.
• Instead of renting all their actual usage time, rent part of their points without actually getting any usage time and use the rest of the points.
• Rent more points from either the internal exchange entity or another owner to get a larger unit or more vacation time or at a better location.
• Save or move points from one year to another.

Some developers, however, may limit which of these options are available at their properties. Timeshare owners can elect to stay at their resort during the prescribed period, which varies depending on the nature of their ownership. In many resorts, they can rent out their week or give it as a gift to friends and family. Timeshares offer owners the possibility of exchanging their week, either independently or through several exchange agencies, to stay at one of the thousands of other resorts worldwide.

There are many exchange agencies, of which the two largest are Resort Condominiums International and Interval International. They have resort affiliate programs and members can only exchange to affiliate resorts. It is most common for a resort to be affiliated with only one of the larger exchange agencies, but it isn't rare to find a dual affiliate resort. Together they have over 7,000 resorts. The timeshare resort one purchases determines which of the major exchange companies can be used to make exchanges. RCI and II charge a yearly membership fee and fees for when they find an exchange. They also bar members from renting weeks for which they already have exchanged. Timeshare owners can also exchange their timeshare with the smaller independent timeshare exchange companies. Dial an Exchange, Trading Places, Hawaii Timeshare Exchange; Platinum Interchange, The San Francisco Exchange, Timex and Redweek.com are the main independent exchange companies. Owners can exchange with these independent exchange without needing the resort to have a formal affiliation agreement with the companies. Timeshare owners may also arrange a direct exchange. This requires locating a timeshare owner with the location and weeks both mutually desire. This form of exchange is rare but since it can save in exchange fees it is often sought after. Several bulletin boards have been created to help timeshare owners meet others and swap. Timeshares take different forms depending on the seller. The vast majority consist of one week of ownership, i.e. 1/52 year, but some developers sell point based systems that are a different form of vacation currency that allow hotel stays, car rentals, and stays at large networks of resorts.